My license is up for renewal soon. Not my driver's license, mind you. That went missing years ago, even though I wrote my name and address on it in case somebody found it. No, I'm talking about my complainer's license. It seems ownership of an old Jeep automatically includes the right to whine. This observation is based on how many times I've heard how the new Jeeps aren't nearly as rugged as offerings from the good ol' days. Furthermore, the latest sales technique at Jeep dealerships is to simply coerce prospective customers into purchasing the [insert name of new Jeep model here]. You will be restrained and forced to sign on the dotted line. Your only recollection of the event will be a maelstrom of pinky rings, gold necklaces, and cheap cologne as the sales staff physically works you over and hands you a payment book.
OK, the preceding is not exactly true. It's actually a flat-out lie. Great writers use satire and exaggeration to make a point, and I may as well try it too. My only intent is to poke fun at those who sing the "Jeeps Were Better Back Then" blues. (Everybody knows the words, join in on the chorus.) Pure and simple, if you don't like the latest Jeeps, don't buy one. Sadly, kvetchers would rather complain how the rugged Jeep heritage is morphing into soccer-Mom territory. Some models even have (dramatic pause, please) that harbinger of doom: independent front suspension.
Pity the poor engineers who designed the Liberty's front suspension. Their reward has been unbridled derision by old-time Jeep fans. One drawback of an independent suspension is that adding a lift becomes a fairly complicated matter. Raising the suspension a couple of inches may not be too difficult, but complications will set in if shooting for the high school drug-dealer look. I do feel sorry for these crack peddlers because they've got to find other means to advertise their wares. One option is to drive a low-rider Honda with a coffee-can exhaust, but that is just a suggestion.
We humans have an amazing capacity to moan and whine. There are all sorts of well-organized protest groups waiting to spring into action. You name a subject, be it vegetable rights or some endangered cockroach, and there's somebody ready to protest. (Editor's Note: How true, because there's a prolific group that keeps posting orange "End Road Work" signs after any highway construction zone.)
If I can be allowed one more foray into the complaint department, there is another subject near and dear to my heart. Negotiating with car salesmen is always a hassle, but what about when the tables are turned? I've sold/unloaded more than a few vehicles myself. Here's a big money-saving tip. To negotiate a better price, ask up front. The worst time to talk price is after the testdrive. You'll only annoy me if trying to bargain from a list of complaints. Heck, I'll tell you right away if the engine runs like is has seven cylinders, which is great on a V-6, but not so with a V-8. If you want to make a dent in the asking price, the time to ask is immediately after "Hello." Keep in mind that most other sellers feel awkward talking money. When you're the buyer, air the subject immediately, and the price might just plummet.
I've scored many Jeeps at bargain prices with this technique. No complaining about my secret tactic for buying Jeeps on the cheap, because there's nothing shady or immoral. It's not like I'm purse snatching or editing magazines.
This is probably as good a time as any to offer an apology. Over the years, I've made a few jokes about our editor. He can't help it that he couldn't find respectable work. It's inappropriate to make jokes about the lowly status of magazine editors. Allow me to offer a sincere apology, and I mean that from the heart of my bottom.
While apologizing, I may as well stay ahead of my mail concerning last month's column. I had suggested cannibalism for survival if stranded in the wilderness during a Jeep trip. It was inappropriate to discuss the importance of never being the least popular guy in the group in case the food runs out. Let's combine my two wrongs and make a right. Why not do something nice for your nearest magazine editor? How about an invitation to tag along on your next trail ride? I think you'll find all your Jeep buddies would be glad to have him.-Dr. Vern