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How a SCAT bus destroyed my Mercedes and fueled an eBay and BMW addiction — Part I

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

I told Jeanette at work of my plan and she asked me why on God’s earth would I buy a BMW sight-unseen on EBay and go to Chicago with a wad of cash to give to some guy who you cannot even pronounce his name.

“You know what,” I told Jeanette, “these are all really good questions and a more normal and measured person would defiantly take a different approach.”

“But you have to do things differently, because you are Steve Reid and that consigns you to turn everything into some over the top adventure.” Jeanette replied.

“Jeanette — there are not a lot of these cars around…”

Then I realized I had not sold a single person on my plan. And that made sense.

 

The day my Benz died

It all started when the SCAT bus in Sarasota accidentally killed my Mercedes Benz S500 Coupe.

OK, it was my fault, but the SCAT bus was put on this earth to lose money and roll around like one big breadloaf of bad driving.

As I tell this story, I make one disclaimer up front — I hate the SCAT bus and its entire operation.

Did I say hate? I hear my Father saying to me from 30 years ago, “You do not hate anything — hate is a strong word.”

So I went to grad school as an English major and cannot find some euphemism such as detest or abhor or disdain for the SCAT bus. Hate is my word and let me tell you why.

 

The many reasons to hate SCAT

SCAT drivers are the most aggressive New York cab school of driving jockeys I have ever witnessed. You would think St. Armands was a closed racetrack the way the SCAT bus races to its next empty spot with a sole lonely bicyclist aboard.

Add the fact that they can stop more randomly than any emergency vehicle or school bus anywhere on main roads such as Bee Ridge or Fruitville Road. They will suddenly slam on their brakes, passengers careen and literally fall off the bus — ADA compliant of course — and meanwhile, nearly three rear-end accidents happen because of these oversized yet empty breadboxes of recklessness.

Then add in the fact that it is a complete economic loss year after year. I would rather use tax dollars to buy everyone a bicycle or install a rail system — anything would be more interesting and more efficient than what we have in the SCAT bus operation.

The service may be valuable to those who use it, but it is an inefficient and subsidized operation. It would be cheaper to pay the passengers to not ride the bus.

And lastly, the name — why would lovely Sarasota use an acronym which clearly spells out bear excrement as its name and plaster that name on signs and buses throughout the community? There is a challenge for our Chamber! Why not just go all out and rename it — Sarasota Helping In Transport.

 

The real reason…

But the last reason is the final crowing event that sealed my dislike of the whole SCAT operation.

It all happened when after a long and harrowing day trying to sell ads and wrangling with Longboaters over undergrounding utilities or some similar issue. I picked up my daughter and was driving south on 301 when as I cut from 301 to Tuttle Avenue, I rear-ended an Isuzu Trooper when a SCAT bus slammed on its brakes in front of the Isuzu on 17th street.

It was all my fault — I was talking to my 16-year-old daughter and asked her if the hives she had developed on her left leg had cleared. She gave me that perfect teenage answer: “Well what do you think? I’m wearing shorts…”

And at that instant I looked to her left leg to see and was happy the hives were gone. Then crunch. I was just starting to move as the light had changed, but just before the light, the SCAT bus stopped and the ISUZU stopped and I did not.

My car was still running and the Isuzu in front pulled over to a small home on the side of the road. I pulled to the side. Then the passenger, a man with long dreadlocks, exits the car and runs several blocks up the street and returns minutes later and switches seats with the driver. My daughter looks at me. I thought she might be sad to see Dad’s nice Mercedes crunched in the front. She said, “Dad, can we just go? This is going to take forever and I don’t have time for this…”

I got out of the car and of course, the Isuzu had a tiny hairline scratch on the bumper and my coupe — and they sold more than 500,000 s500 four-door models and only 4,000 coupe models — looked like its teethe had been knocked out.

 

Snoop Dog comments

A tall guy who had hair exactly like Snoop Dog then walked out of the small house with his friend and is talking all loud and crazy.

“Wow man your car got messed up! Looks like Isuzu met Mercedes and Isuzu won!” he added as he high-fived his friend.

So after thanking him for the comments and after getting a ticket, I drove the car home.

Within a day, some guy in an insurance company vehicle showed up like the grim reaper of automobiles and gave the vehicle a death sentence.

By the end of that day, I was driving a red charger from Enterprise and later watched from my home-office window as rain fell across the crinkled hood. I saw darkness descending and knew my budget for a replacement car was capped at this point in my life. After all, I have a wife and six kids. I need something practical, ideally reliable and that gets good mileage.

 

Nighttime adventure…

Later that night, when my wife and all the children were asleep, I took the red Charger and drove all along Clark Road and US 41 and looked at the cars and vehicles. I felt like a married man who suddenly found himself single. There were fast and sexy cars that I could not afford. There were practical cars like the Camry and Accord that are hard to drive after the S500. And realize I like to do almost all the work down to working on the engine block of most any vehicle I own.

So as I drove along Clark road, like a dark ghost in the night sat a green BMW with a front end so alluring I turned around in a U-turn and drive right up to the closed and silent car lot.

It was a BMW 840 CI. I wrote the model down and went to the great source of all — the Internet. I read reviews, specs, repair details. I learned about the weak aspects of the car and the strengths and decided that night I was going to by the BMW Supercoupe whatever it takes.

The next day the car on Clark Road was gone. Like a deflated balloon I went home and started poking around EBay. I had a very limited budget so I needed a deal and I needed to act aggressively I assured myself.

Within a day I was tracking a car being sold by an Ebayer named Husain from West Chicago area. It said “All original, 97,000 miles and very good condition in and out.” It had service records and it was a No Reserve auction.

Few were willing to bid because the seller was new, making him risky. I reasoned, “So what, all I am risking is the plane ticket.”

 

Read Next week about my first-ever trip to Chicago where I met Husain with a wad of cash in my pocket and I sat in the driver’s seat of a BMW for the first time in my life.

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1 Response for “How a SCAT bus destroyed my Mercedes and fueled an eBay and BMW addiction — Part I”

  1. Dan K says:

    What an elitist and poorly thought out essay. Cars are subsidized more than buses. Fuel taxes do not nearly cover the costs of roads and damage caused by poor drivers, such as the author. If the bus is rear ended, the idiot following too closely is obviously at fault. Do they not know they’re behind a bus and buses stop? If Sarasota, unlike virtually every civilized city in the world, didn’t have such a poor attitude about the buses, they wouldn’t need a subsidy.

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