Because Of The Story
I watched the car show Jay Leno’s Garage, and he got asked why he purchased a particular car. The answer was, “I bought it because of the story.” Meaning that Jay listened to the seller’s story, which influenced his purchase. In this episode, the car belonged to the son’s father, and Jay liked the family connection.
I thought little about the quote, but it rattled around my bonkers mind for a month, which inspired me to think about my first car, a red 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX. Kim (I named her) was fast, fun, underpowered, and had a personality. From every angle, she hated standing still.
Kim was an odd car type choice. My mother was convinced I needed a jeep, and my father knew I wanted a truck. Why? They are practical and rugged, which matches my personality. But a sports car? They are small, high maintenance, unreliable, and expensive. Why that one? I had just graduated as an engineer and wanted the best engineered car to fit my budget—specifically, the all-wheel drive.
Why? For the high-speed California roads? To corner like a daemon? To fulfill my track-day dreams? No, this car was entirely impracticable for my needs. I hoped to buy something that looked cool and had this innovative feature.
Kim and I had many driving adventures and made our own stories, but I did not buy that car because of its story. Yet, as I look at the vast piles of junk in my garage, I can see many purchased items because of their story.
One is a pile of garage sale screwdrivers. The lady said they belonged to her late father, who used them to repair her toys. Why? I certainly had other screw drives in better shape. The story tugged at my heart, and I wanted that same connection. Someday, I would use them to repair my daughter’s toys and then pass them along to her. Yeah… They sat in a pile, and I never used them once.
About 20 years ago, I purchased a Simpson multimeter at the swap meet. It is large, and I have much better meters, but the owner saved up for a year on his paper route to buy it. He hoped to be an electrician but joined the military to help his family. Do I use that old thing? No, but what a remarkable story.
I even purchased a shirt because of a story. There was a sale of college shirts at Miller’s Outpost. (They changed their name to Anchor Blue and closed their doors on February 17, 2011) I was a senior, and it was popular to wear college shirts, and I wanted to join the fad. So, I was walking down the street in a Stanford shirt, and a guy yelled, “Hey, Stanford guy!” He was selling used shirts and rooted through his pile. And there it was, an identical shirt. The story was that his son went to Stanford and joined their football team. He bulked up to play and could not fit into his old clothes. Did I wear the shirt? A few times, but that was not the point. I had a story to tell all my friends.
Was it all a scam, good salesmanship, or honest people making a connection? Who knows? Stories are powerful, and they tug at our hearts. The trick is creating them and living with a garage full of story-filled junk.

You’re the best -Bill
October 04, 2023
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