Autoblography Part 37: Easy Come, Uneasy Go

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Nov 1, 2011

Filed under: Personal 144 comments

I get up one morning to find my car is missing from my driveway. I’ve been out of work for about a month now. I am dumbfounded by this. I go out to the driveway and stare at the spot where I parked my car. How could it fail to be here? I call the police. An officer comes by, shakes my hand, and takes my statement. When he leaves he tells me, “Give us a call if it turns up,” which is not particularly encouraging.

The next morning I get a call saying the car has been found. I breathe a sigh of relief. I spent most of the previous day thinking about all the stuff I’d left in the car. There were gadgets, clothing items, and more than a few books. There was also a large cache of cassette tapes, some of which were from obscure bands that are now long out of print. Every time I’d think of a new item left in the car it was like another punch in the gut.

I figure out where the car has been towed, then I call the place and see if I can recover it.

“You want to get your car?” asks the uncertain voice on the other end. He sounds like an old guy.

“Yes!” I say cheerfully. I’m feeling great relief.

“Have you talked to the police about it?”

“Uh… yeah? They said you had my car.”

“I think you need to talk to them about it some more,” he says firmly.

Fine. I call the police again, and ask about the car. They give me the news.

The auto yard is a gravel lot ringed with spent cars in various states of decay. Most of it is hidden from the road behind a curtain of trees. This place is far from town, among the rolling hills and trailer parks that are scattered across the face of western Pennsylvania.

Mom parks her car and I get out, dazed. The cavalier is on the far side of the lot, a blackened metal skeleton. I take a few steps towards it and then stop. There really is no point in getting any closer. The fire has done its work in absolute terms. There is nothing left.

There has been a rash of these sorts of crimes over the past few months. Someone is taking cars for joyrides, which end when they set the victim’s car on fire. I don’t know why. Maybe they do it to destroy evidence. Maybe they enjoy destroying things. Maybe they like fire.

In a few months they catch the culprits. One was an underage kid. The other was an adult. I get some stuff in the mail, letting me know who they are in case I want to take civil action against them. I laugh at the notion of suing a teenager and and a jailbound twenty-something who already have the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of vehicles on their hands. I throw the paper away without noting the names. It’s done, the bad guys are caught, and thinking about it more will just lead to nurturing an unhealthy grudge.

In the meantime, things are bad. I’m out of work, I’m broke, and I’m fat. A lot of the money I made at the job had been sunk into that car, and the rest has been spent buying a replacement. I’ve gone from (relative) riches to rags in the space of a couple of months. I can’t find a job to replace the one I lost. Sure, I could always go back to fast food, but I wouldn’t make nearly enough to pay the rent. I’d have to move back in with my parents.

I replaced the Cavalier with a Dodge Daytona. I don’t know why.  I didn’t even like it. I just wanted something that didn’t look overly practical.
I replaced the Cavalier with a Dodge Daytona. I don’t know why. I didn’t even like it. I just wanted something that didn’t look overly practical.

Heather is relentless in her support. She brings me food when she visits and gives me money to pay the bills. She’s in a college full of promising young guys. Guys who are thinner than me. Guys who are about to get a degree and begin a career. I’m very suddenly unemployed and broke. She has every incentive to back off and look for a man elsewhere, but instead she seems to be doubling down the bet she’s made on me.

I am suddenly struck with a realization, one which is about four years late in coming: I should marry this girl. I should do it quickly, before she comes to her senses. We’ve been talking about marriage on and off for a while now, but never to the point of making plans or setting dates. Unfortunately, I’m not in much of a position to marry her right now. We talk it over, and agree that we’ll get married as soon as she graduates. She should be nearing graduation now, but her ambitious double-major has pushed that back by half a year.

In the meantime, my cousin is married to a guy who knows a guy who has an interesting job offer for me…


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144 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 37: Easy Come, Uneasy Go

  1. Kdansky says:

    Ouch. No insurance on that car?

    1. Mom says:

      Yes he had insurance. But deductibles… low ball valuation by the adjuster…need to replace the car quickly because HE HAS NO CAR… the Daytona is not as good a car as the Cavalier was. And I doubt he got anything for the contents. I still get mad..but life does that to us sometimes.

    2. Anorak says:

      Is car insurance not necessary in America?

      1. Mom says:

        Everyone must carry insurance to cover the loss for the other driver if you are at fault in an accident.

        1. Anorak says:

          So, third party only then. I was wondering what happened if you parked your £200 Nova in the boot of a Mercedes. Not that that’s ever happened to me.

        2. Meredith says:

          In some states, I think you can even pay a fee to the government and be an uninsured driver. I don’t know why anyone would want to do that, though.

          1. It varies. I believe in Ohio, for instance, you need to put a certain (large) amount of money in escrow against potential accidents. However, unlike money sent to an insurance company, you can still earn interest on that money and eventually recover it should you decide to quit driving, so if you have the available assets it’s actually worthwhile to do it that way.

            1. Thomas says:

              That really is something for the very rich only though surely? I thought the point of mandatory car insurance was so that even poor (most) people could re-compensate someone for their ridiculously expensive car

      2. Drew says:

        it is legally required but you can still lose a lot of money if they decide your car isn’t worth as much as you think.

        oops sniped by mom

    3. Shamus says:

      Insurance pays blue book value, which is what a dealer would pay YOU for the car. It’s not what you would pay for the car at the dealer. I did get some money, which I used to buy the replacement, but the loss was considerable. :(

      1. Kdansky says:

        Insurance here pays you what you need to buy an equivalent replacement, which is the only sensible way to do it. If my MacBook dies, I cannot suddenly start writing code on a Netbook running Windows that costs 300$ (which is about what an old MacBook would be worth when sold). And it also covers stuff inside your car, if your car is stolen. I’d be down exactly 2500 CHF (they don’t cover the first x$ so you don’t report cheap stuff) if that happened, but I’d probably end up with replacement items that are better than what I have. Well, I don’t own a car to begin with…

        Apparently, insurance in the US is about as great as education. Good at ripping off the middle class, and that’s about it. Sad to hear, yet not unexpected.

        1. Chris says:

          On this country that is called replacement insurance and it is a different and more expensive animal.

          1. Kdansky says:

            Insurance is rarely dirt cheap, but one doesn’t pay for it to save money, but rather to not be screwed horribly when the shit hits the fan. It is a trade of luxury for security.

            I pay about 10% of my wage for health insurance alone. It doesn’t cover the first 2500 I spend a year (which is a lot more than I have ever spent). But that’s okay. Because if I ever get into a car crash and lose a leg, or suffer from cancer, or require insulin, I can still recover from that. Essentially, it mitigates the financial issues of a disaster.

            If in 50 years I look back at my life and realize that I paid more for insurance than I would have to carry all costs, I will shrug my shoulders. And in the other case, I’m probably happy if I’m still alive and don’t live under a bridge.

