December 1980

repossessedCar repossessions are the only money Lou has coming in now. Most of the handyman work was in the summer, but he still has a classified ad in the paper, and gets random calls for odd jobs. Some of the jobs really so seem quite odd; the details don’t make a lot of sense, and leave me wondering exactly what is going on behind closed doors.

I do like doing the repos with him.  He prefers to take me instead of his fraternity brothers because he feels like he should pay them for their help, or at least be indebted to them for another favor.  It’s always exciting, and we have some good stories from it. One night, we had to repossess 3 cars from one person.  As it turned out, they belonged to one of my former Girl Scout Leaders. I was a First Class Girl Scout, now I’m a Second Rate Car Thief (legally – sort of). She must have been having a hard time of it, and I felt bad taking her cars; it really wasn’t fun. We also had to take a car from another person I knew, a friend of Kathy’s boyfriend. This one was both fun and scary. The bank gives the repo company all the loan paperwork they have on file, so you can have all the info on work, family, residences, whatever might help get the car back.  The repo company had already tried to find the guy, and he wasn’t at the given address anymore.  The phone number was unchanged, but it was unlisted, so they couldn’t get the new address. I like doing the investigative work on the cars nobody can find, and I’m pretty good at it, so Louie calls me “Joey Investigator”.  On this one, I called the number, a person answered, and I waited a bit and then asked, “Hello?……. Hel-lo? ….. Hel-lo?”, and hung up.  I called again a couple times with the same sort of thing, and talked to an imaginary person supposedly with me, saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong… it rings, and stops, but nobody’s there”. Then I waited a little while, and called again, saying I was from the phone company and that there had been some trouble reported on this line.  I asked if it was intermittent or all the time and stuff like that. I said we would send a lineman out to the house to check it out, and gave the old address as where we would send him. Then the guy offered up his new address right away, practically giving directions. We drove over, and the car was there.  Lou got it started right away and took off; I followed in his car.  We were stopped at a red light, and in my rear view mirror I saw a car race up and come to a quick halt behind me, a guy jumped out of the passenger seat, ran past me and the Grand Prix, and jerked opened the passenger side door of the repo car Lou was in.  I locked my doors.  From the streetlight, I could see their outlines through the rear window, and watched the two of them struggling in the front.  Eventually, Lou did push him out and took off in his repo car. I drove around Kathy’s boyfriend’s friend and straight through the traffic light, which had cycled from red to green to yellow and back to red again during the scuffle. My knees were literally shaking. Later, Lou told me that once the guy realized the car was repossessed and not stolen, he mostly just wanted to get what looked like a bag of pot out of the glove compartment.

One time, my father saw that Lou had driven me home in a repossessed Jeep.  He wasn’t thrilled about that, and said he didn’t want me in the repo cars because they may not be safe.  He figures that if a person isn’t making their car payments, they probably are not keeping up on maintenance either.  He’s probably right. I can only imagine what he would say if he found out about me actually going on the repos with him and driving the getaway car with no license, registration, inspection or insurance. I’ve done a lot of repos; most are not exciting and involve many hours of just waiting around for someone to come home or drive by. I study in the car a lot.  Once, Lou was hunting for a car that nobody had been able to get for months.  We were just driving around town cruising for it, and he caught a glimpse of it down a side street in a random location. We got the vehicle back to campus, and Lou told his boss he had a hot lead on the car, but it was going to cost a little extra to get it. That was sneaky, but double fee was a nice reward for the hard work.

Lou has a lot of stories from when he did repossessions in New York City, where he used to carry a gun.  There’s no gun now that I know of, and I don’t think he ever actually used one.  I think he would have told me. On one repo, someone convinced Lou to take him home to get money to pay off the loan, and ended up locking Lou in the garage.  Lou thought he was going to die that night. Another time, Lou was driving a repo car and it suddenly caught on fire and was totaled, which kind of proves my Dad’s maintenance theory.

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