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They used to shoot horses

Jon de Vos / The Friday Report
Fraser, CO Colorado

Roy Rogers probably cried when he took Trigger to the vet. Back then, everybody took their shot-up horses to the wise-cracking, gin-soaked doctor like the one in Gunsmoke.

“Tell me straight up, Doc, is Trigger gonna make it?”

“Well, Roy, them arrows is in pretty deep. If you’re a prayin’ man, get on your knees right now and tell Him we’re gonna need a couple quarts of rotgut and throw in a miracle for the horse.”

Today the horse-as-transportation has gone the way of the buggy. There’s a billion cars and a measly 60 million horses on the planet. But that doesn’t mean guys don’t love horses anymore. Dig into any man’s psyche and you’ll hit a NASCAR level just below the surface.

Mention to any normal guy that the new Mustang has an optional 444 horsepower supercharged engine and he’ll reply, “That’s stupid. Where would you ever drive something like that?” But inside, it’s gnawing like a zombie on his gizzard that there’s not a shiny red one in the garage.

Today, taking your broke-down car to the dealership is a lot like taking your horse to Doc, except nowadays, they hardly ever have to shoot and bury your car. Well, there was the Yugo, of course.

The dealership takes your car away and you’re not even allowed to sit bedside. It’s like they’re afraid you’ll faint at the sight of oil. They needn’t fear; the last time I looked under the hood, the only thing I identified was the lid to the washer fluid. Bright yellow. The carburetor must’ve been like the appendix; somebody realized we didn’t need it after all.

You sit in a “waiting room” just like a hospital, the television spot-welded to two anorexic ladies extolling the evils of gluten. Five hours later you’ve drooled all down your front and are happily occupied in an out-of-body experience. Suddenly, The Service Manager opens the door. Heads pivot at the curiousness of the sight. He walks slowly, eyeing each anxious customer in turn. He stops, faces you and says accusingly, “We cannot find anything wrong.” Heads slump back down in their drool.

“I pushed it the last two miles to get here,” you explain.

Loud moans get you a ride-along with The Mechanic. The car runs great! The Mechanic whispers aside into his cell phone. As you enter the waiting room, The Service Manager is loudly explaining to waiting customers that you are faking the symptoms, an auto-hypochondriac, a four-wheel Munchausen outpatient. He quiets as you enter and leaves for a few more hours.

Three minutes before closing, The Mechanic comes back with a triumphant grin, holding aloft some greasy thing that looks like the innards of a food processor, “Finally,” he announces, “we got it figured out.”

I look at the mess in his hands, “That’s what’s wrong with my car?”

“No,” he said, “we repair food processors to make a few bucks on the side. We’re fed up with your car. Here’s the bill for the trouble you’ve been, detailed right down to the chair and television rental.”

“2,300 bucks?” I gasped.

“Uh-huh, we have to charge more when you can’t tell us what’s wrong with it. Is that a problem?”

“Yeah,” I said, “We’re gonna need a couple quarts of rotgut and throw in a miracle for the MasterCard.”


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