            Put another way: If you try to save/make money by getting insured, you’re doing it wrong. See the financial sector on how that works out…

        2. Patrick the Capitaist heathen says:

          Insurance fraud is one of the most popular crimes in America. Since the number of cases is truly an unknown it is impossible to specifically say whether it is or not, I have read some studies that suggest that insurance fraud occurs 1.7 times for each citizen. Meaning each person in America commits fraud at least twice in their lifetime. This can be a simple as over billing a doctor or dentists insurance claim, or torching your own house for the money and claiming there were thousands of dollars of valuables lost inside.

          Don’t even get me started on the rampant cases of blatant arson that happen in the town we live in. Suffice to say that in a the county we live in that covers a mere 500k acres and has 180k residents, we have 25 volunteer fire departments and three full time fire companies. But anyways…

          Point is insurance fraud happens alot, and like everything else its the honest people who get screwed. As I remeber Shamus’ car would have sold for $6500-$7000 but he only got half of that.

          And the insurance companies are greedy assclowns too. The government forces citizens to purchase insurance before the can obtain a license. Other types of insurance are required by law for other things, such as liability for a buisness and homes. But there are no oversight to force Insurance to pay out when claims are filed. Basically we as citizens are forced to purchase insurance that can decide to pay little or nothing when claims are filed. Its not uncommon for insurance companies to deny initial claims, even legitimate ones, as matter of common practice.

          Insurance in America is one of the greatest scams ever created. Imagine if I ran a gambling book, and you placed 100 bucks on a team to win, and they actually win. You come to collect and I decide to only give you $50. Now imagine that you are forced to gamble $100 every week.

          When the revolution comes… you can find me outside of AIG headquarters in NY with a gallon of gas and some matches. I’ll be the one in the Guy Fawkes mask….

          1. MadTinkerer says:

            “But there are no oversight to force Insurance to pay out when claims are filed.”

            That’s because the primary purpose of your car insurance is not to cover you in the case of a collision, but to cover the other person. Vice Versa: their insurance covers you.

            What is the point of that? Well for one thing it helps ensure, theoretically, that whoever is at fault pays for it.

            1. Patrick the Capitaist heathen says:

              For the sake of berevity I shortened that perhaps irresponsibly.

              There is no governement oversight to ensure that the insurance company makes a fair and ethical attempt to pay out to all parties involved in a timely manner. They are under no rules to pay out to parties involved other than however they feel like. If they don’t want to pay anything, they don’t have to. Or they can take their sweet time doing so. Even if you do retain full tort and full coverage on your vehicle (meaning not only would the other parties be covered but the policy holder would be as well) the insurance company is not bound by law to uphold their end of the deal. I AM bound by law to obtain their service. If I do not like their settlement offer, my only recourse is to sue the insurance company. But if the policy holder chooses to give up their right to sue when obtaining the policy ( full or limited tort, a fancy lawyeresse slang for giving up your legal rights) then you basically have to take what they want to give you, which is never close to a fair value. If you choose to retain your right to sue, they charge you at least double or triple the normal rate.

              Plain and simple: If I am required by law to obtain a service to drive, own a home, operate a buisness ect. ect. then the provider of that servie should also be required by law to actually provide it when both parties enter into agreement.

              As it is now they are not required to do anything. The only real motivation they have is customer retention and an ethical appearance.

              1. Robert says:

                IIRC, State Farm won an insurance industry away a decade or two ago for their cost containment practices. What they’d do was lowball the insurance payout for catastrophic losses (eg. your house burns down and you have only the pajamas on your back). People with policies would be left with the choice of either going to court, which takes years, and having nothing until the court rules, or accepting the lowballed payout. As most people can’t afford to wait years before rebuilding their lives, they had to take the lower offers…

                1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

                  The first sentence seemes to be mistyped…are you saying they can or cannot do this anymore?

                  1. Lanthanide says:

                    I think it should say “won an insurance industry AWARD”.

              2. Amarsir says:

                In New Jersey, drivers with a clean record can get their insurance from NJ CURE, a Non-Profit insurance provider. Given how people (understandably) hate the idea of profit competing against insurance claims, I have to think non-profit insurance providers are an idea that should be more popular.

                That said, it’s worth noting that in addition to rejecting many applicants, they aren’t particularly known for cheaper prices or better service. People would do well to realize that as much as we hate insurance companies, the reason we can’t all get $3000 of service for $1000 of fees is not because they’re greedy…

              3. Blake says:

                Insurance companies can be jerks, around Christmas last year, Queensland (north east Australia) was hit by an enormous storm that covered around 70% of the state (an area the size of France and Germany combined).
                Some say as many as 40,000 properties were damaged/destroyed by the resulting floods.

                Although most had home insurance, the companies refused to pay out to most of them.
                Apparently there were 3 different kinds of flood insurance: “flash flooding, storm damage and riverine flooding”, and if all 3 weren’t covered by someone’s policy the insurance companies would just say it was a different kind of flood.
                People that were fully covered were still thrown ‘act of god clauses’ or told they were only covered for up to %20,000 worth of flood damage.

                Some 200,000 people were left without a home and basically had no backup plan (other than their insurance they thought covered them for flood damage).

                Insurance companies are jerks, it’s their business model.

                1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

                  I’ll hold a mask for you and your friends in Queensland. I’ll meet you at Arthurs ferry in Perth.

          2. Anything the government mandates you to buy is going to end up as a scam–assuming it doesn’t flat start out as one from the get-go. The originating problem is not the insurance companies, but the government involvement in the whole business.

            Sadly most large corporations are basically extensions of the government nowadays. However come the revolution I’m going to be too busy torching the department of education to worry about AIG. For a while anyway.

            1. Brandon says:

              I think it really depends. In Ohio, at least, auto insurance seems well-regulated and not especially scammy. Really, the biggest gotcha in car insurance is having adequate coverage for the other party’s potential medical complications, and that ties into our spiraling medical costs. For states where no alternatives to insurance coverage are offered and the companies are badly regulated, yes, a problem ensues, but where there are alternatives whereby you can cover your own ass and the insurance companies are held to some accountability, it works pretty well.

              And then there’s health insurance… Bah…

            2. Patrick the Capitaist heathen says:

              I don’t know. The people at the Dept. of Education may be slightly incompetent, but they mean well. They at least are trying to be helpful, but not very good at it.

              Insurance scums however are only interested in screwing you out of your money. And they are very, very good at it.

            3. SenhorFuzzlesa says:

              Really. So ensuring that a driver who hits you will be able to pay for the damage he does to you is a “scam?”

              There’s not much government involvement beyond that. Admittedly, there’s not a very robust free market around insurance and most of the vendors will gleefully rip you off absent a lawsuit or strong regulation… but that’s not exactly a problem of too much government.

