Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: The Zen of the Car

By Dennis Hinkamp

Auto aphorisms.
-by Dennis Hinkamp
Love them or hate them, automobiles have a revered place in our society. They are held in such high regard that it's surprising we have not written them into scripture. To fill that void I humbly offer these aphorisms:

Live your life as though you were a car with a broken fuel gauge; uncertain when the end will come, but careful to refill yourself at regular intervals.

We all eventually rust – which can be hidden, but not stopped, with a little putty and paint.

It's not the age, it's the mileage. Many young people are old in this respect and vice versa.

It's best not to be the most attractive car in the lot lest you draw too much attention and be stolen, anesthetized and sold for parts on the black market.

Likewise the most attractive car in the showroom may fetch a high price but may not be the best value. New cars devalue faster than those of moderate age.

Having a loud engine draws much attention, but it does not have anything to do with performance. Run your engine quietly and sneak up on people. If they disdain your quietness, sneak up on them and run them over the next time.

It does no good to carry a spare if that spare is flat. Likewise your food storage will serve for naught if it is old and spoiled.

There is little difference between recycling and reincarnation. You can find some good deals in the junk yard. You might as well shop there because we all end up there eventually.

When your life starts to skid, steer into it and pump the brakes rather than slamming on them, lest you end up a total wreck.

There are windbags and airbags. Know the difference. Choose more of the latter and fewer of the former.

Everyone needs a little help getting started in the morning, and we all need to get jumped once in a while. It's better if it's by someone you know and love.

Some relationships are like the little spare tire, just meant to get you to a place where you can find a long-lasting replacement.

Ethanol is not chemically different than 200-proof grain alcohol. Try not to get drunk on either.

Drive not with distraction. Would you want your dentist talking on the cell phone and eating a burrito while he worked?

Driving fast gets you there sooner but often not as relaxed. It's call rush hour for a reason.

Seat covers, especially those that stretch, can hide a multitude of defects.

Life has many opportunities to set the emergency brake, but most often ignore them.

Be not mysterious. Use your turn signals.

Pass on the left, slower traffic on the right: I think this aptly describes our political system. u

Dennis Hinkamp owns two cars that he listens to intently.

This article was originally published on May 31, 2007.