Beware the repo man

I’ve owned quite a few old junkers in my life and a few brand new cars as well. I seem to alternate between the two. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have the money to buy a new car and sometimes it’s because I just get tired of making the monthly payment. When I was young, it was a steady stream of junkers for both of those reasons.
Once I save up my money and bought a car from a car lot named USA Used Cars. In the town where I live there are a bunch of these types of places, the ones that usually have “Buy Here, Pay Here” in huge bright neon letters pasted across the front window. Of course, they’ll finance anyone whose breathing but that person probably won’t be breathing that long because the payments and interest they charge will suck the life out of him.

OK Used Cars was just like the rest of them, but a lot bigger, taking up a good two city blocks filled with expensive junk. But they did have a limited warranty on most of their vehicles and they only charged a flat 10% interest, so they were probably the best in town.

My friend and I looked around and finally found a car in the price range that I could afford. It was an old Chevy that was kind of rusty and had a dent in the side, but it started right up and ran smoothly and the tires were good. I intended to pay cash for the car so I didn’t have to mess with a monthly payment and the interest. One thing I’ll have to say for OK, they didn’t give you the hard sell like some lots do. The salesman literally ran past us. I shouted that I’d give him a couple hundred dollars less than what was on the windshield and he yelled back “Fine, see the sales manager inside.”

The sales manager was a heavyset fellow with a southern accent who was sitting at his desk having lunch and talking on the phone about a hunting trip that he had just gotten back from. We told him which car we wanted and he pulled a big stack of paperwork out of his desk. He took down the basic information like where I lived and my employment. then he started asking really weird personal questions like where could I be found late at night and did I have a girlfriend? I finally asked him why he needed all of this personal information and he replied “So we can track you down and take the car back if you default on the loan.”

He then started going on about how many people try to screw him out of his money. I interrupted and told him that I wanted to pay cash for the car. His face brightened and he said “Well, in that case all you need is to sign the title” as he proceeded to tear up all the papers.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, more and more cars are being repossessed in these tough economic times. It seems like tough times are good times for the repo man. According to the paper, most repo men do towing also. I guess that it’s only natural that the two businesses go together.

But it can also be dangerous work. One repo man here in St. Louis told how he was shot at a couple of times and struck with a baseball bat. And most repo men, like their cousins the bail bondsmen, aren’t totally cold-hearted about their jobs. It’s hard to take away what is sometimes essential to their livelihood, their car. One repo man drove the woman whose car he just possessed to work. He felt so bad about taking her car, he picked her up and drove her home too.

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