I pride myself on having a pretty good instinct.
If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs personality types, I’m a 50/50 split between an INTP and INFP,
the key being that the “N” stands for intuitive. My life has been spent believing that I have a reliable gut level Bull Shit detector and for the most part, it seems to be true.
I’ve got a whole host of stories of the times that I got it right. Those moments when I almost seem to be supernatural in my ability to predict events and make choices that seem to defy logic, but ultimately end up going well.
But this was not one of those times.
Two years ago, I wanted a truck. We live in the country and trucks are almost a necessity. I had a Jeep that served as an excellent third vehicle, but was getting up there in miles and I wanted to get rid of it before it started having problems.
Driving down the road one day, I spot exactly what I’m looking for; a four door four wheel drive Dodge Ram.
I stop, get the number off the windshield and make a call.
The guy informs me that the motor and transmission were replaced 85,000 miles ago. He’s asking $5,000 for the truck.
Understand, I drive vehicles into the ground, so 85,000 miles is just getting started in my opinion. We talk a few times but I’m still trying to sell my Jeep so I can just pay cash for the truck.
Then, one day I’m standing in the shower praying about what to do. I hear a response, (in my head, not out loud) “See if he’ll take less.” If he will come down, I can come down on my asking price on the Jeep. I call the guy, he says he’ll take $4,500 cash to be done with it.
Great. I can drop my asking price $500 on my Jeep and still break even. (foreshadowing alert,,, I never sold the Jeep)
We set up a meet. He’s driving in from out of town as the vehicle is parked at his in-laws house. A few hours before the meet, he calls and says he had it checked out and it might have a slight engine problem, so he’ll take $4,200 as his mechanic can fix the issue for $300. Reasonable, right? I say sure, we’re good. Red flag #1 missed.
I show up and he has the truck running when I get there. Red flag #2 missed. Why would he do that? At this point, I’m already sold so it doesn’t cross my mind to ask.
We talk a bit when we meet. I’ve got the whole family with me. “It’s a great family vehicle” he assures me with my wife and kids standing next to me.
I take the vehicle without so much as a test drive. My instinct says this is a good deal, so why bother, right? We sign a bill of sale, I pay him in cash and drive off.
Immediately, something feels wrong. I know there are issues to take care of. I got it cheap so I can afford to spend a little on repairs. But the sensation that something is wrong continues to grow. I missed something here. This is going to end badly.
The problem with a well honed sense of intuition is that it predicts the bad as well as the good.
The next day, when I started the truck to drive it to my mechanic, it blew thick white smoke for five minutes straight. Oh, so that’s why he already had it running when I got there. Huh.
I get it to the shop and it all goes down hill from there. Yeah, what you’ve heard so far is the pleasant part of the story.
There is no new motor. The transmission was replaced 85,000 miles ago, but not the motor. The motor is original to the truck with 325,000 miles on it. Well, that’s just great. What else you got for me?
That $300 repair turns out to be a full replacement of the heads which are shot. If you’re not a car guy, that means radiator fluid is leaking into the engine block, mixing with the motor oil and generally causing things to go to hell. Hence the billowing smoke when you first start the motor.
$2,700 later, I’ve now spend $7,000 on a truck with 325,000 miles on it. Oh, and guess what? It still isn’t fixed. The power steering pump leaks, the engine is overheating, and the cruise control doesn’t work. I found a new mechanic after this ordeal.
Fast forward two years. I’ve driven it less than 600 miles since I bought it. I’ve replaced the power steering pump and spend several days of my own labor to find out that the thermostat had been installed backwards, hence the overheating. The truck is finally in running condition and I can’t wait to sell it, just to get it out of my sight.
Today, I posted it on Craiglist for $4,000. I would be glad to just roll it down the hill and set it on fire, but I can’t justify losing every dollar I’ve sunk into it.
In two hours time, I’ve got an offer for $3,000 cash, we’ll meet tomorrow morning.
Yeah! The truck is gone! I can finally move on!
Not so fast.
I can’t find the title. For the last two hours, I’ve searched the house. It isn’t here. The best I can tell, it probably got thrown out in a pile of mail that was bagged up several months ago.
I contact the buyer and tell him I can’t find the title. He offers to pay me anyway because he really needs a truck asap. Sorry man, I can’t give you a vehicle with no title. He’ll probably be gone by the time the replacement title arrives. A few weeks from now, I’ll have the title, locked securely in our documents safe, and post it again.
And I’ll be happy to sell it at a $4,000 loss. Because that’s what happens when stop paying attention.