EYESORES AND ODDITIES

EYESORES AND ODDITIES

Adele Levine's 16-year-old Ford Mustang - her first car - is falling apart in her driveway a rust flake at a time. She doesn't drive it but can't part with it, either.
Adele Levine's 16-year-old Ford Mustang - her first car - is falling apart in her driveway a rust flake at a time. She doesn't drive it but can't part with it, either. (Robert A. Reeder - The Washington Post)

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You come upon them every now and then -- a mystery of ugliness or a complete curiosity. And, as Susan Warren points out, sometimes your handy convenience is an ugly annoyance in someone else's eyes.

Time to Put the Old Mustang Down?

The Rustang quietly rusting to death behind my apartment building is a gray, nondescript Ford. My first car.

The paint on the hood has long ago bubbled off and been replaced with jagged, rusty holes. The doors don't open, and I use a screwdriver to unlock my seat belt. My friends have been after me for years to get rid of it.

A couple of months ago, I was sputtering and banging down Georgia Avenue when smoke began filling up the passenger compartment. I thought, this is it. I unbuckled my seat belt and rolled the window down but kept driving. I managed to get it home before it completely caught fire.

I parked it behind my building and then went inside and lay down on my couch.

If I still lived in North Carolina I would do what most of my neighbors did: take the tires off and put it on blocks in front of the house: A Yard Car. I joke to my friends that I'm going to put it on blocks in my living room instead.

No one laughs at this because, deep down, they think I'm serious.

Once a week, for old times' sake, I climb in through the window and start up the engine. I let it shake and sputter and backfire, and I lean back in the torn-up seat and inhale the familiar smell of mildew, gasoline and smoke.

Then I climb back out and catch the bus to work.

-- Adele Levine, Wheaton

Hands-Free and Mostly Thoughtless

I have been in retail for nearly 30 years.

Fine jewelry.

Technology has made some wonderful advances in all those years, some more obvious than others.

I greet customers as they enter the store. Most return the greeting. Some appear to be talking to themselves. The new cellphones are invisible. Then I realize my error and understand why they are not returning the greeting. Some seem to be simply ambling through the mall, store by store, needing visuals while they chat on the phone.

Others actually want to shop while they continue their conversations, barely acknowledging my offer of assistance except to point at items they would like to see or try on, still never breaking the phone conversation. Unbelievable!

I have decided that I no longer will help a customer conducting personal business on a cellphone. I explain that when they are finished, I will be more than happy to help them. Most are understanding. A few get annoyed. A couple have walked out angry. One actually told his chatty phone buddy that a salesperson had the nerve to tell him that!

-- Susan Warren, Rockville


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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