It was the middle of the Eighty’s.
Reagan was in office, big business was on the assault from corporate raiders,
and the hot fashion trend was parachute pants. As a young adult in college,
I joined the pop-culture lifestyle with the purchase of a Suzuki Samurai.
For those you don’t’ remember, they were these square little
boxes with an overgrown motorcycle engine that looked like a child’s
version of a jeep. Funny looking they might have been, but they sure were
I came home one evening and parked my little toy-jeep in front of my
apartment complex. The next morning I headed out and made a horrible discovery.
Somebody else also really liked my toy-jeep, it was gone – it had
been stolen. I tried not to panic. I walked around the block just to make
sure I was mistaken about were I parked it. Nope, it was gone. When I
called the police, they said they have so many stolen car reports they
were not even going to send out a unit. They took my information over
the phone and told me they’d mail me out a report.
I called my insurance company and the loan institution. The loan institution
was less than helpful. I tried my best to find out what should I do about
the remaing balance on my loan. The lender suggested that I pay just the
interest on the loan and they would just extend the loan period each time.
After several months of payments, the insurance company paid off the principle
of the loan. Unbeknownst to me, the lender had calculated the loan amount,
basing the interest on the entire length of the loan, so even though the
principle was paid, according to their records, there was still a hefty
amount due. This just didn’t’ seem right to me, I was paying
interest on a loan that had no principle – there was nothing to
accrue interest against. I fought and fought and fought with the lender
about this. In the end, I had to have a lawyer intercede on my behalf.
Now I know what you are thinking, or at least I think I do. If the insurance
paid off the principle on the stolen car, what did I do about a replacement
vehicle? I went to the place most college students go for the down payment
for a car. That’s right, banko-de-parentos.
My mom could not be reached for comment, and my father wins the award
for “worst parent in a crisis” award. His reaction was one
of great indifference. When I finally pressured him about helping me in
some fashion his response was that he would be more than willing to help
co-sign for a car loan, IF I dropped out of college and got a real job.
His definition of a real job was one that put callouses on your hands.
In the end, my grandfather came through, he scraped up every dime he had,
and bought me a used jeep.