We’ve all been there. Every family has at least one child who is a total delight. They are always cheerful and go out of their way to be helpful. They keep their room clean, make good grades in school, and are considerate, respectful and polite. They do their chores without complaining and never seem to ask for much. You know that no matter where they go, you can trust them and they will make you proud.

But then there is that other child, you know the one. You love them dearly, but every time you turn around they are up to something. Their room always looks like a trashcan has exploded. You are constantly receiving notes from their teachers about their misdeeds and their grades are terrible. You have to watch every move they make and question everything they do. They will try to sneak all sorts of things past you.

 When they are away from home, you find yourself wondering what sort of mischief they have been up to. You cringe every time the phone rings, hoping that it won’t involve a visit to the police station. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to keep them on the right path.

It’s the same way with cars. If you own more than one vehicle, you know that there is the good child and the bad child. You have the one vehicle that you never have to be concerned about. The tires are always going to be full of air, and it always starts, no matter the weather. You never have to give it a second thought. You can trust it to take you there and back without incident. 

But then there is the other car, the one that makes you grit your teeth and swear every time you look at it. When you walk past it you have to fight the urge to give it a swift kick. It’s the one that always seems to have a flat tire, even though you just had new ones installed. Something is always going wrong. It seems to spend more time in the repair shop than in your driveway. 

It’s always one thing after another. The battery goes dead, or a headlight or turn signal bulb burns out. You roll the window down and it won’t roll back up. You just can’t trust it. 

I have two SUVs. One has almost 170,000 miles on it. I drive it every day, and I would not hesitate to drive it anywhere. It’s not perfect. Several years ago I had to replace the fuel pump, and then the alternator. Other than that, it’s been faithful and dependable. The AC is always ice cold, and the heater will keep you warm on the coldest day. It always starts right up and is ready to serve. I can’t remember the last time I had to take it to a mechanic. 

It’s not a fancy vehicle and it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. While it won’t make your neighbor green with envy, it’s a nice looking vehicle and it’s always been dependable.

Then we have the big bad boy, the good-looking, problem child that is always causing trouble. 

It’s a year newer and much larger than our other SUV.  It has many wonderful accessories, including a built in GPS system, a backup camera and even a factory installed DVD player. It can tow our camper with ease and has a huge cargo area. 

We purchased our wayward vehicle child two years ago. Since then, it has visited almost every mechanic in town. Two months after we bought it, we had to replace the fuel pump. Several months later, we had to replace several ignition parts. We’ve had to install a new battery, replace all sorts of sensors, and the list keeps getting longer and longer.  This summer the air conditioner failed. Then the heater failed. I’d get rid of it, but now I have too much money invested.

We have had our good child vehicle for nearly five years. We keep its fuel tank filled and the oil changed and it serves us faithfully. It gets good gas mileage, and if it were bigger, we’d make it our primary vehicle. But it’s a lot smaller and only has two doors. It’s not very convenient for the family to get in and out of. 

The bad boy is very roomy and has four doors. It likes to gulp gas, but it’s very comfortable to travel in. Unlike our other vehicle, there is plenty of room in the cargo area for our luggage, and even my son’s guitars. He has a very roomy back seat all to himself where he can relax, play his guitar or watch DVDs.

I keep hoping that all of the bugs are finally worked out, and that our problem child will settle down and behave. But I’m not holding my breath.

Lately I have been working to get both vehicles ready for winter. They both have new batteries, new tires, new anti-freeze, and the oil has been changed. I’ve given them everything that a vehicle could possibly want. 

I’m not worried about our good child. When I want to go someplace, it will be ready to go.  But somehow I get the feeling that our bad child is up to something. I have no idea what it is plotting and scheming to do, but lately it’s been pretty quiet and dependable. 

As every parent knows, that usually means trouble is on the way.


CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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