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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Exhausted

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Saturday November 24th, 2012 – Springfield, IL

   Hello darkness, my old friend. I thought I was on an upswing, but I got hammered today when I took my car in to have a loud muffler looked at. I thought it had been taken care of when I had it inspected at the garage, but that was apparently only a patch job. That patch broke, and so did my spirits as I learned I would need a whole new exhaust system that would cost $825 to install.

   $825 for a 1993 Nissan Sentra? That sounds ridiculously high. I wouldn’t expect it to cost that much to replace the exhaust system on the Space Shuttle. Apparently Midas is named that due to the goldmine it is for those who own one. They prey on helpless schmucks like me and get rich.

   There was nothing I could do about it but pull out my credit card and take the direct hit. It kills me to have to do it, and now whatever benefit I had from getting a ‘free’ car from my friend Rich is now gone. I’ve got way more invested than it’s worth, and I’m stuck driving it to pay back my investment. There’s no guarantee it will last, and now I’m backed into a spot I don’t want to be.

   I’m not blaming Rich at all. He’s a great friend, and only had good intentions when he gave me the car. It’s got low miles, and in theory it should run for a while. But after putting ball joints and brakes and body work and now a totally new exhaust system in it, the ‘free’ part has long passed.

   To make it even worse, I picked up a nail in one of the tires and had to get that patched as well. They didn’t put my hub cap on tight, and it rolled off somewhere in Springfield so that’s gone as well. I didn’t hear it fall off, and I hope it didn’t roll up on a curb and kill anyone. That would be all I’d need, and I wouldn’t put it past the realm of possibility with how my luck has played out.

   I also discovered a crack in the windshield that wasn’t there before. I don’t know when or how it came to be, but it’s right in front of the steering wheel, and if I don’t get it fixed I’ll need to get a new windshield to boot. I had to do it for my last car, and that was $200 I didn’t want to spend.

   I asked the guy at Midas where a glass place was, and he told me there was one right down the block from where I’m staying. I went there, and of course they’re closed for the holiday weekend and will open Monday at 7am. The whole situation made me want to swallow a big shiny bullet.

   So here I sit with the world’s most expensive 1993 red Nissan Sentra that has a blue fender and hood, wondering where the nearest mountain is that I can drive off of with me inside. It’s not just this isolated incident that put me in this mindset – it’s the lifetime of taking hits. I’ve had my fill.

   I’ve tried to be a nice person my entire life, but what does any of that prove at a time like this? It doesn’t mean a damn thing, and quite frankly it really pisses me off. I don’t see God, and I am really hating my life at the moment. There is only so much anyone can take, and I’m at my limit.

   If I could lie down and end my life right now, I totally would. Why the hell was I even born in the first place? Everything I have tried has been a flaming failure, except entertainment. I have a natural flair for that, but no matter how hard I try I can’t crack journeyman status. It’s killing me.

   What kills me even more is that I have to drive a car donated by a friend in the first place. It’s a flaw in my personality or something that my subconscious mind keeps attracting half ass projects like this and I keep falling for them. I’m trying to save a buck when I can, but it ends up a whole lot more expensive than if I’d have bought a new Mercedes and just paid it off. I screwed myself.

   I’m not going to lie, this is a very dangerous time. I’m tired of everything, and this just snapped my chain big time. I keep trying to fool myself into thinking I’ve got a chance at something good in life, but then something like this happens and it wipes me right back to ground zero. It stinks.

   This is totally not what I pictured life to be, but apparently I must have since that’s exactly the scenario that keeps popping up again and again. Somewhere in my past, this is the picture of how life was supposed to play out must have been painted and my subconscious mind has obeyed the order. I want to change that order, but I am apparently having trouble in getting it done. I’m lost.

   I feel like I’m trying to crawl out of quicksand, and the more I kick the lower I sink. My friend Max Bumgardner lives in the Springfield area, and he and his son Dustin came to take me out to lunch. Max is also a dented can, and one of the few people who can relate to my feelings of pain in seemingly hopeless situations like this. We’ve talked each other off the ledge more than once.

   It’s not just a matter of a muffler falling off an old car. That happens every day, and it’s no big deal. I should have expected it to happen at some point, and this just happened to be that point. It is what it is, and it either gets fixed or the car gets junked. That’s the logical way to look at this.

   I suppose I could have nursed it back home and shopped it around to a few places to shave off a chunk of the bill, but I chose to get it fixed and move on. The deeper matter is that I’m stuck in this situation in the first place. Max and I are both struggling, years after getting blown out from our dream radio job at The Loop in Chicago. There was no real reason for it, and we’re drifting.

   Had we been able to stay on that track, we’d both likely be extremely well off right now if not actual millionaires. We were on the golden path, and it all came unraveled because of no fault of our own. Apparently it was a once in a lifetime shot, as another hasn’t come along to replace it.

   We both realize it’s been years ago now, and we’re both trying to move on and deal with it but things like this keep blowing up in both our faces and it’s getting very old very fast. Max is great at what he does, and honest as the day is long. He’s getting hammered with some rental property he’s been trying to sell, but can’t find a buyer. It’s bleeding him dry, and he’s frustrated as well.

   It was great to be able to vent with Max, but that doesn’t change the fact we’re both still having a hell of a time trying to figure out what life is all about. I thought I was on a good path, but I am very down right now after this little incident. I’m going to end up losing money for the week, and this was the money I was going to use to pay my rent for December. I don’t know where that will come from, and my soul hurts even thinking about it. My self esteem is crushed like a cockroach, but I had to suck it up and do two more shows tonight. The crowds had no idea I was miserable.

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