"What was wrong with your car?"

I've picked up a middle-aged couple at Lloyd Center, whose car has mysteriously died.

They have no idea. "These modern cars, you can't fix them yourself."

"Oh, man, tell me about it." I start reminiscing about my '68 VW Bug. "I drove that car across the country twice. Everywhere I stopped, I met a person into VWs. When it was running hot in Yosemite, the ranger who let me in said, 'Are you doing the dipstick trick?' I was. 'You stopping to cool it in the mountains?' Yep. 'Changed the oil recently?' Not yet. He then told me a place in the park where I could do so without getting caught."

They laugh. The woman says, "I had one of those when I first went to college. It was red, and cute, and it ran forever. I hated to get rid of it."

"When I first moved to Portland," I reply, "mine threw a rod. I had never worked on a car before, but I had this book, and with it I pulled and rebuilt the entire engine. I still can't part with mine, although it's a rusted hulk now. I paid someone to store it in a barn for a year, and found that they had parked it under a tree instead, so the rust.... They had to pull me off the guy."

"Oh, that's terrible," say my passengers. "I'd have done the same thing."

One day, 10 grand will fall into my lap and I'll completely restore it. You just wait.