              1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

                If the government is creating laws to require citizens to obtain a product or service from a private sector company and that product or service turns out to be worht less than a handshake then yes, that is too much government.

                If I am required to buy it, then they should be required to provide it.

          3. psivamp says:

            I got hit by a pedestrian while making a turn in my car ( yes, I know, but it did happen ). The insurance company declared me not at fault and paid nothing to anyone despite the fact that my vehicle took ~$1500 of damage (rear-quarter panels are welded to the frame and therefore cost through the nose to fix because you either need to pay someone to massage it back into shape or cut and weld). To this day, that quarter panel is dented. I did eventually do a little amateur body work to make sure it doesn’t rust through and slathered some Bond-O in the dent to reduce it’s visibility, but my insurance company screwed me.

            Before anyone says that my insurance company wasn’t liable, the car was under lien and therefore required me to have comprehensive coverage — I should be able to get my insurance to pay for any damage done to my car as long as I didn’t intentionally do it (less my deductible, naturally).

      2. Deoxy says:

        Insurance pays blue book value, which is what a dealer would pay YOU for the car. It's not what you would pay for the car at the dealer.

        Something I have always found utterly ridiculous, unethical, and wrong.

        I am PAYING YOU to take the risk on this thing – if it is stolen or otherwise taken from me by no fault of my own (or even my own fault, for the more expensive policies), you are on the hook, not me.

        If I were in that position, I would demand they replace the car with one in similar condition. Even if they managed to do that for next to nothing, why would I care? I don’t need the money, I need the CAR.

        1. Patrick the Capitaist heathen says:

          In the mind of the insurance company, they are buying the car from you. In their mind, they are paying what a dealer would pay since, like a dealer, they dont want the car. A dealer doesnt want cars, he wants cash. An insurance company doesnt want a car either, especially not a burnt one. So they justify this by not giving you what your car is actually worth. Besides…what are you going to do…sue them? If an insurance company decides to pay you $4 for a $100k Ferrari they can. It would cost you years and thousands to sue them to get the difference. They have ARMIES of lawyers.

          They pay you the minimum amount they can to make you go away. They are as ethically corrupt as any industry on earth. Oil barons and drug dealers think these guys are cold-hearted. Politicians think these guys are seedy assholes….

          1. noahpocalypse says:

            Politicians think that way about everybody.

            1. Chris says:

              Politicians feel that you are too stupid and untrustworthy to manage your own insurance needs… Hence these mandatory insurance laws.

              1. No, politicians and policy-makers think that the people who ARE untrustworthy and/or stupid enough are numerous enough that without enforcement they’ll make things unsafe enough for everyone else to undermine the intricate social contract involved in the road and other areas of life.

                I concur that there should be investment protection, but notice that the solution is MORE, not LESS, government: An agency or a division of an existing agency that enforces rules on insurance companies so they don’t screw people.

                1. Patrick, President of Anarchists Union Local 526 says:

                  I can wholly relate to where you are coming from. This is why the government cannot just “dabble” in the lives of its constituents. Everything becomes twisted and its purpose mutilated when the government becomes involved. Public schools… Healthcare….subsidization.

                  The federal government is not a scalpel. It’s a chainsaw.

          2. Anorak says:

            It gets even worse: I know a lot of people (myself included) who had to cover damage costs themselves because otherwise you get labeled as a “liability”, and your rates go up.

            When I started driving, it cost me £1200 for my first year of insurance. This came down dramatically after a year, but if I’d made any kind of claim, it could have doubled.

            My first car was broken into by yobs who wanted to take it joy riding. (They couldn’t start it, the battery was flat, which was amusing). Trying to claim anything on the insurance would have got me a small amount of cash, which would have been offset by my premium going up.

            My third car had a 40ft oak tree fall on it. Apparently, this was “An Act of (a) god”. I wasn’t covered for acts of god. Not especially divine, if you ask me. If a freak wind had dropped an elephant on the car, that’s a bit more supernatural, but a tree? Good grief.

            1. Pete says:

              Is that really still a thing? In this century? Incredible.

              1. X2-Eliah says:

                Not necessarily ‘Act of God’ as such, but force majore is very much a valid clause. For religious families, I believe the interpretation of that is equitable to an act of god. For non-religious folk, it’s any freak/random occurence of natural causes that was not caused, could not be predicted nor prevented by any human.

                1. Nick says:

                  This is the thing that pisses me off about insurance companies, their whole business is based on actuarial tables that determine probabilities for events, and their premiums are calculated from these probabilities.

                  Yet when there is a “freak event”, all bets are apparently off, and they won’t cover you. What’s so hard about adding a 1 in 100000 event to the calculations?

                  A couple of years ago we had a huge hail storm which damaged tens of thousands of cars, it even smashed windows at luxury dealerships and took out Ferraris, Porsches etc. The insurance companies increased their premiums the next year. Why wasn’t this sort of event already factored in to the original premiums?

              2. Methermeneus says:

                I believe that “act of god” is useful as a shorthand for “natural phenomena and other accidents in which no human agency is obviously and directly involved,” regardless of your belief or non-belief in such an entity, much as “god dammit!” is a valid expletive regardless of whether or not you believe a god or gods exist, and whether or not you believe that he/she/it has created a place in the afterlife to which to damn people or things. Let them have their shorthand; anything that keeps contracts from getting longer is fine by me.

            2. lazlo says:

              Here’s a fun story: A long time ago, I used to lock my car whenever I parked it. One night, someone came through our apartment complex and decided they liked my taste in music (mostly angry Germans, I don’t blame them), so they broke my window and took all my CD’s. I had never replaced a window in a car, so I had no idea how much it would cost. I called up my insurance company to find out what my deductible was and (foolishly) told them why I was calling. The deductible was $500. I called up an auto glass place and was happy to learn that side windows are cheap, they sent someone out to me and replaced it for $65. The next month, my car insurance premiums went up. By $75. Per month.

              So that taught me many things. First, if you ever treat car insurance as anything other than a tax, you will lose.

              And second, a locked door is protection against those thieves who have such a high respect for personal property that they will refrain from breaking windows. For that fraction of thieves who shockingly *don’t* have respect for the law and the sanctity of personal property, the only difference between locking your doors and not locking your doors is the cost of replacing a window.

              1. Peter H. Coffin says:

                Remember that for a thief, breaking a window and taking your music collection takes less time than trying a handle, then breaking a window and taking your music. So often, you’ll still lose the window. On the other hand, some thieves are concerned about making a lot of noise. They may not give a crap about your personal propery but a locked door may have them bypass my locked car for your unlocked one.

          3. Nick says:

            This is why all my insurance is agreed value, that way I know for sure how much the insurance company will pay, and that it will be enough to replace the car.

  2. TSED says:

    I will never, ever, ever be able to understand the psych and decision-making process of such… stupid criminal acts. They spread months or even years of misery to every victim, for what? A few minutes of adrenaline?

