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Alan Liere: When a car becomes a ‘rig’

Wed., May 10, 2017, 7 p.m.

Until a few years ago, my sole sporting conveyance had been a 1993 GMC pickup with 208,000 miles. I proudly called it my “rig.”

The windshield had cracked in so many places it looked like a road map. The carpeted floor was stained terribly, bare metal showed through mud and smashed potato chips where the floor mats had been. There was a copious layer of dust on the dash and an indistinct wet dog aroma permeated everything – primarily because of the many wet dogs that had ridden home from a hunt on the back seat. It was a lovely, functional machine.

Now, I have a second “rig,” a practically new Ford Explorer. It wasn’t supposed to become a rig, as it was to be used for social functions. It was so un-rig-like, in fact, I called it a “car.” If I needed to pick up a date in the Explorer, I could be sure she wouldn’t get her dress muddy or find one of my lost fishing lures stuck in her pantyhose.

My Explorer was without a blemish for a year – black and shiny with leather upholstery, plush carpets, and brand new tires. I washed it often and kept it in the garage so it wouldn’t fade. It would never see cookie crumbs, muddy boots, or feathers.

Alas, all that changed when the pickup developed mechanical problems I couldn’t afford to fix right away. The Explorer was waiting there in the garage. In a month I’d have enough money to fix the “rig.” How much damage could I do to the Explorer in a month?

The deterioration began on my first fishing trip. It was my turn to drive, and I cringed as I babied my waxed beauty down a muddy back road to a favorite scabrock lake. No doubt the farmer who pulled me out of the ditch had good intentions, but the chain snapped at a critical juncture, shattered a headlight, and removed some paint from my hood.

With wet wool socks and wool shirts steaming in the cargo area of the Explorer, three friends and I headed home at the end of the day. Other than getting stuck, it had been a pretty decent trip, and we were doing some serious damage to a bucket of cold Kentucky Fried Chicken when the car in front of me sent a rock careening off my windshield.

After the impact and the resulting commotion, enough crispy coating from the chicken had disappeared in the folds of the upholstery to insure I wouldn’t forget the Colonel for weeks. Before I was home, the chip had already begun to send runners in all directions.

“Heck, you might as well drive tomorrow, too,” said my sympathetic friends. “It can’t get any worse than this.”

We were supposed to be throwing tiny scuds for big rainbow in a spring creek the next day, and I had to agree the damage was already done. I didn’t think one of us would actually catch a fish so big it begged for a trip to the taxidermist, or that it would slide out of the plastic garbage sack and slop around in the cargo space, or that Mike would spill his Cheetos and another errant rock would add to the galactic display on my windshield.

And that’s why I now I have two rigs – a GMC pickup and a Ford Explorer. What I don’t have are many dates. A lot of women, it seems, are particular about what they ride in.

Contact Alan Liere at spokesmanliere @

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