I’d been living in Los Angeles, a city where the necessity for a car is greater than perhaps any other in the world, for nine months without the use of my own vehicle. As the summer approached, my friends all started to go home leaving me without a car or a ride – or a hope of anything other than a stagnant summer, riddled with dependency on the few mobile friends who remained with me in the city of La Mirada.
On the first day of summer I thought my problems would be solved. I was online and found a used Honda Civic, for sale from a former student of Biola University. Surely I can trust a graduate of our prestigious and noble tertiary education establishment I thought to myself, and with the upmost haste I got in contact with her. We arranged to meet the following night so I could test-drive the car and look it over, just to ensure there were no major faults with the vehicle.
Growing up in a comfortable, upper-middle class Australian family rendered me with little insight as to what I might actually look for in a used car. I had my only other vehicle handed to me on a silver platter and maintained for me, while I drove around in my ‘left-side of the road, right-side of the car’ bourgeois bubble. Without an obvious door missing or broken-window, she could’ve sold me anything and in my desperation and naïve trust, I probably would’ve taken it.
After the test-drive I implored the graduate to give me 20 minutes to call my parents – well to have them call me to avoid the international charges. I’m a college student; I can’t afford to be making long-distance calls to the Southern Hemisphere. After a brief discussion with Mum, she informed me that as long as the car was under $4000 they would buy it. The car was $3995. Jackpot.
Everything will be smooth sailing from here I thought…
I gave the graduate a $200 deposit to ensure she didn’t show the car to any other interested parties – and believe me, there were (according to her anyway, being the dynamite saleswoman she was) interested parties! We agreed I would pay the outstanding amount by Friday – it was now Tuesday evening – and cordially, we parted ways.
At the time, I was already living on the couch of a friend, rendering me officially homeless and carless, so I called upon the generosity of my good friend Justin to assist me in removing and transporting the remaining $3,795 on Wednesday. If only he had informed me American banks are actually fastidious houses of Satan, I might’ve stayed away. No bank would touch me, or my Australian dollars. Perhaps the tellers had been keeping a close eye on the international market and seen that for the first time since I moved to America for college two years earlier, the Australian dollar had slipped back below that of the American currency. Or perhaps, as I mentioned above, banks really are the safe-haven of demons – after all, money is the “root of all evil.”
In an act of desperation I called my bank in Australia; a two-minute call for which I’m still unsure how much AT&T have charged me – probably around the same amount I was trying to extract for my Honda. They offered no solution, and no leniency to my $800- per day withdrawal limit, leaving me with only one option. I began to process the online transaction with the understanding that it could take anywhere between one and three days. The graduate gave me all of her details, and stressed that the money had to be in by Friday evening when she left for Mississippi. All I could do was wait.
A day later, the graduate sent me confirmation that the transaction had been successfully processed and on Friday, I was handed the keys to my brand new – used – Honda Civic, and the keys to my summer of freedom. I text mum, to thank her and politely inform her that registration and insurance was going to cost another $1300, but what are parents for, right?