    Ugh. Some people.

    1. It’s because the car, in their minds, belongs to some rich person who deserves to be taken down a peg or two. Or because they don’t care about the person they harm, or they simply never think about it.

      No-one wakes up in the morning and thinks ‘I’m going to be a completely amoral bastard today.’ But the social pressures of hanging out in certain groups, their experiences and sheer desperation to be cool or fit in can make people do stupid things. Is it foolish and pathetic? Yes. Is it not understandable? No.

      TL;DR – People can be unthinking idiots when they don’t know any better. It sucks, but that’s the way it is

      1. Zeta Kai says:

        People can accomplish an awful lot when they don’t consider the consequences of their actions.

        Not an awful lot of good, but an awful lot. Sometimes, it’s really awful.

      2. Chris says:

        Explain the dudes that make computer viruses.

        1. Oh, that’s way easier – either they are attempting to get personal information off of your computer to scam with; adding to controlled computers in a botnet that can do spam messages; forcing your computer to show adverts for stuff (in the hopes that you would then buy stuff or at least the advert guys would pay them for it); because they want to understand operating systems and security systems and find that fun, and thus viruses are something of a byproduct of their work, meant to show the others in their community that they can hack like pro – to use the vernacular, that they have 1337 5ki115;
          or simply because they dislike a particular operating system/service/company and want to break their products from afar.

          So, greed/recognition/curiosity basically.

          1. Chris says:

            I will offend you now. The dude that made my laptop restart constantly did not do it for curiousity. He did not get information from that act. If some asshat kitten-raping teenager sets your gazebo or steals photo albums to light them on fire so you can watch WHAT IS HE GETTING? You are wrong. Your argument is poor. Try again.

            1. Uh, yes he did. The curiosity was with how to make your laptop restart constantly – in unraveling how the operating system and working out how to do it.

              What is getting is the feeling of being better than the people who wrote the security.

              And in your rather ludicrously unrelated example, maliciousness is it’s own reward for some people – or more accurately the reaction from people when you do bad things to them.

              If you know the person who wrote the virus, as your post would imply, then we bring personal like/dislike into the picture as well. At which point any reason a person would start a fight with you would also apply – they dislike you and want to hurt you.

              Note that I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here and putting across the opposing side. The world is not black and white. Stating I am wrong without a reason is not an argument.

              1. froogger says:

                No, you’re right in your explanation of the asshattery involved in releasing malicious code. Anonymity (of the victim) is also important. The thugs who stole Shamus car wouldn’t very likely do so if Shamus was present at the break-in. If they had known Shamus personally, and empathized with his life situation (broke, fat and jobless – gosh, sounds like a C&W song) they might not have done it. Then again, they might have known Shamus peripherally, and knowing he’s a programmer they would rationalize their asocial impulse with their hatred for “hackers”.

      3. X2-Eliah says:

        It's because the car, in their minds, belongs to some rich person who deserves to be taken down a peg or two. Or because they don't care about the person they harm, or they simply never think about it.

        Well, yes and no. There are also the douchebags and *****les. The people who simply revel in knowing that someone’s day, property, life has been ruined.

          1. Brandon says:

            And Bible Black.

    2. Aristabulus says:

      As was recently said in The Dark Knight…

      “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      It’s a matter of empathy, right? The perp’ isn’t taking the suffering (or joy) of others into account. No love.
      Of course, by failing to understand what motivates people like this, you have a similar (but more understandable) lack of empathy. Not so different.

      Personally, I could totally enjoy peeling a car all over town until the treads fall off the tires and then cock-tailing the whole thing. That would be a blast! The trouble is it costs way too much, which I think was your point.

    4. psivamp says:

      A couple kids in my town shot cars with a BB gun. In a couple nights, they racked up over a hundred cars. And when I say they shot my car with a BB gun, you expect a tiny ding, but they used a pretty good one because they shattered my rear-window.

      Insurance lumps glass coverage in with comprehensive — which is where you find fire, flood and theft things that necessitate replacement of the entire car. So, I had to pay out of pocket for the window. Then the glass company screwed something up and my rear defroster doesn’t work now — and it’s bloody winter in the Northeast.

      1. Ashnak says:

        I had a similar thing happen to me about 10.5 years ago, but in my case, the glass company didn’t have the molding (it was custom), so they were to “get back to me”. I told them I wouldn’t pay until the molding was fixed. My phone number didn’t change, and 3 years later I sold the car, still without molding.

  3. noahpocalypse says:

    So you know your cousin, who knows her husband, who knows a guy, who knows of a job you might like.


    1. Hitch says:

      Ominous set-up. Knowing Shamus it could be just a completely boring sensible job. But it makes you wonder if he’s going to be picking up a komodo dragon for delivery to an endangered species gourmet dinner party.

      1. But we needed a guy to write a way to do orders for that in COBOL, so we thought of you :P

        1. Malkara says:

          We’re actually probably nearing the part where he becomes a paper millionaire.

  4. Falcon says:

    Personally I’d have kept the paper and sued. I’m not a particularly big fan of our legal system, and hate frivolous lawsuits, but I can also be a vindictive asshole when someone screws me over. Heck just reading this makes me angry and wish that they had to pay you for the loss and suffering they caused. Money is a poor substitute for the loss of your stuff and your ride (which can be prohibitive) but it’s better than waking up and being completely robbed of your stuff for no reason.

    1. kmc says:

      Yeah, but I totally get Shamus’s decision. The culprits are: 1. basically amoral, so you’re not going to “teach” them anything, and 2. almost certainly at least as poor as Shamus is as the time, so you’re definitely not going to get anything from them. They won’t have any assets for you to take your settlement, and it’s not like that comes out of some magical pot of money just sitting around. With legal representation and court filing fees, even if Shamus decided to do everything himself or a lawyer did pro bono work, he’d spend more than he could hope to get back and then be in an even worse position.

      That’s the practical side of it. Also, like he points out, that kind of thing often just serves to stretch out the period where you’re obsessing over it, while the whole time, you know the thieves aren’t sitting around feeling bad about what they did just because they’re being sued. With the months that kind of thing would take, you’re just making yourself more unhappy, and assuming you win (probably, in this case), the injustice of the criminals not caring and you never getting your winnings would just be the bitter taste at the end of a cold and expensive meal.

      That being said, I would have been totally pissed off and might not have been able to be convinced not to take action.

      1. Falcon says:

        I get what you’re saying, and I don’t even particularly disagree. A lawsuit might be counterproductive in a case like this. You could be wasting time, money and frustration. In Shamus’ shoes I might very well have done the same thing. As pissed as I would have been, and as wanting restitution, I am also pragmatic. Sure going up to the punks and kicking them in the nads might make me feel better, but the arrest afterwards wouldn’t improve my situation. Same as a lawsuit, sure a big settlement might feel good, but never seeing the money would not help the problem.

