For use when arguing with family members, public officials, etc. that are “encouraging” you to scrap your stash of old vehicles.

Back in the eighties the bakery I worked for, Continental Baking, was bought by Ralston-Purina, an animal feed company that had expanded into pet foods and cereal too. They went on a regular buying binge, buying eveready batteries also to to add to their offerings- looked like they were trying to become a Colgate-Palmolive or Unilever maybe.

After a while they figured out that all these acquisitions weren’t moving their stock price in the desired direction, so they sold off the animal feed, cereal, and bakery businesses for a simple reason- they’d turned into low margin commodity businesses where buyers would switch brands for even a penny’s savings. But pet foods? Heck, customers would buy the cheapest generic or private label offerings in the cereal and bread aisles, then splurge on the most expensive ultra premium products in the pet food aisle- Even back in the 80s and 90s, you could see the trend emerging.

Few weeks back on my annual winter swamp soirie to the edge of the Everglades, I noted the appearance of a bustling “Pet Emergency Hospital” in Naples. Now Naples proper is pretty much home to a lot of old folks with way too much money stuffed into tiny million dollar condos. This breeds two perverse trends- super-seniors commuting to their stockbrokers at 10 MPH under the limit in expensive luxury sports cars, and totally spoiled rotten pets. And to further demonstrate the size of the trend, the “Pet Emergency Hospital” just announced a further service expansion- They’d added a “Pet Ambulance”.

My brother the stats geek sits almost in the shadow of the biggest oat milling facility on the continent and through his business ties has noted this trend too- He tells me that in the biz, pets are referred to as “babies with fur”. Then on a local e-mail list we were treated to the blow by blow tale of “saving”an elderly pet with a serious, painful, and usually fatal digestive track malady via some pretty pricey veterenary interventions which I doubt the pet enjoyed.And last weekend MPR’s economics show added further evidence, telling of folks maxing out credit cards in heroic attempts to “save” their pet and put off the inevitible.

It didn’t used to be this way- In times past we accepted the fact that our pets would be lucky to live to be teenagers and got on with life. We grieved when our elder pets died, but we respectfully laid them to rest and got on with caring for and enjoying the pups. But somewhere along the way the pets have domesticated us instead of the other way around. So today we dote on our pets, feed them better than we eat and take them to the vet more often than we take ourselves to the doctor… And they still up and die on us, even after we’ve spent thousands to give them the best of care.

Face it, pets are a money sink, the only choice is how much money you want to blow on them.

Old motor vehicles are another matter… Provided nobody stupidly scraps them, they can usually be nursed back to health and enjoyed again. Case in point: My ’92 BMW R100GS that had three cylinder studs fail after I’d already had them helicoiled. That near terminal malady manifested itself back in 2008, and after a diagnostic teardown I stowed the GS away. Couple years later an outfit in Colorado named HPD comes up with a fix- a hard aluminum insert with new threads that is locked into the block. After hearing of several of these repairs and no failures, I dived in deep, installing the inserts in one of the eight stud holes. Got the GS back together around last thanksgiving, and it’s since covered around 500 miles with no problems.

So back to those talking points, and remember to break them gently so the pet-dependent don’t mistake you for one of those evil Wisconsin cat hunters or something and tune you out immeditely. Or worse yet, scratch you to death. Or even worse, scratch the upholstery on your classic machine! So remember these talking points, and tactfully fit them into the conversation- Old vehicles can only be killed by an epidemic known as a scrapping, where they are turned into the raw materials to make toys for children and adults like iJunk and Harbor Freight tools whose useful life is at best measured in months. Otherwise, old vehicles never die, they just sleep until prince or princess gearhead wakes them and with the kiss of tools and parts brings them back to life.

Besides, a gallon of gas is still cheaper than a 40 pound bag of dog food. And cat food? Heck, the seniors can’t even afford to eat it anymore!

 

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