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The Journey To Delaware (Part I)

Sometimes when someone asks a favor, you just KNOW there is going to be a story at the end. No matter how many scenarios have been imagined it is inevitable that SOMETHING will go wrong.  This story is about one such favor.

One Sunday night, I got a phone call from my friend Matt.  After two months of searching for the best deal on a Toyota Prius, he won a car on Ebay from a seller in Wilmington, Delaware. It would still be a few days until he could pick it up but I was happy for him because I knew this decision was stressing him out.

Fast forward to the following Monday afternoon. I am at home trying to get some blog posts scheduled so I can go out with friends that evening. On my screen, I see the familiar chat box pop up with an excited message from Matt.

“My car is ready!  I am going to leave tomorrow morning to go get it. I am thinking like 4 or 5 a.m. Do you want to go?”

Uh no.  Of course I don’t.  On Tuesdays I have Food Lion deals to do and other grocery stores to post.  And then first thing Wednesday morning, I have radio to do.

And did I mention that this was the Monday afternoon before a snowstorm that was predicted to hit Tuesday night with a predicted snowfall up to 12 inches?

I shared my reasons with him and then abandoned the computer to get ready to go out.  I had plans that night and was excited about dressing up and staying out a bit later than normal.  When I came back over to the computer (looking SUPER cute BTW) there was a laundry list of reasons WHY he needed me to go. None of which were terribly convincing, so I told him I was sorry, closed out the window and left.

I had not been in the car 15 minutes when my phone rang – it was Matt. After much begging, pleading and promises of chocolates, I agreed to go. He swore we would be home before the snow hit. He swore it would be a nice, easy drive. He swore nothing would go wrong and we would have fun.

I KNEW this was going to be a bad idea.  And I should start a new career as a psychic because I was right.  So we met at his house at 8:30 in the morning, loaded up the rental car and hit the road for Wilmington, DE.

I have to admit, the ride up to Delaware was pretty uneventful. Almost pleasant. I marveled at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and our ability to drive underwater. We listened to podcasts and I took a much needed nap after a late night working so I could be off the computer all day long.

The man who was selling Matt the car agreed to meet us at a Dunkin Donuts.  When we walked in, he looked like he belonged in a Russian version of “The Godfather”. He had that non-descript European accent that you can’t quite place but you feel like you should be able to. He looked nothing like a used car salesman, and everything like he would make me “an offer I couldn’t refuse.” I figured he couldn’t actually kill us at a Dunkin Donuts in Delaware, so we were probably safe.

He brought a guy in his 40s who spoke English- clearly raised in the States. My original thought was they were Father and Son but they were employer and employee. It turns out this was John, the guy that Matt had been speaking to on the phone about the car. He had gone to college 20 years ago in our town so he had some knowledge of the area and was perfectly nice.

Once we shook hands and introduced ourselves John, Matt and I went out to look at the car. The Godfather decided to stay inside where it was warm. Now mind you it is 10 degrees outside, so my goal once we get outside is to get inside SOMETHING as soon as possible. Whether it’s a coffee shop, a vehicle or a heated bathroom, I did not care. I did not want to be outside. It’s was COLD.

When we get out to the car, Matt naturally wants to look at it- in great detail. Every scratch, every bump and every panel has to be examined. All I want him to do is hit the dang button so I can get inside the car. After what feels like 13 years, he finally hits the key fob and I hear the comforting click of the doors unlocking. I dive into the back seat, shaking what I am sure are icicles off of my nose. People who live at the beach are not meant for this weather.

The back seat is covered in black dog hair. I look above my head to find even MORE black dog hair. I look down at the armrest on my right and my elbow is sitting in a small spot of mud.  As they get in the front seats, John spills his drink on the armrest in the middle.

“Man I just had this cleaned yesterday. I can’t believe I spilled something in it.”

“SURE you did,” I thought. But instead of the sarcasm I asked:  “How long have you had the car?”

“About a month – it’s a great car.”

“So what kind of dog do you have?”

“I don’t have a dog. The girl who owned it did.”

“Well the back seat is covered in dog hair.”  I just let that hang out there for a minute.

I made eye contact with Matt. My eyes said, “This guy didn’t clean the car- he just lied. Be careful.” Matt looked back at me knowingly and started the car.

We drove that thing all through these tiny Delaware neighborhoods. Matt slammed on the brakes, started and restarted it, pressed every button, tested the speakers, used the cruise control, made the computer jump through hoops and anything else it could possibly do. Finally after 20 minutes he declared he had seen all he needed to and we returned to Dunkin Donuts.

Back inside (IN THE WARMTH) we walked over to the Godfather. “So what did you think?” he asked.  Matt, John and the Godfather went off to do car talk.  I discovered the free Wi-Fi and excitedly got my laptop out of the rental car so I could work.

Once money exchanged hands we were ready to hit the road.  I really wanted to get home before the snow.  Matt threw me the keys to his new Prius. Since I wasn’t on the rental car lease I was going to have to drive the Prius to the train station. At that point we would return the rental car and then Matt could play with his new toy all the way home.

I was thrilled to be the first person to drive his new car. I had big plans to set the radio buttons on the stations I liked AND run the heat at full blast.

I grabbed my ID and my purse out of the rental and jumped in the Prius.

I pushed the start button.


And the check engine light came on.


Ready for more?  Read The Journey to Delaware Part II [1].