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I don't have a green thumb, and I don't have a gold finger, but what I touch will smoke!

A few months ago, I told you about my teenager, Chuck the '77 pickup. Well, he developed alternatoritis. At first it was nothing that shock treatment with jumper cables wouldn't cure. Then he finally gave me the red CHARGE light on my way to a nearby town for a "won ton" party. Since he still moved, I charged on.

I arrived safely. On my way back, expecting trouble, I asked a friend to follow me. We almost made it. So at 2a.m., four of us had fellowship on the street, waiting for the tow truck.

As you know, alternatoritis is not terminal. So after a transplant, Chuck was back to his bright and charging self. Of course as teenage rebellion goes, the problem didn't stop there. About a month ago, he started smoking heavily. In fact the first time I saw it, I thought, "What's on fire??" The doctor confirmed my fear: head gasket. I didn't really know exactly what that was, but I figured anything to do the head could not be good news. But the doctor said at least his head was not cracked. "That's good!" I thought. ...

So Chuck is waiting for either a minor transplant operation, a new home, or a funeral.

Meanwhile, I have discovered one thing about problems: God works them out and accomplishes some other purposes. From my late-night escapade, I found some true friends who stayed with me through thick and thin. I also met a couple of auto mechanics at church who have been helping me left and right.

However, this is not the end of the story. In view of my wheeless state, I was given a free car. But I can't tell you much about her since we only spent three or four days together (the car and I, that is). But one thing I know, she massaged my foot as I drove! Of course other people would say instead that she needs new rotors for her brakes. Just a matter of perspective!

Though she has travelled extensively (over 140K miles) and has a big dimple on her back, I was all set to cure her of her bent on massaging soles. After all, she ran well, and listened to me when I said "stop"!

But ...

...she also started smoking!! As I watched in disbelief, with smoke spewing from under her bonnet, a white cloud as thick as San Francisco fog from her rear announced to the world of her gasket problem.

So since then, I have been "barting" - taking the subway. But it does take almost 2 hours to get home versus 40 minutes by car!

Though now I am the owner of two vehicles, if you have a car you want to offer as burnt offering, give it to me, I can let the smoke out! Free of charge!

("Smoke" June 1995)

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