Last night I had an unusual dream. What made it so memorable was not any disjointed, hallucinatory quality, but rather its quiet sensibility, as if it were meant to portend an inevitable event in my life for which I should prepare.
I was in the Great Plains, whether Nebraska or Kansas I don't know. My car was obviously hurting. It was making ungodly noises, and most of its power was gone. I pulled into the first likely garage, and was struck by its appearance: a gigantic, corrugated tin structure with cars and trucks and more than a few tractors interred in its surprisingly cool, dark interior.

The service desk was a madhouse, and I retired to wait among a group of guys ensconced in a cluster of stuffed chairs and sofas. As desperate as I was for service, my mind drifted into a reverie as my fellow victims of mechanical breakdown discussed intellectual topics beyond my ken: definitely not NASCAR or corn futures. Suddenly I snapped to and realized the service counter was free of obstacles. I approached, and met with a kindly, stubble-cheeked old man (though surely not more than ten years older than I was -- am I that old already?).

He got up and accompanied me to my car. I lifted the hood, started the engine, and the evil noise was worse than ever. He looked for the briefest of moments and asked: "Son, why did you buy this car?"

I was taken aback. Any number of ideological threads swirled in my mind as I vainly reached for one that made a proper response. Finally, I could only stammer "What do you mean?"

"Why did you buy this car? What led you to make this decision?"

"Well, I did research on the Internet, compared what I wanted to what was available, examined reviews and consumer reports..."

"And what special quality did this car have that led you to buy it?"


"And what makes a car like this so reliable?"

"The engineering."

He took apart the top of the engine with an amazing rapidity, considering he didn't actually have...

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