Sunday, March 26, 2006

Change of Command: Farewell to Thumper

Jamie Patterson of Accepts His Thumper Commission
Thumper served me well over the past year and a half. However, that is not enough in this day and age for a car to secure its relationship with its master. My wife has a newer, cuter car, with better gas mileage and Thumper has been displaced. When car tax time came the Elliots plotted to pay a car dealer to take him off their hands . . . Thumper, a JET-mobile of many generations, who carried long forgotten Aomori JETs to their destinations in days no longer remembered even by our fourth year PA (prefectural advisor). Nobody knows when Thumper passed from Japanese hands into the JET hand-me-down market, but he was built in 1993 when I was still a high school student at Faith Academy in the Philippines. Fortunately for Thumper, his gaijin master’s design to have him terminated was foiled by Operation Bear Watch arch-rival Jamie Patterson of The bottom line is, giving the car to Jamie was cheaper than having him junked. When Thumper’s shaken runs out in August and Jamie goes back to real life in Toronto, will he be able to find another JET to pay Thumper’s shaken and breathe new life into Thumper’s legacy in Aomori JET history? How about it, newbies?

The Official Moment of the Transfer of Ownership: Jamie-sensei Accepts Thumper’s Documents
There are a few things about Thumper that I forgot to tell Jamie. The first is that Thumper still has his winter snow wipers on, and that the one on the driver’s side is broken. It doesn’t wipe away the rain; it just smudges it around a bit. The summer wipers are in the trunk, Jamie. Oh, yeah, that’s where the summer tires are, too. Also, there was a spare key when I first got Thumper, but it proved to be weak and got twisted one time when I opened the trunk. Then, one morning in January, I locked the master key in the car near Moya Hills. Attempts to jimmy the lock proved futile, and the JAF man came to save the day. That night I went snowboarding in Ajigasawa with my cousin. The keys and a fair bit of spare change found there way out of my pockets and into the snow—an unfortunate fact that I didn’t become aware of until it was time to go home. In the end, my aunt drove out from Itayanagi to pick us up and the next day I went back to Ajigasawa with my aunt and uncle’s mechanic. We removed the lock from Thumper’s trunk, drove all the way back to Itayanagi where a locksmith fashioned a new key, drove all the way back to Ajigasawa with the new key, drove all the way back to Itayanagi with Thumper, and reinstalled the lock of the trunk. My aunt and uncle do a lot of business with their mechanic, so this one was on the house. All he charged me was the three thousand yen he had to pay the locksmith. The next day I went snowboarding with my cousins at Hakkoda and I tried to get the keys duplicated so as to avoid similar disasters in the future. Unfortunately, although I went to several key stores none of them were willing to make copies (they said they didn’t carry the right kind of blank key). The good news about my rocky record with Thumper is that I got my money’s worth from JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation). I had two flat tires covered by JAF, one of the two times I locked my keys in the car JAF sent a man to pick the lock for me, and when I ran off the road on the way home from the airport two winters ago JAF came to tow me out of the snow bank (although they didn’t cover the 70,000 yen in repairs I had to pay after crashing Thumper into a curb later that same night). When all’s said and done, Thumper is a car with a history, and I hope for Jamie’s sake that his share in Thumper’s history doesn’t cost him as much as my share did.