Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Gift Horse

There’s an old saying, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth’.
Now you should know that horses, as they get older, show it mostly in their teeth.
The older the horse, the more outward sloped the teeth.
I’ll talk more about this later . . .
We once received a gift horse.
Okay, well, it was a yellow Chevette.
But it was a gift.
And had several 'horses'.
The car was . . . old.
Rust spots bloomed like a garden.
The doors hardly closed. Or if they did, hardly stayed closed.
Or you couldn't get them open.
The internal organs alternately belched or squealed.
There was, literally, no back floor on the driver’s side.
And pieces quite frequently dropped off, made scraping sounds on the pavement, or detached altogether, only to be run over by the vehicle that had lost them.
Case-in-point: The muffler. It dropped to the ground during an early-morning commute and the car lurched suddenly up on one side as the wheels ran over it.
The car had one thing going for it. It had a new engine – put there by our good friends, the former owners. People who then made the magnanimous gesture of presenting it to us.
I'm quite sure you are wondering why they would do such a thing. (Because they had finished school and had made the recent move to newer, or at least less rusty.)
And why we would go on driving our 'testament to rust'? (We were still poor college students with four kids and little means of support.Who needed all the help we could get.)
So ‘Rusty Yeller’ made the daily commute to college with my Husby.
Often, they would sit in traffic, cars around them humming or growling happily.
While this car made its convincing impression of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Without the cuteness.
Or magic.
This went on for several months.
Finally, my Husby neared graduation. He would soon have a Master’s degree under his belt.
It was time to move up a peg on the whole ‘commuter’ scale by selling the car.
We weren’t asking much.
Just pay for the ad and the car is yours . . .
No bites.
We tried to give it away.
Still no takers.
Finally, Husby took to leaving it parked at the college with the keys in it, hoping to entice some desperate, or at least near-sighted, student into taking it for a spin.
A long spin.
Nothing.
Oh, come on! Vehicle theft had reached near epidemic proportions on that campus!
Obviously, the students were a bit . . . judicious . . . with their choices. Choosing cars that were, oh I don't know . . . road-worthy? 
Not the car, but you get the idea . . .
Sigh.
We finally got rid of the car.
Traded it on a push, pull or drag sale.
I think we even got $500.00!
So, back to the gift-horse scenario.
And the looking of said horse in the mouth.
In the usual sense, it means that one shouldn’t start to find the faults in a gift.
In our case, we did look.
Saw the new engine. 
And ignored the rust spots and obvious problems which later proved . . . rather important.
My lesson? Don’t bother to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Let the rust and disease put you off right from the beginning.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, pshaw, what do you need a floor or a muffler for?!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Soooo familiar.
    And reminiscent of several of our early vehicles.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh I've had cars like that. We had an old Nissan that ran like a new one, but it had a Tropicana orange juice bottle for a headlight cover. Then there is the one my husband drove off of a cliff that looked like a banana and we drove it around for a year and a half. You do what you have to.

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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