About Me

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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Outlaw no more

You get road-respect when you drive a 28-year-old junker that roars, lurches, and looks like an accident waiting to happen.

I bought the green machine from an old friend for $500.

"What's the little pillow for", I asked.

"Don't throw it away", he warned.

"You'll need it unless you want the seat spring to tear you a new you-know-what."

He also gave me a long list of maintenance notes, jotted on a used envelope from the Model T Ford Club of America.

 "High beam mostly does not work -- probably switch.
"Automatic choke does not work.
"Horn needs new pigtail or shim or part from Jeff's
"Heater fan does not work -- probably motor -- remove -- check -- have another from Jeff's truck.
"Running down road with relaxed throttle then giving gas usually makes truck buck. Has always done that -- probably carburetor.
"Sometimes comes to stop sign then doesn't want to idle -- has always self fixed soon after.

Okay, it wasn't perfect, but let's face it, heaters are for wusses.

Yes, the windshield fogs up in cold weather, but you know what? Crank down the window and the problem is gone.

The roof leaked too, but a little caulking fixed that.

Now it looks like the great speckled bird once perched there.

But who cares, it's served me well, and the neighbors always know when I'm coming and going.

I've dragged logs with it, and hauled tons of supplies, rock, lumber and firewood in it.

When I lob a flitch of manzanita into the bed, I don't worry about the paint job.

And Fred loves it. Drop the tail gate and he comes running for a ride.  Recently he's taken to napping in the cab.

"Drive a car that looks like a wreck and feller drivers give you respect."

Did Johnny Cash write those words?

Well, that's what I've learned.

Old folks give me a wide berth, yield the right-of-way even when it's theirs, and show grace and forbearance when I'm straining up a hill at 35 mph.

And if some punk passes me in a hurry,  I rock in the seat like I can't make it to the top without human momentum.

But my friends, there's trouble in River City.

The green machine didn't pass smog inspection.

"I'm sorry", apologized the inspector, " but your car's now classified as a Gross Polluter".

The green machine was declared an outlaw, which means I had to get the mechanical deficiencies corrected and have it reinspected at a Gold Shield Smog Inspection station.

If it didn't pass reinspection. . . . well . . . .  you know what that means. (Damn, I'm choking up.)

I felt like a criminal when I broke the news to the redhead.

"You're a gross polluter!?", she gasped with revulsion and rolled her eyes.  

The needful was done, I paid the mechanic, and with that the green machine's value doubled.

He handed me the keys and I noticed that old greenie had a certain soft glow, like a ripe Granny Smith apple.

"You know, I haven't driven it yet, but it even looks better on the outside."

"That's because it feels better", my mechanic sympathized.

I haven't yet adjusted to the loss of the roar, and the new sound isn't exactly a purr.

In fact it sounds more like a geckering binturong.

But I'm feeling good. The green machine is an outlaw no more.

Nota bene: If you really want to know about geckering binturongs see: Wemmer, C. and J. Murtaugh. 1981. Copulatory behavior and reproduction in the binturong, Arctictis binturong. J. Mamm, 62:342-352.


Mr. Smiley said...

A question to which I already know the answer. Did the Redhead ever drive this bomb? I suspect she has more pride than a Codger!

mainly mongoose (Lynda) said...

Can't we have just a quick summary of geckering?

Joe said...

LOL!! I got a blue machine like your green machine. My wife hates it but if I had to chose between it and my newer truck I'm keeping the "blue machine" :).

randomtruth said...

Ha! Very glad I got to experience the Outlaw pre-neutering - the reactions of people on the side of the road as we would come around a corner were priceless. Women tucking children in behind them, road crews throwing the thumbs up (while flipping down their face shields)... :)

Owlman said...

I'm still laughing after reading this and can picture you and your faithful companion chugging down the backroads with smoke billowing from your exhaust pipe.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on saving "Greenie"!
I inherited my mom's cerise Ford Escort (aka the cherry bomb) 10 years ago. It was stubborn and had fits of passive resistance when it would just stop dead usually on Hwy 50 in the rain. Our son drove it to school for a few years- as a character builder (we pointed out that if the only problems he had in life was driving a pink car, he'd be a lucky man), but it reverted to me after we bought a more reliable vehicle for him to commute to Sac State. I drove it to work and to the grocery store, spending about a million dollars on repairs until a year ago when it died for good and even the mechanic whose house payment we had been making advised us to junk it. Now that I drive a Rav 4, I miss the waves and honks that I got from friends as I drove by in my unique vehicle, but I don't miss being towed.


Jace Stansbury said...

What a cool piece of machinery. I also wondered about geckering. When I saw the word "copulation" in the article title I decided to pass....

Camera Trap Codger said...

Okay, okay. A geckering binturong sounds like a purring cat slowed down.