Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cataclysmic Perverters

My friend KK (please note the words on her T-shirt...and then those on Grahame's corresponding T-shirt.  :o)
My dear friend Grahame lives with his wife KK in New South Wales, which isn’t in (or even near) Wales—which is in Great Britain. No, New South Wales is in eastern Australia. Go figure!

Grahame drives a Mercedes Benz “E 430”; affectionately referred to as a “Benz” for those of us who are lazy typists.

To help some of you place my friend--G is the mate who sent me the bumper sticker that’s in my truck’s rear window, which many locals have commented on over the years. That bumper sticker says “Real Men Like Cats” and EVERYONE has asked who the “real man” is, or why such a bumper sticker is in the window of a WOMAN’S truck, or why in the world I like (or why the man referred to likes) cats! I never would have believed that one small bumper sticker could raise so many questions or start so many conversations--but I’ve enjoyed telling folks about my wonderful friend. (I wanted G to put a bumper sticker in his Benz window that said “Real Women Drive John Deeres” but--according to him—the Australian government won’t honor a Mercedes Benz warranty if the vehicle is festooned with bumper stickers. Can you imagine that?? It (almost) defies belief, huh?)
Grahame's 'other' Benz.  Note the sticker on the bumper... Hmmmm.... :o)
Anyway, Grahame’s Benz recently underwent an inspection and his mechanic informed him that the car needed catalytic converters. The rig has a dual exhaust system, so two converters were required for the job. G was quoted an astronomical price for the parts…upwards of $1,200.00 to $1,400.00 apiece.




Being a frugal Yank, I took immediate umbrage at such 'highway' robbery and suggested he look into after-market parts, thinking he might be able to get a better price for ‘off brand’ catalytic converters. Ever industrious (and conscientiously saving money for a trip to Africa) Grahame did precisely that. He emailed me saying he’d found the parts he needed online…for only $115.00 each. That immediately raised my suspicions. I was sure he could find the parts for less-- but at less than 10% of the price he’d been quoted? It didn’t make sense to me, and I had visions of car theft rings and stolen auto parts. But Grahame, safely tucked away in Oz, wasn’t worried about such things. He ordered the converters.

This amazing company also offered free shipping–but only inside the U.S.–so G asked me if he could have the Benz exhaust parts sent here to The F.A.R.M. so that I could mail them on to him. Of course, I said “Sure.”

And of course… there were delays.

It always makes me nervous when a company claiming to be American is staffed by operators who don’t speak coherent English. Don't get me wrong...I love the North Dakotan accent, ay? And an “all y’all” from Alabama brings a smile. But the woman who called me to explain the delay in shipping my friend’s exhaust system was barely comprehensible. It took me several “what?”s before I figured out that the company was replacing “Gruh-hay-mee’s corpulistic combustors” with a different brand of cataclysmic perverters. But! I was assured (I think) that they would fit his Benz every bit as well as those he’d originally ordered!

This same woman called Grahame in New South Wales. He couldn’t understand her any better than I could. And...he called me to compare notes and to laugh at the incomprehensible way the operator pronounced “catalytic convertors”.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t home when he called and my daughter Josie answered the phone. According to her… she could have listened to Grahame talk ALL DAY because his accent was so dreamy. But, as cool as his accent was…she couldn’t understand a word HE said.

“Mama, one of your Australian friends called,” she told me when I arrived home.

“Excellent! Who was it?”

“I dunno… Peter Daily? Donovan? I dunno….”

“Peter WHO? I know two Peters in Australia—but those aren’t their last names. Not even close. Did he leave his phone number?”

“No, I gave him your cell phone number and he said he’d try to reach you on that.”

I was very disappointed. And confused. Disappointed because I leave my cell phone off while at work, so I wouldn’t have been able to receive his call--and confused because I didn’t know who ‘he’ was! As much as I would LOVE to receive a call from either of ‘my’ two Peters, I couldn’t imagine what would prompt them to telephone me out of the blue.

The puzzle was solved when Grahame called again later that evening. We got a chuckle out of the fact that he and I couldn’t understand (and were irritated at) the strong accent of the Asian woman who called us about his catatonic diverters —but Josie had a difficult time simply understanding G’s name. And yet—my daughter “could have listened to him all day”.

Despite moments of doubt, the canonistic contenders safely made the journey from Maine to Oz. And contrary to my assumptions (which were based on past history) Australian Customs didn’t open the boxes, irradiate them, blow them up or forward them to Ali g with terse notes outlining proper procedure for accepting foreign mail. They just… sent them on their way to New South Wales. I guess I softened them up with the contraband potatoes, the Bakewell Cream that looked suspiciously like white powder, and the cell phone with two bullet holes in it.

Australian-born Grahame received the catalytic, catatonic and cataclysmic parts for his German car, shipped from the U.S. but sold by someone with a strong Asian accent. And regardless of my doubts, his mechanic said they were top-notch. They weren’t made out of tin foil, and they appeared to be new, with no hint that a cutting torch has ever touched them. Grahame was able to keep most of his pennies in his wombat bank and now his Benz doesn’t sound like a John Deere.

All is well in Oz.

Grahame with the 2 catatonic combustors I mailed all the way from Maine. 
(Please note the wording on his T-shirt, which corresponds with KK's in the above photo!)


  1. Thanks Kazza... the cattledog sheepherders are just wonderful and thanks for making the buying of such boring car parts into so much fun. Next time I ring I'll try and make my voice deeper in case Josie answers the phone.

  2. Hello, love.

    You're looking handsome tonight. :o) I love what you've done to you...outline. :o)

    Don't make your voice deeper, for Pete's (I've no idea which Pete's!) sake. Just tell her you're the Aussie I tried to send potatoes to... or the guy I sent the alpaca wool decorations to, which Aussie Customs sniffer dogs liked so much. She'll know who you are then. :o)

  3. just read it again Kazz. What a laugh. Can't believe it was six years ago...g xxoo