        Basically legal measures only work if you have nothing to lose, or can afford guaranteed victory.

        1. kmc says:

          Now, kicking in the nads is a completely different story. I totally approve of that option. ;.)

    2. mac says:

      Ah, but there wouldn’t have been any money.

      “I laugh at the notion of suing a teenager and and a jailbound twenty-something who already have the destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of vehicles on their hands”

      If he had tried suing them, he would have just been wasting more money in legal fees. And if he’d succeeded in getting a judgement against them? Something tells me it would have been pretty hard to make them pay up.

      Edit: beaten to it by kmc, who makes the point better than I did :)

    3. Robyrt says:

      I find lawsuits, no matter how justified, to be a remarkably ineffective way of moving forward with your life and getting compensated for the wrongs done to you. It’s very stressful, it takes a long time, and odds are the other person doesn’t have the money you wanted in the first place (and garnishing wages usually doesn’t work for various reasons), so now you’re out lawyers’ fees too. Better to just forgive and forget.

      1. Patrick the Capitaist heathen says:

        I’m not a huge fan of our bloated and self serving legal system either, but it does exist for a reason. It has become a twisted and mutilated system with a very warped sense of justice, moreso the civil courts than the criminal side, but that isnt the fault of the court itself.

        Imagine the court system as the town water well. In days past it was the center of town, the well itself was what made the town possible. Without water there would be no reason to make build a home or construct a building. It was the center of town both physically and figuratively.

        Now imagine that the well is surrounded by people all charging you money to get at the water. Mind you, they aren’t charging you FOR no no…that would be illegal. But they are charging you for crossing over their land, which happens to be all around the well. This is our court system. It is broken and run by lawyers who have no interest in selling their land around the town well.

        But the well itself is fine. The water in it is perfectly drinkable.

        1. Except then you have to ask why the town elders don’t stop that practice, or why the well was so vulnerable in the first place.

          1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

            Because the town elders have their campaigns funded by the proceeds of the fees charged to et at the water. Maybe they still are freinds with some of the guys who charge ( Haliburton/Cheney) or they somehow profit from the practice.

            Poor people do not get elected into office. Rich people get elected not to protect the needs of the greater good, only so they can protect their rights to remain wealthy and priviliged.

  5. Atle says:

    I’m no expert on American cars, but Dodge Daytona reminds me of “The King” from the movie Cars, especially with the spoiler as seen on some of the results in Google picture search.

    You’ve got the sameish color as well. :)

    1. Aldowyn says:

      My dad’s actually owned a couple of different daytonas, both red. They weren’t too bad, but as I got taller the back got smaller… and smaller…

  6. Gary says:

    Ah….stupid criminals….I got my first car stolen this year…the thieves drove it around for a week or three, drinking and smoking and running speed cameras…

    We got it back without an ignition, and with new fender damage, and the inside covered in cigarette burns and vandalism.

    Not a fun feeling, but I cannot imagine the kind of jerk who would steal a car just to BURN it! I’m glad they caught your perp.

    1. Tizzy says:

      The burning is probably to get rid of fingerprints. Note that it only delayed the inevitable…

      1. Kdansky says:

        Most criminals are stupid. If they weren’t, they would not be criminals, because most criminals get caught, especially the stupid ones. It’s kind of circular.

        1. Tizzy says:

          Indeed. I know of two corroboration of this: my favorite crime authors are real journalists, who keep saying that they cannot use the outlandishly stupid things that they see criminals do in real life because it sounds too stupid to be true. The suspense in these stories relies on how dangerous it is to be around stupid people who are in way over their heads.

          In the other direction, I’ve read about the work of a sociologist who studies the unseen criminal world. He has contacts with a bunch of small time guys who are never over ambitious but have never been caught. These guys are very careful, and I assume they must be smart.

        2. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

          Smart criminals go into law school.

          1. Falcon says:

            Why do you think the lawyers go after the mob so hard, they’re encroaching on their business.

            That might only be true in Chicago…

            1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

              No…in Chicago they go into politics lol.

              1. decius says:

                In Chicago, the mobsters leave the lawyers alone so that the lawyers leave the politicians alone so the politicians leave the mob alone.

  7. Jarenth says:

    Shamus, you hopeless romantic you. “We should probably get married after you get around to graduation“? I hope you put some more effort into the actual proposal. Which, incidentally, I have pegged as the likely end of this autoblography series. Either that, or that fateful DnD game.

    1. Funny thing is– there never was an actual proposal, more a mutual decision. :)

      1. swenson says:

        Sounds like my parents. Apparently, one day, my dad was just sort of like “So we should probably go pick out a ring.” And that was the incredibly romantic way that he proposed to my mom, and the source of much teasing for him when my sisters and I found out.

        They’re going on 27 years of marriage now, so she must not have minded too much!

        1. Mrs. Peel says:

          My mom: I have this opportunity to go take classes in meteorology at this other school in another city.
          My dad: Well, how are you going to do that if you’re marrying me?
          My mom: Is that a proposal???

          Getting close to 40 years for them…

          1. The Hokey Pokey says:

            (Mom is trying on rings in a jewelry store, finds her favorite)
            Dad: Is that the one you want? (Buys it)

            Oh, and Shamus? You were not fat. At least not in the pictures you’ve shown us.

            1. Shamus says:

              You’re right, I wasn’t. But I had been SUPER skinny all my life, and so this FELT fat to me. It felt strange, because the change was so dang sudden. It’s really odd to have your body feel unfamiliar.

              I actually did get pretty dang fat around 2001. Bad eating habits and a long period of steroids (for asthma) caused me to stack on the pounds. I got control of that and shed them a couple of years later.

              1. Maldeus says:

                “Bad eating habits and a long period of steroids (for asthma)”

                That sentence had to have been the weirdest double-take I’ve ever done.

            2. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

              He was a beligerantly fat, pale-skinned, night dwelling sociophobe. He looked like a hairless possum in a jean jacket with a BoRics haircut.

              I dont know why you people continue to shower him with compliments. He cannot give you his free copy of DiabloIII. Your shameless worship is embarassing and undeserved.

              IRL he has dirty fingernails, a scraggly beard and smells like that wierd, funky, cheese-like substance that they put in Combos and smother nachos with at the ballpark.

              His shoes smell like hot dog water.

              He doesnt really shower, he just duct tapes a couple sticks of deoderant under his arms and every once in awhile he adjusts the knobs. He usually gauges the proper time to apply more under arm deoderant when the flakes falling on the keyboard are not dandruff but the paint peeling off the ceiling.

              Marvin was actually a jovial and good natured robot until he spent 2 weeks subletting a room from Shamus’ in 1996.

              Marilyn Manson is actually named Brain Warner and grew up about an hour away in Ohio. As a teeneger his church went on a mission trip to clean the house of some unemployed N00b. After 2 days of scraping a mold like substance off of the floor of Shamus’ apartment Brian left convinced that there could not possibly be a god.

