……. And The Plot Thickens …..


Go ahead and look at the picture closely, car guys/gals will get it right away, and the rest of y’all will have to wait until I explain it later. Anyhow, my hunt for a cheap mode of transportation has finally ended. Well, the hunt has ended since I have indeed purchased a vehicle as of yesterday, but the drama that has plagued me has yet to end. Hopefully by the time I’m done writing this post sometime later in the week, I can say it has all ended. As of now, it’s Wednesday night, I just wanted to start my story while I had some quiet time in my favorite room in the house.

Where to begin. Well, it actually started the Saturday before Thanksgiving when I was informed by my dad that he has located the perfect $2000.00 (my budget) car for me. He tells me it is a white 2001 Buick Park Avenue owned by a 93 year old man, he has been the only owner, and his immediate family wishes to sell it because he was placed in a nursing home last year at this time. In a round about way, through relatives I’ve never met, through marriages I never knew about, I’m told he is part of the collective family, which means he is the father of the cousin of my uncle’s wife. Yea, I don’t get it either, but just roll with it. But there’s a catch, it’s located 4 1/2 hours from my house, it hasn’t been inspected (safety/emissions) in over a year, and the exact location of the title has yet to be determined. By black Friday the title was located, it was signed by the old man, and was to be waiting for me when I picked up the car.

On Monday night, after work, I was delivered to my parent’s house since my dad felt obligated to go with me since it was his “deal”. Actually, I think he was bored and made the excuse to go with me. We got up early Tuesday morning and headed out. On our way, once we get to the county the car is registered in, we had to stop by the tax office for a temporary tag, so I would be legal to drive it back home. As we pull in the drive I see the car, remember I basically agreed to buy it sight unseen. We all spoke for a few minutes, I went and drove it a couple of miles, decided that I really liked the car, a lot. As I paid him he informed me he installed a new battery for me and that the title was not there. No worries tho, its being FedExed to me. We gas up on the way out of town and away we go. The car drives beautifully. After about 140 miles my ” Service Engine Soon” light comes on. Really! Motherfucker now somebody needs to die! What in the fuck mess did I just get myself into. Breath motherfucker, breath. Fuck you voice in my head, fuck you. I was, and remain, just a tad pissed. Y’all don’t need me to explain, again, why in the fuck I don’t trust people, do you? I didn’t think so. After a brief stop on the side of this busy fucking freeway and a few phonecalls, I was once again on my way.

For the first part of this trip I only wanted to listen to the car, see if she moaned and groaned at 120 mph, see if she rattled on the back country roads of East Texas, see if she is a thirsty bitch, but no, she purred like a kitten and just floated me around everything I offered her. I’m beginning to like driving a luxury car just a bit more than I should I think. However, after the service light came on I eased my foot out of her as just a wee bit, I have to remember that this car has sat, undriven and unthought about, for close to a year. Upon entering the city which I reside I pulled in to have the safety and emissions test completed so I can later get the title transfered so I can get new license plates. Bad news for me, the test shows a P0420 code, roughly translates into catalytic converter failure. Hence the check engine light, great, just fucking great. Pass or fail it is $25.50 paid. I was told I have 15 days to get my shit straight, bring it back, and they will reinspect it for free. After a few dozen phone calls, I found the place I was going, seemed fair over the phone and didn’t give me the ass rape price, average I was getting was $700+, so his $375 made me smile. It’s too late in the day now, I will have to go Wednesday morning.

Bright and early I was sitting at the muffler shop, well not really, my appointment was at 10:00 am, but I was there, I just wanted to get this shit done. Soon it was my turn, I get loaded into the computer, give him my keys, and take a seat while the diagnostics are being performed. By the time I was out of the men’s room he was there, waiting, to give me the news. He proceeds to tell me, “sir, I can’t replace your catalytic converter as discussed because you don’t have a catalytic converter to replace”. I must have had my best ” what in the fuck are you talking about” face on because I was led into the shop for show and tell time. Now, look at the picture above, I took that picture when standing under my car, as I was being shown a welded in patch of pipe where my catalytic converter should be located. WTF? Really? C’mon, your shitting me, right? Nope. He explained he will cut it out, reflange the exhaust pipe, and install a fancy new shiny catalytic converter. I was led back out ant told to give him about an hour and a half to get the job done. Fine. Still trying to wrap my head around this bullshit I realized that, of course, it would throw a code for a bad catalytic converter, no shit, because it doesn’t have one to begin with. But it all makes sense, it really does, because I bought it in a county which doesn’t require emissions testing. After some mega research, I found that the failure of the catalytic converter was common, very common, so common that after two years GM decided to do a design change, recommending to customers to get it switched out, not a recall, but at the customer’s expense. How nice. So, I guess that when it failed on the old guy he said fuck it and just took that shit out. However, I don’t have that luxury, I need it in the car, and when it was done it was $403.27 out of my pocket, I guess this was Merry Christmas to me early.

