A Facebook status update from my old college roommate, asking if anyone had a radar detector he could borrow, got me thinking about all of the crap I used to take with me on road trips in my old 1983 maroon Honda Accord, just for the car ride.
I lived in Manhattan back then and, although my neighborhood was safe, there was a methadone clinic right across the street from my building. I’m not even going to touch the debate over whether methadone clinics are an effective way to treat drug addictions. I will state one indisputable fact: Every time I took one of the dogs I used to take care of for an early morning walk, patients from the clinic, while awaiting its opening, were constantly walking around my neighborhood and peering into cars, and I had to steer the dogs around broken glass from car windows on several occasions. YOU do the math.
So one of my primary accessories for a drive of almost any length was my removable stereo, which was referred to at the time as a Benzi box. While today, the idea of carting a car stereo around with you seems ludicrous, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was actually quite common. The problem today is that there’s no point having a removable stereo, because any thief worth his salt will just steal your entire car, rendering your removable stereo pretty much useless.
Of course, I had to bring tapes for the stereo. I have always been a firm believer that New York-area radio stations absolutely suck, and I still find that to be true, so bringing my own music was a necessity. Obviously, there was no such thing as an iPod the size of a cigarette lighter that could hold the equivalent of several-hundred albums back then, so I always toted around a case of cassette tapes (CDs were just starting to become mainstream back then, and I didn’t have one of those newfangled CD players in my Accord). Looking back, could this have been any more inefficient?
Finally, let me go back to the device that spurred this entry in the first place. For a trip that involved any length of highway driving, I always brought a radar detector. I was never 100% sold that the contraption really worked, but it did, in all fairness, save me from at least two tickets that I can think of off the top of my head. Of course, you have to know how to use a radar detector, unlike one of my moron friends from college. After being tailed by a trooper for two miles, when he got pulled over, all he did was bitch that “this piece of shit doesn’t work!” Um, it’s a radar detector, not a police car detector. If your dumb ass didn’t see the cop behind you for two miles, no gadget on Earth can help you.
Let me wrap up with a shameless plug: My college roommate runs a spectacular Web site, Ownersite, which bills itself as “the Internet’s most comprehensive Web-based preventive-maintenance reminder and expense-tracking system.” If you own a car — even a maroon 1983 Honda Accord — you should check it out.