The Internet, Volkswagens, and God.
A few days ago as I was searching the Volkswagen forums, I found a part, THE part, I needed to fix my car. In this post was a brief description of the item, the asking price, a request for text message correspondence, and a phone number with a link to view some hi-res pictures. So, as most would do, I texted this person in the attempt to purchase this part. Never did I expect that the conversation occurring over the next few days would have such a profound impact on my life…
The Volkswagen community was, at one point, full of guys and girls supporting each other in the quest for faster, lower, better looking, better performing automobiles. Sites like vwvortex and fortitude were outlets to buy and sell parts, keep up on what others were doing, read about new products, and have a place in the community. It wasn’t a place for snakes or shit talkers, scammers or drama, at least in the early days. I had trusted fellow dubbers before the PayPal days with my money (snail mailed money orders) on the promise I was going to get the parts they had listed. I trusted people with funds via PayPal for parts they were going to ship from Germany during a visit there. I never got burned.
I continue to have faith in dubbers, especially the dudes (and chicks) that drive the older cars. Quite frankly, if it was made after 1999.5 (Cabrio up to 2003) I’m not interested. There is something about the creaks, rattles, shakes, and sounds of the older cars that just isn’t the same in the new ones. The people that appreciate these cars, I believe, appreciate the others that drive them as well. It’s like an unwritten code of sorts, you just, I don’t know, you just have respect for these people cause you know what they go through to enjoy what they drive. It’s the hours in the garage, the bloody knuckles, the cursing at the price of spark plug wires to enjoy the feeling and sound of that 16v or VR6, cammed 8v or boosted ABA that makes the struggles worth it. There is no replacement. Knowing that the person driving one of these machines was going through the same stuff as you almost automatically brought you closer. There was a common interest, a bond, a love for an automobile that made you brothers.
My conversation started on Tuesday as a pretty basic business deal. The part was available and ready to be shipped and PayPal was the preferred method of payment. I made a joke about the constant lowball offers people put out on vwvortex and that’s when the dynamic of the conversation shifted. He told me why this part was for sale. We swapped some stories about our cars. Laughed a bit about how the “vw scene” has changed so much and just bullshitted about vw stuff. It was the community element of years passed that still existed in the midst of kids spending their parents money on 1.8t GTis. I got tied up working on a car at work and the conversation resumed hours later when I sent PayPal for the part.
He told me he was unable to ship it out that day because the UPS store closed at 8. I wasn’t worried. We both drive b3 passats. I offered to ship a part out I had but didn’t need for the cost of shipping to help his project along. We shared where we lived, traded some pictures of our cars, talked about junkyard finds and wheels, and the history and future of our dubs. I felt like I was talking to one of my friends I’ve known forever from home, only thing is this dude was in North Carolina and we only started talking a few hours ago because of a part on the internet. He assured me he would ship the part out the next day and I was excited to install it in my car over the weekend. We chatted about our cars a bit more and some b4 parts swaps on the b3s and that was it.
The following day he hit me up and asked about a picture of my car I sent. I explained that I had put the car back together after that accident 2 years prior and was driving it every day now. I went about my day as usual expecting to see my shipment in a few days and continuing any conversation once I received the part. And that’s where things changed again…
Around 9 pm I received a text of apology saying that my part would be shipped out the next day as this dude’s sister was in a really bad car accident a few hours before and it didn’t look good. I took a step back as this kid was going through some real shit at that moment and was concerned that he hadn’t shipped out a part like he intended. He was apologizing to me and it just didn’t make any sense. I did what any human would do and told him not to even think of worrying about going to the post office or UPS on my behalf and to do whatever he needed to do to be there to support his family. He thanked me for my kind words and I promised to say a prayer for his sister and him.
