Crushing Pamela’s Oldsmobile
Monday, August 29th, 2011
Raleigh, North Carolina
(An excerpt from my book Pamela's Baby Rocking Chair. Also available as an e-book. (c) 2016 Stu Jenks)
Found a realtor to sell the ancestral house. Nice enough man. At least he doesn’t feel like a flim-flam man, like the other realtor I met. And he’s from Pamela’s church. I think he’ll do right by me.
Got an estate sale man to sell the few things to sell in the Amherst house. I separate what I want to take to Tucson from what to sell. There is very little I want to keep: An old secretary desk I inherited from my grandmother, Mama Lillie, in 1982, Pamela’s old work table, Pamela’s old single bed, an ancient chest of drawers, some books, some pottery, a few things here and there. I’m surprised how little I want.
I just want to sell this broken-down, mold-infested house, pay Mary’s debts and have a little to pay down some debts of mine. Just happy I didn’t have to evict my sister from our mother’s house, to pay for our mother’s health care.
Got two attorneys, one in Tucson, another in Raleigh. What money there is is quickly being spent on plane tickets, rental cars, a future Penske truck, gravestones, meals and what have you. At least I’m not having to go into debt to bury my family. Many do, don’t you know.
But then there’s this car. This piece of shit Oldsmobile. I forgot to have Pamela sign over the title to me while she was alive. The plan has always been to not administer my sister’s estate. She didn’t have a pot to piss in nor a window to through it out of. Since Pamela’s has $60,000 of unpaid medical bills, my Raleigh and my Tucson attorneys concurred that we just don’t administer the estate and when the bills come in, just send a form letter saying no assets are available and that we’re sorry.
But I forgot to sign over the Olds.
Plan was simple. Give the car to charity. There’s a place here in Raleigh that takes old cars and give them to the working poor. I called them. I made plans, but then came up the matter of a clear title. I have a title to a dead girl's car. That’s not a clear title. So Plan B or C.
Plan B was to take the car to the scrap yard and sell it for the steel.
Plan C was abandon the car in a parking lot at North Hills Shopping Center, and leave the key in the ignition. Preferably do this on the day I’m flying home, so if the Police call me, I’ll just say it must have been stolen out of the open garage and my sister is dead and oh, well.
I ran Plan C by my Raleigh attorney, mostly as a joke. She didn’t think it was funny.
“I wouldn’t advise you to do that, Mr. Jenks,” she said.
So Plan B it is.
I empty everything out of the Olds. I find the address to the scrapyard. It’s in south Raleigh. I’m in North Raleigh. I call a cab company to see if they’ll pick me up. Of course they will.
I back the Olds out of the drive and begin my journey. Right off the bat, I notice how much play there is in the front end. Worn tie rods, I suspect. I think I’ll take the surface streets, not the Belt Line.
The scrap yard is a popular place. And depressing. People with children’s wheel-burrows bring pieces of gutter, tubing and pipes to the yard. They all are black. They all are poor. It is very sad.
I drive Pamela’s old Olds into the back of the muddy junk yard. Surrounded by large cranes and huge forklifts, I look around the interior of the car for anything I don’t want to leave behind. I grab my camera and exit the vehicle.
As a big forklift grabs my sister’s car and carries it away, I take its picture.
It’s a shame to throw away a perfectly good automobile.
I got $200 and change for the Olds.