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October 13, 2020: A SAAB Story

I realized today that if I don’t get my stories on paper that no one will hear them firsthand after I die. There are dispatches, but dispatches are rather piecemeal. I do need to write my autobiography.

Another chapter has materialized, as the above title indicates. Today will go on record as the first fall hard freeze of 2020. Pete even scraped the frost off the Tundra truck window. Fortunately, the tomatoes (which are ripening slowly) were unaffected. It was a clear, crisp, sunny fall day with much welcomed midday heat.

We left early for Robert’s place, I think because Pete was eager to get to school and get some work done. I was nervous. Today we were to pick up and bring home a vehicle that Robert was giving us, a 1991 SAAB.

We arrive at his place and he invites us in. There on the table is an automobile title. He explains that the SAAB he is parting with was totaled, so we may be getting a different form. Great, I think, I am getting a vehicle with little structural integrity.

Robert keeps talking, providing me with lots of particulars about this vehicle. I used to pride myself on having a higher than average comprehension rate. I realized that when it comes to cars and mechanics, I am in the negative numbers percentile-wise. I wish I’d had him talk slowly, and that I took the initiative to write what he was saying down. I could never, ever do the one-way conversation justice. He would say things like “this car doesn’t have as much power as it does torque.” “Not as much power, lots of torque” I replied. Or, “the emergency brake doesn’t work because. . .,” to which I replied, “emergency brake doesn’t work.” Or, the piston is going to need lubrication because. . .” to which I replied, “piston, needs lubrication, uh huh.”

Pete had heard most of this before, and he seemed eager for more detail. Me, I wanted just a minimal amount of automotive nuts and bolts.

I went with Robert for a test drive – he was then still chattering away about past repairs on what I came to understand was his project vehicle. He was parting with it because he has a two-car garage and (now) four vehicles. I didn’t say it, but I would gladly have taken his newer Mercedes.

Robert offered to let me drive home from the gas station, but I told him that I’d feel most comfortable driving on the dirt roads to his place. He must not have heard this because he drove all the way home. I did hear him say the car has two wheel drive and when he lived in Vermont he once drove it backwards up a snowy hill. I reiterated what he said, saying “uh huh, backwards up a snowy hill.”

The moment of truth came, and I had to drive the SAAB home. I was struck by the fact that it felt so solid. And I could easily see out of the windshield. Going into reverse was different than I was used to, so I didn’t get myself in that position. And I wasn’t sure how to shift into fifth gear.

I feel like Tank Grrl is way safer than the Suzuki Swift, which in comparison felt like being in a tin can. It was what they call a throwaway car, good for a small number of miles.

This is going to be the next chapter in my autobiography.

Next: 284. 10/14/20: Shadow’s Dog Blog: My six-month Birthday

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