7 Gates (no waiting)

Bye bye Buick!

I had to turn in my honkin’ big rental car on Friday.  I’m on assignment, so didn’t think I needed to pay for the car to sit in my garage while I was on the road. I’m telling you, I’m going to miss that behemoth. The Buick folks are getting good reviews for the 2010 Enclave, and with good reason. Luxurious, well-appointed, nice extras (Bluetooth, heated seats, aux plug for mp3 players, remote start, etc.). I thought the engine had a little more pep than most reviewers were giving it credit for. Of course, I’m used to driving a 10-year old 4-cylinder compact.

Not this car, but like it

It was a familiar feeling being back in a Buick. After the family Edsel caught fire during our move to New Mexico, Dad got his first of several Buicks, starting with a gray ’61 LeSabre.  The speedometer was rectangular, stretching across the dashboard and was installed pointed straight up, with the numbers in reverse. Drivers actually looked a mirror to see how fast they were going. I was in the car on a Saturday, playing at the steering wheel (Dad was going to let me go to the store with him). Anyway, I gave one of the handles a tug, and the car careened backwards down our very steep driveway and smack into the milk truck parked in the street. In my defense, I was 4, hadn’t started kindergarden yet, and couldn’t read “parking brake.” The milkman was pretty undone, but Dad took it in stride… and still took me to the store later. Our next 3 family cars were Buicks too.

Riding in Style?

I had a Buick of my own a few years later. When I was working in Savannah, Georgia in 1988, I paid $500 for a ’66 Buick with a leaky crankcase. After a few years of driving cars with seat belts and crash-resistant bumpers, it was strange driving on a bench seat and a rock hard steel steering wheel covered in hard plastic. I drove it to Wilmington, North Carolina for a job interview and didn’t make it back without needing another $300 in repairs. The poor thing died when I was driving back to Wilmington after getting the job. So I went without Buicks for a while.

I won’t know for a couple of days, but I should be getting my own car back this week. The original estimate was Christmas, so this week is much better. Still don’t know how many thousands of dollars it’s going to cost — but there’s going to have to be at least a new door on the driver’s side of the car. And I’m still a little spooked about getting back into a really small car. That’ll probably last until the first time I have to squeeze into a tiny parking space.

Out & About

Lake view room

I was in TV news for 20 years, from 1986 through 2006.  Worked in 8 different markets.  Jobs included weather forecaster, assignment desk, shooter, writer, copy editor, reporter, anchor, managing editor, executive producer and news director. And I’ve been on more airplanes headed to out-of-town shoots in the last six months for Running Pony Productions than in all that time in the news business.  I was always the guy who got to drive to stories when I was a reporter… never the one who got the nice trips. Well, between the security, sometimes inclement weather, tight spaces inside planes, travel isn’t the most fun thing in the world. But, even though I tend to be a homebody, it is nice to get away, even if it’s for work. I haven’t started racking up the sweet airline miles and hotel points yet, but they will add up. I can see Presque Isle from my hotel room… how often can you say that? Yes, it’s a small enough place that the airport only has 7 gates, but hey, my car may be fixed by the time I get back.

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About Doug Johnson

I spent 25 years in the news business, working in print, radio and television. After a steady rise to the middle, I made the leap to the private sector, which chewed and then tried spitting me out after 2 years. I zigged (instead of zagging) into a position in television production.
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