Upon completion, I was told to drive it 75 miles to reset the cycle, the sensors, and the computer module, so I did, and then I returned to the other shop to get it reinspected. Again, a failure of the test. One might guess that I’m getting pretty fucking pissed. I was told to drive it more, get over 150 miles on the new converter, then bring it back. So, Wednesday night I went joyriding for a while, I just drove out some 50 miles and turned around and drove back home. Now I have 180 miles on it. Thursday morning I went back, and I’ll be a son of a bitch, she passed with flying colors. Yay me! However, now its Friday morning, and I still don’t have a fucking title, so the rest of it goes on hold till next week sometime. Meanwhile, I’ve been cleaning her out, I have found $17.94 in change, an abandoned wasp nest, something dead that resembles a squirrel, and a trunk full of wet shit. But now it doesn’t smell like wet dog any longer. I’ll just keep trucking along, I’ll get done sooner or later, and meanwhile I’ll be cruising in my new used oldmanmobile and loving every minute of it. It’s still hard to believe that it all went down the rabbit hole this way, but now I am out, now I have my own ride again, yay me!

Everything Is Bigger In Texas?

Texas_Mudflap_Cowgirl_stickerWhy do people say “Everything is bigger in Texas”? I have lived in Texas for most of my life, all but the first five years of it, and I can’t ever remember saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” as an answer, a statement, a comment, or even in general conversation. So why do people say it? In fact, I can’t recall hearing other Texans saying Everything is bigger in Texas. Why? Just because we don’t say it, ever. When people visit Texas they feel the need to express their disbelief in something by referring back to the whole Everything is bigger in Texas phrasing. Again, I must ask why? We can explore some more on that in a little bit, but first I must get into what brings us together right now.

I happened to go to the local autoparts store here close to where I work to get a tail light bulb for my Nissan Pathfinder. I parked to go in and this woman was walking up as well. I held the door open for her out of politeness, that is just the way I am. She looked up at me and exclaimed, “Everything really is bigger in Texas isn’t it”. If you say so. She asked how tall I was so I replied back with the fact that I’m 6’8″ tall. She looked at my boots (size 16) and looked me straight in the crotch. She walked away mumbling something about shoe size. Now come on, who does this to people? Disturbed as I was I was there to actually get something, not check out the scenery as some were doing. Light bulb in hand and waiting to check out when this woman asks the clerk if she agreed “that some things are bigger in Texas than others” while she eyeballed my crotch again. I should have offered to let them touch it!

I paid, then I left, bewildered. I waited in the parking lot because I wanted to see where in the hell this woman who is 50ish was from. To my surprise, I found out that she was lost, she had Vermont license plates on her Tahoe. She was smart, she had the attendant come out and replace her headlight bulb for her. Vermont? She was a long ways from home. Now, granted, around here we see our fair share of foreign license plates from all over the United States, Mexico, Central & South America, as well as the odd Canadian. No telling their business here, visiting, vacation, got smart and went ahead and moved here. Who knows.

Getting back to the whole bigger in Texas thing. I have noticed, witnessed, and been told things like this before. As I have family living up north we do travel to visit them on occasion. We always drive so people always notice the Texas license plates. But wait, what if I was from New Jersey or somewhere? Then what would people say? Y’all think about that a while. My challenge to Y’all is to tell me why you think people refer to “Everything is bigger in Texas” as a comment when they see someone/something from Texas that is above average in size. I’m curious as hell. I have Googled this question and the answers are funnier than most things I read. Makes me wonder who exactly writes these in depth reviews on what they know about Texas. Anyway, I found humor in my little encounter with the woman from Vermont and wanted to share for humors sake.

The Texas mud flap girl and the Everything is Bigger in Texas pictures were both acquired via a Google image search. The images do not belong to me or The Sting Of The Scorpion and were borrowed, used, and placed assuming they were royalty free. Meaning? If they belong to YOU and you don’t want me to use them just e-mail me with your proof and I will swiftly remove them. Otherwise just remember y’all are visiting The Sting Of The Scorpion …………… because everything else just bites!


Being A Number On A List


I write quite a bit about the United States Air Force, the AMMO careerfield, the places in the world I have traveled, and the people I have met because my time in the Air Force consumed just shy of 15 years of my life. I write quite a bit about being a United States Air Force Disabled Veteran as well since this “status” was given to me and has been a part of my life for the last 13 years. In a way, my “status” is no more than being a number in a system and a monthly disbursement of funds. Fortunately for me, I did not have the struggles that we hear over time about how people get denied benefits. I was fortunate to receive a 100% disabled rating from the start. One of the “benefits”, if it can be considered a benefit, is that my vehicles bear Texas DV permanent license plates. I’m one of those people you will see out in the actual parking lot and not in the designated handicap parking spaces. Why? Good question. Perhaps because I intend on confusing people who notice. It really matters not to me where I park, most days, as I get older, being closer to the entrance is nice, but not required. I can get there from anywhere, might take me a little longer, but I will get there eventually.

