Nothing wrong with being a high-mileage guy

I tend to hold on to things for a long time. I’ve been mocked by people at work after letting it slip out that I have an operating VCR at home that occasionally still gets used.

Apparently, for them, that’s as antique as kerosene lamps in this digital DVR world.

The last car I had was traded in within days of when it would have turned over at 199,000 miles. I was disappointed. I had visions of watching the odometer switch over to 200,000 for the first time of any of my cars.

I can’t remember how many miles the first car I ever owned myself had on it when we finally got rid of it. But the preponderance of rust, dings and faded paint made it inevitable that it was finally time to give it up.

It was the closest I’ve ever had to a sports car, taking me from a freshly-minted college grad through to the practical “four-door” era of a married man, in a span of at least seven years.

There are four easy chairs scattered around our house with well-trained impressions of my ever-expanding physique in them. When a new one arrives, I just can’t quite bring myself to send the other one off.

Besides, maybe my son will want one some day. All self-respecting college students should furnish their early living quarters in used furniture.

My push lawn mower probably has as many miles as that first car. I have T-shirts commemorating trips or events an embarrassingly long time ago, tattered briefcases, a “bricks and boards book case” from my college days ... you get the idea.

I don’t think it’s any sort of obsessive compulsion (or would that be a possessive compulsion), but sometimes it takes a while for me to admit that something has to go. That’s why I don’t know yet if I’m ready to split up with my tent.

It’s not like I’m a frequent camper in this tent, but it’s been around a while. My son was nearing Cub Scouts when I bought it. He’s three years past the age limit for Boy Scouts now, so doing the math means it’s been at least a dozen years.

I used it this past week on another trip to Scout camp. The last time it was used last year there was a little “water in the tent” issue. I blamed that on the fact that 40 mph winds drove in a quick storm and that’s how some water got past the rain shield.

It was an idea seemingly reinforced when at 5 a.m. Monday the first wave of a thunderstorm passed through and I remained dry.

So, I was resting comfortably, half asleep with the hypnotic patter of raindrops above, when it happened.

Drip, drip, drip.

Puddles were forming around my feet. I sat up, moved a few things around and realized there was no stopping it; the rain was slowly coming in. After securing a few things, it was time to get up any way.

I waited until the storm past and cleaned things up, but I couldn’t trust it for another night where storms were in the forecast. I moved into another tent and my old stand-by came down. 

So will I be able to use it again? Is there ever such thing as a Nebraska night guaranteed against rain? I was getting embarrassingly sentimental about nylon and plastic poles. But this was the tent where a little kid and I would play King’s Corners during backyard campouts. (That’ why to this day a deck of cards stays in a storage pouch of the tent even when it’s folded up.)

It’s been on Scout camp-outs near and far. We didn’t play King’s Corners when we used it on a Niobrara canoe trip last year, but it was still our shelter. And it’s been nice to know it’s there just in case we ever think it’s time for another campout. 

Sure, I know the memories will stay even if the tent doesn’t, so maybe it will be sent away soon.

But, you know, someone said I might be able to treat the material to help waterproof it.

Who knows, it might have a few more miles in it.  

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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