Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 01.14.03
Quebec City


The need for affordable car care

I was thinking of Oliver Wendell Holmes the other day.

He was a doctor and a writer who lived in the middle to late nineteenth century United States.

He wrote a poem called, if I remember correctly, "The wonderful one hoss shay."

It was a poem about a carriage built in the late eighteenth century.

It was built of all the very best material. The best wood, the best iron, the best steel.

And it lasted for the better part of a century, if I recall it right.

As a matter of fact, since each part was a solid as the next, there was no weak link.

Nothing broke down first. It eventually turned into dust all at once.

I was reminded of this when I took my car into the garage recently.

Now, my car is the opposite of the wonderful one hoss shay, in that every part breaks down one after the other.

I don't think I'm alone here.

Have you noticed that when you take your car in to get, say, the catalytic converter fixed, you end up with a new suspension?

It's sort of like a mechanic's version of the old song, "The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone. . ."

One time I went in for a clamp to fix a rattle in my tail pipe.

Of course, "the tail pipe's connected to the muffler. The muffler's connected to the exhaust pipe, the exhaust pipe's connected to the whatever."

The long and the short of it is that it cost me a dollar fourteen for the clamp and then a hundred and forty-six for everything else.

And you can't argue.

Mechanics are just like doctors.

The doctor says you have a cholesterol problem and you have to take six pills a day of whatever drug. You don't argue.

What do you know of cholesterol?

The mechanic says, "Your radial frumquot has abraded the dual injector fizzle wits"

And who's to argue?

You pay the guy and drive away.

But, doesn't it strike you as odd that when you drive in with a rattle and a clunk directly under the driver's seat, you leave without that particular clunk - after a couple of hundred dollars - but one hour later you find you've developed a whiz, bang, thunk, under the passenger side of the vehicle?

If you extrapolate this to the doctor analogy, it would be like walking in with the mumps and walking out with your glands feeling better but with a bad case of meningitis.

Maybe it's time we stopped worrying so much about the health-care system and came up with workable car care.

I wonder what Roy Romanow is doing?