Piss Off, Ye Olde Wankstain

I saw this on the “Inhumans of Late Capitalism” Facebook page and… yes, it rightfully pissed me off, in part because I’ve actually gotten this before.

Hey, it’s our money even after we give it to you, here’s where to piss it away!

Back when I worked for the station in Miami, I got this exact statement from our director of engineering. Never mind that I had to park across the street because the TV station itself didn’t have sufficient parking for its employees, he took offense to the fact I didn’t have a fancy-ass Mercedes-Benz like he and one of his personal favorites on staff did. There was one day I came in late because I had a flat on the way in to work and that set him off thinking somehow this would never happen if I had a nicer car, as if a Mercedes floats on four magical clouds or some shit. Who knows, maybe they at least used a tire size you could locally obtain.

I did have to use my personal vehicle for some work related tasks (not reimbursed, of course), but nothing in which its visual condition would have affected anything. He insisted that I was never to attempt to get to and from the station by any means other than driving my own personal vehicle, as I was expected to be able to drive just about anywhere for them on a moment’s notice.

Yes, my car looked pretty beat up, from the road debris damage and from being rear ended FOUR TIMES in the two years I worked at that station, three of which were hit and run. I had no plans of replacing it unless I actually had to, as I’d finished paying it off and it still worked, though it ate tires pretty often due to a positively terrible rear suspension design.

I don’t even know how I’d describe that suspension design. It was a take on the Short-Long Arm suspension, but with a terrible bump steer characteristic and EXCESSIVE camber. It’d prematurely wear the inner shoulder of the rear tires with every one of the millions of enormous bumps in the road. The bump steer wasn’t really that bad since I was mostly driving it at 4 mph or less, but it still managed to murder the tires even at that speed.

It was a 2009 Mazda 6i Sport, which was worth approximately *nothing* due to the fact that it had been hit hard by the Takata airbag recall (who would guess that putting an ANFO explosive in the occupants’ faces is a bad idea?) but Mazda dug in their heels and held back on making parts available for the repair. I remember seeing descriptions of the resale value being in the range of $400. Still ran, though, and it still mostly stayed together, so I drove it up until I left the area. Parts were almost completely unavailable for this car because Mazda goes out of their way to claw back all the parts for their vehicles beyond about 4 years of age. For anything that’s not available aftermarket from third party manufacturers (from which you usually had to order the parts online straight out of China or South Korea!), you were stuck with trying to find them from a recycler.

And now, I’ll explain another reason why SOUTH FLORIDA SUCKS HOT DONKEY CRAP.

I’m not sure if  he was aware of this, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford the insurance if I did have a car that was newer and worth carrying comprehensive coverage on. I was paying just over $400 a month for insurance through Geico, and no other company would even give me a quote – they said I was too high risk. The reason was not due to my driving history which is totally clear, or my credit rating or anything – it was a demographic issue. The problem was that I lived in zip code 33009 as a male between the ages of 30 and 40, which was solidly REDLINED! The reason for that was, in short, the city of West Park. 33009 was shared between West Park, Pembroke Park, Hallandale Beach, and a few other municipalities. Nowadays it looks like Pembroke Park, which was the *better* side of the street back then, actually has a worse crime rate. This may be partially a statistical fluke though, as when I left, about half of the residents of West Park had left – many of whom simply walked away from their worthless properties that nobody would buy! It pretty much just became part of the collective area that I thought of as Zombietown…. that place where one simply should not enter, but sadly, one usually has to at least travel through regularly. I had been in contact with a fellow ham radio operator around that time who pretty much packed up a couple of suitcases and left one night fearing for his life, and considered this one of the best decisions of his life. Last I heard from him, he’d settled back down somewhere up in Washington State.

I asked a Geico agent at one point if I would even be able to add a new vehicle to my policy. They informed me that comprehensive coverage would not be an option – only liability, at the same $400+ a month.

I was told by a customer service agent from Allstate that they were refusing me a quote because their own internal statistics showed that approximately 90% of their policies that they wrote to males in the range of 30-40 living in 33009 led to liability claims after the policy holders committed a violent crime or vehicular homicide involving the use of their vehicle, and that’s why they dropped the redline.

Meanwhile…. there’s a little zombie VIN issue.

I have no idea whether that Mazda 6 itself still exists. I sold it to Carmax just before I left, and they paid me $1000 for it, mostly because the parts demand was pretty high. About a year and a half after I moved to California and started paying $65 or so a month to Geico for liability and comprehensive coverage on another vehicle, I got calls from Geico and a police department in Palm Beach County, Florida, asking me to either provide information on a crash that occurred with the driver of it being at fault, or to provide documentation that I no longer owned it. I sent that along to the police department who never replied back with anything beyond “Thank you, you are no longer a suspect” (what?) and to Geico, who sent me some information about the accident and the driver of the Mazda—

Except it was not a Mazda.

It was a 1992 Toyota Camry registered using the Mazda’s VIN number, crashed in a pretty severe injury accident in Palm Beach.

Why Florida allowed the registration of a Toyota with a Mazda VIN, I cannot fathom. I’m told it’s a strange artifact of their third-party DMV services system, in which private auto tag agencies are given quite unrestricted access to do things that make no logical sense. It seems like EVERYONE has that friend working an an auto tag place who will take an extra $50 under the table to Make Things Happen. What a fine banana republic!

It did not stop there, though. Since that first crash, they’ve informed me of two other cases coming up with the same VIN and different vehicles in various parts of South Florida – one was a Nissan Versa in Miami, and the other was a Ford F150 in Pompano Beach.

Sorry for the dumb ramblings, I was just reminded of this crap, and how glad I am that I MOSTLY no longer have to deal with any of it.

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