Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Edge of the Skate

Not for a second. Not for a mere moment. Not for a fleeting, blink and you might miss it instant in my 43-plus years on this planet have I been a "car guy". I could take all I know about automobiles, place it in a thimble and still have sufficient room in which to comfortably ensconce my thumb. Considering that my thumbs - much like their 8 other members of the finger fraternity - are wider than they are long (Margaret refers to them as being "sausage-like") that is really quite an achievement. Yet regrettably it is true. Actually on both counts. I do have fat fingers and I do know diddly about cars.

Even worse - and perhaps an even more damning admission for one who pees standing up and can (as long as it is not too, too cold) write my name in the snow - is that my ignorance about cars is outweighed only by my apathy towards them. A couple of gentlemen I have known for most of our respective lives are very successful in the automobile business and while it should bother me I suppose that their success is not advanced at all - not an iota - by the "know little and care less" character that I am, I am neither repentant nor likely to change. I simply care little about cars. They are to me neither reflections of one's station in one life nor compensation for the perhaps diminutive nature of certain prized male attributes. They are tools. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Do not misunderstand. As someone who spends as much of his day in pursuit of that day's bread I do not minimize the importance of having a good set of tools. My car has a lot of intrinsic value to me. Admittedly however it is "way uncool" as the kids might say (do not ask me to name names just accept the proposition as true and move on). I reckon that by extension therefore so am I. If you are reading this and wondering how I might (a) console myself; or (b) remedy the situation, then allow me to say thank you for stopping by here today for the first time to check out this particular weigh station of insanity and enjoy your next stop on the old information superhighway. If you have ever been this way before, then you recognized immediately the MacGuffin and blazed right past it. Good for you.

I affectionately call my little Corolla "Skate", reflective of the fact that it is essentially a motorized roller skate - a car essentially devoid of any bells and whistles. Other than air conditioning and a CD player, Skate is your basic mode of transportation, which is all it has to be. In a bit more than four years, we have logged about 118,000 miles together. Skate does most of the hard stuff - I just sit behind the wheel and drive. But I do hold up my end, getting her serviced every 3,000 miles. It is not easy being me.

This week it has proven to be a tad difficult to be Skate. Saturday I took her in to get serviced and then celebrated her status as a well-maintained vehicle on Monday night by getting it towed home from the parking lot at my office. I feared it was the alternator. Nope. Apparently Skate has a computer (although considering the rather basic nature of Skate I would presume it is nothing more sophisticated than a Commodore 64) and the computer blew up or blew out or some such thing. Not a delight to be sure but it could have been worse. Apparently the computer issue is one that has dogged Toyota for some years on the Corolla -including Skate's year - so the replacement of the computer cost me nothing. The nice people at Crystal Toyota could not have been more pleasant. I suspect that they were happy to tackle a recall problem that did not involve having to extract the smashed chassis of a Prius from a concrete block wall.

Last night heading home from the office to pick Skate up - new computer and all - I could not help but notice the car next to me on Route 287 South. It was a Smart Car. When Shakespeare posed the question, "What's in a name?" he could not have ever anticipated the evolution of the automobile would produce this contraption. I drive a Corolla, which by comparison to the Smart Car is roughly the size of a Suburban. The Smart Car is the size of an apostrophe. It appeared from the adjoining lane to serve but one purpose: to make any man forced to drive a Prius feel less emasculated.

But what the hell do I know about it anyway. It is not like I am a car guy.....

Toro, toro, taxi - see 'ya tomorrow my son.


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