Driving Us Crazy

My personal book of knowledge about cars is about a thin as OJ's alibi.I know that your repair kit should include jumper cables, a tow rope and a fully functional credit card. Any auto mechanics I perform beyond the ability of these tools is akin to laying on hands in a Louisiana travelling faith healing tent. It might work, but I really can't prove it.I shouldn't scoff at faith healing because I personally have known people who pray for parking spots. Honestly, I'd rather not waste my prayers on something as demonic as a car. And, philosophically speaking, I'm not sure than any of the top 10 gods of the major religions are concerned with our trifling infatuation with the internal combustion engine.It is, however, an infatuation that has turned uglier than a Hollywood divorce lawyer. We no longer own cars, cars own us. Cars are evil in a Steven King bedtime story sort of way. They may lull us into a complacent sleep, but sooner or later we know we'll wake screaming. Consider this. You can walk light-footed out the door of your home feeling like the king or queen of your realm and within seconds be turned into a blubbering fool if you turn the key of a car that doesn't start.If this image doesn't strike a cord in the repressed anger sector of your brain, consider that the state of Utah legislature was actually deadlocked earlier this year because members couldn't decide whether to take money away from education or increase the tax on gasoline to pay for new roads. Let's see, new libraries or really big sport utility vehicles that get worse mileage than a Lincoln Town Car? A tough choice given that the state is encouraging tourism. Utah is already the national pinata for a number of reasons, but at least the legislature came to its senses at the last minute an opted for a gas tax.Me, I prefer the automotive Russian Roulette of driving vehicles that fall into that netherworld between "previously owned" and "vintage." One of the advantages of driving a car older than your boss's jokes is that you get to meet a lot of tow truck drivers. These highway angles have taken the place of bartenders as people you are most likely to go to for solace. They must deal with a more pathetic class of customers than any mining town saloon. This ability to talk to someone who is already mad, late and can soon be expecting a large dent in their cash flow is still one of the few tangible signs of compassion left in the world. If you are trying to staff a suicide prevention hot line, I encourage you to look for former tow truck drivers.What would we do without cars? We can't help ourselves. The chase scene, road trips, and traffic jams are all so much a part of the American psyche, we can hardly remember a time when they didn't exist. But their main attracting is more basic. Cars conform to our butts. They are places we shoot from, have romances in; they have nice stereo music and cup holders. In short, they are the lazy boy chairs of our dreams. More comforting than the womb and faster than our first bicycle, cars are the perfect place to be. At least until you have to leave the driveway.

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