Monday, January 5, 2015

Travel Day 2 (Texas Style)

So, There I was....*  My Beautiful Daughter (MBD) has decided she needs a new(er) car.  To be sure her 10 year old, 132K+car has seen better days.  Since her mother obviously did something right in raising her and she has 5 digits in savings, three years after college, who are we to say no.

My mission this weekend is to provide top cover as MBD enters the high threat environment populated by used car salesman, their managers, and car dealer financial managers. As we pull up, I turn to her and say "Mos Eisley spaceport: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."

She responds by calling me a nerd,  but this sequence is well into the mission execution stage.  Like all good stories, one must begin at the beguine beginning.

Deployment of forces.  MBD is deployed to her home base in College Station Texas.  Your's truly is deployed some 180 miles west and the target area is in Houston.  Initial plan of attack calls for a complex rendezvous at Time On Target over the target itself.  However, due to an unfortunate turn of events, in which yours truly, having already launched and while hurtling towards the target, through a very high threat area known as the People's Republic of Austin, realizes he has forgotten to obtain a key piece of targetting data, known as "The Title to the current Car."

The current attack plan has been rendered impossible, since without the targetting data (we believe, but all things are possible) we will not be able to sell the current car and since 2 people can't drive 3 cars, rendezvousing in Houston is not an option.  Still progressing eastward at the speed of traffic (alternates between 8MPH and 80MPH with little to no warning and absolutely no rhyme nor reason), I modify the attack plan to rendezvous at MBD's house and drive down in her current car.  Communicating the modification occurs through the magic of cellular communication.  

At this point I am just east of a highly defended area known as the Badlands of Bastrop.  Previous missions through this area have resulted in considerable battle damage.  In fact in my 45 years of driving, I've only sustained battle damage 3 times.  Once on my second day of driving at 16 years old.  The other two were in the Badlands of Bastrop.  The first attack was kamikaze in nature and involved the other pilot seeing a red colored octagon and stepping on the accelerator to achieve ramming speed.  With my lightning fast reflexes, I was able to avoid the cockpit of the other vehicle (driver's side) and instead slam into the bed of the truck.  Both vehicles were unable to continue.

Similarly, in the second mission, I was moving forward in a long line of slow moving vehicles when the opposition pilot decided to change lanes, timing it perfectly so as to arrive at my front side passenger fender as I was passing.  Fortunately, my vehicle was only slightly damaged,  her Smart Car was unable to continue.

I have a certain trepidation about Bastrop.

I am approaching the area and initial electronic readings show the threat to be there, but not engaged yet.  As I pass the last light before entering the town, I hear a loud noise, much like a siren.  Glancing around, I can see no flashing lights and after a second or so, the noise goes away.  But I do notice a smell much like burning rubber.  There is now a "Whump" followed by a "Whap, Whap, Whap..." sound and my Master Caution panel lights up.

"I'm hit!"

Quick assessment of the situation.  The battery light is on.  The engine temperature is climbing.  The power steering is out, control is difficult.  "They got me!"  The temperature is spiking and the Master Caution say the engine is overheating as I pass the entrance to a Ford dealership with a sign over the service department saying Saturday hours 8-12.  It's 8:30.  I set up a straight in approach and am able to successfully land my vehicle diagonally across a handicapped spot and two regular spots.  The engine coughs as I shut it down.  

A local approaches, looking friendly enough, but this is the Badlands of Bastrop, one must be careful here.

"Looks like you've had some trouble." He says as  I describe the battle damage. 

He asks ""Framistat?"  
I reply "It's never the framistat. It's the phrenolic bearing." Learned THAT from Skip!
He replies ""Um, yeah. I'm sure that's it Sir.""

3 Hours and $350 dollars later (I had also picked up a nail in my tire), the mission resumes.  I transit the Badlands without further ado and arrive at MBD's quarters.  I put my trusty steed to bed, so it can begin the healing process with it's new parts and mount up in MBD's vehicle.

We arrive at the target area quite late now with the sun beginning to set.
Source google street view

We park our vehicle and walk in the front doors of the Mos Eisley Cantina  Dealership.  The music stops and the bartender snarls "We don't serve their kind here!"  Ok, well not really, but a young lady comes over and asks if we have an appointment.  We give them a name and there's a smile of relief sweeping across her face.  Seems we'd walked in to the New Car department and we were actually looking for a Pre-Owned vehicle.  She would be happy to show us the door  way.

We meet our salesman who's actually a pretty nice guy and work our way through the laborious car purchasing process.  "Let me discuss your offer with my manager".  "Do you want to purchase an extended warranty?"  Sign ze papers!"

After inspecting the current vehicle for trade in value, the used car manager actually sanitized his hands on coming back into the building.  It had just been detailed.  Really! Did I mention that everyone we talked to mentioned that they sell $100,000+ cars?

