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Sundry gleanings

More fun schtuff from the Quora Digest email list. Item One:

Why do most mechanics drive junk cars?

I’m 73 and I’ve driven close to 750,000 miles by now. I’ve yet to spend a 1,000 bucks to buy a car. I’ve only had a half dozen, no one else has ever worked on them, and they don’t stay stock for more than a few days. Not only are old cars cheap and easy to fix, if you spend a little cash and a little more time on performance, they can be a lot of fun and still be very cheap to drive. If they look like crap they don’t get stolen and they don’t get tickets.

The fastest I took my 62 VW bus was 115mph on a windy road on a windy day. One day on a twisty little mountain road as I came down into the hairpin, he left me half a lane and a clean shoulder and I passed a 911 Porche. We both had Porche engines, but he had a six and I had a four so he took me back on the first straightaway. Cruising speed was 80 and I lived in it for three years traveling around.

With tall tires to get the gear ratio up and a well tuned 1600, my ’61 Karman Ghia got 40mpg at 90mph. With lower tires I could race the Alphas, Lotuses, and Porches at the slolom track. My total investment in the Ghia was about $3,000. Why in the world would I want a new car.

Why indeed. Of course, not all of us are mechanics; maybe they ought to work on that, eh? So to speak. Item Two:

Swatara Samaritan

“A Swatara police officer was called to the Capital Diner this morning. An elderly man couldn’t pay for his breakfast; he tried but his card was declined. He panicked and actually called the police on himself because he didn’t know what to do. The restaurant gave him his space to figure it out and that was the best solution he could come up with. Officer Anthony Glass went to the counter, pulled out his credit card, and paid for the man’s breakfast. The man asked for his phone number so he could pay him back but the officer kindly declined. This young man deserves to be recognized.”

There was no headline with that one, so I made up my own. Item Three is a long ‘un, but the payoff is well worth the wade.

What has your child’s school done that got you so mad, you went in and read the riot act to the teacher or principal?

I was the student, but the story is so epic it has to be shared.

It was 1979, and I was in 4th grade. In the American South, land of “guns and religion”.

A little background…I learned to read at a very early age, and read basically anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t watch TV or go outside and play, I read. All the time. And way beyond my “grade level”. By the time of this story, I had read the Bible cover to cover, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, all kinds of “adult” stuff that, according to my teachers, I had no chance of comprehending.

The year before this incident, I had gotten in trouble at school because I was reading “All The President’s Men” (for those who don’t know, this book was THE definitive Watergate scandal tale; the authors were the Washington Post reporters who basically took down Nixon).

My teacher at the time refused to believe I could read and understand this book. She tried to quiz me as to who was what, and I knew all the characters. She was confused as to who had what job, and insisted that there was no Attorney General named Elliot Richardson, and said NO ONE refused Nixon’s order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.

I knew this was false, so the next day I brought in the book and showed her the appropriate sections regarding the “Saturday Night Massacre”. She started yelling at me about how I was just a smart-ass and trying to make her look bad. I replied, in the way only an elementary school kid can, and said, “You already look bad…maybe if you read more and ate less, you’d look better”.

So I’m already on the school admin radar as a “trouble kid”. This time the book was the novel version of the movie “Kramer Vs Kramer”. There were several minister’s kids in my class, and one of them saw the word “f**k” in my book. He promptly ran to the teacher to tattle that I was reading a “dirty” book. Teacher comes storming down the aisle and snatches the book from me, telling me she is going to call my mom and I am in deep trouble. So now my book is gone (and I hadn’t finished it yet… waah), and I’m in trouble for reading a book…again.

Get home, and yes, the teacher called and told my mom I had PORNOGRAPHY in her classroom. Mom is all ready to give me the “birds and bees” talk, and asked what kind of magazine it was…“Was it a Playboy or Penthouse? One of those? I understand you’re curious about females, but…”

I interrupted her to tell her, no it wasn’t a girlie mag, it was a book…Kramer Vs Kramer. And it had a dirty word in it. That was it. I wasn’t looking at Playboy centerfolds, I was reading a book based on an Academy Award winning movie.

So Mom is supposed to go to the school the next day and meet with them about “my behavior”. Problem is, she’s a single mother who works 2 jobs and can’t just take off every time someone gets a hair up their tight little sphincters. A little while later she’s talking to my grandfather, her father, and telling him about this. She calls me to the phone and hands it to me. He asked me what happened, and I told him my version. He says not to worry, I am NOT in trouble, and he will pick me up in the morning and take me to school and meet with them.

Whereupon Gramps showed the slackass, ign’ernt fucks what trouble REALLY was, which leads to this most gratifying denouement:

Interestingly enough, I never got in trouble again for reading. God I miss him!!

As well you might, young feller. As well you might.

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4 thoughts on “Sundry gleanings

  1. Excellent selection. Never got in trouble for reading, but then again, they never knew what was in those dangerous novels I was reading.

  2. Loved the story about reading. I never managed to get in trouble, but it caused trouble in 1st grade. Our first trip to the library I selected Robinson Crusoe (or Swift Family Robinson) and the librarian said no, that it was too difficult and sent me over to the children’s section. I refused and this became a slight bit of an incident. My mom was called in and told the principal and librarian they can just give me a reading test and to stop withholding books. They did, and I never had any further issues.

    The fastest I took my 62 VW bus was 115mph on a windy road on a windy day. One day on a twisty little mountain road as I came down into the hairpin, he left me half a lane and a clean shoulder and I passed a 911 Porche.

    I call bullshit. I know a thing or three about VW’s. A VW bus was getting pretty damn squirrely at 70 with any side winds. At 115 in windy conditions it had best be on a very wide three lane road, and that ignores how difficult it is to get a decidedly not aerodynamic bus to 115. Passing a 911 Porsche is quite easy if the Porsche just lets you go. A VW bus has an extremely high roll center and high center of gravity, and nothing you can do to it is going to make it handle well enough to pass a T model Ford, mush less a 911. The 1962 had a swing axle rear suspension, not at all a well handling vehicle even with low roll centers and low center of gravity. They can be modified to handle well on the track in a Bug, but a bus, forget it.

  3. She started yelling at me about how I was just a smart-ass and trying to make her look bad.

    In 2nd grade the teacher complained to my mom that I was testing the teacher by asking questions with obvious-but-wrong answers. My mom suggested that if she was being stumped by a seven-year-old, perhaps teaching was not the profession for her.

    I apparently did this starting in 1st grade but I remember only doing it to the 5th grade teacher and 10th grade history teacher. (They both failed.)

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