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Tips on How to Know You're Prepared for the Road      

by Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles            


Two for the RoadI was in Herkle's Auto Parts when I heard a commotion near the electrical parts aisle.

"What's going on?" I asked Herk, who was leaning on the counter looking glum.

Herk sighed. "It's Beefus Rube again. He's filling his tool box with whatever parts he thinks will fit his pickup truck, in case it breaks down."

"Ah," I replied. "He's going out of town?" Herk nodded. "Well, then cheer up. Think of all the money you're making."

Herk snorted. "I wish! Whatever parts Beefus doesn't use by the end of his trip, he'll want to bring back for a refund."

I knew Beefus' truck. At some point, it would break down. It always did. But what would go first was anyone's guess.

I sauntered over to where our homeboy was opening some boxes, looking for an alternator that resembled his. "Hitting the open road, Beefus?"

He squinted up at me from where he sat on the floor, surrounded by stacks of car parts. 

"Yeah, going huntin', Slim." He wiped his nose on the back of his sleeve. "Say, I got this noise in my truck; whatcha think's wrong with it?"

Now there's an ignorant question, but Beefus is that kind of guy. And he's cheap, too. 

"Why don't you swing by the shop; we'll check it out for you."

Beefus chewed on that for a moment. "But that'll cost me money, won't it?" he asked suspiciously.

"Yep," I replied. "That's why we call it a business." 

At that moment, Buck and Dolly Pincher entered the store. They stopped and stared at the havoc Beefus had created among Herk's shelves.

"What in the world are you doin', Beefus?" exclaimed Buck.

Beefus looked around at the torn packages. "I'm just getting ready to go deer huntin', that's all!"

Buck scratched his head. "Deer huntin'? What are ya gonna do, throw auto parts at 'em?"

Dolly rolled her eyes. "Wise up, Buck. Obviously he's trying to plan ahead for any mechanical breakdowns." She turned to Beefus. "Have you ever thought of just keeping your truck in good mechanical condition?"

From his puzzled expression, it was obvious that the idea had never occurred to him.

"But even if I did," he protested, "something could still happen."

"Right," said Dolly, digging in her purse. "That's why I always carry these." She held out two items. "These are the only tools I ever need."

He stared at the items in Dolly's carefully manicured hands. "An auto club card and a cell phone? That's it?"

"Sure. Then you can get towed to a shop and only buy the parts you need."

Buck agreed. "Let's face it, Beefus, with today's vehicles, there's not much you can fix in your driveway, much less on the open road."

I don't know if Beefus took Dolly's advice, but I do know that Herk send her a bouquet of roses. And last I heard he started selling cell phones, too.

Slim's Tip — The best preparation for traveling is to keep your vehicle in good repair to begin with. Find a mechanic you trust, and follow his advice for trouble-free driving. And why not pick up a cell phone and auto club card while you're at it.

Things to check before going on a trip: Oil level, coolant level, fan belt condition, and tire pressures.