Charles had a car once that he drove to the UNA campus and there he went into the Collier library most every day to work. What did Charles work on? His book of poetry, “Poetry My Mother Would’ve Approved”. He spent quite a long time each day learning about the publishing industry and how to compile and present his work so that it could be and would be accepted for publication. Then on the night of July 31st 2009 his car “burned up” on 72 coming back that rainy night from Huntsville, after having flown in from L.A. from his mother’s funeral service given at sea. The head gasket is what “burned up” – they go when the heat of the engine exceeds a certain degree, and that is because…? Several possible reasons. Nevertheless, Charles brought his car to a man named Wayne Quinn in Florence who had done work on the car before and said for 375.00 he would repair the gasket. Charles has limited funds, he had to go with lowest quote.
After paying an initial sum of $150 to Mr. Quinn, asked by Mr. Quinn up front, Charles watched a 15 year old boy named “Jimmy” spend more than three hours tearing down the engine. Jimmy hadn’t done this type of work before as was evident by the way he looked and looked for the identity of parts in the engine that he could remove to get to the head gaskets. Normally this type of job takes at most three hours. Jimmy was not an experienced mechanic at all, and this was even more evident when he put a greasy car part inside the car for storage. Weeks later,
Quinn tells Charles that it’s going to cost another $50 dollars because the back head is cracked, so says the grinding shop that checks for this situation before they regrind the head, which is needed to be done in order to guarantee a smooth fit with the new gaskets. Charles pays the $50 and tells Quinn in a note to keep the cracked gasket and all parts replaced. When Quinn tries to get more money from Charles for the grinding service, Charles succeeds in prevailing over Quinn since the agreement was for Charles to supply the parts and Quinn supplies the fixed car. Several weeks go by and Charles makes more incremental payments so that by the time the car is “ready” he’ll only have a small or last payment to make.
Meanwhile Charles is walking to the UNA campus daily from his home two miles away.
Then Charles checks with Quinn to see if the damaged head (and new / used replacement) are back from the grinders. They are, and Charles buys a “head gasket” kit for $100 and gives it to Quinn to install. A head gasket kit costs twice more than just the head gaskets because there are auxiliary gaskets, such as the intake manifold gasket, that to be sure should also be replaced when a head gasket “blows”. Quinn installs the kit. It’s October 18th.
By Nov. Charles has enough money to make the last payment and pick up the car. Then Quinn tells Charles that the wires are no good, meaning the spark plug cables and caps. This is $40 at AutoZone, best price. Charles presents new cables to Quinn and asks him if knows the correct timing order. See Charles has watched another mechanic tag each wire before pulling them off. But Quinn assures him that he does know. So Charles comes back a couple of days later. But when Quinn tries to start the car it doesn’t start and even begins smoking! Not getting it started Quinn blames on the battery. But the battery was taken out of the car so it couldn’t be stolen (they’ve had thefts) and hasn’t been used in the intervening months, and shouldn’t have been. Quinn says he’ll charge it and get it going. Next day though Quinn tells Charles, “couldn’t get the battery to take a charge“…so Charles asks how long did Quinn charge the battery – “about two hours”, he says. I’ll take the battery and charge it myself, says Charles. Then after charging the battery overnight, and Charles goes to test it the battery “arcs” – “arcing” is the sign of a bad battery. So, Charles gets his brother to take him to Walmart to get a new battery since it is still under warranty. When he talks with the Walmart people they tell him they don’t sell Duralast batteries, AutoZone probably does. Wait a damn minute, you’re telling me that this battery couldn’t have been bought here, which is what this faded receipt says? That’s right. Quinn tries to sell Charles that, “NO, it’s your battery”. Charles goes one step further and checks the serial number on the battery; it was made ten years ago. When Quinn is confronted with the facts, he says maybe yours was used to start another car. I’ll check and let you know. Days go by. Quinn hasn’t telephoned or stopped by. The shop is five blocks from Charles’ home on Hampton.
Charles is walking to UNA and back each day.
The weather is turning colder.
Why is Charles walking?
Commuters along Wood Ave are beginning to notice and recognize Charles’s daily treks to the UNA Library and sundry destinations south. Some even lightly honk.
Charles writes a civilized letter telling Mr. Quinn that he wants him to “find” or replace the battery Quinn “presented” him, and one that works well. What’s extremely interesting is the day Charles went to pick up the car; he noticed that the driver’s window was open all night. Quinn says, “Yeah it jammed or something, I couldn’t get it to go up”. It had been raining. Now, Charles had enough of Mr. Quinn’s “explanations” for things. He calls AAA and has Jeff come and tow the car back to his home. Then, Jeff applied his battery to the car to start it, and it smoked and belched, but the window on the driver’s side miraculously now worked.
Charles is walking to UNA and back daily. Two thousand, six hundred and twenty-six paces, counted off going and coming back.
Charles takes his car to ‘2 Guys Auto & Truck Repair’ mechanic shop, corner of Royal and Wood Ave / Chisholm Rd. Comes back two days later to get the dope. One of the owners tells him, “The engine would’ve never started, he had wires in backwards!” “Plus your rings are scorched” (warped) The rings are the two metal beads circling the piston’s top so a near air-tight compartment is produced without suffering the entire cylinder to the intense friction that would develop between the entire piston surface and the cylinder walls. “Preston“ tells Charles, “Quinn should’ve told you this before he started to work on the heads, any good mechanic would. The engine is shot”. Charles thinks, so that’s why really, Quinn took only a hundred dollars as final payment, when he was owed $150. It wasn’t that he was trying to be nice to him. Charles pays 65.00 for the diagnostic.
Charles tells Preston that he’ll have AAA come tomorrow to tow the vehicle off his lot,
and thanks him. Charles walks to UNA.
He writes another letter to Wayne Quinn detailing how he will file a claim against him if he doesn’t pay back the money Quinn got for nothing. (Less than nothing in truth, which is what a con job is). Charles waits one week, then two weeks.
Meanwhile, the treks back and forth to UNA and the county library and occasionally Trowbridges (ice cream shop) continue.
Then Charles asks a lawyer friend to write Mr. Quinn a nice letter explaining the facts of the matter. No response. Charles factually can’t hire his friend as an attorney, therefore Charles initiates a claim of negligence against Wayne Quinn in Small Claims / district court, paying 55.00 for the service.
Charles stops walking to UNA. It’s too cold.
Quinn is served. Waits two weeks for reply to charges. Quinn doesn’t answer. The court date is set. Quinn is served. Two more weeks have to elapse. Quinn doesn’t answer.
Charles asks for ‘default judgment’. The usual next step. Court serves Quinn again with notice. Two weeks. Quinn does not answer. Judgment goes against Quinn, he is notified of it. Two weeks must pass, statutory. Now does Quinn own any property to attach for execution? The Lauderadale auto and real estate records are checked. Doesn’t seem so. Is it possible to garnishee Quinn’s wages? How, Quinn doesn’t work. Does Quinn have a conscience?
Apparently not. What kind of life does Wayne Quinn live? Is it likely that Quinn will even stumble upon the fact that a man’s reputation in business is about all he has to live by?
The weather is getting warmer. Charles is walking again and enjoying it more now that his book of poetry is getting printed. (And many more since.)