So, I had some time to kill in the Valley the other night. I was supposed to meet a friend at 6:30 for an odd little adventure: we were going to a talk by an “internationally recognized prophecy expert,” a the-world-is-ending, repent-or-perish type who we hoped would go on a wild rant about stocking up on rice, guns and gold. My friend and I share a fascination with apocalyptic evangelical church stuff, so this was our idea of a fun Thursday evening.
Anyway, I got there way too early, so I drove around the neighborhood looking for a suitable place to spend some time. To my delight, I found a bookstore with a big parking lot. Bingo! I parked and went inside to browse.
After about a half-hour, I walked back out to the car. I got in and spent a few minutes checking my email and text messages, and as I was doing that, another car pulled up behind me. Three young guys were inside.
“Excuse me,” the driver said. “I work for a Toyota body shop, and I can see your car has some dings and a panel is loose, so would you like for me to fix it? I can do it right here.”
Because I did not fall off a turnip truck yesterday, I knew this was a scam. “No,” I said, scowling and waving my hand dismissively. He shrugged and pulled away slowly as I looked back down at my phone.
A moment later, I watched as he pulled up behind someone else and tried the same thing. Seriously? Who falls for this stuff? I thought. I felt proud of myself for being so savvy, for not having considered their pitch for even a millisecond. Then again, I’d just had body work done on my car, so I knew for a fact that it was in perfect condition. Those guys were idiots–the least they could have done was choose a car that actually had something wrong with it.
I drove to meet my friend, and we went to the talk, which turned out to be less fire and brimstone than a lukewarm oatmeal of every boring sermon I’d ever heard growing up. Afterward, we cheered ourselves up with some barbecue from a food truck, and I drove home.
The next morning, I went out to my car to drive to the gym. As I was getting in, I noticed that the left rear panel, near the gas tank, was popped out. What the! So, those guys were right — there was actually something wrong with my car. How had that happened? Had I banged into something? So strange that I hadn’t noticed it before.
I tried to pop it back into place, but it wouldn’t go. This was going to require tools. What a pain!
Then I looked closer, at the edges of the panel.
See that yellow mark there? That, my friends, is the mark of a screwdriver. Yes, those douchebags were driving around parking lots, hopping out to damage vehicles, and then asking the drivers to pay them to fix the damage.
How do I know this for sure? Because the last thing I did before parking at the bookstore was fill my tank with gas. And that panel, which is just below the gas tank opening, was completely intact.
So, anyway, that was my Thursday night. I’m not sure what the moral of the story is, except that it’s apparently more dangerous in bookstore parking lots than in apocalyptic-evangelical-sermonizing parking lots. Be careful out there, readers.