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Country Roads...

We were leaving for a funeral on Saturday and had to pause in our garage to debate which vehicle was least dirty.

I know every place people live has its problems. Just last week I read an article about rats taking over parts of New York City. In Washington DC, residents have to worry about rats of a different kind. In Los Angeles, you need to be afraid that an earthquake will make you fall into the ocean as you’re fleeing a forest fire. In Arizona, people fret about melting from the heat on any sunny day. As for Florida - sorry, Florida, if the giant pythons don’t get you, the ice cap melt is going to put everything, including Mickey Mouse’s ears, underwater.

Everyone has their problems, but enough about them. I live at the end of four miles of gravel roads.

Do you have any idea what a burden that is? First of all, whenever I go car or pickup shopping, I have to pass right by the colors like Speeding Ticket Red or Mid-Life Crisis Yellow. International Spy Black – forget about it. We had a black car once. It looked so good, made me feel like I was sophisticated and sporty. At least it did for the first three minutes after it came out of the car wash. Any longer than that, I just looked old, trashy and dirty.

No, when I go onto a car lot, I head straight for the Dad Bod Beige section.

What I like to do is take a handful of gravel dust off our road and throw it on any vehicle we’re considering purchasing. If you want to look respectable, you’re pretty much limited to grey or white. If you have a conventional sedan - commonly referred to as “the boring car” - or a pickup, that will work for a while. The whole vehicle will be dusty, but if you’ve done a decent job of matching paint color to dominant dirt hue, no one will point and laugh.

Unless it rains. Then all bets are off. I win the dirtiest vehicle in the parking lot everywhere I go. Someday I’ll go to a mud run in Missouri just to lose that title for a day.

Most SUV’s though, because of some sort of aerodynamics curse that I do not understand, will get a fine coating of dust all over the back end within about five miles of driving.

I realize that gravel road drivers are a limited demographic in the world, but I’ve read that car companies have specially designed “fat suits” so young engineers can get the feeling of how their design works if the driver is carrying a few extra pounds or years. That’s all I want, for some engineer look at the back end of a vehicle where you’ve had to use the rear windshield wiper just to clear the dust off, and the back up camera in the tailgate is only useful if you stop the car, run around the back, lick your finger, and wipe the dust off the lens. You do that a few times a day and the possibility of backing over an old lady pushing a shopping cart doesn’t seem like that big a risk.

We ended up driving the pickup to the funeral. By poundage, it had more dust on it than the car, but it was evenly divided and more or less the same color as the pickup.

I call that a win.

Copyright 2019 Brent Olson

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