Weird Story

Steve Berra remembers his old piece of junk Accord.

This story is from when James Riff and I had no money. James wasn’t pro or anything. I rode for Foundation and had just started to get a little money. James, my friend Joel, Jason King, and me used to live together in ghetto Oceanside. Jason was always trying to pull off something, and I don’t even know where the guy is now. James had just gotten there from Texas. He bought a peddle-moped from Jason that wasn’t worth much–but he still paid Jason like a hundred bucks for it. Jason has no problem ripping off his friends.

So James had this moped and he’d peddle it up on the sidewalk to his Subway job. He had the moped for three days. Then one day he came home, parked it, and ran inside to ask me a question. We went outside so he could lock up his moped–in a matter of not even three minutes–the moped was gone. Two kids were standing there, they saw the whole thing go down. There was this truck that loaded up the moped and took off. So we ran down the street to look for the truck, but it was long gone.

After that, I left on tour for Europe. The night before I left, me and James packed all our stuff in my car, and got a storage unit. I was all psyched, because I was getting out of shitty Oceanside.

I had this ’82 green Honda Accord. Eric Koston lent my girlfriend the money to buy it. She was under eighteen, so she put the car in my name. Then we broke up and since it was in my name, I took the car–that’s a whole other story. The transmission was really bad. Every time you put the car in reverse it would shake like it was in a wreck. But it was our only means of transportation. So when I went to Europe, I left James the car and told him, “It’s cool if you take the car. But whatever you do, just don’t drive super far, because I don’t trust it. And make sure you check the oil a lot, it always leaks.” He said “No problem.”

So, the next thing you know, I was in Switzerland and I called up Josh Beagle. He said, “Hey, did you hear about what happened to your car?”

“No, I don’t know. What happened?”

He’s like, “Oh, it blew up.”

I tried not to get mad. I came back from Switzerland, went to the San Francisco contest, and then down south again. James avoided me for three weeks. I finally got a hold of him, and he’s like, “Dude, I’m sorry.” I just wanted to hear his story.

I guess while driving the Accord, the transmission went out, and he couldn’t put it in reverse; it made parking impossible. Jeff Taylor was in town and he talked James into driving all the way up to Visalia Skate Camp, nine hours away. So they were in the mountains a couple miles away from the skatepark and the car just stopped. The whole engine froze because there was no oil in it–he broke rules one and two.

So they were stuck and were freaking out because my car was toast. They were going to push it over a cliff, but they didn’t. They just left it, got a ride up to the skate camp, skated all week, and had fun. They caught a bus–or a train, or a ride with someone–back down to San Diego and left the car in the mountains.

I was worried about someone towing my car, because I didn’t have any money. I only made 700 bucks a month, or something really sad. I called the DMV and all the towing places in Visalia. No one had seen the car or heard of it.

I wasn’t that pissed at James because I hated that stupid car, and James and I were good friends. He was bummed because he didn’t have a place to live, so I let him crash with me. I lived with Mike Mihaly who didn’t like James, so he told James to leave. James was broke and had no where to go, so sometimes I’d sneak him in. One night my friend Matt from Nebraska was staying with us. We were joking around and talking about James. I was like, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he was outside.” I yelled out my bedroom window, “James, James!” About five minutes later, we heard, “Yeah?” He was sleeping in our backyard.

Five years aafter all of this, I started to get notices in the mail from the San Diego Ticket Commission. While using my car, James had acquired tickets and never paid them–they had accumulated to about 500 dollars. So, I paid the stupid parking tickets. He slowly paid me off, like a dollar at a time. You get much closer to people when you’re poor. But no one ever found the car.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get something in the mail next week.–as told to Tania Moyron