But I don’t pray… Well at least I didn’t, conscientiously, until that moment. I never really believed in “God” (the Catholic one, you know, the father of Jesus) growing up, maybe because I didn’t want to, maybe because I didn’t think I needed to, or maybe because I was forced to through CCD, I’m not sure. What I do know, and what I have always known is that there is something greater out there than us. I know my grandparents keep tabs on me and make sure I am doing the right thing. I know that something more powerful, that causes things with no logical explanation to occur, is present in our lives. I’m sure of it. Maybe that is all that God is. A feeling. A state of mind.
I guess God acts in mysterious ways as I received the text this morning from my fellow dubber that his sister did not make it. She had passed away the night before. He thanked me for my prayers, and my patience, and my business. He asked me to save his number so we could keep in touch. He told me he would send my package out immediately. I told him that should be the last thing on his mind. I asked his sister’s name so I could light a candle for her at Mass this weekend. I’m going to go to church. Maybe I need it, but more importantly maybe I need to do it for others. It’s the unexplainable again as my friend (and shop-owner) and I spoke the other day after work about sending prayers out for others. He told me that sometimes it’s necessary to be close to God for the sole reason that other people need you to be. They need your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes more than one could ever realize.
So on Sunday I will go to Mass and listen and maybe start to have a better understanding as to why we are here and do what we do. And to think, two days ago I was just buying a part for my car…
Dead Letter and Milk & Cookies presents Akrobatik, Reks, Dj GemCrates and Sterbyrock, + more on Saturday August 18th @ Firehouse 13 in Providence. The show starts around 9pm, but before that for all you sneaker heads & hat junkies there will be a free sneaker/snapback exchange starting at 7pm.
On Sunday, August 5, after the Narragansett Seawall Flash Art Show, Ster and I grabbed a bite to eat and a few beers at the Muse Tavern in Wakefield, RI. This was my first time here and my expectations were rather high because of all the positive feedback I’ve heard about the place. Let’s just say that the word on the street is correct. The Muse is a dope spot that you need to check out if you like beers and good pub food.
They currently have the Samuel Adams Belgian Session as one of their premium rare and limited selections and it is in the top five beers I have ever had. It’s a beer drinkers beer, light, crisp, and flavorful with a smooth finish and no strange aftertaste. Also, be sure to check out the Batch 19 Pre-Prohibition Lager, the Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, and the Woodstock Inn Raspberry Weasel Wheat.
As for food, the Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks are banging with the house made Pink Vodka Sauce. I could have had another order for dessert. The portion size was great to split and they were not short on flavor or cheese. I followed that up with a Blazin’ Saddles Cheeseburger (applewood smoked bacon, buffalo cheddar, jalapeños, cajun spice, ranch) and Ster had the Mews Chicken Fajitas. The burger was great. It was cooked to medium doneness, per my request, had great flavor, and came with lettuce, tomato, and onion with a side of French Fries. The fajitas made my burger look like a kids meal however. Huge pieces of chicken were accompanied with lightly blackened peppers and onions and a separate dish arrived with a super-sized side of rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and fajitas. I swear there was enough food for two lunches. My only issue with the two dishes were the amount of fries that accompanied the burger and the number of fajita wraps in comparison to the dish. Both of these items (of very little cost) should be served in abundance or additional amounts should be offered. I’m not saying to give the whole farm away, but I would have likely ordered another beer to go with more fries.
You would think that it couldn’t get any better, but it did… Service is the MOST important part of the dining experience and this is where the Muse excelled. Our server, Jackie, was pleasant, fun, knowledgeable, engaging, and welcoming. She was on point in all aspects of service from order taking to delivery to timing to customer interaction. She sat with us when we asked her to and didn’t drop the typical, “I don’t want to get in trouble if my boss catches me sitting” line. I would go back for the service alone even if the beer was warm and the food was cold (which it wasn’t – so I’ll certainly go back to eat too). I hope Jackie is rewarded for her top-notch service and wins some kind of customer appreciation award from the management at the Muse; she certainly deserves it.
The Muse Tavern is a must-check-out location and I highly recommend swinging through, sitting on the tavern side, and requesting Jackie as your server. I will be there again and have no issue making the 35 minute commute from the city for the quality food, beer, and service experience I had.