Things Ain't What They Used To Be

Communities and the businesses in them change with time.  Some grow, some prosper, and some just seem to change… become different.  To paraphrase a folk saying "Things ain't what they used to be."
The town of St. Helens is about 30 miles from Portland Oregon.  It isn't a very large town; we boast a population of 10,500.  My town has some local industry, but it is slowly becoming more and more a bedroom community for the cities of Portland, Hillsboro and Beaverton.  St. Helens has grown quite a bit in the last twenty years.  The town has extended it boundaries and new subdivisions have grown up where people used to grow cattle and strawberries.  Although my town has grown, much of our local businesses have disappeared.  At one time we had two department stores, several hardware stores, a number of clothing outlets, and some specialty shoe stores.  Most have now disappeared and all that remains are a few peripheral businesses, a Wal-Mart, and two groceries.   Ten miles down the road toward Portland there is a Fred Meyers (a Kroeger owned department store) and rumors abound about someone building a new fast food restaurant.   We used to have a number of gas stations.   I recall, at one time, my community having as many as 10; we now have two.

It was a Sunday, and my wife and I were in the process of leaving church.  For us, church is as much a social experience as it is a religious one.  Our church service lasts about an hour; afterwards we spend almost an equal amount of time eating snacks, drinking coffee and visiting.  As my wife and I stepped out into the parking lot, a church member mentioned that my right front tire looked a bit low. I walked over to my car, glanced at the tire, and noticed that it did indeed seem to sag a bit at the bottom.

"No problem" said I to the Good Samaritan, I have a pump in my trunk that hooks up to my cigarette lighter."

I walked to the back of my car, opened up the trunk and pulled out my pump.    I then noticed that the pumps cigarette lighter plug-in was crushed.  Evidently I must have, at one time or another dropped something heavy onto it without realizing what I was doing.

My wife counseled me: "Why don't you go to a gas station?"

"I don't have any change," responded I.  "I think that they charge a quarter to buy air."

"You mean to say that they sell air?  Asked my wife.  "I thought air was free?"

"Nope," said I.  "You have to pay for everything."

I drove my soft tired car home and started rummaging around the house.  I finally found an automobile accessory device attached to an old auto CD plug in.  I assumed that this was just the thing that I needed.  I rummaged around the house again, this time looking for tools.  I looked for a wire stripper and was unsuccessful in my quest.  I finally settled for a semi sharp pocket knife.  It only took me a few minutes a bloody finger, and a couple of bad words, to replace my broken plug. 

I smiled as I applied a band aid to a bloody finger.  My tire pump was once again intact.

"Ha!  I exclaimed; "Pretty hard to keep an innovative person like myself down!"

I then took the tire pump out to my car and plugged it into my automobile cigarette lighter.

Nada.  Nothing

I thought that this was strange.  I tried the regular cigarette lighter and discovered that it didn't work either.

"That's weird," I thought.

My car is an ancient Cadillac.  At one time it was considered a luxury car, and it is equipped with two cigarette lighters in the backseat as well as the one in the front.  I tried the back seat lighters, and discovered that they were not working either.

"Hmmmm" thought I.  "I bet the fuse is blown."

"I then drove on my soft tire to the local pharmacy and purchased a box of fuses.

I took a fuse from the box and placed it into the proper 20 amp fuse holder socket.  I then tried the cigarette lighter…         

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