Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Volvo Kind Of Guy

A few years ago, I had a Volvo 240 DL. It was a very good car and I had owned it for years with minimum problems. Eventually, it started to nickel and dime me and Volvos were never cheap to fix anyway. I decided to get a new car. I got one and still owned the Volvo. I figured I could probably get around $500 for it.

In the meantime, a woman I know is a waitress at an Orlando restaurant. She came up to me one day and told me about this co-worker whose wife left him and cleaned out what little money he had. The car he owned was a real clunker. Would I consider donating the car to him? He's really a nice guy and he can use a big break like that. I told her I'd think about it and get back to her the following week. I did. I gave it some serious thought, and being the good guy that I am, I said, sure, I'll do it. I wasn't really hurting for money or anything at the time, so why not?

I cleaned it out and set a date for him to come get it. They came up and I signed the title over to him. In Florida, titles don't have to be notarized any longer. Off he drove. I didn't care that he put a phony tag on it. He had the title. It was no longer my car. At least, that's what I thought.

Months later, I came home from work. In the mailbox was a postcard from the Orlando Police Department. It stated that my Volvo was left abandoned on a street and it was towed to the city (but privately owned) lot. I had to pay the $46 towing fee plus $15 a day in storage. Or my license would be suspended by the state after 31 days. Hey! I didn't even own that car anymore.

I called the police department. The dispatcher was very nice. I explained the whole situation to her. She told me the phone number of the towing company and wished me luck.
Apparently, the new "owner" never transferred the title. Technically, to the state, I still owned it.

The dispatcher at the towing company was nice, too. I explained the whole thing to her. I told her that I could have sold the car, but, out of the goodness of my heart, I gave it to someone who subsequently, just abandoned it. I asked her how much the storage fee was. She told me, and I think, it was $195, plus towing. Wow! I then asked her if she could waive the storage fee since I didn't think it would be all that fair to me. She said she didn't think so, but she would explain the situation to the owner and let me know. In the meantime, before I could pay anything, I had to show proof of ownership. I said I don't have the title and I don't remember who the guy was. Plus, I had to turn in my old registration in order to transfer it over to the new vehicle. Kind of like a Catch-22. I said just the mere fact that I got the letter and that the vehicle was still in my name proved that I was the owner. Why do I need to show you anything? Because you do. That's it. I was perplexed, but I knew I would figure it out.

I called the tag office and told my story again. The lady there said, sure, it's still in your name. Yes, we can print out proof that you own the vehicle. That should work for them. Great. I went and picked it up (free!) and returned home to call the towing company again. She said the owner felt bad for you and said that if you can get down here today and today only, he will waive the storage fee, but, someone's got to pay the tow truck driver, so the $46 stays. I would have to pay that. I drove down and paid it. I thanked them for being so nice. After all, they didn't have to give me any kind of break.

When I ran into my old "friend" again, I told her what I had just gone through. Hey, don't get me involved in it, she said. I said, you got yourself involved in it when you came up to me in the first place. I'm not blaming you. You were just trying to do a good thing, too. Would you please tell him and see if he's willing to at least pay me something? Yeah, yeah, right. I never heard another thing about it again. Some friends.

I'm probably the only person who ever gave away a car for free and then had to pay for it. I learned my lesson. I will never just turn over a title to anyone again. Ever.

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