              One time I dropped a bar of soap on the floor in Shamus’ apartment and it just melted and disappeared.

              1. Shamus says:


                1. Destrustor says:

                  Because he loves his dear brother.

                  Insanely so.

              2. froogger says:

                Now, if that ain’t love…
                Good to see the humour is a genetic thing.


          2. Ashnak says:

            Her: I have a chance to move to Arizona, great job, etc.
            Me: What about us?
            Her: As far as I’m concerned, there is no us!
            Me: Pulls out ring box, opens it, slams it on table Happy?

            Time passess…

            10 years of wedded bliss!

        2. Methermeneus says:

          Heh. This one (this one, since this thread is getting long and I don’t want to make you figure it out for yourselves) reminds me of how my parents got engaged. Standing in line for a movie:

          Dad: Do you think we should get married?
          Mom: Sure.
          Continue in to watch the movie, which was so not-special that they don’t even remember it now. What’s something really meh that came out in 1981?

      2. tengokujin says:

        Well, as long as he makes it up to you every year, right? :p
        (Psst, Shamus, make her something nice this year.)

      3. Mari says:

        LOL I got a proposal. Stopped at a red light one day he turns to me and says, “So you wanna get married?” I check to see if he’s being serious before saying, “Yeah.” I find it incredible that so many people place such an emphasis on the trappings of the thing like the big proposal, the perfect ring, etc. I just wanted to be with my best friend for the rest of my life. Didn’t much care how we got there or what knick-knacks were acquired along the way.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Some pairs see marriage as a mutual agreement to what’s been developing already, and some, I guess, see it as trading one person’s soul in exchange for trinkets.

        2. MrPyro says:

          Because I am a pretty unromantic kind of guy, I actually went to a little bit of effort making the proposal, just because it is one of the few things that I actually felt I could get romantic about.

          We’d talked a lot about marriage before, so it wasn’t exactly out of the blue.

          1. Falcon says:

            Same here, got engaged exactly a month ago. We had been talking it over for a few months, and had even begun planning. We went ring shopping together, and custom designed the ring together. She was just as involved in the engagement as me, until the ring was picked up. She knew I had it, she knew I had talked to her dad, she knew everything but when.

            Thing is I am a romantic at heart, even if not always in execution. I wanted to do something special, not because I needed to, but I wanted to. People get carried away sure, but sometimes it is nice to do something special.

        3. toastymow says:

          YES. This.

          Maybe that’s why i’m a fan of arranged marriages, but putting so much emphasis on special events (oh the wedding itself will be nice and formal and stuff, but … that’s the wedding). Do you want to marry me? Yes. Good.

          I’ll probably end up falling in love with some silly girl who makes me be all romantic though. That seems in line with how I operate.

      4. Kdansky says:

        I am tempted to tell my proposal story, but it’s rather embarrassing. Possibly some other time.

        I got married last Friday, and I hoped that Shamus’ posting schedule would line up nicely so I can come in and brag, but he talked about sad things instead. Curses!

          1. Jarenth says:

            Seconded! And do come in and brag whenever the right time rolls around, I’m curious now.

      5. Unbeliever says:

        I was informed by my girlfriend, that I Was Taking Too Long Getting Around To Proposing, and that she expected something formal and fancy.

        So I did.

        It wasn’t exactly a surprise… she was fully part of planning and timing the whole thing… :)

      6. TechDan says:

        Heh. My parents’ proposal was like that, too, but forced by my grandmother. My parents live in the south, and were up north to visit family. Staying with my mom’s family, they went to visit my dad’s parents. On their way out the door after the visit, my dad says ” You guys should come visit US sometime.” Grandma yells “Not until I see a marriage certificate!” By the time my parents got back to where they were staying, they had a plan and a date set.

      7. Guthie says:

        Heh, this was how it was with my wife and me. We were in a long-distance relationship (~500 mi.), and I was in college with no money, so we had limited opportunities to actually see one another. She had obtained her wedding dress and was well into the wedding plans by the time we “actually” got engaged.

        I took her out to a local park with a swing set because she loves swings, but we went around dusk because I didn’t want to chase the little kids off of their playground just to propose. We were there maybe ten minutes before the place got invaded by dumbass teenagers screwing around; five minutes after that, one of the older teens ran everyone out because the cops were coming to lock up the park. We didn’t want to get tangled up with the cops, so we went to Wal-Mart, bought some frozen stir fry, and cooked it in a pot at my awful, roach-infested apartment. After we finished, I pulled the ring box out of my coat pocket (where it had been the whole evening) and handed it to her. “So I got this for you.”

        I guess large quantities of romance aren’t a prerequisite for some couples. ^^

      8. Falcon says:

        Well sometimes telling the one you love how stupid they would be to lose them can be just as romantic as a big fancy event.

        It sounds like that’s what the proposal was, Shamus telling you how big of an idiot he’d have to be to lose such a wonderful person who cared so deeply for him, and agreeing ;)

        Really no amount of roses, or fancy dinners, or special things mean as much as raw pure truth.

      9. Stephanie says:

        You should totally plump for one now. With photos! And roses! And a bended knee!

    2. M the Cheddar Monk says:

      What fateful DnD game?

      1. Maldeus says:

        This blog was originally started to chronicle a D&D game played by Shamus and his friends. It gradually expanded into what it is today from there. So, if you’re like me and archive binged after discovering the blog, ending with that D&D game would make this autoblography sort of like a prequel series that catches ends where the original begins.

  8. Meredith says:

    Wow, I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve never had anything as big or expensive as a car stolen, but I have been a victim of theft and I know how awful it feels. That they burned it as well is just salt in the wound. However, it’s good that this particular rough patch helped you figure out some important things about life. If we can learn from our mistakes/troubles, then it’s not a total loss.

    1. asterismW says:

      Yeah, I once got ripped off by someone on eBay. Note that I’m very careful and online-savvy. This seller had a 100% rating, with feedback from a good number of people; he had built it up in order to look legit. He used good grammar and spelling. Then he offered a bunch of “pre-sales”; he didn’t have the merchandise yet, because it was on backorder, but he’d send it in a few months once it came in. I took the bait and paid him $200. I waited. And waited. I emailed him. Finally I tried to find out what was going on. In the last month his rating had tanked to 40%. A lot of other people had been ripped off too. He’d taken all that money and split. But eBay wouldn’t do anything about it because it was outside their claims dispute window. That was the last time I ever paid for something that was not immediately available.

  9. Aaron says:

    I’ll point out that a judgment, once obtained, is usually valid for a long time. Most states allow for a judgment to be enforced for ten or twenty years after it is handed down.

