Oats or Gas?

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Contributing Editor Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor Walt Pickut

Ancient mystics named Three Great Mysteries: Water to a fish, air to a bird, and humanity to itself.

One can be so immersed in a thing that it is invisible, undetectable, and unimaginable to be without.

Today, there is a fourth Great Mystery: Cars. They are practically just another body part. They have to be fed, cared for, and made better when they break. And we can’t imagine life without them.

But our Amish neighbors could make us question that. Consider these facts:

  • A healthy horse with 15 or 20 good years ahead of it can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000. Upkeep will run anywhere from $750 to $3,500 per year.
  • A car with half that lifetime can cost 10 times as much. Upkeep (at AAA’s estimate of $.63/mile) will cost $9,500 every year.
  • As a result, a car owner will spend $80,000 to $100,000 more than a horse owner over 10 years. And many families have more than one car.

So, horses are better than cars. Almost! But no horse can trot 15,000 miles a year for 12 years (the average car’s lifetime) at 30 to 65 mph.

But never forget that your car’s convenience is costing you as much as $100,000 more than a horse every decade. In a lifetime, that could be a half-million dollars or more.

Whether or not you have been aware of the lifetime costs of preferring cars over horses, we all care for our cars to the point of protecting them against weather, wear, and even other drivers.

The late comedian, George Carlin, said it the way only he could: “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

Naturally, anybody getting into the space around your car makes you feel as protective as if it really was part of your own body.

That’s why this week’s Jamestown Gazette is all about Car Care Month – October 2020. Take care of your car because it takes care of you. With the winter months coming on, it’s time to make sure your car can earn its keep.

But this year, even Covid enters the car care picture. On page 1 of this issue, don’t miss Metro’s hints and highlights about sanitizing your vehicles against the colds and flus and all the other sniffly, runny-nosey, cough-ie, and body-achy bugs that seem to show up every winter.

As someone once said, “To feel uncommonly good after a common cold is quite uncommon.” So, remember this year that your car can protect you from the cold if it’s running right, and it might even protect you from a cold, if you treat it right.

Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher of the mid-twentieth century, knew how much we identify with our cars when he said, “The car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete.

Check your winter car care checklist for Car Care Month 2020 just as carefully as your care for your own health and wellbeing. It’s no Great Mystery that your car is an important part of your life.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.