More Dogs on Main Street
October 10, 2008
I mounted the snow blower on the tractor this week. It’s way too early to be doing that. The first couple of storms will melt off without the necessity of plowing, and there will almost certainly be something I need to do that will require taking it off again. There were a couple of things I wanted to adjust on the blower before winter, and it’s easier to work on it when it’s warm out and I can use the tractor to lift it.
The real truth is that the weather this week has been so wonderful that I was inventing all kinds of reasons to be outside enjoying it. There have been a couple of good bike rides, and some afternoons reading about the collapse of western civilization in the latest news magazines while sitting out on the deck. But mostly, I’ve been looking for little projects that provided an excuse to be outside.
The winter changeover in the garage is always more complicated than seems reasonable. I’ve got plenty of garage space. There is really enough that I ought to be able to get lost in there. There’s a garage connected to the house, a freestanding garage, and a barn on the back of the lot. But it’s still a complicated process getting it all rearranged for winter.
The snowplow tractor has an engine-block heater that needs to be plugged in to warm the engine up on the coldest days. The only plug in the garage is on the right-hand side. It seems pretty easy to keep the tractor on that side, and park the truck on the other side, and everything is in its place. But stuff migrates. Over the course of the summer, the entire contents of the garage shifted. The tractor was on the wrong side. It’s sort of like plate tectonics, but instead of continents floating around, I have stuff imperceptibly drifting around.
My garage isn’t your normal suburban garage. There is no fancy cabinetry in there like the garages in Deer Valley. There is no artwork on the walls. I have friends who use their garages as overflow space when they have parties. Their garages are clean enough for surgery. I’m happy if mine is relatively rodent-free. My garage is part garage, part workshop, part warehouse. I’ve got parts and equipment for the ranch in one pile. The spare-parts bin for the local water utility is in another corner, with an assortment of big valve wrenches hanging on the wall. The accumulation of antique tractor parts mostly moved out to the barn I built this summer. But even with that expansion, the garage is crammed full of stuff. There are bikes and bike tools, piles of old skis, the whole nine yards. Somehow, there is also room to park the truck and the snowplow tractor in there.
It’s active storage the kind of stuff that gets used a lot and needs to be handy. You can’t see it happen, and there are no tracks in the dust on the floor, but one day the table saw is all out of position and a 200-pound cast-iron water valve has scampered into the opposite corner. I don’t remember moving any of it. I’ve considered putting a motion-activated camera out there so I can see what goes on at night. There must be some hot action there, with the log splitter do-se-do-ing with the lawn mower and the table saw waltzing around with the air compressor. But the second the door is opened, it all comes to a stop.
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The end result was that the side of the garage where the tractor needs to spend the winter was the only bay uncluttered enough to park the truck in. The truck barely fits under the best of circumstances. So the dilemma was whether to reshuffle everything to move the truck to the left, so the tractor can park next to the electrical outlet, or spend $50 on wire to run a plug over to the other side. In the end, I reshuffled it. I don’t have any confidence that the current layout will last until winter, but for now everything fits.
Speaking of garages, my brother-in-law bought a new car this week. That’s not really significant news in normal times, but these are not normal times. The car is a bright red Dodge. He has had several bright red Dodges, and it would have been quite surprising, maybe even troubling, if he had shown up with a blue Ford instead. What makes his purchase unusual is that he was apparently the only person in the United States to buy a car this week. The employees of the dealership were so excited to see him that they turned the lights on in the showroom and sent out for a fresh doughnut. The Utah Auto Dealers Association wants to put on a parade in his honor. I suspect he will get a handwritten thank-you note from the president of Chrysler Corporation.
He doesn’t actually have the car yet. He didn’t take one out of inventory but ordered it equipped the way he wanted it. It will take a while to get the car because they aren’t about to start up the whole assembly line for just his car. He has to wait until they sell a couple more before they gear up. I suspect that if he had bought something already on the lot, with the inventory loan eating the dealership alive, they would have gold plated it for him. But a sale is a sale, and there haven’t been many of them lately.
There was a story on the news this week that things are so bad in the car business that banks don’t want to repossess cars when the loans go bad. The normal practice is to repo the car if the loan is 41 days past due. But nobody is buying cars, new or used, so the bank isn’t at all sure it wants the collateral back. It’s easier to dispose of the bad loan than the good car.
Tom Clyde served as Park City attorney in the 1980s and is the author of "More Dogs On Main Street." He has been a columnist at The Park Record for more than 20 years.