I’ve been spending the week listening to old Car Talk podcasts and CD’s after hearing of the passing of Tom Magliozzi on Monday, one half of Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers. I even recorded 4 minutes of one of their calls on my dad’s voice mail this morning when I accidentally butt dialed him a little after 5:30am (sorry dad)!
I grew up listening to Car Talk not long after I had my own radio. What little I know about cars comes from them and a few understanding mechanics who actually show me on the car what they’re talking about. It’s because of the car guys that I know what a flywheel is, and when you should fix and when you should live with it.
This week I’ve been compiling my own personal list of favorite calls and favorite Tom moments for CD’s on my drives home, and for work. One of my favorites is a call where a woman with a bit of a rat problem discovered dog food coming out of her air vents whenever she turned on the air conditioner. Or of course the epic saga of the bet over the “Sleek Black Beauty” Tom’s ’65 Ambassador that Raymond had crushed.
But probably my favorites are the one’s where Tom reads something strange or unusual and can’t even get halfway through it because it cracks him up so much. From “Foreign Accent Syndrome” to “Clinton Sends Vowels to Bosnia” it’s less the material, and more Tom’s gleeful reading of it that gets me laughing along with him.
The brothers frequently poked fun at each other and the callers but never in a mean spirited way. Even one of the more infamous incidents in which Tom calls Ray up as the french accented concierge from the hotel in Canada in which they were staying to inform Ray that his car has been destroyed in a fire, ends in Tom laughing after pulling Ray’s chain for a couple of minutes.
These were smart guys, funny guys, and caring guys. What’s striking me about listening to old shows is how much they genuinely want people to be safe, not to talk on the cell phone when driving, not to drive motor scooters ever (even if you’re the girl who’s been writing the show since she was 14 saying she hates the show, and her dog hates it more). When something’s not a big deal, they have a good laugh, but when it’s safety related they made it clear that the caller should really get it looked at. And when they new a transmission rebuild was in a caller’s future, they always recommended fire as a good option.
I’m glad I have 25 years of archives to hear the both of them, but it is the end of an era. Car Talk is probably the reason I started listening to anything else on NPR. It’s one of the reasons driving a car started to be fun for me (as I was not the most eager of teenage drivers at first). And it’s an example of how to enjoy the most out of life, and how to be funny without hurting others or being crass.
Bye Tom, and hope your Sleek Black Beauty was waiting for you up in heaven.