Why do I bring all of this up? I had an interesting interaction with a young lady at our local Big Box supercenter, insert the name you know belongs, who afterwords really got my son to thinking and asking questions he had never asked before. First, she asked to take a picture of my H1 Alpha where the license plate is visible to help her in her project she is putting together showing disabled parking placard fraud. When I asked why she responded with an interesting observation she made while watching me and others. She pointed out that each entrance to the Big Box supercenter has 21 handicap parking spaces yet there are 40+ vehicles out in general parking that have disabled plates. She continued to explain that there are only two vehicles with actual disabled plates using handicap parking spaces, the rest are using disabled placards of different varieties. He points out that half of them are expired, some of them have had the dates obscured some way, and a small percentage actually look proper. I still don’t see my place in this conversation yet. She continued by saying that the two vehicles that had actual disabled plates had people in them which were using the assistance of motorized chair, where all the placarded vehicles moved under self locomotion. Okay, so what is the issue or problem with me. She says she has noticed before as she has been doing her “study” for a few months that there are times I park is handicap parking when it is available. I was waiting for her to ask me why, but it never happened.


I soon walked off because I actually was there for a reason beyond looking who is parking where. As I walked off I made a call to a friend of my in the county sheriffs office and asked if what she was doing was legal. He said he would roll out there and see if he could talk with her. Why did I call? I called for 2 reasons, first of all her stalking people in the parking lot enough to recognize people who frequent this store (which is mega-creepy) and secondly because she was taking pictures of people, vehicles, and license plates. Is she doing anything illegal? We’ll talk about that here in a bit. This whole thing prompted my son to start asking a few questions of his own. We will talk about a few of them. First he asked why the police don’t tow, boot, or ticket vehicle in disabled parking with expired credentials. I actually know this answer, it is because disabled parking violations on private property is not exactly a high priority with the police department. Now this same problem in a public setting or at government facilities is swiftly handled. Why? My guess is money, logistics, and manning. Second he asked what were the requirements for getting a disabled plate or placard. Personally I don’t know what others needed to do, I had to fill out forms and be examined before being given my prescription to take to the DMV. I would only expect that this would be the same process for everyone. But, I don’t often assume things, so I leave this one as unknown.

Thirdly he asked don’t I wish that I could closer to the entrance all the time. Sure, it would be nice, but I don’t mind the longer walk. Last, he asked me a question which he shouldn’t be worrying about which was are most of the people who have handicap parking privileges frauds. Good question. People have their reasons for doing everything. Most people who know they are doing something wrong have already weighed the odds of getting caught and are willing to accept the consequences. Sure, I see people getting in the car and out their car and wonder to myself what the reason for their disabled plate/placard is. But then I would imagine that people ask the same about me. What they see is a man in his mid-40s who gets out or gets in his vehicles a little slower than others. They see a man who walks a little bit slower than most. Other than a modest limp, nobody would think nothing to be any different about me. I don’t where my medical history on my shirt for the world to read nor is it available at your request to review. I personally don’t know other people are doing or why they are doing it. In the end if I ever get to the point where my mobility is really shitty I can always have my wife do the annoying thing I see allot, which is to stop right in front of the front doors and drop me off.

Now, getting back to the young lady in the parking lot. She claims to be a college student here locally and a while back handicap parking fraud caught her attention and through some research she found it was a large problem that is mostly ignored. So, she has become an “advocate” for the disabled driver, she uses her website to get out her word and findings, I guess like an investigative reporter of sorts. She also does petitions and writes lawmakers in Austin to try to get the laws changed so the fraud will disappear. As well, she feels she is at least a little bit partially responsible for the fines increasing in Texas for violators. I look like at it like this, karma truly is a bitch. Everything has a way of catching up with you in one way or another. I know that I’m not the one who is a fraud, I’m not the one doing something illegal, I’m not the one who needs a lesson in morality, and I’m not the person who will get shot confronting someone over a parking space. Life is too short to let the little things ruin your day. It may seem that I don’t actually care, which is isn’t altogether true, I do care, I care that I have myself in-line, what someone else does with their life is their choice. Too many assholes have frauded the disabled parking system that Joe Public looks at all of us with scrutiny and in-turn sees no harm in the handicap space being mis-used. Not everyone is a thief and a liar, not everyone is a fraud, not everyone is lazy, and not everyone who has disabled plates needs to be in disabled parking. It would be nice however, if people did follow the law and that the laws are enforced. In a perfect world maybe, but not in the world I live in.


Overall I guess the actual point of this post is to show people that not everyone feels “privileged” with what they believe to be their undisputable right to park in a handicap spot. And yes, I am a person who could go either way. Most days my body decides to be cooperative with me living my life, other days not so much, but life must still carry forward. I think the only problem I have with people, in general, is the ones that admit they borrow a vehicle or a placard so they can park closer, because that is just lazy, and lazy isn’t a handicap, it’s a choice people make everyday.