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September 2013 Dr. Vern

Posted in Features on August 27, 2013 Comment (0)
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September 2013 Dr. Vern
Photographers: JP Staff

Of all the various indignities inflicted upon me over the years, the worst was when I realized my son wasn't really my own. Granted, he looks like me and is polite and charming, i.e., acts like me, but I discovered proof that I've been unknowingly raising some other guy's offspring. Recently, the two of us (my son and I, not this other mystery guy) were at a stoplight. With two lanes and Jersey barricades blocking any side traffic until the next light a quarter of a mile away, it was like staring down a bona fide drag strip. With a Chevy 350 and 4.27 gears, my '63 Willys wagon is no slouch off the line, but I was only there to watch the show. To our left was a sleek Porsche bristling with go-fast goodies.

I thought it would be a crying shame if the Porsche driver didn't take advantage of this opportunity. The light turned green, and the other driver was clearly thinking the same thing. When I finally caught him waiting at the next light, I couldn't help but smile. All was well with the world, until the young man beside me proved he wasn't mine: "Why did he waste those resources to drive so fast, knowing he'd still have to wait at the next light like us?"

Even if my son didn't inherit my motorhead gene, where did I go wrong raising him? I taught him right from wrong. He learned never to get a tattoo anywhere a judge could see it. And most importantly for a young man's development, I proudly displayed a framed portrait of Ronald Reagan on the fireplace mantel. (Editor's note: What was he doing up there when you took the picture?)

I blame Al Gore and public schools for scaring the next generation into thinking the world will stop turning if, amongst other things, we don't all scrap our cars and ride public transportation. I am reminded of a quote by a good friend: "The primary purpose of public transportation is to get other cars off the road so I can drive faster." Wise words indeed. Personally, I've got nothing against public transportation on a theoretical level. It's just that I've encountered far too many psychopaths on the subway.

Make public transportation better by identifying sociopaths

As a public service, I am freely offering my plan to keep antisocial types safely away from the rest of us. After undergoing a simple one-time screening process, you'd be assigned to ride in the normal or nutjob section. Ridership would grow by leaps and bounds, as the wackos would no longer make the rest of us feel threatened.

Before I explain this latest idea, I must admit that some of my past attempts didn't quite work out for the benefit of mankind as I had hoped. For the embarrassed owners of Jeeps with square headlights, it turns out covering your head with a bag creates a safety issue, no matter how carefully you align the eyeholes. In my defense, this was only a problem while in motion. My latest idea will most certainly work, though, because it's so startlingly simple.

So how can we make public transportation better by identifying sociopaths—the people who sadistically enjoy making others suffer? Simply place a help wanted ad for an auto parts store and see who answers. Years ago this test wouldn't have covered everybody because one was expected to have at least some rudimentary automotive experience if applying—but apparently this isn't a prerequisite anymore.

I can safely say this because every parts clerk I've met recently doesn't know much about cars, but still looks down his nose at me in my humble quest for Jeep parts. While finding parts for an old Jeep is never easy, the crusty old guys behind the counter at my old neighborhood store seemed to enjoy the challenge and took good care of me. Apparently California even named a famous wine-growing region after this chain. After all, automotive parts purveyor is a noble and honorable profession, ranking right up there with UPS driver for that magical ability to put Jeep parts in my hands.

Of course, all good things must end. At my new neighborhood, I'm at the mercy of an endless stream of skateboard punks behind the counter at the only parts store in town. I thought I was going to be banned for life when an old brake cylinder core had the audacity to leave a couple of drops on their color-coordinated countertops. Judging by the clerk's reaction, I must have had horns growing on my head the time I asked for a 6-volt battery for my '48 CJ-2A. Sometimes I make the long drive to my old store just for the great service.

Oh well, life's not all bad. Back to my alleged son, at least he's slowly coming around. Remembering the fun we've had with my old Jeep, he keeps dropping hints he'd like to inherit it someday, which brings a tear to my eye. All that time must have done him some good, as he keeps suggesting other outdoor activities, too. Sweet guy that he is, he got me a gift certificate for unlimited jumps with Bubba's Discount Skydiving Service. It still must have been a little spendy, as my son said he won't be able to join me.

- Dr.Vern
jpeditor@sorc.com

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