Gracie has passed hands

Panorama view from iPhone; this was a lone car driving by. Just a little less than what’s left of my old Ford Contour.

The evening was cooling off; it had been so warm earlier that day that a couple men snaked me in line at Chick-fil-A to get more ice for their refills, one saying, “On a day like this, ice doesn’t last too long!”

So after a Thursday late afternoon meeting, I sat on a metal bench on Jefferson off Earl Garrett and waited for Karen to pick me up.

Why was I waiting…why was I not driving to meet Karen for tacos or maybe a stroll on the River Trail? you say. These are good questions you ask, because no one here walks but the homeless. (“Strolling” does not count; it is in the category of sauntering. Rf. Thoreau.) Sadly, the answer is that Gracie (my Ford Contour) has run her race and, after only 3.5 months, she has decided to ask me to put as much work into her–a new serpentine belt and power steering pump assembly + labor–as it cost to purchase her.


Loyalty has its limits. (And those limits come quickly when we’re dealing with a 20-year-old car that only cost me $650.)

And so, Gracie made an appearance yesterday on Facebook’s “Kerrville Online Garage Sale” (as well as “The Hill Country Classifieds,” “Bandera Online Without All The Rules,” and three other sales outlets). Within half an hour, I had two offers and also a text from a friend who was floating the sale to another friend. Three hours later, title, cash, and Bill of Sale had exchanged hands.

My buyer was a guy from Ingram, who came with his father. The first offer, significantly lower, was from a guy also from Ingram, whose Facebook page wall showed only his winnings from online casino. His profile photo was a white man in stetson, blonde mustache and no smile. The photo was blurred, which to me was probably more troublesome than anything else. I was a bit worried his might be the only offer, and he would talk me down to $12.95 plus a Shiner Bock. (And I don’t drink.)

The eventual buyer, however, had a Facebook profile showing him hugging a toddler, ostensibly his daughter or a niece. No mention of online casino. Mention of his home improvement business.

When he showed up at Texas Express Lube, where Gracie had been parked since the belt broke two Wednesdays ago, we shook hands and I noticed just how small and uncalloused my hands are. I can hold a small fish taco; this gentleman could grip a large burrito and a Shiner Bock in his hand and still flip the bird to a Yankee car seller if he so chose.

Although he seemed the epitome of kind and friendly, I had not sold a car privately before, and I decided to pretend I knew what I was talking about in the event he turned out to be shrewd:

“Well, ____ , let’s take a look and I’ll show you what you’re dealing with.” I had the hood open within three seconds. “So–” I pointed to where the serpentine belt had been “–the belt broke because the rotor there had been vibrating and threaded the grooves on the belt. The needed work was made complicated because they’d need to support the engine from underneath while replacing the assembly so that it wouldn’t shift and break one of the side mounts.” I had pretty much practiced these lines, and I believe I got away with about 95% believability that I knew the vast majority of words that came out of my mouth. Especially the verbs. The nouns came out at about 50% believability.

I showed him a cosmetic problem inside the car, which he didn’t’ care about. He just wanted the vehicle and was going to do the under-the-hood work himself.

“Howard, I really appreciate this. It’s such a blessing to me. Really came at the right time. The last few months, everything that could go wrong, has.”

Brother, I’ve been there. Glad to help.


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