Some vehicles carry their passengers to the scene of life’s adventures. Scout has been a ride that came with the adventures already built in.
One of my Old Men was especially good at naming vehicles, a skill I’ve worked hard to cultivate for myself. His vehicles were usually named for someone whose traits they shared, bad or good — though mostly bad. Well, all bad, really.
Some may scoff at the idea of giving such an inanimate object a name. Those people have surely missed out on owning a conveyance with a true malice of personality like a great many I have known, and like one I’ve come to know all too well.
Scout is a red Jeep Wrangler of indeterminate age and origin, and he’s been doing his best not to take me where I need to go for a little more than two years now.
When I bought Scout, he had neither a name nor a top. The weather at the time was cool, so a friend and I decided to bring him from eastern Tennessee to Tupelo on a trailer. I first suspected he had taken against me when he broke loose from his moorings and tried to kill us less than a mile from whence he had come.
From the very beginning, Scout has been easy to flood and difficult to start, problems I’ve remedied somewhat with new parts, though he still has his moments.
Once started, Scout often declines to peacefully stop. After the ignition is turned off, he will cough and sputter on for many minutes with the vim and vigor of a life-long smoker clearing his breathing passages for the day.
To these two tricks, he’s added running out of gas with the fuel gauge showing half a tank, and snapping a drive shaft in front of my son’s whole baseball team.
I named him Scout because he’s the opposite of what a reliable vehicle should be. Scout is untrustworthy, disloyal, unhelpful, unfriendly, discourteous and unkind. Further, Scout inspires me to be unclean and uncheerful. Of thrift, he makes an utter joke.
To keep him running, I travel with a full sampler platter of do-it-yourself auto repair fluids and tools. If nothing else, he reinforces the motto: Be prepared. Be prepared all right, or prepare to walk.
Kevin Tate is a freelance writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.