There was a little story on NPR that the average age of a car that needs tow truck assistance is up to nine years old. I didn't catch what the previous average age of cars, but it's up. People are holding on to their cars longer. (Here's the story for real...)
It's not exactly Earth-shattering news, but you can see evidence of this out on the roads. When I was a kid the roads were just one massive rust bucket after another. Of course cars were made of mostly steel then, not plastic, so there was much more car to rust, but those cars were old. My dad drove around a flesh colored Datsun when I was a kid. It was more rust than car by a long shot. There were holes in the floorboard. We would listen to golf balls rolling around in the back of the car and then you just wouldn't hear them anymore. They had fallen through the floor.
He drove children around in that car.
Look around at cars on the road right now and there's rust. More than you would expect. And there's minor fender benders that you can tell the owners would rather live with than fix. I've seen more than one car that's made use of red duct tape to fix a broken taillight cover or a bungee cord holding up a bumper. There's also cars out sporting major damage, like garbage bags covering missing windows and whole passenger sides being crushed in. The cars out there are in pretty shabby shape.
But more telling then the bent antennas or the fourth tire being a donut, you can really tell that times are tough by the most glaring evidence of all...
(Do not argue with the spelling. I Googled it.)
As a kid seeing a Padiddle was a truly exciting thing. I honestly don't remember what rules we played by except that it involved yelling "Padiddle" when you spotted a car with one working headlight and either punching someone or getting punched.
The Girl is now the referee of the game. By her rules, when you see the car, you have to yell Padiddle and touch the ceiling of the car. The last person in the car to do that gets punched. It's usually me because I'm driving. (No, the driver in our car is not exempt from being punched. You would think getting everyone from Point A to Point B in a safe and legal manner would protect you. Sadly, no.)
I bring all of this up because Padiddle is a non-stop game lately. It probably helps that this time of year we are mostly driving in the dark. But even so, Padiddles are everywhere. We probably see a dozen everyday. I swear I didn't see one for decades. Now they are coming at us from every direction.
If you are the driver of a Padiddle, do you notice carloads of passing kids punching each other everywhere you go? I wonder.