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Boyfriend might need to open his own junkyard

February 06, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray: My boyfriend is a great guy, but is prone to procrastination (or so his family has warned me). It's come to my attention, as I try to find a spot to park when I visit his home, that he is accumulating LOTS of cars. Here's the inventory of vehicles: a VW bus, two Saabs, an Isuzu Rodeo, a Subaru Forester, his Subaru Legacy, an engine for the Rodeo sitting in the garage and a BMW R1100RT motorcycle (largely disassembled for a transmission repair) in the garage. All of the cars in the driveway are in various stages of repair, and some of these are project cars that he hopes to sell, if he can get them running. Don't get me wrong, he is an amazing mechanic, and when we listen to your show together, he knows the answers before you say them. But how can I help him finish some of these and make room for MY car? I'm asking you for advice because I give your radio show on NPR credit for bringing us together. When we met, I learned that we shared Car Talk, BMW motorcycles and a peculiar sense of humor, and the rest is history because I fell for him (at that time, the only extra vehicles were one Saab and the VW bus). Thanks for your help! - Beth

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TOM: Gee, Beth, it sounds like a pretty harmless hobby to me. I mean, some guys use their free time to go out drinking or carousing.

RAY: Or look at my brother's hobby: collecting food samples in his beard.

TOM: I don't think you want to stop him from playing around with his cars. He would resent you for that, and that would be a poor basis for a long-term relationship. Plus, it's something you admire him for.

RAY: But it's perfectly acceptable for you to set some limits on it. For instance, where he does it. See, I think this guy needs to do this professionally. He needs to give up his seat on the appellate court (or whatever he does for a living), and go into the junk business.

TOM: Exactly. Some people have junk in their blood, Beth, and this guy is one of them. Our favorite local junkyard is called Nissenbaum's Auto Recycling. Joe Nissenbaum has junk in his blood. We'll need an alternator for a customer's car because the old one was burned to a crisp in an engine fire and then run over by a fire truck, twice, and Joe will say, "You're not gonna throw that away, are you?"

RAY: Sound familiar, Beth? If your boyfriend had a junkyard, he could take apart cars all day, and then leave everything at work, so you could live in your house without getting nasty notes from the neighbors asking you to get those 14 transmissions off your lawn.

TOM: Now, if he's not ready to go "all in" on the junkyard idea, the next best thing is containment. It worked during the Cold War, right? So, when you have a home together, designate a space where he can do whatever he wants with his cars. It could be a building on your property, another site that he rents or just a cordoned-off section of the backyard.

RAY: And that way, when he accidentally sets one of his project cars on fire, it won't take your car with it, Beth. Best of luck to you guys.

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