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Where, Oh Where,
Has My Little Car Gone

How we met

People sometimes ask how Deborah and I got together. Fortunately we have a few photos that tell the story.

I met her when I was deputy up in Keystone. I had to bring her in for disturbing the peace.

I tried to get better acquainted but she had a way of repelling my advances.

It turned out that we had some interests in common.

I was explaining to a rowdy miner that the lady should be treated with respect. The lady was checking to see if I was ticklish.

Here we are after a pleasant afternoon at Miss Lilly’s Ice Cream Parlor.

As a happy couple we partake in the simple local social activities – feuding.

Bye, bye civic, hello hybrid

Some years ago (1998) in the late unlamented century I acquired a Honda civic. It was used, but not abused, having had two years and thirty thousand miles on it. In the years since that murky day in the past I have treated it well and have put another 110,000 miles on it. It probably is good for another 100,000 miles for whomever its next owner might be.

Betsy (in so far as she had a name, she always seemed to be a Betsy to me) was loyal, faithful, and utterly reliable. She carried me back and forth from Massachusetts to South Dakota with nary a whimper, sometimes laden with the trash that I call my posessions as I moved from MA to SD. I should have been grateful to her. I am grateful. And yet…

I am a child of my times (to say nothing of the Post, the Herald and the Globe) and am subject as any to the siren serenade of the automobile hucksters. So it was that when Our Lady of the Large Black Dog was visiting her dealer (it is no coincidence that the vendors of automobiles and the vendors of drugs are both called dealers) to have some minor repair done, that I espied a Honda hybrid and knew lust in my heart.

I am, you see, a man of high character, who knows his civic duty when he sees it. I am well aware of the relationship betwen our national fondness for gas guzzling cars, our dependence on imported oil, and excitable gentry in the third world. It was my civic duty to purchase a vehicle that could get 50 miles per gallon.

Although I knew lust in my heart I did not act upon it. Long experience in my 58+ years has taught me that acting too precipitously on lust in the heart all too often leads to crabs in the pants. Still, lust is lust, and thus it was that I wended my way back to that dealer, prepare to negotiate.

Alas, the object of my lust had given up waiting for me, and had run off with some other gentleman. The voice of Satan (aka the car salesman who had immediately tagged up on me as his prey) pointed me to a Toyota Prius. (I’m sure that I don’t want to know how they came up with the name “Prius” – it sounds too much like “Priapus” to me.) It was used – a 2002 with 15,000 miles on it. If that was not to my liking he was quite prepare to sell me a Nissan Expensivema for large sums of money. If money were an object he was also willing to sell me a tin can with wheels that cost considerably less than the Nissan.

He knew and I knew that I was hooked. In due course we ended up at his desk where we engaged in the negotiating ritual. This is the great American tradition in which car purchasers delude themselves into thinking that they are tough negotiators. The ritual runs something like this:

Mr. Slick names a price for the new car and a trade in value for your rust heap. If you actually accept his numbers you are now marked as easy prey, and they will add on more to the price (options you know.) Having been taken before, I knew my lines, which were to object to the tradein value and/or the price. In turn I was asked for a number, which I duly supplied. (Here I was at fault – I didn’t have enough hutzpah in low balling my reply.)

Mr. Slick went to talk to his manager. The trip to talk to the manager is an integral part of the ritual. It is rather like the good cop/bad cop schtick. The salesman is the good guy who is on your side trying to get you the best deal; the invisible manager is the bad guy who must be placated.

The invisible evil ogre made a “split the difference” counter offer. In return I knocked off a bit more, making “this is the price I really want” noises and we settled. Mr. Slick congratulated me on being a tough negotiator and didn’t smile too broadly when I looked the other way. I know who got the better of the deal though.

Be that as it may, I am now the proud owner of Matilda. I don’t suppose I shall ever use her name in public, but she is definitely Matilda. Figure out what that means for yourself.

She is a nice little car. She is a four door sedan with a compact front end and adequate trunk space. She has an itty bitty gasoline engine, an electric motor/generator, and an invisible bank of batteries. The engine sends power to the electric motor and to the transmission. When one is going down hill or coasting power goes only to the motor, which sends it into storage in the batteries. When you’re climbing hills or otherwise accelerating the motor draws on the batteries for additional power. As far as I can tell the whole thing works by magic.

We took her out to the Black hills for a weekend to celebrate Deb’s birthday. A advertised, she got about 45 mpg on the highway and 53 mpg tootling around in the Black Hills. She’s a keeper.

This page was last updated August 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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