Jody Drives Naked in Japan!!!


Naked Buttocks

Naked Buttocks

“It’s not illegal to drive naked…if you have your seatbelt on….”

“Like, would you drive to school naked?” ~The Breakfast Club

“Art can never exist without Naked Beauty display’d.” ~William Blake

Naked Displayed

Naked Displayed

One of the first priorities in Okinawa is buying freedom.  Remember from my last blog, it costs at least a buck-o-five.  Seriously, without wheels, this island is prison-like, given the locales that must be covered to search for lodging, treks that must be made as part of required indoctrination, and the Ramen House that must be sampled.  Oh, and Jody has to go back to work, sometime….

Jody's Near-Naked Leg

Jody’s Near-Naked Leg

So it’s important for those intending to come to Okinawa at the invitation of the military and pleasure of the sequestering-President to know that it is not allowable such prisoners (actually, more accurately those on Status-of-Forces-Agreement [SOFA] status) to rent cars on the island until they have a United States Forces Japan (USFJ)-issued driver’s license.  Even though car rental is provided at various places on various bases.  Where people without license congregate and need transportation most.  Like at the Shogun Inn main building just down the street from our Temporary Lodge Facility (TLF), where rental prices are a wee-tad higher than those in the states, but where you can be zipping down the road at a raging 50 K’s an hour faster than you can repeat three times “SOFA Status Superstar.”  Don’t ask me how I know this; I, of course, would never improperly rent a car (wink)!  In any case, as of yesterday, I am a SOFA-licensed driver, so such conjecture about car rental is OBE.

Go Naked.  We don't own fur....

Go Naked. We don’t own fur….

But part of getting that all-important SOFA license is to take a driver’s test.  This, of course, administered after military-specified required prisoner mistreatment, courtesy of the Marine Crops’ safety department on Camp Foster.  This test is offered on various days during the week, but is only given at 10 am.  And although your on-island sponsor and annoying command may not think so, taking and passing this test must be a priority.

Naked Feels Great.  Cosmo Says So.

Naked Feels Great. Cosmo Says So.

Remember, freedom is at stake.

However, the license is only issued after attending the required island new-comer brief given on Wednesdays.  Now, since military intelligence is, as they say, an oxymoron, this “brief” lasts from 0730 through at least 1430.  Yes, it’s one of those times where the briefs will continue until morale improves (beatings are no longer tolerated in the modern kinder, gentler military as it was in those nostalgic days of piracy).  And since the “brief” is required for all family members, the kids and babies are all ripe for testing at the end of such an enlightening day of nothingness.  The SOFA license test is given upon the conclusion of this day of the dead, but if you have already taken the exam, you’ll simply pick up your license and save yourself at least 90 minutes…of freedom.  Or at least finally obtaining the free freedom to buy real freedom.

Naked Feels Soooo Good!

Naked Feels Soooo Good!

One note about his test.  This is a test, like in one that you have to study for, especially if you have never driven overseas.  Get your hands on the driver’s manual, and seriously, read through it at least twice.  Unlike the states where you’ve been driving already for a year (or more), you take this test COLD, without benefit of real-life, real-road experience.  Oh, and the test has very little to do with driving…but more to do with whether or not you studied.

Drive Naked Today

Drive Naked Today

So, once you have your SOFA license, which took us almost a week, you can purchase a car.  There are two basic approaches:  buy from a Japanese used-car salesman, or, buy from a pardoned prisoner (those who own vehicles).  The latter preferably in a way that takes advantage of another’s misery, which is really how capitalism operates most efficiently (think about how we all get those great deals on homes and yard sales and the truth is no longer “out there”).

He Can't Drive Naked.  He Won't Fit....

He Can’t Drive Naked. He Won’t Fit….

The island has the usual suspects of car dealers – less ALL the American brands – but is literally covered with used-car lots, most targeting American GIs.  One of the absolute truths of the Universe, though, is that used-car salesman share an almost incomprehensible amount of genetic material worldwide, the same scary stuff that would, in another era, result in a Darwin Award, and the eventual extinction of the species.  The cars from these lots may come with warranties, and probably on average are at least checked and/or repaired prior to sale, but alas, such services and assurances come with a price.  And there’s no real consensus whether that additional expense is justified.  Cars on these lots often can be gotten at times on-base for almost half the cost….

They Are All the Same

They Are All the Same

Which brings me to the Kadena Air Base “Lemon Lot,” more properly known as the “Auto Resale Lot.”  It’s been moved since I was here last time, and is now much closer to the Exchange, located in the parking lot of the uniform/dry-cleaning shop across the street of the base’s main shopping complex.  All the vehicles I have purchased on-island were acquired this way; 3 out of 4 did me just fine.  The one dud turns out to be a recall issue on Toyota Surfs (the direct equivalent of a Toyota 4Runner) due to over-heating issues in hotter climes such as Okinawa.  Which is exactly what happen to my old truck, which had to be junked.

