First Word: Make time for a pit stop

Big John Coffee, in the movie “The Green Mile,” referred to it as “the flicker show.” During my youth, we went to catch the flicks. Nowadays, even with the motion picture industry seemingly as strong as ever, most of us are content to wait until movies come out on DVD at the local rental store.

While the magic of the 50-cent Saturday matinee is just a fond memory, the opportunity to load the family up, escape the summer heat and enjoy the newest in cinematic technology – albeit at a much heftier price – is still good entertainment. This is just what my wife and I did a couple of weeks ago, taking our 7-year-old daughter to see “Cars.” She absolutely loves anything having to do with automobiles, especially the little matchbox versions. The movie (and a large box of popcorn) seemed like the perfect way to keep Anna Kate preoccupied for a couple hours. Little did I realize it would be as much fun for ole dad as it was for my automotively entranced daughter.

If you’ve seen it, then you know all the characters are some type of vehicle, with famous voices provided by the likes of Paul Newman, Richard Petty and Larry the Cable Guy, the personality behind the lovable tow truck, Tow-Mater. The entire production was created by Disney (and partner Pixar) in new high-definition, vividly colored, almost-real animation. The lead character, an over-ambitious race car named Lightning McQueen, is the one the children adore. But there are also some characters that appeal to us equipment guys – namely Mack, the big red race car transport truck, and an asphalt paver, who despite being covered in oil and belching black smoke, lays down the smoothest mat any of the cars had ever driven across.

Without giving away the whole story, the plot centers around a small, forgotten town along famous Route 66. The once-vibrant town was left almost deserted after the interstate system was built, allowing traffic to get from point A to point B a whole lot faster while denying access to some of the more scenic destinations, like this fictitious little municipality.

“Cars” is a wonderful story, kind of a microcosm of our fast-paced, always-on-the-go culture. It offers a meaningful message to us all to stop and smell the roses – or the asphalt in this case. If life seems like a fast track – and it does for many of us now – then find a way to get off the speedway every now and then, recharge your batteries, clean your windshield and check your gages. Because remember, no matter how fast your business is speeding along, even the fastest race car must take a pit stop every now and then.