Car-flip victim asks for cash, and actually receives it

Ted Passon stands by his damaged car in South Philadelphia last night.
Ted Passon stands by his damaged car in South Philadelphia last night.
Posted: November 10, 2008

When Ted Passon found that his 1998 Mitsubishi Galant had been flipped by revelers during the Phillies' World Series celebration on Oct. 29, it was a fitting exclamation point on what has been a mostly painful partnership.

"Me and my car have always had this antagonistic relationship," he said. "It always knew the worst time to ask me for money - and this was the ultimate checkmate."

Since his insurance plan didn't have World Series riot coverage, Passon, 27, decided to go on line and ask those who'd enjoyed the destruction of his car to donate money to its resurrection or replacement.

"If you're going to hang out and enjoy the spectacle of my car getting flipped, you might as well give me a couple bucks for it," he said.

Passon started the "Philly Fix My Car" Web site (phillyfixmycar.blogspot.com) a day after the World Series win, asking the people who were at Broad Street and Washington Avenue at the time of his car's destruction to donate $10.

Just 10 days out, Passon has raised $3,800 from friends and strangers from as far away as Texas, Virginia and California.

"I think I'm generally a really optimistic person as far as how I think about humanity," he said. "It's great to see proof of that optimism come through."

Even when Passon approached his car after it was flipped and found it surrounded by officers and flares, he didn't get angry. And when the tow-truck driver who charged him $30 to flip his car upright refused to tow it a few blocks to a parking spot, he didn't get angry then, either.

Instead, fueled by nothing but optimism, Passon drove the car it the few blocks back to his home on Ellsworth Street near Broad, screaming all the way "Go Phils!"

"The whole thing was so bizarre. It was so surreal," he said. "This one woman was like 'Your headlights aren't on!' "

Passon, a free-lance videographer who depends on his car to get from job to job, said he wrestled with the idea of asking for money to help him buy a new car, but in the end, figured he had nothing to lose.

And now that he is just $200 away from a good deal on a used Saturn, Passon said he will give any donations that exceed his $4,000 goal to other people whose cars were also flipped that night, including three people who found him through his Web site. He said nine out of ten donations have been for $10 or less but his argest donation was from a man in Texas who "blew me away" with a gift of $500.

"As nice and wonderful as everybody has been, it's a funny, double-edged sword," he said. "I'm not trying to be the 'Joe the Plumber' of the car-flipped guys." *

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