Friday, November 22, 2002

An accomplice of a crime? not me, right?

So i was speaking to a middle school class about journalism Thursday morning. When i finished up at noon, i headed outside to go to my car and head back to the office before i came back in the afternoon for my 1:30 gig.

the first thing i noticed was how damned hot it was. so i get in my car, put my key in the ignition and turn. and then i am greeted with the frustrating silence of a dead battery. FUCK. so i (damn, i use so quite a bit, too) am pissed. i think AAA, right. then remember that i haven't transfered my address with them yet, and i only have my Albany AAA card. it being the only number i have, i call them. thankfully AAA is good anywhere and they transfer me to the L.A. dispatch office. they promise someone in 30 minutes, and thankfully he shows up in 15. he gets me jump started and all appears well, he is even nice enough to tell me where to get a new battery -- a pep boys about 8 miles away.

so i get in my car and he pulls away. i notice that it's really fucking hot now. so i turn on the A/C and my car dies. SHIT SHIT SHIT. the tow truck gets smaller in my rearview mirror. i immediately get out of my car and start hauling ass following the truck. i get lucky as he gets stuck at the light and i am able to flag him down and tell him of my gaffe. he comes back, gives me another jump and reminds me "no A/C and no radio."so i head to the Pep Boys, after calling work, frustrated with the lost money and the lost afternoon.

when i show up it's really busy ... like every bay is occupied and people are waiting. well, as i am sitting in my idling car (i didn't want to shut it down, because i wouldn't be able to restart again), some guys ask me what is wrong with my car. i don't really hear them so they repeat their question, and i tell them my car died out.

"mechanical or electrical?" they ask.

"my battery died" i reply.

"go to the house down the street with the black car." one says to me as he points about 200 yards away.

"what?" i ask.

"the house down there."

"I need a new battery" i repeat, trying to clear up what i thought was confusion.

"yeah, man, we can hook you up." they say.

so in a mixture of frustration, anger, heat dementia, lack of food and impatience, i follow them. they tell me to park on the street and they'll put in a new battery. i ask how much it would cost and they say $25, which i recognize as cheap, but not really comprehending how cheap at this point.

I am pretty happy with that figure, so i ask if this will actually be a real battery or what?

they tell me that they're legit, and they open up a trunk of a car to show about a 18 batteries, wrapped in individual shrink wrap. so they at least look new. it's a battery replacement, which is something that even i can practically do, so i decide to let them proceed. against my better judgment.

i watch them like hawks and chat them up. they said that they do this stuff all the time, siphoning off extra pep boys customers who need minor repairs and don't want to wait. they said that pep boys doesn't even mind that much, b/c these are people that would just leave rather than wait. they said that every once in a while a security guard harasses them.i dunno... but i am not stopping them. in part b/c though the first guy was pretty sketchy, the second guy seemed trustworthy, in an honor among thieves kind of way.

meanwhile, i ask them where they get the batteries. the first guy says: "i dunno" i feel worse.

"actually we are mechanics who work part-time in the neighborhood and we know a wholesaler." was the line they fed me. i let myself buy just like 20 minutes i am done and $25 later i have my newly installed (and hopefully new) battery.

my friends are kind of amazed by my story, and one friend rebukes me for buying a hot battery. she was the friend with me when my car was broken into and stuff was stolen. she said that what is your battery came from a similar crime. of course, i felt like shit.