It Never Rains But It Pours

Octagon Newsletter October 2000

By Doug McClean

In November, 1998, I was in the final stages of restoring my '77 Midget and had spent 8 months working on it every day. I was newly retired and fully engrossed in this project as a means of getting out of my wife's hair - for which she was very grateful!! The vast majority of my efforts had been on body work, since the car had been sitting in someone's carport for nearly 10,000 years and was white and rusty when I started.

I knew I had reached the limit of my abilities and it was time to turn the car over to the experts for the final preparation and paint job. After a few quotes, I selected the lucky winner and then made their lives miserable by visiting every 48 hours to make sure I was happy with the work and to take pictures. I made the mistake of telling them I was not in a hurry, so this process went on for 3 weeks, during which I became almost 'part of the family'.

Finally, they were ready for the final paint job which would be done at night and then, as we had agreed, the paint would be allowed to air dry for two days, rather than baking it, to ensure the metallic sheen would not be dulled. I did one last check of the car, took a couple of final 'prep pictures' and went home to eagerly await the morning so I could see the final result.

First thing next morning, I arrived to see my car and I was not disappointed - in fact, I was ecstatic when I saw this beautiful racing green metallic Midget. I was further buoyed by one of the workers telling me it was the best paint job he had ever seen since he had been working there. Happy, I headed to my Jeep and was pulling away when, through the driving rain, I saw the manager come out of the office and run toward me - did I mention it was raining cats and dogs? As he stood getting very wet, he informed me that "we have a problem!" - to which I replied "the car looks absolutely perfect and I can hardly wait to get it home". He then told me the problem was the company was bankrupt and was being foreclosed as we spoke and therefore we had to get my car out of there right away.

Did I mention that we were in the midst of the wettest November in history with no sign that things were going to improve any time soon? It was then that I noticed several tow trucks in attendance towing cars in various stages of body repair to numerous other shops.

As is often the case, this situation was a 'good news, bad news scenario'. The good news was they were going to give me a substantial reduction on the agreed price for the job. The bad news was the car, painted only 14 hours earlier, had to be moved immediately - did I mention the torrential downpour underway? What to do - as a senior naval officer (albeit recently retired), I was highly trained in making split-second decisions. I suggested that I get some very light ground sheets, while the manager rounded up a tow truck that can lift my Midget off the ground onto a flat deck so that I could take her home. Great idea he says and away I go for the ground sheets. I'm back in a flash and was spreading out the plastic sheets when the gentleman who actually painted my car asked me what the hell I was doing. When I explained, he calmly told me that any plastic that touched the car would immediately become part of it since the paint was not cured. Scratching my head, I then hesitantly asked him what would happen if it got wet - did I mention the rain?

He matter-of-factly informed me that every drop of rain would leave a permanent pock mark in the paint since the paint was not cured - sounds more like a sausage than an MG!

Again my naval training kicked in, unfortunately a bit late, as I realized I had made a major tactical error in paying the bill before I got the car home. It was then that one of the employees, all of whom had just found out they were now unemployed and were understandably concerned with their own future, told me there was actually one covered tow truck in town. Saved!! We called the towing company and sure enough about two hours later I saw the first covered tow truck that I had ever laid eyes on. Several of the guys who worked there helped me rig a tarp from the back of the tow truck to the garage because it wouldn't fit under the door and then helped me push it up onto the flatbed. The tow truck followed me home, where the driver again helped me rig a tarp so that we could get my Midget into my garage without getting it wet. We managed to do that and, after one final inspection looking for rain drops, I calmly went in the house, poured a large scotch on the rocks and sat down to ruminate on the day's events.

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