Hey, lady, you want us to fix your car?

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.


11 responses to “Hey, lady, you want us to fix your car?”

  1. GF says:

    I think I’ve had people try this scam on me when I really was driving around a car with a big dent in the door and I was like “why would I care? It’s a fucking car. Things happen to cars.” But it seems like I may look like a mark. I’ve been approached for all kinds of scams. Fine Italian suits that fell off the truck, stranded in Manhattan and just need $40 to get back upstate…meanwhile, a high school friend I for some reason know again on facebook is involved in what looks awfully like a pyramid scheme selling a skincare product called Nerium but I assume the most I’m going to see of that is her VERY ENTHUSIASTIC POSTINGS ABOUT NERIUM and how getting in on the ground floor sure was a piece of luck.

  2. LHD says:

    Okay. When I was young and had just fallen off a turnip truck in Boston and had a car that was wrecked by someone I shouldn’t have loaned my car to and didn’t want to tell my father-in-law who was still paying for the car insurance (I said I was young!) I let these rednecks “fix” a major dent in the car door, supposedly to save me money when I finally took it to the body shop. I think I paid them $100. They had real tools. It didn’t make a difference to the guys at the body shop. They stiffed me too.



  3. Dave says:

    Two or three times in grad school, when I was walking across a certain parking lot on my way home, I was approached by a couple of bros in a pickup truck. They said they had some really great stereo speakers they were trying to sell, for $50 or whatever. It seemed like some kind of scam so I said no each time, and they were always really aggressive trying to convince me to do it. (I think it was different bros each time.)

    How horrible that these guys messed with your car. Blech.

  4. J-Man says:

    That’s seriously f’d up, Parrish. But the thing that occurs to me is that they intended on doing harm to more than your car – I’m glad you didn’t get out to talk to them.

    When I was a kid, my mom and I drove across country to Wisconsin. Right when we got to our destination, we were sideswiped, putting a huge gash in the side door and back panel of our Country Squire wagon. Later that summer, when we were back home, these guys came to our door and offered to fix the damage for cheap. Since she couldn’t afford to fix it any other way, she agreed, knowing that they may well be shysters. They drilled holes and stuccoed the entire side of the car with bondo, and then never came back. She had that car for several more years and never had it properly fixed, just drove it around like that, all ghetto an’ shit.

  5. LP says:

    1: Nerium, eh? I had a college friend who did something similar with a product called Juice Plus: she raved about its health properties, drank it all the time, tried to get everyone to buy it. She apparently made money, because she did this for years. Who could object to a product called Juice Plus? Nerium, on the other hand, sounds like something you sell in test tubes to third world dictators.

    2: Oh, LHD, don’t be embarrassed! Didn’t we all fall for scammers back when we were young and unacquainted with the world’s cruelty?

    4: Country Squire wagon!

  6. LP says:

    Why, here’s an illustration of J-Man and her family tooling around in that very wagon!

  7. J-Man says:

    That’s us! Except we usually stood up on the front seat – no seatbelts – you know, because 70’s.

  8. Tim Wager says:

    Grrrr. This makes me very angry.

  9. WW says:

    I feel like this is the pilot episode for a new amateur detective show; love that you spied the screwdriver mark.

  10. Dave says:

    Yes! Parrish gets home, notices the screwdriver mark, and posts the story on her blog. Next day, she is approached by a stranger who asks her to help solve a little mystery, which of course turns out to be much bigger than anyone ever expected.

  11. LP says:

    I am on board with this. And yes, I’m happy to star. No, really, I’m okay with it. You don’t have to beg.

    If you need me this afternoon, I’ll be getting a blowout and finding an agent.