Joyce Bupp, farm wife

The news was not good.

When your get a report of something wrong with a dear old friend, it brings immediate sadness. But, in this case, there was a potential bright side to the bad news.

My old friend could be made well. But it was going to cost me plenty.

This “old friend” is my 2002 Honda Civic. We’ve driven 128,000 miles together and I’ve always tried to take very good care of her. She arrived in my possession new, bright and shiny white, and still looks in remarkably good condition. Of course, like most of us seniors, there are a few minor scratches and a nick here and there.

But she runs great, gets good gas mileage, doesn’t use oil, and I’ve faithfully had her serviced and tended to on a regular basis. She’s had only a few major renovations, like warranty-mandated timing belt replacement, an air-bag recall (like most other cars, it seems), brakes updated and tires replaced as needed.

I think she only failed me once, when a battery simply died years ago after I turned her motor off at a service station while filling up her fuel tank. Fortunately, the jumper cables kept in her trunk were handy and a Good Samaritan helped revive her within minutes.

Still, like us humans, time takes a toll. And, this time the toll was on her catalytic converter, that system installed on all vehicles some years ago for environmental clean-up mandates. In his most kindly diagnostic voice, the service center representative told me her catalytic converter was shot.

Periodically, I’ve debated about replacing my old, still-faithful, four-wheeled buddy. But I’m accustomed to how she runs, how she sounds, how she’s small enough to park easily. And one of her big favored points with me: she has minimal technology. I do love the push-button windows and the air-conditioning, both of which have (at least to date) been trouble-free.

Having heard stories from various friends and acquaintances about all the complicated, computerized electronics and technologies in their much more up-to-date vehicles, and some of the problems occasionally related to those, has turned me into a vehicular throwback.

Don’t get me wrong, I”m not opposed to technology and am writing this on a relatively new PC with a self-contained hard drive built into it’s nice, wide screen. My smart phone is never too far away from my side and I’ve been known to use three electronic devices at the same time.

But the constant overtaking of mechanical devices by technology — to the point that the slightest bit of a problem needs to be administered to by a digital whiz (which never come cheaply) has become a sticking point with me.

Friends recently stopped by one afternoon, driving a “loaner” vehicle while their own car was having an airbag recall repair made. They had almost become unnerved when, beginning to move into the passing lane of the interstate, the vehicle’s steering had tried to take over and pull them back into their lane. Another friend relates that her new car “shakes” warnings when it gets close to a lane-divider line.

We understand that many of these are designed as safety measures. But I can’t help and wonder if what might be needed more in safety features is a hand that automatically smacks any driver attempting to text while behind the steering wheel.

One of my personal heroines is a long-time friend in her 90s who has continued to thumb her nose at modern automotives and runs a Volkswagon “Bug” that is probably at least 50 years old now. She has been blessed with mechanical “medics” who have enabled this pair to stay together for so long. She taught herself to use a computer when she was in her late 60s, so she’s not against technology.

We’ve long believed here that “classic” tractors remain popular with collectors because you can actually still fix them yourselves. I recently read, again, of farmers up in arms over software “clauses” in their new tractor purchases that prevent them from fixing their own tractors.

Equipment technology hit home several months ago when the new(er) combine we purchased wouldn’t communicate with new(er) headers. Thus, we had to make yet another investment in costly technology updates so that our equipment could talk to all its parts.

My Honda buddy is well again, happily running with a new catalytic converter. Like the catalytic converter, my checkbook has a hole in it, but not as big as it would be with new car payments.

To some degree, I’ve admittedly become a technology throwback — and have no apologies for that.

Joyce Bupp is a freelance writer in York County, Pennsylvania.