    While there is something to be said for just walking away and not bothering with the very real headaches of litigation, the idea that there could not possibly have been money in suing this pair is probably not true. That teenager is going to have to get a job someday. Just because he is likely insolvent now doesn’t mean he will be five, ten, or fifteen years in the future.

    1. Exetera says:

      Keep in mind that, even when they get out of prison, they’ll be uneducated and have felony convictions on their record. They will likely be unemployable, and have several other legal decisions over their heads aside from Shamus’. And, of course, even if these criminals do someday end up with money, the legal bills would have to be paid now.

      1. decius says:

        I’m not sure if Shamus had access to crime victim’s compensation programs, but the modern system pretty much cuts a check for a tiny fraction of the financial portion of the damages, and takes it out of the criminal’s later earnings.

  10. chabuhi says:

    Curse you and your cliffhangers, Young!

  11. Lintman says:

    Shamus’ missing car gave me a flashback to my own (less unfortunate) missing car experience:

    In college, on a Sunday morning I walked out to my car from my dorm room, only to discover it missing. I searched the entire upper tier parking lot looking for it before calling the police and reporting it missing. An hour later the police call and tell me they found it. It was in the lower tier parking lot, and I would have neary had to walk past my car on the way up to the upper tier lot. Only then do I vaguely remember coming home late Friday with some stuff to carry inside and so parking in the closer lot (which I didn’t have a parking sticker for, but which wasn’t enforced on weekends). Doh! Pretty embarrassing to explain that to the cop.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Hehe, that makes me laugh. “Gosh officer! I guess the thief picked the lock, forced the ignition without damaging it, and then decided to go on a joyride, concluding with filling up the tank with gas and parking it back in the lot. What a nice guy!”

  12. Geoff says:

    I am dumbfounded by this. I go out to the driveway and stare at the spot where I parked my car.

    In college, my girlfriend at the time had her car stolen. We were walking out of her apartment to my car when I casually asked where she had parked her car as I hadn’t seen it on my way in. She glanced to the right as she started to point. Paused. Glanced left. Glanced back to the right. Starting turning in spot scanning the entire parking lot. I think she might have just continued spinning in place, dumbfounded, if I hadn’t finally suggested we should call the police and report it. ;)

    1. Guthie says:

      I had my car towed once (for out of date tags) and I had an identical response to Shamus. I probably stood in the spot where I’d parked it in front of my apartment for a good five minutes before concluding it really was gone and I wasn’t just very confused and in the wrong parking spot.

      1. Rick C says:

        When I read “you should go talk more to the police” I was expecting the car to have been repossessed.

  13. Galad says:

    “I should do it quickly, before she comes to her senses.”

    I chuckled and smiled at your good luck in your personal life. Sure, at the time it may have seemed like one good thing among several bad in your life, but things have worked out consequently.

  14. Mephane says:

    Shamus, that what is likely to be one of Facebook’s “like” button seems to freak out on me, having explicitly blocked anything coming from their domain. Source code shows there should be an iframe, but it looks like the your site tries to cram some substitue in that little space instead.

    [I have blocked the domain because they actually track you by means of this little bugger even if you are not logged into facebook, don’t even have an account there and don’t want to have anything to do with it, that’s why I have simply blocked out the entire domain. This is the first instance of this giving me any problems, and only recently.]

    Edit: Now after posting this it looks normal again.

  15. MichaelG says:

    I would make fun of your taste for American cars, but my first car was an AMC Matador.

    But still! You have all this programming talent and don’t have a job. In the 90s when you could have gotten multiple job offers just walking down the street in Silicon Valley.

    You have a supportive, intelligent girlfriend who looks like Heather and you don’t propose.

    The younger Shamus really … well, how can I put this? … has his head up his ass?

    1. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

      Up to his shoulders….

      But then I dont know many 25 year olds who have it all figured out either….do you?

      1. MichaelG says:

        At the risk of offending all the youngsters here and sounding like an old fart… the age where we don’t expect much from people seems to be getting higher and higher.

        A friend’s kid told me not long ago that “no one graduates from college in 4 years any more.” And he’s not worried about getting a job, he’s living with his parents, and he’s 23.

        My friend and I were eating lunch with him and talking about when we met — at age 23! We were both working for a big company. He’d been out of college for a year, and I’d been out for 4 years (yes, I graduated at 19.) We’d both worked real summer jobs. We had apartments and cars and a start on a career.

        I know people live a long time, and perhaps there’s no rush. But things really have changed. Back when I was that age, a 25 year old working fast food because what-the-hell, would have been considered seriously off track in life.

        I know Shamus didn’t grow up with the same school experiences or career expectations, but I’m still surprised.

        1. Falcon says:

          Let’s see at 25… well thats easy that was last year. I had been working the same job for 4 years doing CAD design, had my own (small) apartment, heavily involved with volunteering, making enough to get by and even save a bit. I even met my fiancée that year. By all accounts things were working pretty well, but it can change in a hurry. Loosing my job (on Christmas eve no less) unhinged me for a bit. That said compared to my friends it’s a bit uneven. Several are already married, others are working dead end jobs living at home.

          Living in one of the more expensive cities doesn’t help, but with the economy, spiralling college costs, and an impossible housing market for anyone under 40 it is rather tough to have it together on your own.

          1. MichaelG says:

            Setbacks aren’t the same as this attitude of “well, you’re still too young (at 25!) to know what you want to do with your life.”

            Some people talk about 25-year-olds the way we would have talked about 17-year-olds. The expectation was that as you got near high school graduation, you’d either be thinking about a career or college. Even if you went to college, you’d be picking a major, indicating that you had some idea what you were going to do with that expensive education.

            I’m not trying to put down your generation. I know the job market stinks and both college prices and housing prices are through the roof. I’m just pointing out that expectations really have changed. And I’m not sure people get anything out of the extra few years of adolescence we seem to expect now.

            1. krellen says:

              My mother didn’t figure out what she wanted to do with her life until she was nearly 50.

            2. Falling says:

              Well there’s two things with that I think. There is indeed decreased expectation for people up until mid-20’s as though one should remain a man-child forever. (And this then plays out when people are shocked and horrified when someone dares to get married at age 21 and even worse have a baby a year later :S )

              But partially there’s been an increased dependency created due to cost of living vs wages available to university students. And this discrepancy has decreased rather than increased.

              I worked the exact same summer job my dad did 30 years before me and I was making the exact same wage ($10 CAD) and how prices on everything from tuition to rent to food has increased since then.

              It is really hard to live on your own, go to university and be financially viable. Every summer I had to return home to live and work else I’d have no money for September.

              Anytime dependency is created, our attitudes and expectations change and the behaviours change as well. The entire teen culture is more or less a creation of high school which keeps teens dependent and so there’s no need to be responsible. I mean historically there’s always been complaints about how the youth are revolting, but the age of independent viability and therefore responsibility was dramatically lower. The dependency just keep creeping up the age level as one ‘needs’ to get higher an higher education for more and more costs with less and less income.