Me, my Young Kids, and the Old Surf

Me, my Young Kids, and the Old Surf

Lemon Lot

Lemon Lot

Jody and I started looking for cars almost immediately.  It’s a daunting prospect, but easy enough process.  The cars are registered on-base, who are supposed to “vouch” for advertising accuracy.  And the owners (usually) put an information sheet in the car’s window, which must include – it seems by base regulation – “super cold AC runs GREAT!”

Really, I’m sure they all do.

What you are secretly hoping for is someone pressed for whatever reason (and there are many) to sell their car now-now-now, but not that guy who’s dumping a lemon and knows it.  So we go from car to truck to van to car, and discuss the relative merits of each vehicle.  It’s odd there are NO pickup trucks here.  Of course we act like we know a lot about cars, and no doubt you can tell much by kicking a car’s tires (just like in aircraft:  “kick the tires and light the fires!”).  Oh, and it’s like 97 degrees outside with 97% humidity, which makes the whole affair, well, in a word….

Moist.

Green Naked Envy

Green Naked Envy

And then we come upon “it.”  NAKED.  There is not much talk at first glance between Jody and I, but I know we are thinking the same thing:  this is the perfect name for a car.  For us.  Especially for me.

Ask my postman in Pensacola.

Naked Porn

Naked Porn

We start to examine the car.  It is small.  Boxy, like most modern Japanese cars tend to be, but with welcome relief in not its lines but its very construction.  It’s a great puke-military-green color, shinier and more attractive than olive drab, and strikes us immediately as a mini-Humvee.  Like the cube root of an H3.  Naked may suffer from tire envy (my motorcycle has bigger wheels), but size doesn’t matter when they’re carrying the torque of 659 white-lightn’n cubic inches of shear, raw 58 horse-power-generat’n combustion!  And that, my friends, is less than half that of my motorcycle, and not much larger than a Vespa!  Seriously, road taxes in Okinawa are based on engine size, and this car with its motor qualifies for the coveted “A” plate – much cheaper taxes – a can’t miss yellow plate with, yes, you guessed it, the letter “A.”  For those not in the know, the majority of cars on Okinawa have white plates, and those registered to SOFA status personnel are marked with a leading “Y” on the plate.  The joke is that this stands for “Yankee.”

"A" Stands for Acceleration

“A” Stands for Acceleration

"Y" is for Yankee!!

“Y” is for Yankee!!

I’m not so sure it’s a joke.  Or the joke may be on us.  Or at least the Rebels….

We fell in quick like with this car.  Which as we looked more and more (and it got hotter and hotter) quickly turned into a moist love affair.  A phone call to Steve, the owner and Air Force EOD officer, a test drive, and handshake later and the deal is done.  Dirty deeds done dirt cheap.

Freedom.

Celebrating Naked

Celebrating Naked

After $3,700 for the car, about $275 for title transfer and insurance, and 90 minutes standing in various lines at the military’s version of the DMV (and every bit as thrilling), we are literally handed the keys to our freedom.  And to Jody’s first drive in, well, let’s see:  Okinawa, Japan, Asian, west of the International Dateline, and oh yeah, on the left side of the road!  Although she was dreading it, it finally came time to put her big-girl panties on and take the great Naked leap of faith.

Right-Hand Drive on the Wrong Side Ride!

Right-Hand Drive on the Wrong Side Ride!

The only drawback?  We’ll probably have to tie the car down in typhoons….

Sometimes being Naked Blows

Sometimes being Naked Blows

Money grows…


“…on the tree of persistence.” ~Japanese Proverb

– or –

“Use the same measure for selling that you use for purchasing.” ~Abu Bakr

 

A sweet ride we can only dream of aspiring to!

A sweet ride we can only dream of aspiring to!

Well, since we can’t take our vehicles to Okinawa, we’ve got to do something with our three cars and one motorcycle.  If you read one of my previous posts you know we finally figured out how to get the motorcycle in storage, which in reality is the only vehicle we want to keep.  So, what to do with the Acura and the Ford Escape?  Well, we’ve got to generate a substantial cash-flow for a sweet ride such as this!!

The Escape is going to my son.  He is working full-time, in graduate school, and he and his wife just had his first baby, and are what I would characterize as eking by, but very happily so.  I have not had the fortunes to be able to assist much or very often; nor do I believe in financially assisting your children once they are grown, gone, and make their own decisions.  So the gift of my truck – still in very good shape with many years of safe life left in it – will, I hope, in some/many ways make up for my otherwise lack of financial support.  It’s a good thing I can do for the boy.

