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Article: Detective On Duty - I think I'll stick to mechanic work...

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Detective On Duty

It’s pouring down, the tow driver is dropping off a car alongside the shop. Carrying the keys into the office completely drenched from head to toe.

“Here ya go, have fun with this one,” he said, as he headed back out into the rain.

No one ever called to tell me about this car, and the tow driver only had a last name and nothing more.
What to do now? I guess the only thing to do is to see if the tow company had a phone number
to go along with the name. I tried the phone number several times, but never got an answer. For now, I'll just let it sit outside in the rain maybe the owner will call.

Several days went by, the rain had stopped and still no phone call. I tried the number again but this time the number was no longer in service. Now I’m at a total loss as to what to do. The shop was caught up that afternoon, so I thought I’d check out this little truck and see what was going on. Maybe there's a name in the glove box.

The truck was spotless, there wasn’t anything in the glovebox except for the owner’s manual. No name, no insurance card, not even a scrap of paper anywhere in it. Well, I tried at least, I might as well open the hood and check things out.


Was I in for a surprise, no wonder the tow driver told me “Have fun with this one.” Under the hood was not a 1989 2.3 liter… more like a 95 2.3 Liter engine. Somebody dropped a new motor in and didn't realize the wiring is completely different.

No more foolin' around. Time to put my detective hat on and see how much information I can dig up about this little truck. I called the tow company that dropped it off to ask them where they picked it up and see if I could track the owner down that way. They knew exactly where it came from. It was from a salvage yard.

Ok, time for another phone call. “Oh that truck, yeah I remember that one," the fella at the salvage yard told me, "the guy who owns it dropped it off for us to put an engine in it that he bought from us. We told him we didn’t think it was going to work, even though the original engine was the same size." The guy at the salvage yard didn’t have much more information on the owner than what I already had. But, they said they would keep an eye out for the guy if he showed up.

A few more phone calls thru the DMV and I had the name of the last insurance agent who had a policy on this truck. He told me, the truck was sold at an auction. The original motor was blown after a long high speed chase by the police. The driver/owner was arrested on drug charges and the car was confiscated (as is their usual policy).

Another phone call led me to the auction house (with a lot of searching) they came up with the name of a used car lot who bought the truck. Which led to another phone call, and after talking to them I finally had a first name to put with the last name the tow driver originally provided, and of course, another phone number.

I gave the number a try. It rang and rang, I was getting worried that all this phone work I’ve done is going to end up as another dead end. Then a voice came on the phone.

“Hey, yea, ah, ... Hello?”

“Hi ya doin’ is your name Jake? Do you own a Ford Ranger that had a motor put into it over at a salvage yard?”

“Ah… yeah, Ah, wow, like dude… that’s my truck, who’s this?”

I gave him all my information and explained to him how I tracked him down. He didn’t seem too impressed, (I thought I did an OUTSTANDING job of tracking this guy down).

When “Jake” finally showed up at the shop, I told him what would have to be done to get the truck running. He was under the impression that you just hook up a couple of wires and it would take off and run like new. Not quite the case there Jake, it’s going to take a lot more work than what it took for me to find this guy.

I gave him the options on what could be done with what he had to work with. The big issue was now the cost… (Of course $$) and young Jake didn’t have a dime to spend on it. He was out of a job, and didn’t have any way of paying for repairs. Luckily, the tow bill was paid by the salvage yard (I think they just wanted it out of there)

Jake had to go home and think about it. Well, I know what “think about it” really means… it means “I can’t afford it, so I’ll have to think of some other way of taking care of it.”

Monday morning the car was still sitting in the lot. By that afternoon a guy came by snooping around the little Ranger. He said he was going to buy the truck, and asked me what was wrong with it.

Later that day Jake called and told me he was selling the truck. What could I say, “OK?” or “hey dude… I just played “Private Eye” to track you down. At least have the courtesy to ask the age old question, “Do I owe you anything?” So I can at least say; “Nay, no problem, that’s OK thanks for asking… hope you get on your feet soon.” But no, all he said was; “I think he’ll pick it up sometime this week.” Click…

Another week went by and no one showed up to look at the truck. Then, the next Monday morning when I made my way into to the shop the truck was gone. Not that I was surprised, I called Jake to see if he knew his truck was on the move again, this time I got his answering machine,

“Ah, like, ah… I ain’t here… leave a message.” BEEP

“Hey, Jake your truck is gone. I guess your buddy picked it up. Come down
sometime, and I’ll give you the keys.”

Funny. how All the effort I put into finding this guy, ALL the time I spent writing down phone
numbers, contacting people, gathering information and compiling the history on this
truck that ALL I have to show for it is this story and a set of keys.

I guess I should stick to mechanic work. Seems detective work doesn't pay as well.

That was nearly a year ago and I still have the keys. I guess Jake’s buddy doesn’t need the keys either, and I'm not about to go through all that detective work to find the new owner. I'm over all that detective on duty stuff. Maybe I'll just put an ad in the paper under the lost and found section:
“Did you find a Ford Ranger that used to belong to Jake? If you so ... I’ve got the keys.”



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