“Are you well?”
Those were my first words to him, and I proved, if only to myself, that I am not (not always) a complete self-absorbed ass. When he muttered that, yes, he was fine, I asked another question, in a tone slightly less considerate and more specific—indeed, almost accusatory: “Have you been messaging?”
Uh-oh, no. not at all.
So I suppose he picked up his smartphone before he got out of his car which recently hit my ass. The device could have been surgically grafted into the palm of his hand, in keeping with his age and era. Perhaps he wasn’t texting, was otherwise distracted or simply daydreaming, and didn’t see my car, both brake lights on, at a dead-end stop in front of him. His explanation was that it took him longer to stop than he was calculating, indicating that he wasn’t a math or physics major. It was my car that stopped him, and I couldn’t remember any screeching from its brakes.
Wait: We’re about to get to the supply chain issue.
The policeman who “investigated” the accident had the other driver and I exchange insurance information and the like, wrote the young man a quote, and as he was about to pull out in his patrol car, he took one last look at the back of my car. Skate and sigh: “He really nailed you, didn’t he?”
Yeah. The car was drivable but the bumper and rear deck were tangled up and the next time the truck was opened it was clear that it wouldn’t shut down again. Not without a major overhaul. Now two days later, my child’s insurance official announced that my car had hit the gross, not even a settlement offer that was double what I expected could ease the pain. I loved that car, you see, and although it had more than its share of dings and dents, it was in perfect running condition. It was 2010 with a four-door, but there has been so little driving that it only recently logged 107,000 miles. The motor was so quiet you could hardly hear it. It did not “burn the oil”. More than that, I only replaced the battery this year (a few hundred dollars) and all four tires (over $700). I called it “Old Black”. We were good to each other, we were taking care of each other.
To the supply chain: The disruptions I was aware of happened almost exclusively when COVID-19 arrived, and almost exclusively in the supermarket. My wife and I agreed early in the pandemic that her immune system is less robust than mine, that I’d better bring groceries or eat out. Forget about bleach, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper — staples that were out of reach in the early days of the outbreak but made it back to shelves relatively quickly. Soon there were other shortages of other products, including food, some of which continue to this day. Who could have predicted running on salt? And with chili season (although it’s always chili season for some of us) in the rearview mirror? Some spices are at a higher price when available. The same for a variety of other packaged products, including some that are at the same time incredibly tasty and particularly devastating in calorie and cholesterol counts (a deficiency can have a positive side to overall health).
Then there is the labor shortage, which is another story.
I wasn’t particularly interested in the surface vehicle market, not as long as the Old Black was mine, I wasn’t aware of the lack of some fossil-fuel-burning transportation. If you’re in the market for a giant pickup or SUV, my anecdotal accounts are that they’re there to choose—provided you bring your wallet. New or used, there is little stock, and the law of supply and demand is being felt. “It’s a seller’s market for just about everything,” one car enthusiast told me. Add inflation to that and…
That day, the Wrecker took out Old Black. I could hardly bear watching the way the operator treated her. I couldn’t watch him drive away with her.
I have a new car. In fact, a new used car – Susie Ormond, the financial expert, recommends not buying a new car, at all; It loses a lot of its value the moment you push it away from the dealership, she says. The seller was smiling though.
Steve Barnes is the host of “Arkansas Week” on PBS Arkansas.