December 04, 2016

I Feel Like A Ford

I Feel Like A Ford
By John R Greenwood

I only owned her for a of couple years. I let her go to a good home.
Maybe we'll meet again someday? 

Let me start off by saying I've owned many of Henry Ford's finest automobiles since I began driving in 1971. The first car registered in my name was a 1968 Ford Galaxy and it was a beauty. It was a brilliant white with a deep-red leather interior and was trimmed with more chrome than any car I've owned since. If I had that car in that same condition today it would be a highly prized investment. I acquired the car from my mother. She worked in the business office of Trice Juron Ford in Saratoga at the time and had never learned to drive. The Galaxy was a trade-in with low miles. Mom bought the car under the premise of learning how to drive. That plan never materialized and when I got married in 1974 the Galaxy came along. 

Throughout the 70's, 80's, my wife and I owned the 1968 Galaxy, a 1974 Ford Pinto wagon, a 1980 Mercury (fancied up Ford) Monarch, a 1984 Mercury Comet, and a couple of Ford pickup trucks along the way.

 As you can see I kept coming back for more so I must have liked Henry's work. The problem with the Fords of that period came in the latter years of their lives. The acronym "Fix Or Repair Daily" is as accurate an acronym as you'll ever run across. In Henry's defense I never owned a brand new Ford. Every Ford I ever owned may have been purchased with low miles, but when they were born someone else got to peel the price sticker off the side window. Again in their defense my Fords were never pampered with a garage to sleep in. Not until after some thirty years of marriage did I finally get a two car garage clear enough to get one car in it. "Ford Tough" had to earn the right to bear that logo by enduring the Northeast's elements night after night, year after year. But, if you've ever owned a Ford from that era you know that after the last payment, garage or no garage, they begin to show their age. Each week would reveal a new creak or groan. Muffler leaks, broken knobs, and dripping water pumps begin to creep into your life like crab grass. Each tax return or hefty overtime check would get sucked up by another mechanic. Dropping off and picking up cars at the garage becomes part of your daily ritual and you develop a twitch every time the service manager calls you to the counter. 

This is where I begin to compare myself to a old Ford. Every day reveals a new problem. The engine still runs but the parts surrounding it begin to show signs of aging. Hair loss becomes that broken air vent on the dash. The arthritis in your back becomes the reoccurring pulley squeal coming from under the hood. Cataracts are the oil leak that you pretend not to see and the cute little melanoma on the tip of your nose becomes the wheel wobble that threatens to force you off the road. All these things are repairable but aggravating. They're expensive and time consuming. Appointments and phone messages overwhelm you. You know you should have done a better job keeping up with preventative maintenance. Better diet and tire rotation are like twins. Putting off that dentist appointment for a achy tooth you know needs attention is identical to ignoring that metal sound coming from the passenger side front brake. Pretending that tightness in your chest is just indigestion is a mirror image of pretending you don't see the antifreeze puddle in the driveway every morning. At some point we have to take responsibility for our own health and well being. Was it the pickup's fault that she never got the same wash and waxing that the Mercury did? No, it was my fault for treating it like the dump-run, leaf collecting, topsoil hauling workhorse it was hired for. I had no right to complain about the rusty tailgate and seized latch. I should have appreciated what a gift an 8' truck bed is to a homeowner the same way I should have appreciated what a gift a strong back and 6' frame was to this author. Eating better and exercising my brain and body more may have lessened some of the aches, pains, and stress that has been nipping at my heels for the last decade or so. When I say I feel like a Ford, I say it with fondness and reflection. My Fords and my body have served me well. Any shortcomings or breakdowns in both cases are more than likely the result of the owners failure to follow the directions carefully. It's easier to point and complain than it is to stop and think. That disease is crippling our country. I'm becoming more and more aware that I can't fix others. I must start in my own driveway by changing the oil and exercising regularly. I promise to do a better job of reading the owners manual and following the doctor's orders. There's a reason they went to the trouble of writing that thing and putting it in the glove compartment. Just like there's a reason it takes years of expensive education for a doctor to diagnose a rare disease. 

I may have to fix or repair myself daily but when the odometer passed 60 years I began to realize that whether your a Ford or a Mercedes if you don't maintain the equipment you can't complain when there's a knock in the engine. 

Drive smart. Be happy.

1 comment:

  1. So very well surgeon told me that I have had a good rebuild and am good for another 300,000, but didn't say what exactly. I just like to think that I am a fine-tuned machine!!! Love your analogies...