Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Great Toyota Camry Story

As I wait for my 2003 Mazda 6s to arrive from New York, I am reminded of the events that led to the demise of the famed Rajani-mobile--the unstoppable 1998 Toyota Camry LE.

I got the car a few years back with only about 48,000 miles on it. I used it through two rough winters at Syracuse and then left it in my parent's driveway for an entire year when I moved to Berkeley. My brother picked the car out and boy did he do a good job. That year model is beatiful. It wasn't too bulky, had nice flat lines, and looked damn good with illegal tint. Though a bit underpowered as a 4 cylnder, the Camry had a slingshot-esque engine, one that took its time to get to 30, but took off just fine after that.

And what was lost in off-the-line performance was made up for in fuel economy. I could get 550 miles out of one large tank, averaging about 36 MPG on the highway. That's right, 550 miles out of one freaking tank.

Well, everything was going well. At the end of last summer, my intention was to keep the car until it died, which would have been at least another five years. I began parking it at my apartment in Berkeley. I live above a number of restaurants and the lot I park in has a set of dumpsters. There are usually no problems at all, but as I noted a few months ago, downtown Berkeley had a wave of rat problems.
Suffice it to say, that the rats wreaked havoc on many cars in the lot. They chewed up several wires in my neighbors brand new BMW (granted she deserved it for driving a Beamer), causing at least two thousand dollars worth of damage. Others had wires for car alarms damaged.
So what happened to my car? My car was inflicted with perhaps the foulest and most unpleasant stench known to man. It is epic smell, one that can only go by the name of "The Beast." I could never tell what the smell was, but it was coming from my engine and the front end. Rats probably dragged their food into the enging compartment because it was warm in there. But over time, it started rotting.
I got my car detailed. The engine steam cleaned, the undercarriage washed, the rear end pressure washed. I went to a do-it-yourself car wash about ten times, trying to powerwash the engine. No matter what, it kept coming back. I could not turn on my air conditioning or even open the vents. If you opened the windows, you could smell it. Ugh.
In January of this year I decided I would part ways with my Toyota. I put it up for sale on Craigslist on a Sunday night at around 9:30pm. I was asking $5900. The bluebook value for the condition the car was in was about $6,600, but this smell was terrible and I needed to get rid of it quickly. In two hours, I recieved about 65 calls and about 40 emails. Six people saw the car the next day and they started bidding higher than the asking price.
One gentlemen asked if he could buy the car the same day and was willing to put in $6,900. He was buying the car for his mom and he would get the smell taken care of. He spoke with a thick Arabic accent, and muffled his name. It was (I'm changing it a little) "Hashim." He said, in broken English, that he was going to arrive at around 3:00pm the next day.
I got a call at 12:00pm that day, "This is Hamid Hashim and I am in the area. I am buying a car for my mother. Can I come over now?" I said okay and showed him the car. He said, "So we settled at $6,700, right?" and I smiled, saying that I thought it was $6,900. He took a loook at the car and said alright. He went to the bank and brought the money. Done deal.
Then something weird happened. I got a call at 3:30pm the same day. "This is Hashim." I asked him how he was doing. "Good. What is your address again?" I wondered if something went wrong with the car or if he needed to mail me something. I gave him the address and a black Honda pulled up. I didn't recognize the guy. "I had appointment at 3:00 today, sorry for late."
What the FUCK?
There were TWO people who had virtually identical names. One was Hamid Hashim and the other was Hashim Hamid! And, BOTH were buying cars for their mothers. This second guy was really the one who was willing to buy the car at $6,900. Suffice it to say, he was not a happy to hear that I thought he already came and bought the car, but he understood what had happened.
Thank goodness he wasn't a contract lawyer. I remember so little of my Contract Law class to even figure out how a court would examine the situation. It was a potential disaser, but it all worked out.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the illegal tint had anything to do with the windows man.

A.H. Rajani said...

I think you're right. When I was riding my bike down Durant Ave., a cop pulled me over and said I had too dark of a tint.

Anonymous said...

J.C., that's an awesome tale! So flippin' odd it has to be true...

Mad.J.D. said...

I was sure this story was going to end with how the guy didn't care about the smell because he was a terrorist planning to use it in conjunction with a fertilizer bomb. And then you'd say something crass like, "Hey, you can't argue with the free market!"

This is still a good story though. I must say it's just like you to mix up the similar names of two ethnic persons. Do all brown people look alike to you too?

By the way, my contracts skills are a little rusty too, but I think your honest mistake would have gotten you off clean. Especially with a racist jury who thinks all Arabs look and sound alike.

A.H. Rajani said...

Well, your comments have more than filled in the lack of racist overtones in the original. Well done. Cheers!

air ride kits said...

Wow, that was something that you had experience. A great tale to tell and a lot of lessons to learn in buying and selling cars.