              And those that do choose to live independently often need to got to university part time rather than full time in order to stay a float with 2 minimum wage jobs. This would then increase the length of time it would take to finish your degree to get to your ‘real job’ aka non-minimum wage. I finished my double degree in 5.5- the fastest you could. My room-mate did it in 7 and I knew others in my program that had been at it at it for just under 10. (Married/ living together, holding multiple jobs and finishing their bachelor degree spread out over several years.

        2. Galad says:

          what the heck kind of college do you graduate from at 19, an age when most people in my country have barely just started university?

          1. MichaelG says:

            I was paralyzed at age 7 and used a wheelchair after that. When I was in the hospital, the doctors calmly told my parents (while I was listening), that most paraplegics did not live long, especially when injured at such a young age. They said I might live until I was 40 (I’m 52 now.)

            So I think I was always in a bit of a rush. My parents had started me in school at age 4, since my birthday is in December. They don’t let you do that anymore in the U.S., but back then, nearly-five was good enough, and better than waiting until I was nearly-six.

            Then I graduated from high school a year early (at 16.) I was impatient to go to college and learn something real instead of fooling around for senior year the way most kids did.

            At college, I went through in three years and graduated at 19. I’m not sure why kids extend it to five years now. I read that some survey showed kids are actually putting in a lot less study time now than they did 30 years ago. With the huge tuition costs, you’d think people would want to do it in less time, not more.

            I worked summer jobs at IBM starting when I was 16. So by the time I was 23, I had several years of work experience.

            I know this isn’t normal, BTW.

            It’s just as well I pushed things though, since my health really started to fall apart in my late 40s. Counting the summer jobs, I got in 30 years of full-time work, but just barely. Now I’m retired on disability.

            1. pffh says:

              When you say extending it to five years are you talking about a master or a bachelor degree? I’m finishing my bachelor after three years this spring at 23 and then I´ll need two more years to finish my masters since my degree is useless without the masters and that is as fast as it’s possible to get my degree since each year builds of last years studies.
              On top of that if I want a doctorate that will be two more years at least (more likely three).

              But if you’re talking about taking 5 years to finish a bachelors then what the hell is going on there? That’s what (according to my university system) 36 credits a year or little over two subjects per semester.

              1. MichaelG says:

                My friend’s son was doing a bachelors and his comment was “no one finishes in 4 years any more.”

                Beats me what’s going on. Like I said, at those prices, I’ll study 16 hours a day if it gets me done quicker!

                Maybe they are all working part time jobs, but I don’t think so. He wasn’t.

                Google pulls up this: (PDF)

                For example, among college graduates who earned a bachelor's degree in 1999″“2000, about two-fifths (39 percent) had completed the degree in 4 years (Bradburn et al. 2003). A majority (72 percent) of this cohort, however, had completed a bachelor's degree within 6 years, while 14 percent took 6″“10 years and the remaining 14 percent took more than 10 years.

                1. Cuthalion says:

                  US colleges are different than a lot of countries. Standard bachelor’s degrees are 4 years. I’m guessing you’re from a country where they’re typically 3. Graduate stuff (master’s, doctorate) varies and comes afterward, if at all. Completing a degree in 3 years would be difficult and expensive. (Cheaper overall, yes, but the higher immediate cost would often be prohibitive. Plus, “I am saving money” loses its motivating power after a few weeks of running oneself into the ground.) We also have “junior” or “community” colleges that tend to be inexpensive, publicly funded, and of widely variable quality, but offer shorter degrees. Typically 2 years. A lot of financially-minded students will get an associate’s (2-year) degree at a community college, then transfer to a 4-year college or university for the last two. That way, they get their basic stuff done on the cheap, while still getting the benefit of the more respected degree and an institution with more advanced classes.

                  Also, in the US, each subject is generally 3 credits. (Lab science and foreign language classes are often more, while many others are often only 1 or 2. But 3 is the norm.) So a standard 16 credits per semester usually means, say, four 3-credit classes and two 2-credit classes.

                  1. MichaelG says:

                    No, I’m from California, went to school in New York state. I did an interdisciplinary thing that involved writing a thesis, but gave you a bunch of credits for that. So I finished a four-year program in three years.

                2. Patrick the Capricious Philanthropist says:

                  Alot of colleges are adding extra classes into the curriculum as mandatroy prerequisites or core studies for the exact reason of guys like you, thye want students there for 4 years or more. They don’t want you graduating in less than 4 years because thats one less student to wring 12k-24k from. Even basic college classes such as algebra and trigonometry have tests to get into the class even if you took and passed them in high school. If you do not score high enough on the test-in you have to take the lower class on the tree. Colleges are after money, not your education. My cousin is going through the same school Heather went to and she basically had to retake her senior year of high school to satisfy her prerequisites before she could start her core classes for her major.

                  Beyond that alot of high schools do not prepare you for college anymore, they only prepare you to graduate. So there are alot of kids being sent off to college unprepared for the classes and workload.

        3. Soylent Dave says:

          All you’re really saying is that 4-5 years after you graduated from University, you were settling into your (first?) career.

          That’s pretty much what young Shamus did – he hasn’t been to University, but he has had a lot of similar formative experiences (he’s temporarily moved out of ‘home’, he’s been self-sufficient without any real responsibilities (i.e. when it’s really easy) etc. etc.

          He’s even had the (seemingly inevitable) ‘things fall apart’ moment of his 20s – his comfortable (but rut-dwelling) life has collapsed and he’s been confronted with the reality that he didn’t actually have it all that comfortable after all.

          I wouldn’t expect a man in his early 20s to be completely settled down and comfortable in his lifetime career and family – although I might expect him to THINK he’s got it all sorted, and that there’s nothing all that new or important to learn or experience.

          I don’t think that’s treating him like an adolescent – I think that’s treating him like a young adult. They’re MEANT to be naive – they haven’t been beaten about the head and face by life yet.

  16. Alex says:

    Who drives anymore? All the cool kids are levitating to work now!

  17. ENC says:

    This is why you don’t buy a commodore in aus. The cars are hoon-magnets and (at least for commodores) they are so popular, if some kid down the street wrecks his they will take parts off of yours.

    Although you could always put a spike strip behind the wheels (as long as you could remember to move them), that’d be hilarious to wake up to.

  18. Thom Mollinga says:

    “I should marry this girl. I should do it quickly, before she comes to her senses.”

    I LOL’ed. While at work… My colleague is staring at me right now and his face asks me what’s so funny.
    Well, I’m glad she didn’t come to her senses then :)

  19. Zaxares says:

    Dammit, Shamus! It’s not fair writing posts like these! I get all confused between wanting to “Dawwww” over your marriage proposal and punch those stupid assholes who torched your car in the jaw, and now my primitive monkey brain’s all confused! D:

  20. Leah says:


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