I've always been a saver. Whether it was money, used parts, or burnt matchsticks, if I felt the object held any future value I'd squirrel it away for that day when I could put it to use. This means that over the years I've accumulated more stuff (known either as junk or treasures depending on one's perspective) than most. And of course, seeing the natural progression of myself and other 4x4 aficionados over the years, one gets a sense of purpose, a sense of why we save the way we do.
So it was with my freshly married niece, Leslie. No, she didn't snag the first macho dude that strolled her way after college. In fact, she was far too picky in my initial estimation. But heck, I was just happy she liked wheeling and the great outdoors rather than thinking that a shopping trip to Nordstrom was the highlight of her life. She met a darn cool guy who decided shortly after the wedding that a Jeep might be their best mode of transportation in the hinterlands of Colorado. Lucky guy.
Well, that opened the door for me. She asked for advice on old pieces of crap since I am well versed in that sort of thing (see "Keeper of the Crap," 4xForward, June '02). They had settled on a worn-in '80 CJ-5 with rust, a radio, and a loud engine. The tires alone were worth more than the purchase price, so they were off on a new adventure.
While visiting me in SoCal last week, my niece mentioned that they were having a hard time finding a rear seat for Beatrice, the name of their new steed. It's not that they desperately needed a seat, but they figured if friends wanted to join them in their adventures in the Rockies it would be better than them sitting on the fenderwells. Of course, I thought back over my exty-ex years of similar experiences and knew of the rear seat challenge.
The first things people do when they buy a Jeep is to store the rear seat, then throw it away after they sell the Jeep. That's why rear Jeep seats can be so hard to find. But I, of course, had a beat-up rear Jeep seat that I had moved around my yard 20 times in the past five years. In fact, it was at the front of The Pile as we talked, for no other reason than I somehow knew it would be leaving me soon. And hence, the Song Remains the Same. I simply steered my niece toward The Pile. Thankfully, Leslie eyed the prize in the early evening twilight with a fervor usually reserved for diamonds or shoes. She discounted the notion that she couldn't get it home to Colorado on the airplane, much less into the micro rental car she was driving.
True to form, the next morning she carefully wrapped the prize in bubble wrap and cardboard then conned the airline into accepting it as excess baggage. And so, the seat arrived safely, and a new era of crap collecting and four-wheeling begins. Lucky man.