|Posted on November 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM|
I wanted to take a moment to share a tale about normally semi-intelligent people doing incredibly stupid things. This is a true story that occurred about 16 years ago in Moscow, Idaho.
A little history first: I was 19 years old and living with two friends of mine in a two bedroom apartment just off of the University of Idaho campus, let's go ahead and call them "Mared" and "Jatt" to protect their
ignorance innocence. I was working as a stockman at the local Wal-Mart for minimum wage, Mared was working at a grocery store in the deli and Jatt was working at McDonald's in the heart disease department. Needless to say, we were stone cold broke. Jatt was slowly restoring a '76 Camaro that sounded like a dragon with indigestion, I had my '88 Mustang and Mared was tooling around in a P.O.S. S-10 Blazer with one front tire that stuck out further than the rest.
It didn't take long for Mared to realize that his Chevy was the weak link in our parking lot ensemble so he decided to trade it in on something a little more chick-magnety. He poured some heavy weight oil in the engine to mask the death-rattle knock and we all piled in and made a trip to the Toyota dealership in Spokane. It took less than 12 parsecs after pulling into the lot for Mared to spot a blue '90 IROC Camaro and fall madly in love. Anyone with a thing for four-wheeled ladies knows that the instant you imagine yourself behind the wheel, the deed is as good as done. I knew something was amiss when the dealer was willing to take an extra set of wheels from a Nissan pickup and a Blaupunkt cassette deck that was still in the box as part of the trade-in.
The IROC only had a V6 in it and was cursed with some of GM's most idiotic ergonomics, but Mared was in overpriced-hatchback heaven. That is, until it was time to start making payments. Because Mared was blessed with more balls than brains when it came to driving, insurance was ridiculously high for his new ride. (He once hopped his dad's mini-truck into the oncoming lane while taking the sweeping curve of a mountain rode with the speedo buried.) A couple of months of ownership was all it took for him to come to the realization that he was too poor to afford his new toy. There was only one reasonable course of action he could take.
Since the dealership wouldn't give him a mulligan and, like any person sixty days into a payment plan, he owed more than the car was worth, Mared's only option was to total the car and let State Farm pay it off. Because none of his selfish friends were willing to ram into the Camaro with their cars, he was too chicken shit to just drive into a lamp post and fire is a little on the suspicious side, he decided to let the winter ice and rolling hills of the Palouse Region do the dirty work for him. After scouting out possible crime scenes, he and Jatt found the perfect place to commit vehicucide. East of the city is Moscow Mountain, an area renowned for its ability to provide 4-wheeling thrills thanks an abundance of old logging roads. There are a few homes at the foot of the mountain, but they're far enough apart to make criminal activity less conspicuous.
Mared and Jatt found a spot at the base of the mountain that was ideal for their dirty deed. When travelling east on this particular gravel road you come to an intersection. If you turn left, you go up a fairly steep hill, if you go right, you go down at slightly less of an angle, while going straight keeps you on a nice level road. What made it the perfect place was the fact that there was a six foot deep concrete culvert running on the south side of the road that promised to devour any car or truck unlucky enough to slide off the road and into it. Mared's Camaro was gonna have a bad day.
The plan was to drive up the steep hill, turn around and coast down at about 25 to 35 mph. At precisely the right moment, Jatt, standing a safe distance away, would give Mared the signal to bail out. He would tuck and roll just after steering the Camaro towards its untimely demise. It would look like one of the many cars that goes off the road during the slippery Northern Idaho winters and Mared would be free of his financial obligations since there was no way the car could survive. It was a fool-proof plan.
Mared and Jatt set out one afternoon while I was at work to get their car killin' on. This was before the age of cell phones and they decided not to take two vehicles since it might look a little shady. I have no idea how they were planning on getting back since it was the dead of winter and they were 8 miles out of town. When they got to the site, they went over every detail again and made a few practice runs. Finally, it was go-time so Mared drove up the hill, turned around and reached the ideal downhill speed in no time. At the right spot, Jatt signalled Mared to jump and the Camaro was on autopilot towards its doom.
What they failed to take into account was the twenty feet between the road and the culvert. The hard-working Latah County road crew had been plowing the snow into the south side ditch all season since the culvert was designed to handle intense run-off from heavy snow. The three-foot deep snow made the perfect cushion for the IROC, safely stopping it just inches from its concrete tomb. Not only was the car completely undamaged, Mared and Jatt now had to walk several miles to the nearest house in order to borrow a phone so that they could call a towtruck to haul the car back onto the road. The whole thing ended up costing him almost exactly one month's car payment and insurance plus he had a nice case of road-rash since he had failed to properly prepare for Bruce Willis-ing his ass out of the car and onto the unforgiving gravel at close to highway speeds. And he still had the car.
The moral of the story isn't "crime doesn't pay," it's "crime is best left to the experts rather than a supermarket employee and his burger-slinging assistant."