JoshVision: The Epic of the Corolla, Part 1

joshToday is Josh’s birthday. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I asked him to write an entry he’s been stewing over for a week or so. You won’t be disappointed.

The date is May 2, 2009. On my way to my sister’s wedding, I stop to get gas at a skuzzy little station just west of the middle of nowhere in the heart of Virginia. I fill up the tank and continue on my way. This is where my story begins. Had I not stopped at that particular gas station on that particular day, you wouldn’t be reading this.

As I drive onward, my head fills with the thoughts of the day to follow. Yes, my younger sister is about to take a ride on the matrimony pony, a strange and unnerving thought, but at least I’ll soon be able to call home without having to first listen to 15 minutes of wedding planning drama. So, lose a sister, gain 15 minutes of my life back once a week. Plus, there will be free beer. And not just any beer. Newcastle, served straight from the keg. The beer of the Gods. Sweet. Delicious. Pure. I press my foot to the accelerator, hoping the pregame has not started without me.

My car, a 2006 Corolla, sputters in response. Sputters, then outright dies. No power steering. No power brakes. Cursing, I guide the disabled car to the side of the country road and put my weight on the brakes to bring it to a halt. Great. This is not happening, I think to myself.

But it is. I call Geico who sort of promptly sends a tow truck to my rescue. Thank God I paid for that roadside assistance I thought I’d never need.  I then call my Dad, who picks Kendall and me up and takes us the rest of the way to the wedding. We’re still at least two hours early, which gives me plenty of time to calm my frazzled nerves with a little chemical assistance. Thanks, Newcastle.

The wedding is nice. I look slammin’ in my rented tux. That delicious delicious beer flows like wine. And despite reports to the contrary, I do NOT cry.

That Tuesday I get a call from the dealership to where I had the car towed. The following is a verbatim transcript of that conversation.

          Dealership: Mr. Covington, did you get gas just before your car broke down?

          Me: Yeah…

Dealership: Ah. Well, we found your gas tank to be full of a combination of diesel fuel and water. That’s what caused the problem.

          Me: F#@$%!

For those of you that don’t know much about cars, putting diesel fuel in a gasoline tank is really bad.  Like, exceedingly bad. I’m talking $1900 worth of damage bad.

So upon hearing the news, I put on my angry face and leave work in the middle of the day, hop into my sister’s car (which she has graciously and unknowingly loaned to me while on her honeymoon), and drive back to just west of middle of nowhere to pay the skuzzy gas station a second visit. I’m crazy ticked off, but also a little nervous that perhaps the whole thing somehow my fault, that after a dozen years of driving and pumping gas, I’ve made a fatal, totally boneheaded mistake. As it turns out, my fears are unfounded.

The station does not sell diesel fuel.

Yes, you read that correctly. So how, you may ask, does a gas station in 2009, even a skuzzy gas station in Nowheresville, VA, come to dispense diesel fuel from an unleaded pump and get away with it? That’s what I wanted to know, so I proceeded to don my Encyclopedia Brown hat to find out.

For the sake of brevity, I’ll spare the bloody details of much of the story here. Trust me when I say, it gets a bit ugly. Thankfully though my insurance agrees to pay for all but $500 worth of the damage. And yes, after a half dozen phone calls, I am able to track down the fuel supplier to that particular station. No, I am not able to get him to admit to wrongdoing or negligence. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s cool, I’ll see him in court.

So with fault secured in my mind, and a plan of action on how to collect from the party at fault, I allow the dealership to proceed with the repairs. As my sister returns from her honeymoon, I trade her borrowed car for a rental courtesy of Geico. Soon this will all be but a happy memory, I think, along with a simple, marginally entertaining one-part JoshVision entry.


A few days later, I get another call from the Toyota Dealership. My car is fixed, she says. Hooray! But, wait, why is there still worry in her voice?

Next time on JoshVision:

Did the Toyota Dealership REALLY wreck my car test driving it after finishing the repairs? The answer may surprise you!


My probable trip to small claims court!

Happy birthday, Josh. For more JoshVision, click here.

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