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They don’t build them like that anymore

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, March 12, 2001

As we were driving down into Iowa last week my wife said that she thought that it was about time that we traded the car in for a new one. I said that I didn’t think that we needed a new car, it looks like new and runs like a top. She said that it should run nice since I had replaced the engine, the front axle, the clutch and the exhaust system within the last three years. Then she wanted to know how many people were still driving the same car after fourteen years? She also wanted to know why anyone in his right mind would have a car serviced and repaired by someone called Shifty Shanahan?

I told her that Shifty and I were old friends and that he got this name when we were in school. She said, “And what reform school was that?”

“Shifty was president of our class and was voted as the person most likely to succeed.”

“So was Jesse James.”

“Look we’ve got two cars, this red one might have a few miles on it but it looks like new and runs like a top. Not only that but it is a one of a kind; it has a T-bar roof and a rear hatch that can be removed to form a pickup truck.”

“The only time that you converted the car into a pickup, you got caught in a downpour and when you got home you couldn’t get the hatch back on and had to pay Shifty fifty dollars to turn it back into a car. It’s bad enough that our new car is fourteen years old but that van that you bought ten years ago is now sixteen years old.”

“That van has everything that we need in a camper and it looks and runs as good as the day that Shifty sold it to me. It is also a good backup in case something happened to this car.”

“What good is a backup car that you don’t dare drive in the winter? The last time that you drove that van down our hill, the van couldn’t make it back up until the Spring Thaw.” I was about to tell her that we had two very good cars and what with all of the parts that Shifty had replaced over the years, they, the car and the van, were as good as new when the damned thing quit running.

We sat there looking out at nothing and she said, “Well, here is another fine mess that you’ve gotten us into with this car and all of it’s new parts. There must have been a part that you and Shifty have overlooked and just how many new parts are you two going to put into this tin can on wheels?”

I hate it when once in a great while I have to admit that there is a possibility that I might be wrong about something but what can I say; there we were out in the middle of nowhere, Iowa, in a car that wouldn’t run even if it did look just like new. After half and hour or so, someone came by and gave us a ride into the nearest town. I called Shifty and he sent his brother, Shoddy and his tow truck to pick us up. It was an hour long trip back home and for the most part, a silent one. My wife wasn’t speaking and Shoddy never was much of a conversationalist although he did whistle a tune for us. Shoddy is a pretty good whistler as far as that goes but he only knows one tune, “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

Well, that little excursion was a week ago and Shifty sent down to his supplier in Mexico for some kind of part which will make the car just as good as new again. Shifty told me that if I should want to trade cars, he knows where he can find an Oldsmobile and maybe I should snap it up because they aren’t going to make them anymore.

John Flaherty

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