Friday

The Hand of God

Here, folks, is a confession. It's shameful, but I'm about to tell you a shallow reason why I believe in God.

Back in Auckland, we had 12 days to sell Auntie Ruby, a first-class, maroon-red, manual transmission 1993 Toyota Corolla station wagon.

First we had to replace the windshield, or the "windscreen" as it is called in Britishy countries. Personally -- and I am saying this as a completely objective linguaphile -- I think "windshield" is the better word. It makes me feel like a road warrior, battling wind, bugs and loose roadkill with my SHIELD.

Plus American English is scientifically proven to be way cooler and more precise than British English. So it's like, duh.

But I had to remember I was in a Britishy country. So when I called about a billion glass replacement companies, I begrudgingly deferred to local asininities. When in Rome!

Windscreen replaced, we made gorgeous fliers and posted them in hostels all over the city. Twenty fliers and we only got one call from a Canadian dude who told us later that he bought a cheaper car. Two days later we saw him at a car auction; he waved awkwardly at us. We also met Mariana's co-worker at the auction. An older, wiser man, he told us we would never get the $2,500 NZD we were asking for Auntie Ruby (she had 400,000kms on her, old girl) and that we should lower our price to $1,000. Demoralized, and with less than a week before Mariana and I had to leave NZ, we had a few last-gasp options.

1) Another one of Mariana's coworkers expressed interest in the car, but he wasn't really answering her text messages.
2) The epitome of a used car salesman (missing teeth, missing buttons on a short-sleeved button-down Hawaiiian print shirt with stains aplenty) offered us $1,500 for Auntie Ruby. But when I called him later he didn't remember me and I couldn't understand him, he was either face-in-vomit drunk or I dialed the wrong country.
3) There were a few Chileans at our hostel -- I overheard them saying in Spanish that they were looking to buy a car and immediately tried to pimp Mariana into Spanishing her way into their hearts. But Argentinians and Chileans have strained relations so we left it at that.
4) And finally, we could sell Auntie Ruby for a pittance to a guy who specialized in buying cheaply from desperate backpackers.

Basically we were hopeless.

I tried posting an online ad and received mostly scammy emails. When things got desperate, though, I really wanted to believe Catherine from China would leave the money for me with a local shipping company if I would just wire her some money as a show of good faith.

The DAY before we were set to leave, we got a flat tire. Of course. That night we drank our anxiety away. The next morning at SEVEN-THIRTY AM I got a text message. Who the fuck is texting me this early? AND on the morning of a major hangover??

"Hana, is your car still for sale? I saw your ad on the internet and would like to come see it today. Let me know if that's okay. John."

Immediately
I sat straight up and fell back immediately as I banged the fuck out of my head on the bunk above me. It took me ten minutes to craft a response that was informative without a trace of my utter desperation. It turned out they lived in the same neighborhood and they could meet me in an hour!!! What were the chances?

Mariana and Gemma had last-minute administrative things they had to do, so I drove Auntie Ruby over to John alone. I was fucking terrified. I'm okay with driving a stick on the highway, but cities and towns where there's a lot of stop-and-go and, fuck me! hills and parallel parking! it's just too much for this little lady. So when I met up with John and his buddy after 4 stall-outs and 15 minutes to parallel park, I was sweaty and my adrenaline was pumping. I was completely out of control of my body, and probably my mind since the first thing I said to them was "Hey, we blew out a tire yesterday so we're willing to come down on price."

After a quick test-drive, John, his friend and I were talking outside when Gemma and Mariana came running toward us. In my head I was like, "Oh no, they're already looking way too eager." But -- discovery of discoveries -- it turns out pretty girls are the best way to sell a car.

John said, "Okay, let's get down to business. Let's talk about money." I held my breath. "Would you take $2,000?"

I shat myself. That was exactly what we paid for her, and exactly what we wanted. We sold Auntie Ruby exactly one hour before I had to leave for the airport. If that's not a textbook example of deus ex machina, I don't know what is. Shallow, but I really felt like I was touched by something transcendent and divine. I left New Zealand feeling blessed and in the presence of grace.

Not Grace Lee. I hate her. She's a bitch.

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