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  • Writer's pictureDidier Bahuaud

Field of Recurring Despair

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

With Christmas behind us and the new year looming on the horizon, I feel it is my duty to extend to everyone out there a typical French greeting: Bonne année à tous.

This roughly translates as, “Go ahead; have more wine.”

Personally, I’m too shaken by two recent events to let the holiday spirit overwhelm me. The first is a disaster of cosmic proportions, the repercussions of which are sure to be felt for many years to come — namely, the loss at sea of millions of bottles of wine and spirits when a cargo ship split in half off Portugal last month. The damage is estimated at more than $100 million. France was so distraught at the news that everyone went on strike.

A report that the shipment was a contribution to the Democratic party and was sunk to destroy evidence that Attorney General Janet Reno could have used in her campaign fund-raising probe didn’t faze President Clinton. “I have no recollection of ever drinking wine,” he said.

The second event is not quite as important, but I think you should know: Aliens are living among us.

They have managed to blend in pretty well, so much so that they have taken over the most important position of power in this country: the automobile industry. What better way for an alien race to invade Earth than to control its transportation system? We get so worried about the way our vehicles run (or don’t run) that we don’t pay attention to the real important stuff, such as: Will the schools of fish that are drinking the sunken wine contain more fat?

I’ve suspected aliens were among us for a while, but a streak of expensive malfunctions this month made the fact obvious. Indeed, a sub-atomic scan of my Escort revealed that the car generated a Field Of Recurring Despair, or F.O.R.D. for short.

This field is activated the moment you buy a vehicle, no matter who the manufacturer is, so that the car is in a state of gradual auto-destruction. The phenomenon is timed so that problems don’t make themselves known until your warranty has expired.

As Hollywood taught us last year in the blockbuster movie “Independence Day,” the only way to defeat alien technology that is light years ahead of us is to hook up an Apple computer to the alien’s network. And that’s exactly what I did. Thank you, Internet. I came across a few sites that can help you make the right choice and get the right price when shopping for a new or used vehicle.

Kelley Blue Book’s home page seems to be the most authoritative, free guide on the ‘Net. There, you can find out the value of your trade-in as well as the dealer’s cost on that coveted new vehicle.

Unlike Kelley, Edmund’s Automobile Buyer’s Guide features reviews of your vehicle of choice, on top of the financial information. This is also a free service.

In either case, all you need to do is enter your zip-code and car make to get the information on your screen. It’s easy and gives you a bargaining tool when you actually head to a dealership.

Finally, the popular search engine Infoseek also provides an automotive service that is quite comprehensive, although not all of it is free.

Armed with this information, you should be able to pick a reliable vehicle and know what its real value is. But keep it quiet. I hear the Men in Black are on the move, and they don’t drink wine.

— Published in "The Sedalia Democrat," Dec. 28, 1997

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