The Acura was another issue.  We needed to sell that car, but Jody and I didn’t really want to run through the “hassle” of selling it privately.  2004-acura-tl-1Although things are probably much different, faster, and quite possibly easier (although I personally find that technology is generally a big fat lie when it comes to making things “easy”) with the internet and such things as Craig’s List, we still didn’t, quite honestly, want to be bothered with monitoring email, answering phones, and making appointments to see, inspect, and drive the car….  Oh, and then the haggling.  Neither of us care much for that at all, unless I’m in some Asian market working a vendor down from $3 to 50 cent for a T-shirt or small piece of pottery.  Jody had previously sold a car through CarMax with good results and little trouble, so we figure, what the heck.

Problem is, the nearest CarMax is 250 miles away.  Off we go, caravanning down the highway in our two vehicles, setting off early to try to be back in time for dinner – and to continue packing!  Believe me, it was very hard to bypass New Orleans and the newly revamped National War World II museum, twice, once each way!  We get to CarMax, and everything starts off a-okay.  We figure, with a Blue Book value hovering around $7K for the model, miles, and condition of our car, we should be good at no less than $6K.  After about an hour, the staff is finally really to review our quote.  No Speedracer or Trixie in this joint.

 

You know these two were always Japanese!

You know these two were always Japanese!

The gentlemen handling our case – and I use both nouns loosely – was flying through computer screens.  You see, CarMax uses, basically, powerpoint slides to help “brief” the customer on the more salient points of the transaction.  The salesman literally flies past a page where I noticed some rather large negative comments with exclamation points, and asked him to go back.  Funny thing with this guy (remember, he’s a used-car salesman no matter what title CarMax bestows upon him):  he backs up two pages, and, in my opinion, feigns confusion when I ask for only the previous page.  After literally like 6 pushes of the forward and backwards keys, we arrive at the screen in question.  “FRAME DAMAGE!” it says in rather large you-can’t-miss-it-lettering that is surely there for the customer’s benefit!

You see, Jody hit a deer while driving on a highway years back when the car was relatively new.  You literally cannot tell, not from appearance, not from driving, not from noise or any other element of the vehicle that over $7,500 of damage was done by said (and stupid) mammal, although it appears the deer survived as it or any appreciable gore were not found anywhere near the accident scene.  She has the insurance claim and full repair report.  There is no frame damage noted, nor frame-classified parts listed.  HOWEVER, CarMax considers the replacement of the radiator as FRAME DAMAGE since mounts to the radiator had to be cut by torch and new parts welded on, as was explained to us by a very friendly and professional assessor that actually did the evaluation of our car.  That finding, however my friend, is cart blanche for CarMax to roll their weighted offer-reducing dice and slice their offer for a vehicle.

CarMax is full of another kind of gas....

CarMax is full of another kind of gas….

 

Their offer.

$4,000.

I literally laughed.

So, we get their quote in writing, all the while they are telling us that they support us doing what’s right for us and what’s best for us.  And we formulate another plan.  Let’s hit up the local Acura dealer and see what they will offer, especially since there isn’t one of those in Pensacola either.  Off we go.  Now it’s about 1 pm.  We’ve driven 4 hours to get to Baton Rouge.  We haven’t had lunch.   We are cranky and just want the car deal DONE and finished so there is one less thing to worry about.  We arrive at the Acura dealer, and are directed to meet Jerry, who is very helpful and attentive.  Now, I think, the Acura dealer is certainly going to be more cash-hungry than CarMax, right?  Well, all they can do is effectively say “no” by coming in under CarMax’s quote.  Funny thing about salesman:  Jerry pumps us immediately by asking what CarMax offered us!  I laugh in response, and basically say, “C’mon Jerry, you think we’re giving up the goods that easy?!?”  What I tell Jerry is that CarMax was insulting, and asked him if Acura really wanted to insult loyal and valued customers the same way.

Another hour goes by.  By this time I’ve put the word out on Facebook, and already have numerous people interested.  The word is getting out.  I’ve got a Craig’s List expert friend lined up and waiting to assist as soon as we’re home.  We are going to get more than $4,000 for this car; it’s a matter of pride at this point!

Finally, Jerry shows up.  Talks to us about the accident – which I assume by this point is fairly obvious to anyone familiar in car repair and/or assessment.  We fess up to it; he simply states it’s killing us on the offer they can make for the car.  And, having thought about it for the last 3 hours, the accident was severe, and if I were to get shown the Car Fax with such an amount of damage, I too would be very wary of the vehicle and want a deep discount.

But, it’s not as bad as we expected.  Their offer:  $5,000.

Jody and I conference with each other very quickly.  We could probably get right around $6,000 if we would privately.  But, as one of my favorite financial guiding principles says, your time (and effort and worry and stress) are all worth money, the going rate up to you.  We could drive back, burn more gas and miles, burn more time and endure more hassle in our move, or walk away clean with money in the bank, and time on our hands.

SCAN0365

 

 

 

 

The check was deposited today.

And somewhere, a deer is laughing with her ultimate revenge.

deer laughing