“So, um, I have something really embarrassing to tell you.”

— me to my dad yesterday morning.

When Noelle passed away. my dad was left with an extra car. More hassle than it could be worth to him, he decided to unload it. It’s in perfect shape, as meticulously cared for as everything else he owns, so it would have been easy to sell. So easy in fact, that his repair shop was begging for dibs.

Being my dad, however, he had another plan.

“I was thinking,” he said, “that I’d give it to you guys.”

Once I peeled my mouth off the floor and stopped protesting, he said, “Listen, it gets me out from under the insurance and upkeep. You sell your SUV, get out from under the loan, maybe even get a few bucks in your pocket, and everybody wins.”

I tried to argue.That doesn’t really work with my dad.

“In a couple of years,” he said, “I’ll give you my car (the one he has now) and you can give this one to Katie.”

We all decided that we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. All except for Katie, who immediately dubbed it “her car.”

On Sunday, my dad handed over the keys to the car, along with two spares and every receipt for every service that has ever been performed on it. Oh, and an envelope with enough cash “to cover the first tune up and oil change because, well, that’s usually complimentary with a new car and why should this be any different?” For the record, on no planet that I’ve ever lived on has a used car come with a tune up and oil change, but again, you try to argue with my dad.

Since we hadn’t been able to register it in Massachusetts without the title in hand, we had to take it with his plates still on it. We promised to send them back within a couple of days so that he could cancel his insurance.Of course he said, “When you do, you do,” because Dad.

All packed up and ready to go, we left in two cars, Luau driving our old one with Brooke, and me driving, um, “Katie’s.” Our little caravan set out for my sister’s house in New Jersey before heading home. And that was where it happened.

The GPS (whom we’d named Jan so that we could say, “Sure, Jan” every time she told us what to do) was nearly impossible to follow through the winding, looping, and seriously OMG WTF’ing that is the Garden State Parkway. I was sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY stressed out when we reached yet another toll booth and I may have sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY lost it when we pulled up and saw that there were two lanes for EZ Passes (which we have but didn’t have in Katie’s the new car) and one for exact change. And I may have sort of, maybe, okay COMPLETELY spewed some really choice words to express my incredulity that the only two ways to pass through this toll were to have an EZ Pass or $1.50 in EXACT %$@!ing change because HOW COULD WE KNOW THAT AHEAD OF TIME?

Katie and I scrambled. I had her look in the glove box, praying my dad had left some quarters lying around, clearly forgetting that my dad isn’t a guy who leaves ANYTHING lying around EVER which is precisely why this 2004 car looks brand spanking new and has a folder in it containing a receipt for EVERY SINGLE service ever performed on it. EVER.

We rifled through my purse and my wallet and our pockets and came up with approximately 67c. Honestly, it may have been 47c. I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of is that it was absolutely, positively NOT $1.50.

Katie was panicked. “What are you going to do?” she asked.

“I’m going to offer the toll Gods 67c and hope for the best, kiddo,” I said. “We really don’t have a choice.”

I threw the change, pennies and all, into the basket and wondered, for the thousandth time, what the hell is wrong with New Jersey.

Within a few minutes, we’d caught up to Luau and Brooke. Despite the fact that we were on the Parkway, we were in traffic because New Jersey, so I pulled up next to them. Brooke rolled down the window and I unleashed our tail of woe and WTF and seriously, what is wrong with this state and how are we supposed to know that we HAVE to have $1.50 in change to drive on this road and OH MY GOD how is it okay that the toll at the Lincoln Tunnel is FOURTEEN DOLLARS?

Just before I could ask how Chris Christie sleeps at night, Luau shouted back, “Um, hon? One of the EZ Pass lanes also said “Cash.”


Okay then.

“What did you do?” he asked, clearly trying not laugh,

I told him that we’d made our offering to the toll gods and that I supposed that I’m just going to get a fine in the mail.

And that was when it happened.

“Um, babe?” he shouted back. “Your DAD is going to get a fine in the mail.”

Less than 24 hours after leaving my dad’s house with a car he’d GIVEN to me, I had to call him. And start the conversation with, “So, um, I have something really embarrassing to tell you.”

I was officially 16 years old again on Monday morning.

After we both caught our breath after laughing so hard at least one of us thought she might pee herself, he said, “I can’t wait to see what you write about this.”

You’re welcome, Pop.

And more importantly, thank you.

9 thoughts on “#DrivingYardSale

    • Because otherwise we’d be driving from Long Island (where my dad lives) to New Jersey then back to Long Island to get the other car to drive it back home to Boston.

      • Ah… that makes sense. Driving anywhere on Long Island to NJ is a royal pain. I lived on Ling Island for just a few years and hated it… but I had been living in Manhattan and you cannot even think of LI as a place to live. I got married at 55 and 9 years later my husband died and I now live in FL. NOT perfect but doable for now.

  1. You do sound like your 16 year old self again! Thank goodness you didn’t crash in the process. I was holding my breath reading this.

    Love you,

  2. Thank you for a wonderful laugh – especially your description of the GSP! I am using your Dad as the way I try to treat my (grown) children and any future grandchildren

  3. First I was laughing so hard at what you wrote, then I was laughing at what Mom wrote! I’ve been in bed with the flu since Friday & I really needed some comic relief. I love reading everything you share! I hope you have a good day. 🙂

  4. I could have written this, ESPECIALLY the part about NJ being the most confusing, bass-ackwards roaded state ever. Even my GPS curses trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
    But I digress… I once went into the EZ pass Lane forgetting that I had left my pass in the other car. I had a line of irate drivers behind me, and my son was flipping out from all of the honking. The only thing that kept me sane was the fact that I never stopped chewing. (I had a bunch of snacks for the drive)
    Oh, and i live on LI, Seaford. Give a wave if u ever pass exit 28 on the southern state Pkwy 😀

  5. Your dad is such a good egg.

    Uh, Jess, the GSP is not windy. It is easy peasey to drive on and quite pretty. Unless you were by the Raritan River Bridge (technically, the Alfred E. Driscoll Bridge) going north.

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