I went over to help my mom today, and she paid me $14,000.
Well, technically, she offered to buy me my sister’s old car at that price (and apparently my sister has had equal or higher offers). I told her not to drop that kind of coin on a car, and that I’m morally opposed to spending more than $7,000 or so on a vehicle. She said you can’t get a good used car for that anymore. For all I know, she’s right. [Shrug.]
But I suspect she was looking for novel and creative ways to keep herself stressed.
I told her, “You should buy it for Codger. He really needs a new car. His old clunker is way worse than mine.”
“I already offered, but your father refused.”
I sat down my hot tea, stirred it, and smiled. “Mother, you must be mistaken. Why would Codger refuse a $14,000 car?” Why am I refusing it? I asked myself. No answer came.
“He thinks it will jack up his insurance bill. I’ve told him I’ll pay the yearly insurance for him.”
My mom felt panicked to get this done before my sister could get fed up and sell the car elsewhere, apparently. While I was still at my mom’s condo, my dad returned her phone call.
“Hello, Phil? Thanks for calling me back. This is about the car. I don’t think your insurance would… well, you bundle with Meg, right, on your insurance?… her name’s not on the policy? No, I don’t think insurance works that way.”
I raised an eyebrow. Is that why my insurance card has my dad’s name on it but not mine? Huh.
“Well, Phil, then it could cost thousands and thousands of dollars to properly insure her! How could you let this happen?”
“So, you’re saying you don’t want the car, but you don’t mind if Meg gets the car?”
Either my dad started yelling and/or my mom put him on speakerphone so she could write something down, because I could hear him being argumentative. And my mom was trying to write down a phone number, but since her stroke she gets numbers mixed up.
She hung up the phone at long last and burst into tears. In my mind, I was pushing her energy back onto her so that it wouldn’t pollute me. It took a vicious forcefield.
“I’m so sorry,” she wailed. “I’m sorry for crying.”
I braved a look at her and quickly looked away.
“I just have to make a phone call,” she said.
I hoped she was calling my sister; or Mark, my mom’s boyfriend; but she dialed the number of the insurance agent. Beep, beep, beep! “We’re sorry, but the number you dialed cannot be…”
She ended the call and swore. There were several unholy and repeated references to Jesus, which really upset me; and she kept adding random apologies, as if that could justify her continued profanity, so I grabbed my stuff and fled.
When I got home, she called me and wanted to know what’s on my insurance card. I told her the policy number.
“Is your name on the card?” she asked.
“No, just Codger’s,” I said.
“Oh dear God, our lives are ruined! Ruined!”
“Okay,” I murmured. “That’s nice.”
“How can I make this happen? If you’re not currently insured, it could cost thousands of dollars to get you insured!”
“Let’s just call it off,” I suggested with a shrug.
“Oh, thank you, honey, but I’m not yet ready to give up. I’m going to keep trying.”
I knew there was nothing I could do to dissuade her. She seeks out these stressful situations to avoid feeling peaceful, which triggers deep and abiding guilt and fear within her. Like, wait, I’m happy right now? Oh no! The universe is going to strike me down with lightning! How could I let this happen? Please, God, don’t kill me. I can create more stress! I know, I’ll buy Meg a car.
Not that I want to sound ungrateful.
Oh, geez. If she calls and talks to our insurance agent, she’ll be outing my dad for not properly insuring me. [Groan.] Which I’m just now finding out about.
Back when I was still at her condo, I told her that I don’t believe in spending huge money on cars, weddings, or jewelry, but she insisted that I need a reliable car.
“Carlene’s always gotten me where I wanted to go,” I assured her, “except for that one time…” I scratched my head. “Um, every other time she’s gotten me there.”
“Doesn’t Carlene need a new exhaust system, functional air conditioning, and something to cool her engine?” my mom asked.
“Yeah. But it’s just that if I had $14,000, I’d pay off debt,” I explained. “I owe Codger at least that much. If Carlene were to die, I’d rather coordinate with him and share his car than see money spent that way.”
I tried to convince my mom that there are better ways to get a car for less, but she was insistent that you can never trust a used car. “Your sister’s always done the maintenance on her car,” she explained, “so I know the car’s in great shape.”
The thought occurred to me, and not for the first time, that my sister would probably tamper with the brakes in order to get me killed. I kept that thought to myself.
“See, here’s the problem,” my mom explained. “I need to put the title in your name or your dad’s. If it’s in my name and you violently kill a pedestrian…”
I groaned and facepalmed. Because this stuff should be worried about, am I right?
“… then I have coverage of $500,000, but I’ll have to pay the rest from my assets, at which point none of you will have anything to inherit.”
I don’t know. I think the bigger disappointment might be that I killed someone. But huh, it’s a toss-up for sure.
So yeah, that’s the situation. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m really happy just driving my old clunker. Maybe I should simply urge my mom to give me $14,000 so I can repay a lot to Codger. But see, that would be the simple path. And life is dangerous when it’s simple, apparently.