Stay in Your Box!!!

Why do they make anything and everything you do so incredibly difficult, if it doesn’t conform to the standard, traditional, fast-food, corporate way of doing things?

This is the tale of my attempt to obtain a specific vehicle that I want. I’ve been wanting to get back into the bigger car/suv/truck zone again for my next vehicle. I also began realizing I always sorta dug those loud-colored FJ-cruisers I see driving around town. Then I saw they had released an army green color. Then my casual appreciation turned into unbridled want-lust in a pretty short period of time. We concluded that I was allowed to get one. It’s the least-cheap vehicle I ever ventured to buy, but I figured I’m just about 40. Must I wait ’till I’m 90 before I can declare it okay for me to get a car I want rather than ‘most economic and sensible’? Anyway, my rationalizations are a whole other story.

So I set out to find this cherished model at my local Toyota dealer. They didn’t have any. Then another. They didn’t have any. Then another….etc. Hmmm… this color seems to not be all that distributed here in Dallas. Then I found one up in Grapevine or someplace. Test drove it, and loved it. My fatal mistake was that I was still in the process of rationalizing to myself, and Sarah, this purchase. I told the guy I’d take my info and bring it home to the wife and let them know tomorrow. I called the next morning. It was sold (of course), and to a guy from Austin, no less. It was looking like this model was hard to get your hands on. It was, in fact, a “Trail Teams Special Edition”, which means, limited number in production, all the extra off-road package features, unique color that is unique to the edition of that year, etc. So I already knew it was somewhat limited, but this was stupid. I then found out why… apparently the tsunami in Japan directly crippled the production of specifically this car. In fact, they had a bunch on the line that were painted to be the ttse edition, but they couldn’t finish the job. So they released a bunch of ttse-colored FJs, but without all the off-road package and what-not attached to it. People who buy them call them the “Not-So-Special Edition”, or NSSE. Weird.

Anyway, my frustration was mounting. I began to surf the net. I’d find a few on dealer sites at weird places in the country. But more often than not, they would be sold when I would call. Finally, I found one on a dealer site out of Cleveland (my favorite place). I thought about asking bro-in-law Ian to go pick it up for me. Then I found out it was Cleveland, TN. Outside Chattanooga. I called…and it was sold out too.

BUT… the lady said she thought she could procure me another. She got back to me.. and she said there was one still at a Toyota shipping warehouse. Hadn’t even been to a dealer lot yet. She told me it could be shipped to Dallas, and the shipping cost could be rolled into the regular loan. I said “DO IT”!

It was a pretty stressful time, solidifying a loan, confirming that I actually HAD the loan, worrying about getting the vehicle actually TO me unharmed, worrying that something would be missing, etc. I actually made them send me pics at one point and discovered there was no tow hitch, like there was supposed to be in the description they sent. I made them put one on. Anyhow, Toyota of Cleveland successfully secured me a loan through BB&T, which I never heard of. In the months since, I’ve discovered a few BB&T branches around town here in Dallas, so they must be growing.

Now I had the car and was finally resting easy that our loan really existed. Now I had to register and license the thing. This is where the real fun began. I don’t even want to go into all the step-by-step, frustration-by-frustration labyrinth of pain, agony, disinfo, and public servant-retardedness that I had to battle my way through. I think I intentionally pushed much of it out of my brain in the time since. Seriously. I have to line up a ridiculous amount of detailed paperwork to go to the DMV, only to have them tell me they can’t help me because I’m missing such-and-such. Then I come back with that exact such-and-such they require, and they then tell me I’m missing so-and-so. And all so I can pay THEM. “Here, take my SLAVE money so I can have the PRIVILEGE (not Right) to travel in my vehicle..and you can keep closer tabs on me… and re-charge me money EVERY YEAR for being a SLAVE who gets to BORROW and use YOUR vehicle…take the cash…please!!! But this goes into my beef with the whole system in our “free” country…. back to my personal clerical agony….

Here’s the funny part: I refuse to do anymore at this point. Sarah and I decide to simply take the same stuff to a different (NON URBAN) DMV location, and they accept what I had, easily, from my very first visit… even less… she tossed a few papers aside saying “we don’t need this”.

Lesson learned: It has nothing to do with the rules. It’s how much of an asshole or non-asshole is the person you are speaking with. This is actually something I learned years ago. But it’s just so hard to exercise that sometimes. I have this foolish tenancy to think the actual paperwork and rules are sort of necessary for stuff.

So, finally, after a lump-some tax payment (for the whole vehicle!), and other fines and fees, I have a very, very sweet ride in a very, very sweet color. I’m letting the pain of beginning to think it’s not worth it to fade. I was issued a license and walked. I think part of it was the fact Sarah came with me for the first time. When she goes, things get done. Again, whether or not I did everything right in my solo attempts. It takes the wife for shit to actually get done, even if it’s just her presence. I say this with a touch of bitterness, because for some people… things just happen and work. Period. Then for others, every obstacle Murphy can think of… and more… gets thrown in the way. A simple run to the corner store for some TP becomes riddled with problems and setbacks, through no fault of the cursed individual. I can too-often be the latter person.

But all that aside, I’m happy with my ride. I had a temp plate for a minute but went back for a radio operator plate because I had recently passed my exam to be a ham radio extra (the highest rank, thank you). And that went much better. In fact, it only costs a buck to put in for a radio plate. If it were some other “vanity” plate, turns out that can cost a stupid amount of cash!

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I jumped on fjcruiserforums.com and discovered not only did I pick a good ride, but the types on this site seem to by my kind of peeps, bizarre humor and all. I went to a local meet & greet and got to check out eveybody else’s pimped out FJs.

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All this fun getting the vehicle was November/December. In the following few months, I’ve managed to get my ham radio installed, which I’m proud of, (but it’s gonna be awhile before I can afford the winch bumper and lift kit)  I found some sweet car stickers online, and got my army stars and hood serials (which include my callsign) put on. I think I was influenced by my dad’s ol’ green truck, and my uncle jerry’s ol’ army jeep that had the army stars on them. I also installed the MPAC rear-door Molley rack, which is pretty awesome. I drilled a mount on the roof rack for a couple Rotopax gas cans, and got a Hi-Lift jack mounted, along with axe/shovel using Fourtreks mounts. A got a tuffy center console locking box, of which I nicely lined the inside.

The FJs are sure fun to look at though. I like the slightly retro vibe to these machines, and they are arguably better than jeeps and hummers off-road.

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