Finally at about 9PM, the car belongs to MBD (well, technically, all but the right wheel belongs to USAA but...).

2014 VW Tiguan (not ours at the time of the photo, still got forms to fill out.  Mrs Juvat wanted a peek)

Drive the vehicle back to College Station and realize that it'll be Midnight at the earliest if I drive home tonight.  MBD offers to put me up at her place.  Having not planned on staying, I hadn't brought any of my "must haves" to ensure a restful night's sleep.  Awoke this morning, tired, cranky and decided I'd best get on the road as I preferred to transit the defenses of the Badlands and Peoples Republic while the defenses were asleep.

Arrived back at homebase by 1045, was asleep in my own bed by 1100. Some travel days are better than others.

*Fairy Tales start "Once upon a time..", War Stories begin "So, there I was..." Other than that.....


  1. Hey Sarge, the force is strong with this blogger! Nice story Juvat, thanks for sharing a peek into the Juvat family. (Previous comment auto-corrected Sarge into "Sage" so I deleted and resubmitted with more care.)

  2. Should be a professional car salesman dream. Good credit, decent down, clean trade, there to buy, and late in the day (bonus time). USAA? Finance Manager's nightmare. Oh well, would rather have a sister on the street than a brother in finance.

    1. In all seriousness, it wasn't that bad. It happened as I wrote, to include the mentions of $100,000+ cars. But it took FOREVER!

      I am proud of my daughter though, she managed to get $1000 more out of them than I thought she would.

    2. As a salesman, I hated the FOREVER. In most stores, you were "off the floor" until the customer rolled. In later years when I became a manager, I wouldn't tolerate slow walking. In and out, three hours max, two hours the standard.

    3. I think it was 6 for us. I wish you'd have been there.

  3. I like the way you take an ordinary tale of automotive woe, weave your aerial tactical jargon in and make a masterpiece.

    I say, you are getting so very good at this!

    1. Thanks. The gist of the story came to me on RTB as I was approaching Bastrop. I was driving through the area where the fire was and got to thinking about luck or lack thereof. Some houses surrounded by trees were unscratched while others were destroyed. Then I thought about the incident on the way out which reminded me of totaling the Smart Car (which was the previous trip through the town in August) and then I passed the Stop sign where I almost had my first confirmed kill. I thought there's got to be something about me and this town. When I got home and arose from my nap, I read your post on Travel Days yesterday which made a perfect lead-in. So, a serendipitous turn of events.

  4. Great story! We've been in the process of helping our daughter buy a house. The problem has been her lack of credit ratings. She paid off her car years ago and rarely uses her credit cards and so she is penalized for paying cash for things. Go figure!

    Next time you are held up in Bastrop, look up Jo and Gene Castillo. Jo has an art blog ( But Gene is a retired DEA agent who lived and worked in South America in the 70 -80's. Talk about your war stories!

    1. Thanks. We had a similar problem, for the same reason, when trying to get a loan for some improvements on our property. Fortunately, knowing the loan officer personally as a friend and professionally as a customer for 15+ years was able to conquer the bureaucracy, although it took about 4 months to get from application to approval.
      I'll bet your friend does have some serious war stories! Some of which may not begin with So, There I was...

  5. Gee... I feel honored being mentioned in two different posts today.
    Even though one of them is a re-run (HSWHTPFIHC).

    1. Well, that part of the episode MAY have been somewhat fabricated. HSWHTPFIHC

  6. Ha! Very entertaining!

    Did you leave a shiny white-shod, plaid-jacketed corpse behind? With a tip for the bartender and a "sorry about the mess?"

    Had a rough hop myself recently. Framistat bled out in the middle of a low level recce and failed catastrophically, destroying the phrenolic bearing and shearing a main mount. Had to put it down straight ahead and didi out of the a/o. Lift squadron recovered the vehicle only to have maintenance declare it a strike. The TFOA report was a nightmare.

    1. Thanks

      Since my vehicle has 193K + on it, I was VERY concerned that the service manager was going to come in to the waiting room with a salesman on his wing. That would have been problematic. I like my truck, it fits my personality. Old, but comfortable. Reliable, but needing occasional TLC. And paid for.

  7. One day I will relate the story of my fiance buying a car with me in tow. Not now. How those salesman screwed up is best left for a cold wet day.

  8. This is GREAT stuff! Laughed my way through it all (sorry to have that reaction to your tale of woes, but it's my coping mechanism.)

    1. Mine also. I learned a long time ago that saying "What else could go wrong?" is just an invitation.

    2. "They said: 'Cheer up, things could be worse.' And so I did--and sure enough--they got worse!"

    3. Folks, try the veal, VX will be back for the 9 o'clock show! :-)

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. They say laughter is the best medicine. I'm trying to recover from a bad case of the flu and I feel better already!! A masterpiece from a most excellent Wordmonger!


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