Saturday, September 4th, 2010

image of truck

Whenever we’re driving hither and yon, whether it’s just across town or from one end of our great state to another, My Darling B and I play a version of road bingo to help pass the time. Our game doesn’t really have a name, but if I had to give it one I suppose it might be called “Spot the Junker,” although I think “That Can Not Be Legal!” would be even more descriptive, on account of the truly remarkable condition of some of the cars in question.

We claim points for each feature of the car that makes it a junker. For instance, if there’s a significant piece of the car missing, such as a door or fender, that’s a point. If it’s a window, we allow a bonus point when the owner has “temporarily” replaced it with a sheet of plastic. I suppose you could even argue for another bonus point if the owner had not bothered with the plastic sheet and instead used duct tape to replace the missing window, because tape is good for a point if it’s ordinarily used to reattach a knocked-off piece back on the car and duct tape is obviously not a replacement for the window, any more than, say, plywood could be.

Tape gets used in all sorts of inventive ways to fix up junkers, if “fix up” is the right terminology in this case. Duct tape is most often used to reattached broken-off parts, but clear packaging tape gets generous use as temporary windows, and colored tape makes a handy replacement for broken-out tail lights and turn signals.

When duct tape is not available (how do they live down the shame of not having duct tape on hand? I just don’t know), broken-off parts get reattached with everything from bungee cords to nylon webbing, wire and twine. I saw a broken-off gas cap held in place with one of those recipe-card holders that has a fridge magnet on the back. Unfortunately I was on my own at the time or I would have claimed bonus points for sheer inventiveness.

Here in the frozen north, where road crews spread tons of salt to melt the ice that builds up on city streets, rust is a prominent feature of most clunkers. If a car is more rust-colored than any other color, that’s good for a point. A rusted-out hole big enough to stick a hand through is good for a point, and this morning we came up with a new one: Rust that has eaten a hole big enough that you can see through the car! The hole in question was in the side wall of a truck bed and was so big that there was a clear and present danger the beer cooler in the back of the truck could have fallen out through the hole. How would you explain that to the guys at the party?

You May Be Driving A Junker If … | 6:21 am CDT
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