Outside Looking In

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Posted: Friday, April 27, 2018 2:17 pm

A guy walks into a Waffle House naked from the waist down carrying a semi-automatic rifle. It’s not the start of a tasteless joke. Four people are dead and a guy becomes a hero because he charged the shooter and got the gun away from him.

For those who live and breath identity politics, the shooter was white, the hero a black man.

Pretty sure it doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that it is another case of a mentally disturbed young male, who is all over the FBI watch list, not being dealt with successfully in terms of his mental illness. You can stomp around and vilify the NRA all you want, but it isn’t addressing how we deal with people who are mentally ill and a danger to others.

This guy was a revolving door when it came to treatment for his mental illness. So much so, that his gun rights (and guns) were confiscated a year ago. Somehow the guns were returned to his father, who beyond all rational thinking, gave them back to the crazy son.

The same week a mass killing was committed in Toronto where a guy who had plastered all sorts of crazy stuff on Facebook used a van to murder a dozen people, driving it at high speed down a crowded sidewalk. An even more chastened Facebook spokesperson clucked something like “there is absolutely no place on our platform for people who commit such horrendous acts.”

Really? Then why was his murderous rants left posted for months? Actually, why didn’t another Facebook user report the rants to Canadian authorities? And if it was reported, why wasn’t it acted upon?

I’m also awaiting the nationalized school walkout and worldwide protests demanding the confiscation of all cargo vans.

It hasn’t been a good week for me in terms of my ownership of aging vehicles. I’m a sucker for old rides and last fall I bought a mostly restored 1971 Chevy shortbed four-wheel drive pick-up with a rare original package that included a three-speed standard transmission on the steering column. The old three on the tree set up. It was the one thing on the truck that never really worked quite right, and a couple of times I had to adjust the linkage by lifting the hood and ramming a big screw driver between the shifter rods to get it working.

It got stuck again and this time I foolishly broke the coupler on the interior of the steering column. So I have only second and third, am in search of a new steering column at local junk yards and have that pick-up awaiting repair.

My 1951 Chevy pick-up is sitting in six pieces in my garage awaiting a new paint job, which brings me to a trusted old servant, a Ford Ranger with 259,000 miles on it, that I inherited from my son. It is the one vehicle I can haul junk in, hook up a trailer to and invite my yellow lab to sit in, even at the height of his shedding. With enough rust on the rocker panels and a well-placed dent in the rear fender, it is what an old friend referred to as a “work truck.”

“If you live in Southern Iowa,” he said when I moved her 35 years ago, you need a work truck and a go to church truck.” The go to church truck, I discovered later, was the one that guys drive that doesn’t have gun rack behind the seat, and their wife sits in the passenger side instead of the hunting dog, who rides in the bed.

Anyway, the Ranger was my best pal all day Saturday, taking me to two Earth Day events the Scouts were doing, hauling a trailer and roto tiller from my daughter’s home in Centerville and making a trip to the landfill.

On Monday morning early I hopped in and noticed an immediate shimmy in the front wheels. Not a shake, but a shimmy. I increased the speed to 20 mph on my gravel road and indeed, it began to shake. I stopped, got out, looked at the front wheels and took a quick peek under the front axle and all looked well, although I suspected a tie-rod was acting up.

My suspicions were confirmed when I stopped at a stop sign, heard a clunk, got out and saw a pigeon-toed Ford pick-up. I love tow-truck operators, especially those connected to people who can replace a broken tie-rod.

I was in a panic for a second, wondering how to ask my wife if I could use her very nice and mostly new Flex (knowing she would roll her eyes and question me about driving old junk), but remembered my other ride, the 1973 Jeep CJ-5 with the red camo paint job. It’s almost warm enough to drive the open-air Jeep.

I know we need rain, but I’m hoping for a couple more days of dry weather. I would look foolish driving down the road with my windshield wipers on, completely exposed to the weather, getting my Cabella’s cap and leather bomber jacket soaked, while risking electrocution from the dash panel becoming wet.

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