Skip to main content

Saint Patrick (c. 385 – c. 461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick,  commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and, by extension, celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in a religious and cultural holiday held on 17 March, Wikipedia

A few years ago Guitar Bob’s beater car gave up the ghost so he asked if I would drive him north to the used car lots to buy a replacement jalopy. Reluctantly, I said okay even though I had to go after my graveyard shift with no sleep. He was, after all, a friend. And one without wheels to get to work….

Walking into a used car lot is vaguely similar to driving the streets of Baghdad in an unarmored HumVee. It’s a landmine. You might make it back out, but you’re going to take incoming and there’s going to be casualties. At some point you’ll ask yourselves is this war worth it? Did you have an Exit Strategy? And who, in the end, is really the enemy? Or like General Sherman famously stated as he torched the South: car buying is hell.

Bob started out hoping to buy a vehicle for under $500. Not wanting to bust his bubble, I decided to forego the story of my last expedition into the minefields. He would learn soon enough. The Hard Way. The lot in Stanwoodopolis, just prior to closing its doors forever, showed him a $2500 wreck, bad tires, 175,000 miles on the odometer, a tranny that slipped, burned a little oil. Savvy buyers that we were, we moved on.

At a fly-by-night used lot in Burlington we found a nice little Honda, 200,000 miles, ran good, only $6500. Obviously they could rob you without a gun. Bob offered the nice salesman $5000 and he said wait right here in his office while he conferred with the manager. Bob was concerned the nice salesman would think we were gay. I said you got way more to worry about than some yahoo with a bad toupee’s opinion of your sorry manhood. In a minute, you’re gonna meet the manager.

Which we did. The manager said we seemed like nice boys and he sure wanted to work with us on this deal, put us in that car, ‘but fellas, I have to make a little money too. I can’t just give this away at a loss.’ He showed us paperwork that proved he was rock bottom on that $6500. But seeing’s how we were nice boys, he’d take a couple hundred off and take no profit. Bob said let me think about it and the manager said sure, sure, but don’t take too long, this beauty’s gonna sell today at this price. Outside Bob worried he’d thought we were parnters. I said I’ll sit out the next negotiation.

By late afternoon I’m fading from lack of sleep and food. It’s late, we’ve hit every shyster and crook up and down the pike, nothing is even close to reasonable and the notion Bob is going to shop for a week or two sends me into adrenaline-fueled panic. I drop down in the Toyota lot and forgetting about promising to stay out of negotiations, march up to a salesman coming out of the showroom side door. “We’re looking for a Toyota or a Honda,” I rapidfire. “$5000 or less, under 100,000 miles. The salesman doesn’t blink, he doesn’t hesitate, he smells the blood in the water and he knows instinctively exactly what to do.

“Your lucky day,” he smiles. “Just came in, hasn’t been detailed yet, but you boys won’t mind saving on that, one owner I’m pretty sure and the boss wants to move inventory, make you a helluva deal.” He points us over to where we just came from, past a line of cars with prices on the windshields and in my sleep deprived fog I realize he’s pointing at MY car. “Give me a minute and I’ll grab the keys from the office. Be right back. Go ahead and kick the tires.”

I regret, even to this day, we didn’t tell him we found the keys in the ignition and take him with us for a test drive. “These two gay guys, see, pulled over on the shoulder …. I thought maybe we’d run out of gas. Then I thought, oh my God, they’re going to do unspeakable things to me. But no, they said get out. Here? I asked. Here, they said. I called the lot and told them to call State Patrol, report a stolen car, even gave them the license number…. Ya know, I always said I could sell snowballs to Eskimos. But those two gay guys, I couldn’t close the deal on selling them their own car. I’m good, but I guess I’m not that good.

The Skeeter Daddle Diaries

When I finally reached the ripe old age of 65, my nanny state sent me a notice that I could sign up for national health care, what some might call socialist medicine.  Not me, I call it health care, paid for through my taxes over the years along with Social Security, what some would call a socialist give-away, but once again, not me.  I call it my retirement fund.  My nest egg for old age.  But to tell you the absolute truth, call it whatever you want.  And if you hate socialist programs, by all means, turn the money down and buy your own damn health care insurance.

For awhile I thought I understood finally what the Golden Years meant.  Freedom from going bankrupt from the next health care crisis, if nothing else.  That, of course, was before the phone started ringing.  I have a landline, the precursor to a flip phone and the subsequent generations of cellular gizmos.  My landline doesn’t have caller ID, something so far I refuse to pay for since I’m willing to answer my phone and be surprised who might be calling.  At any hour of the day or night.  I remember when we were on a party line here on the South End.  Cost an additional buck a mile from the phone headquarters up in Mt. Vernon to get a private line.  Per month.  We endured the teenage girl and her mom for about a year before taking our grocery money to pay for a phone we could actually use occasionally.  And that may be the case with caller ID eventually.

We get calls starting early in the morning and into the evening.  They’re 90% from ‘Medicare Providers’.  And they’re 90% non-human.  They might ask how we are and if you answer, their programmed machine intelligence launches into their pitch.  I used to keep answering the robot until a human was connected in order to finalize whatever transaction they had for me, then I would request they take me off their list.  The next day, same time, the Hi, I’m Amy message would come on, repeated later in the day, repeated until you have lost your mind and found yourself talking ugly to the robot.  The robot, thinking you just answered its last query, moves on to the next part of the sequence.

This is not what I had in mind for my Golden Years.  What this is is the capitalist health care system piggybacking my Medicare.  They’ll send me some box of health care stuff free of charge, so they say, and I assume the government will reimburse them.  Maybe folks are happy to get free medical stuff.  Right now I have all the medical stuff I want.  Band aids mostly and a bottle of expired aspirin, but all I need. If I thought ditching Medicare would stop these incessant phone calls from Amy the Android, I might vote to repeal Obamacare and go back to the wild west of the American healthcare system, but somehow I suspect Amy and her legions of robot telemarketers would fill the void until having a phone with or without caller ID would be senseless.

Course, the peace and quiet might be worth it.

The Skeeter Daddle Diaries

This may come as a shock to you - unless you have known me for five minutes or longer - but I have zero Do-It-Yourselfer skills. NADA. Zilch. I blame it on my father, because, well, he passed away 43 years ago, so he’s not here to defend himself. Read more

"When I say the word “Amazon,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Okay, I figured you’d probably say, the giant online retailer. But believe it or not, there is another Amazon that has nothing to do with next-day delivery of sporting goods, pet food, or wireless headphones...... I’m talking about the Amazon rainforest."... Read more


Read more from Pepe's Painting LLC
Read more from Kudos 365

Giving Kids in Need the Chance to Read
  Non-profit organization - Seattle, WA

Hunger impacts all of us | 360-435-1631

Click the Image to learn more about us

Snohomish, Skagit and Island County