Friday, July 17, 2009

The Adventures of Frankie J and Omeo: Deserted in Daytona

Monday, July 13, 2009

So I get a call Sunday night from my best friend, Frankie Ewing. He tells me that he has recently purchased a new (to him) 1991 Ford Taurus station wagon and was on the way to Jacksonville, FL to drop off his brother at the Naval base.

On the way at about 6pm, the fan belt apparently busted and they overheated somewhere near Daytona, FL near the intersection of I-95 and I-4. I tell Frankie that I cant make it out then, but I can help him pick up his 'new' car the next day. Frankie and his friend get a ride to pick them up from Orlando and his brother gets a ride to come down from Jacksonville. The 'new' car stays abandoned over night to fend for itself against bums and the Florida Department of Transportation. I'm still not sure which posed as bigger threat.

The next day around noon, I get a call from Frankie. He says he will, after all, need my help. I rush over to the house after work and change. Frankie gets a friend to drop him off at a nearby shopping center. We meet and get ready to install the ball on my truck to haul a U-haul dolly that we will soon pick up. Frankie, forgot the ball.

We proceeded to the U-haul location in hopes to purchase a ball there as well as the dolly. When we pull up, we see a mountain of a man standing outside his old, beat up, 1992 Chevy Silverado that is covered with stickers of paw prints and signage of what we assume is his name, "Big Dog." The man's truck is hauling a trailer that says "Big Dog's Lawn Service" and his truck's back tire is on a jack. Big Dog apparently has a blow out.

We proceed past the make shift work site and on to the front door of the U-haul Store, it was 7:05pm and they have been closed for 5 minutes. We are not happy.

Walking back to the truck we past Big Dog, grumbling under our breathe about how much our luck has sucked so far when Big Dog spoke. Looking up at us from one knee because he was jacking up the truck, his voice booms, "So, what's wrong with you boys?"

As we began to explain our situation, Big Dog came off one knee, stood and then we could see this mountain of man. A very large, dark complected Black man, shaved head, thick beard (think Mr. T, without the mohawk), wearing gray sweat pants (like I said, he was a very big man), and a dingy green shirt with yellow writing that says, you guessed it, "Big Dog's Lawn Service" in block lettering over the right chest, and "Big Dog" in script over the left, clearly denoting that we were talking to Big Dog himself.

We tell him our dilemma and he remarkably responds, "I don't know why I'm going to offer this, but I am a Christian man and the Christian thing to do would be to help you boys out. I can take you over there, just pay my gas." We explain that its in Daytona, then he did the unimaginable. "Would you boys like to borrow my truck and trailer?" We, were, stunned.

Now to understand the rest of the story, you probably should understand at this point we are battling father time in the sense that it was just going to be a matter of time until the "new" car got towed. Against our rational thinking, we took Big Dog up on his offer.

We were hungry, so of course we picked up the New McDonald's Angus Burger while we filled up on gas, dropped my truck off at my office in downtown Orlando, got separated during that due to serious I4 traffic, and then finally about 40 minutes later made our way back on to I4 to start our adventure to Daytona to pick up the abandoned car.

Luck would have it, we got pulled over right before the Lake Mary exit by two State Troopers. Apparently we were were so over zealous to begin our journey that we failed to notice that the trailer that blatantly boasted "Big Dog's Lawn Service" neither had a license plate, tags, or even break lights.

We were screwed.

We got in the truck, switched out the Dr. Dre CD for a Blue Collar Comedy Tour CD, were listening to Larry the Cable Guy, which was most likely a cardinal sin in Big Dog's truck when we got pulled over. The First thing out of the State Troopers mouth, to our dismay was, "So, which one of you boys is Big Dog?" We were stone-faced. That is until I stupidly made a joke about when I said, "Well, sir, you see what had happened was...."


Even after Frankie and I tried repeatedly to get out of the ticket, we still ended up with a little white piece of paper that stated we owe the state of Florida $104.00.

After deciding with the office that the best idea would be to the take the next exit and hurry to target to hopefully find some kind of light rigging, we proceeded on to Target. After about an hour and a half of trying to figure out what to wire to the heap of mess, we found nothing but reflective triangles. This was the best we could do.

We strapped them on and decided that getting the car most likely wasn't the best of ideas, when Frank remembered that his father and he have the same name and luckily Frank Senior had Premium AAA!

We purchased what we could, strapped the triangles to the Big Dog Sled, and set out on our trip back to African American church that we made the vehicle swap when we the truck refused to start. Sounded like the battery was out. After fiddling with the truck, I finally sat behind the wheel and opted to say a little prayer. BIG GOD does exist, because the BIG DOG truck turned on!

We dropped off the truck about 45 minutes away finally, then waited waited at the desolate church for Big Dog who was a no show since he had to be up in 5 hours to cut lawns, and opted to put the cash and the key in the tool box in the bed.

We had to be at the "new" car in time to meet the AAA Angel, I say that because they are seriously like Angels when you are stranded, and would you believe it, made it to Daytona, over an hour away in just the right time to meet the wrecker. We led the AAA wrecker back to the Lake Buena Vista area where Frankie lives, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Had it not been for Frankie's dad having AAA, this trip would have cost us an estimated $300 bucks!

Thank god for AAA! Our adventure cost us a whole lot of time, money (considering that the trip to get the car back home cost more than the car itself) and effort (we didn't get back home until about 2:45am the next morning), but as usual, it was an adventure and very much worth the trouble.

Good friends are hard to come by, and Frankie is in a class of his own. I honestly wouldn't have changed a thing.

Moral of the story: Make sure to steer clear from old cars, old trucks with 217,000 miles plastered with the words "Big Dog's Lawn Service," and stay true to your friends.

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