So some of you may be aware that I recently
was involved in a little car accident. Not
my fault, but my truck is out of commission
until it is repaired. It took 16 days to get
authorization from the insurance company to
begin repairs, and to get me a rental vehicle.
Now, authorization finally came a week ago,
and the insurance representative called me
with the happy news that my truck would be
repaired and I could get something to drive.
I asked for a full-size truck.
"Why do you need a truck?" they asked.
"Well," I replied. "I bought a truck. What your
client crashed into was a truck. Ya folla?"
I got the reservation number for the rental
company and called them up.
"I need a full-size truck," I said.
"No problem!" the cheery rental place rep said.
"We have lots of trucks!"
"Great!" I was starting to feel encouraged.
"Yep," she said. "Four-door and all."
"Wonderful! I need one with a trailer hitch."
"Oh," she said. "I'm sorry, we don't allow towing
with our vehicles."
We went round and round on this issue, and
I brought into play what I perceived as the
substantial argument that the purpose of
insurance was to insure the quality of life
of the person offended. Unfortunately, the
rental company ownership apparently does not
fish. A call back to the insurance company
did not help.
So I get a full-size truck, no hitch. This
means that for one more weekend, until my
Silverado is out of the shop, I am grounded
and fishless. This also means that this edition
of "Native Waters" is a struggling, floundering
and desperate attempt to hold your vague remaining
interest until I actually do get to the water
again. Please pity me.
This truck is a big Dodge. I mean, a BIG Dodge.
I feel like a 10-year-old driving it. Eighteen-wheelers
give me a wide berth when they see me coming, and
little old ladies in Cadillacs take the shoulder.
This truck is big. I am short. I strained my back
just climbing up in the dadgum thing the first day.
I call it the Dreadnought. Not only because it's
so enormous, but because I dread getting in it,
and naught can make me feel better about it. The
Dreadnought is also white, and shows every speck
of dust and drop of mud between here and the Rez,
of which there are many. Yet it has nice bells and
whistles. They ring and whistle at me all the time.
They whistle if I don't put my seatbelt on in 3.2
seconds. They ring if my fuel gets low. They whistle
and ring if I leave my headlights on after I turn
off the key. It's making me paranoid.
It has a CD player which I have yet to figure out
how to operate, power windows and doors, and cruise
control. It has buttons on the air conditioner I
can't for the life of me determine the purpose of.
I pushed one of them and it lit up, but did
absolutely nothing. I'm glad it wasn't a James
Bond-style ejector seat. It has an overhead
console that tells me the direction I'm traveling
and the outside temperature. I was riding home
one night from work and the outside temperature
was, according to the overhead console, 58 degrees.
I wasn't the least bit uncomfortable, but I read
the display and thought, "Gee, it's chilly out
there," and turned on the heater. Not only am
I paranoid, I'm gullible, too.
It does not have automatic headlights. My Silverado
has automatic headlights. When I started driving the
Dodge, the first night I used it I sat in the garage
for 10 minutes trying to find the switch for the
I drove a Toyota Tacoma the first 16 days before
I got my rental. The Toyota belonged to a friend.
There's a button on the console marked with a
red up arrow. This button bugged me for days.
What in the world could it do? Was it the real
ejector seat button? It did point up, and it was
in red, but then, knowing how backwards car
designers think, perhaps the arrow pointed up
but meant down, and if I pressed it, I would
eject my passenger under the vehicle and onto
the street. Maybe red doesn't mean "danger" in
Toyotaland, maybe it means, "Go ahead, push me
and see what I do!" I was afraid it was another
James Bond thing, and if I pushed it, it would
spew oil all over the street to throw off any
evil-doers on my tail. All the cartoons and movies
say never press any button in red. I am a firm
believer in these moral lessons.
After a week, I could stand it no more. I sat in
my yard, made sure the truck was in park and my
seatbelts on. I was also alone in the truck, in
case the ejector seat went off or the air-bags
deployed. Mustering my courage, I reached out
and pressed the button. The emergency flashers
Now, this may seem silly to you, but it isn't
funny at all. Just what, pray tell, does a red
up arrow have to do with emergency flashers?
They don't flash "up." They just flash, period.
Flashers are not directional. Who designs these
things, and how did they graduate kindergarten?
I also don't like the power window controls. You
pull the switch down to make the windows go up.
You push the switch up to make the windows go
down. Who designs these things, and have they
ever actually lived in the real world? Up is up,
down is down, don't confuse the issue, or the driver.
You know what I miss? Dimmer switches on the
floorboard, that's what. You just tapped them
with your foot. I miss good, old-fashioned knobs
on the dashboard that you turned right to make
the windshield wipers work, and each notch was
a faster speed. I miss air-conditioners with
controls marked "HOT" and "COOL" and "HI" and
"LO." Period, that's all folks. I miss cars that
did not whistle or ring bells unless you hung
them from your rearview mirror. I miss cars that
didn't tell you if you should be cold or hot. I
miss power window controls that you push up for
up and down for down.
I miss radios with two knobs: One to tune, one
to make louder. If you had a cassette deck, you
had three buttons, one fast forward, one reverse
and one eject. I do not think car audio should
have more buttons than the space shuttle. There's
just something not right about that.
I miss cars with controls that had moving parts.
Nothing but contact switches and little touchpads
in today's vehicles. I'm suspicious of buttons
that don't actually move. It leaves me unsatisfied.
It's like it robs me of the satisfaction of pressing
a button, hearing a clunk! and having something
happen. It's like going fishing without setting
Fishing...? It's been so long, I've nearly forgotten
the meaning of the word. Next week, the Silverado
comes home, hitch and all. Pity me and pray for me.
It this run of bad luck continues, I may be writing
for "Consumer Reports." ~ Roger
It's out! And available now! You can be one of the
first to own a copy of Roger's book. Native Waters: A
Few Moments in a Small Wooden Boat
Order it now from
or Barnes & Noble.com.
Roger will also be giving away three autographed copies to
readers. Stay tuned, for an announcement on the Bulletin
Board on that soon.