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Friday, March 12, 2010


before the act

Can't help but hear about Toyota every day. The media playing the Toyota card for the very last drop of blood they can get out of it. Sure, it's not a good thing to be 75 yr old, driving a new Camry, loving your new car, then it's going faster than you can think and it's not like you're in the wide open spaces. They say a certain number have died; therefore, it's really bad. What's worse is interior fires in cars, pickups, tractors, big trucks. After my Toyota burned up, no fault of Toyota mfg, a mouse did it, I talked with people I knew and everybody I talked with either knew somebody who died in a burning car or knew somebody who knew somebody who did. A lot more vehicles burn up per year with people in them.

Nobody wants to be Joan of Arc, but an awful lot of people have done it quite unexpectedly, never thinking that a burning car interior is far more fatal than the gas tank exploding. I talked with an insurance man about making something of keeping a fire extinguisher. The issue with my truck could have been prevented before it got going if I'd had a fire extinguisher. It would have saved the truck, saved the insurance corporation paying. It would cost more to start requiring fire extinguishers, or even to be educational about it, than it costs to pay for burned up cars. I'm here to tell it for nothing, a fire extinguisher that doesn't cost very much can save your car and maybe your life. The interior of a car is fuel. All made of oil, like the gas in the tank. It doesn't explode like a near empty gas tank would; it burns like kerosene. That's to say it's about the same as burning gasoline except it doesn't explode when it starts.

The news media went into a feeding frenzy around Toyota for something that is definitely worth noting, but I'd feel confident in guessing a whole lot more people have burned up in a car fire agonizingly over the last year than have had a Toyota jump into hyperspeed. They don't bother to tell about that. It's too sad a story. Who do you blame but civilization? The same as with roadkill. I keep my fire extinguisher in the arm rest box in the middle of the front seat, beside me. All I do is flip the latch. I'm not putting it in the trunk or back seat area. It's right beside me like Jesse James's .45. When a mouse was the cause of the fire, it can only be called an act of God, which takes it to a whole new way of looking at it.

I can't help but think, if it's an act of God, then it could only be a blessing, a gift. It looked like the truck was taken away, which it was. Seeing the flames beyond reversing, I settled into acceptance right away, and once I accepted, I watched the fire thinking, something's going on and I don't know what it is. I was seeing the truck as needing to be cleared out of the way for what's next. Insurance gave me 4 times what I could have sold it for. That was one benefit. I started driving Jr's car because he wasn't using it, at his suggestion. I laugh remembering what he said when I told him I'd like to buy his car, "I aint sellin my damn car!" And I remember the time he said to me when he was ready to turn over to sleep, "Take a fool's advice, don't be in a hurry." I was thinking in that direction, anyway, but it was all the better to hear him say it. It carried more weight than coming from me. Vehicle buying and selling is not my art form.

Jerry Edwards sold the car to Jr for $500 when he found a great bargain on a next to new car. He told me he'd got a good deal on the car because it had been in a wreck. Tore up the right front end, which I already knew from looking at the paint and the way the right fender isn't a factory perfect fit. Jerry told me not to take it on a long trip. I didn't know what he meant then, and don't know what it means now. When Chuck Billings was bringing it up to speed, he found it needed a new ball joint in right front. Jerry said he'd replaced the one on the left front. New alternator, new wires, fuel injection system flushed, timing set, new plugs, new fuel pump. The car runs like new. Sometimes when I pull up out front, I'll let it idle for awhile and listen to the smooth motor. I thank Chuck every day for being a good mechanic when I'm driving it.

I didn't see it while the truck was burning, while I was thinking something was next, though knew not what. It turned out to be a simple transition from a truck that was nearly consumed underneath by rust, the slow fire, to Jr's car, the car I wanted to buy anyway. The estate gave it to me for my time with Jr, which I accepted gratefully, the car I actually wanted for my next/last vehicle, my old man car, 93 Buick Century, gray. The interior is perfect, just one degree shy of new. It's a good car. That was Jr's assessment the day I mentioned a tuneup would help his car run better, "There's nothin wrong with that car! That's a good runnin car!" He was right. I knew it then. I know it better now. A tune-up did help. This winter showed me the measure of the car. Minimal, very minimal rust, a perfect-running v6, a legend in good engines. With my fire extinguisher at my side, I believe the Catfish and I will go far together. I wouldn't be afraid to take it on a long drive.

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