Cleaning a Pontiac, splendid question, Harold

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We had been getting more nice weather than a good Minnesotan could stand.

So instead of standing, I decided to go for a walk and wave positively at passing automobiles.

I walked by a Dodge Dumpster.

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It was really a Dodge Neon. It’s called a Neon because when you are a tall drink of water like me and you drive a Neon, you have one knee on the dash and one knee on the windshield. The Neon is not a large car.

I called it a Dumpster because the backseat of the Neon was filled to the top of the front seat headrests with detritus. I doubt that the car’s owner was a hoarder. The accumulation occupying half the car consisted of fast food bags, candy wrappers, coffee cups, newspapers, maps, receipts, etc. It made me feel like Mr. Clean.

After I had a glimpse of that Dodge Dumpster, I decided to spruce my Pontiac up a bit.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Clutter equals experience.

When I do something that I don’t want to do, I pretend that I’d lost a bet.

I knew the job would be harder than it looked. Almost every task is harder than it looks. The only chores that aren’t harder than they look are those that are easier than they look.

I began in earnest. I grabbed a number of faded receipts. They would probably have been tax-deductible had I been able to read them.

I found a scented pine tree deodorizer that hadn’t a scent left to its name. I discovered the Pontiac was carrying 17 ice scrapers that would come in handy this summer. I couldn’t find any of them this winter when I needed one, so I kept buying more. At least they added weight to my car, increasing its traction on the ice- and snow-packed roads.

There were rolls of duct tape, a broken ruler, damaged sunglasses, 147 ballpoint pens advertising various businesses, a 3-month old newspaper, maps to places I’ve never been, and a New Yorker magazine from August 2006.

I came across a few aged travel mugs used for sipping hot tea on the road. Several of the unbreakable mugs were broken. One of them had been cleaned as recently as 1987.

All the floor mats were in a single pile. It saves wear-and-tear. Upon lifting them, I found an eight-track tape of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It was their tribute album to ice fishing. It came as a surprise as I have never owned an eight-track player.

I stacked countless books. Most of them partially read as evidenced by the placement of bookmarks. I found the owner’s manual for the Pontiac — never read.

There were three jackets in my car. My mother told me that I should always take a jacket. I wanted to give her advice my best effort.

I couldn’t identify everything I found. A glob of something could have been sticky candy that had morphed into something unrecognizable. Perhaps a cough drop had accumulated a furry exterior of lint. Maybe it was a small creature from outer space.

Whatever the candy/cough drop/creature was, I threw it away.

I put everything else back into my car.

A man needs his stuff handy — whether he can find it or not.

Ask Al

The customers of this column ask splendid questions.

“Why do woodpeckers have three toes?” They need the middle toe to separate the other two.

“Have you named your car?” Yes, I named it Caddy. It’s not a Cadillac. It’s a Pontiac. I want it to feel good about itself.

“What does ‘carpe diem’ mean?” It means, “If you see a bathroom, use it.”

“Do barn swallows really eat barns?” No, they just peck the grain out of the wood.

“What is the greatest advantage of having a four-wheel-drive vehicle?” It gives the driver the ability to become stuck in deeper snow.

“What can you tell me about lutefisk?” It tastes like it sounds.

“What do you know about the country of Kyrgyzstan?” Its principal export is the consonant.

The news from Hartland Harold

Here are the recent headlines according to Hartland Harold.

Mighty Mart holds a sale on toilet paper featuring photographic images of your boss.

Pat Pending, local inventor, comes up with a camera that makes phone calls.

Local dentist, Ginger Vitis, arrested for alleged involvement in a flossing Ponzi scheme.

Local private eye, Bud Inski, follows people on Twitter.

C. Howie Runn pleads not guilty to running red light, claiming that traffic lights give mixed signals.

The Really Big Shoe Store has sale on $50 a pair shoes. For three days only, it’s only $25 for each shoe.

The County saves money by placing speed bumps inside potholes.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.