Read: Pearl wants to play catch

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The other night after attending Wednesday night prayer meeting, I returned home and parked my pickup in the garage. It was a pleasant June evening, so my black lab Ranger and I played a game of catch in the driveway. While doing so, I noticed something strange happen with my fairly new pickup. With the two of us outside in the driveway, the truck locked all four doors, followed by the usual beeping sound and the flashing of lights, as if I had pushed the button on the keys.

Thinking I had accidently hit the button in my pocket while playing with an extremely energetic dog, I took the keys out and pushed the button unlocking the doors, while going back to playing with fuzz mouth. In less than a minute, the truck once again locked itself, with all the bells and whistles going off, and this time I knew I had not touched the button.

Ball playing was over and I now turned my attention to a truck that seemed to feel it was being neglected, seeking a way to get me to play with it. I'm starting to think I have watched too many Twilight Zones, and maybe so, when your truck cuts into your playtime with your dog.

After unlocking the doors again and opening them to see if something was causing this strange reaction and finding nothing out of the ordinary, I closed the doors and put the keys down on a shelf. Both Ranger and I waited to see if Pearl (that's what I call my truck - I know that's weird too) wanted to play some more. Sure enough, within thirty or so seconds after closing the doors the lights flashed, the truck beeped and all the doors locked tight! Pearl was making it known that she was wishing to play with Ranger and me.

After several more times of unlocking, checking, looking, locking, beeping and feeling creeped out, I did what I had to do. I decided it was time to reboot Pearl's computer before she decided she wanted to take me for a spin in the country against my will.

I got in the truck - Ranger, who always loves to ride, refused to get in with me - and closed the door and started the engine. All the gadgets and lights came on, as they should, along with the XM radio that was playing "Highway to the Danger Zone" from Top Gun, which I thought was odd. It seemed that everything was normal and the computer had made its complete cycle, so I turned the key off and stepped out of the truck with key in hand and waited.
Ranger and I waited for several minutes with no more door locking and beeping from Pearl. I guess she was through for the night and I, for one, was glad. Later that evening while watching Jag, I checked the Internet and found that some other truck owners reported the same problem, but on a much more regular time pattern. Pearl seemed to just want to get in on the ball playing with Ranger.

I miss the simple vehicles of days gone by. You locked those by pushing the button down on the door, but out where I live you never locked them anyway. Today's computers have taken the shade tree mechanic out of most of us, and if you have to take your vehicle in for repairs they get hooked up to other computers that are in cahoots with your car's computer to say there is nothing wrong in the first place. Then, those computers hook up with the computers in the office that makes out the bills that finally goes to the machine that is the head cahootor of all - the cash register.

What I would give for a vehicle that I could understand. I would also like to have the days once again when a service station provided what the first part of its name implied - service. Back in those days when you pulled up to the pump, a young man with his name on his shirt would greet you with a smile and ask that important question, "Fill'er up?" He would then proceed to put either high-test or regular gasoline in your tank and move almost in a run to the front of your car. After a search for the hood latch, he would then raise the car's hood and grab the dipstick to check the oil in the engine. While there, he also felt of the hoses and belts to see if they were safe to get you on down the road. Slamming the hood shut, he next would take out a gray shop rag from his back pocket and wipe off his handprints from the hood. Usually the shop rag was also greasy, but it was the thought that counted in this action.

Next, in almost one motion, he would grab a squeegee from a bucket of water, and using the same rag he wiped off your hood with, he cleaned your windshield. After completing all of these assignments, he finished filling your tank and if you purchased at least ten gallons of gas you could even receive a cup with the station's logo on it, or even better, a bank shaped like a dinosaur to put your saved pennies in. Of course, that was back when a penny was saved and not left to be smashed into the pavement in area parking lots.

Those days are gone. Guess I just have to let Pearl play catch.

Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
He may be contacted by e-mail at

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