How to capture the health benefits of family fender benders
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, September 21, 2019
Every now and then I catch myself thinking about buying a newer, more fuel-efficient ride for the daily work commute. Something always comes along to jolt me back to my senses.
The good news is that I’m not usually inside the vehicle during the jolt.
My old ’96 S10 pickup has rolled 260,000 miles so far. Its V6, Vortec engine burns a gallon of gasoline every 22 miles, give or take. A fellow commuter encouraged me to find a used 4-cylinder Japanese import cream puff. He said it would pay for itself in gas mileage.
I took his advice too far and found a like-new 2005 with low miles for the twins to use. Maybe I’ll take it over after they’ve driven out all of the “like-new.”
I’ve come to love the S10, partly because it’s the last vehicle still in the family that my father once drove. I also like that it possesses no trace whatsoever of the “like-new” that Dad used to keep shined. It’s less expensive that way.
Before I started driving the S10 full time, Dad had passed and we were already using it around the farm for hauling brush. We still use it that way, and it also delivers me to and from work most days.
At one of the newspapers I worked for, we said the old printing press was “held together by duct tape and baling wire.” Sometimes I feel like I’m driving that old press.
Both mirrors are now held in place with duct tape, and I still cram some folded cardboard here and there to help steady the rear view.
Parts of the muffler and tailpipes were suspended by baling wire until the wire was all that remained. After months of violating noise ordinances in four counties, I had the baling wire removed and the muffler and tailpipes replaced.
The dents just keep piling up. Leave a car dent to fester and it will spread like chickenpox. This is especially true of old pickups. After my wife backed into the left rear side of the bed, I stopped all treatment.
Loading softball-size landscaping rocks recently, I found it helpful to toss from the pile rather than step over to the truck. If one fell short here and there, oh well.
That’s the vehicle history that shaped my reaction when my oldest daughter came into the house the other day to nervously report a collision. I had parked so far behind her that she did not notice the S10 in her turnaround section of our driveway.
My first concern was for her car, a nice SUV that replaced the incredible, indestructible Volvo previously championed here. I hoped to avoid one of those sticky, family fender bender insurance claims.
No damage to her car, but the driver’s side door on my truck has a brand new crease. My second concern was for my driver-side mirror. I’m not sure that any amount of duct tape could reattach it one more time.
Mirror’s good. Door opens and closes. Payments stayed the same.
Of all the times I’ve either backed into or been backed into, this might be the only one that had no effect on my blood pressure.
Healthy little hunk of junk, that old S10.
Contact Mark Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.