When I moved to Vernon from Calgary I was faced with a terrible decision: keep the nice, brand-newish car I had purchased prior to school — the one that I can’t afford — or buy a vehicle that will hopefully make it from point A to point B without falling apart from the slightest gust of wind.
I opted for the latter, as any money saved on a vehicle can instead go towards fuelling my craft beer addiction. Clearly, I have my priorities in tact.
So now, instead of driving the comfortable, four-door family sedan I had grown accustomed to, I have an old, red truck that came with a complimentary ding in the tailgate and crack in the windshield. I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s a thing of beauty.
The brakes have gone and the bearings have been repacked. The door ajar light is on half of the time, the engine light is on, and I haven’t fixed the windshield. Those all sound like future Parker’s problems, because I had to remedy an issue far more important to my day-to-day well-being: the music.
As you can guess, this truck is nearly as old as I am. It didn’t come with Bluetooth audio or even a CD player. Oh no — it has a cassette player.
After I bought this truck, I drove around town trying to find cassette tapes. I went to the thrift shop and all I could find was a release by The Moody Blues and, of course, Michael Bolton. I like neither of those bands, but I bought both because the radio in my truck, like the door ajar light, only works half of the time.
That sufficed for a while, and I now know the words to far too many Michael Bolton tracks than I care to admit, but I couldn’t keep it up.
One day, with When a Man Loves a Woman on repeat inside my noodle, I walked into the record shop. Behind the counter sat a young man with hair that would make Fabio himself jealous.
“Do you have any cassettes?” I asked. It was a silly question, because adjacent to this young man was an entire wall full of cassettes. After exclusively listening to The Moody Blues and Michael Bolton, it was like heaven on earth.
I found the obligatory Ozzy Osbourne, Jimi Hendrix, and Van Halen, and continued on my journey.
While I didn’t believe it at the time, being forced to listen to cassettes was actually a blessing. In my old car, I had a set play-list on an iPod that hadn’t been updated in years, and I would consistently skip to the same tracks. I didn’t realize it, but I was in a musical rut.
However, with cassettes, I’m forced to listen to whatever song comes next, because the skip buttons — just like the door ajar light and radio — only work half of the time.
I can no longer skip over Flying High Again to hear Children of the Grave. If I could, I probably would. But I can’t, and it’s for the best. The tracks I used to hear on repeat in my head were replaced by Bolton’s tracks, which were thankfully replaced by Van Halen’s Unchained, and I love it.
So, take your brand new family sedan that gets 60 litres of gas per 100 kilometres and trade it in for an old, red truck with a tailgate that doesn’t close, a radio that only works half of the time, and a cassette player.
You will thank me for it in the end.