After we listened to the engine hum and cough, we checked its condition under the hood. Everything was accounted for, so we drove it around the block in a city in Southern California.
The seller said his name was Dave. He was honest – he told us about the car’s scars and quirks. The front tire was ripped, and he had removed the radio fuse because his nephew couldn’t keep his hands off the knobs. That fuse, he told me after we bought it, sucked the power from the car. So much so that the car wouldn’t start if I were to let it sit for a week or so. That was true, I now know.
Before mentioning its downfalls, he talked about the good things – like the new brakes, new shocks, and new registration. I checked the air conditioning and the radio – they worked and I was happy. Our friend who was a car guy had OK’d the insides, and that made me even happier. And the low price – that was the icing on this soon-to-be disastrous cake. I was just glad to have a cake.
A few days after my wife and I bought the car, I called Dave to ask for some paperwork that I thought I needed from him. But I wasn’t the only one that needed something from him – he answered his phone with a harsh tone in his voice, and the next thing I remember, I was getting sued.
“If you don’t stop calling me,” he barked, “I’m going to sue you guys. I’m going to pay the money.”
“Dave,” I said calmly, “It’s Caleb. I just bought your car.”
He hung up. I sent him a text message to explain. Then he called. He was apologetic and told me about the collection agency that was after him. I said I totally understand. That’s when he told me about the power-sucking fuse. I said no problem, I’ll take care of it.
Dave had given us paperwork – an application for a new title – that he said he had signed, which he didn’t. There was a name, address and signature on the paper, but none of them were his. Poor Diane Perdon Summers on Evergreen Drive had no idea that her signature had seemingly been forged.
Over the next two weeks, I called Dave five times, left two voicemails, and sent him two text messages without getting a response from him or acknowledgement that I existed. Not only did “Dave” disappear, but it seemed the title was absent as well. According to AAA, the title was an out-of-state title, but its original state and current location were unknown.
So our friend Dave threw us into a tangled, sticky web of paperwork and legal confusion. He had said he was moving to Florida, so he didn’t care about us. He scored big and moved east.
This quagmire is yet to be defeated. But for now, the man named Dave has summoned us to car purgatory, demanding that we work our way out and into the heaven of car ownership.