Not long ago, I had a raging crush on one of the door guys at Little Joy Cocktail Lounge. Man, was he hot: Dude was six-foot-four with dreamy bedroom eyes and amazing personal style. He even had the perfect zodiac sign for me (Cancer, in case you were wondering). I was in love.

One day, while on my way to get myself something to eat, I couldn’t get my crush off my mind. I was so taken with thoughts of him that I failed to pay attention to the huge column behind my vehicle and wound up backing straight into the thing. Oops!

What resulted was a huge dent in my rear bumper and a pretty sweet crack on the side of my ride. To add insult to injury, I was between jobs and had let my insurance lapse, thinking I would be safe because I’m normally such a great driver.

I had taken my car around to a few shops for estimates, but I was shocked at how much each wanted to charge me to remove my automotive faux pas. One mechanic quoted me as much as $544 and one as little as $348. I’m not exactly rolling in dough, so the prospect of spending money I didn’t have on something stupid like fixing up a Mazda (my third-choice car) was out of the question.

That’s when it hit me: If I can take to the Internet to find things I like such as discounted designer clothing and music downloads, then maybe I could find somebody to fix my wheels on the cheap. After all, that dent was seriously cramping my style on the social scene. I immediately let my fingers do the walking all the way to the holy grail of Internet connectivity: Craigslist.

After posting my request for some help, it soon arrived in the form of Rudy Escandon. Needless to say, homeboy hooked it up!

Rudy not only knocked the dent out of my car, but he fixed the cracked seam on the side. Unlike a lot of guys who practically run you off the road, begging to extract the dent on your car, Rudy was amazingly professional. He does all kinds of auto bodywork: brakes, dents, painting, etc. for a fraction of the cost of the big chains.

He fixed up my car for (drum roll...) $60! That’s right. $60. I had heard horror stories of friends getting dents taken out of their Toyotas or Hondas by random mechanics, who left puncture holes in their bumpers during the process – but not Rudy. His work was fast AND clean. There are no holes or blemishes on my vehicle, save for the scratches from impact when I hit the column in the first place.

Sure, I took a real chance trusting my car to a stranger, but in this case, it paid off. If you’re looking for somebody trustworthy, try Rudy (You can e-mail him at or call 714-204-9408.). For many jobs, he’ll come to you.

When Toyota announced the recall of its 2010 fleet of vehicles, tongues wagged. The car giant had been at the forefront of safety and reputable vehicles for decades. The negative fallout from the publicity has done one thing, though. It’s made it much easier for the public to now get into some of Toyota’s more pricey and popular models, such as the Prius.

Still, if the recall has rubbed you the wrong way, or if the Prius is still out of your price point, you may want to try the Smart Car instead. Now, I’m aware that these things look like a toy car missing its back half. But with nearly 40 miles to the gallon, the Smart Car is a great investment and fun road companion for young people AND environmentalists.

However, 2010 will be the golden age when this company rolls out its first fully electric model. Pick one up this summer at Smart Car dealership (4270 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood;

Finally, if you’re vain about your whips, you can now connect with the rest of the world with the Web site, Here, owners can post pics of their little metal darlings and get positive and negative feedback from others. You’ll find everything from the terrific to the TRAGIC.