As Roky (or the guy who claimed his name was Roky) walked toward the taxi looking pleased as punch, I folded the map up, returned it to the glove compartment and ran through a mental list of mechanical issues ordered according to their likelihood of cutting short the two thousand kilometre journey into America’s heartland: First on the list was the slow leak in the valve cover gasket, evidenced by a lingering whiff of burnt oil and lower than normal engine pressure. Next on the list was the 727 Torqueflite transmission that slipped now and then due to a worn torque converter, but it had never posed any serious problems. Third on the list were the brakes, which were new enough for me to ignore the corroded sensor that continuously tripped the service light. Fourth on the list was the battery, which faded quickly if the headlights were left on when the engine wasn’t running. Finally, there were the tires to consider, and there really wasn’t much to say about them other than the fact that they were visibly balding and well past their warranty date. All things considered, I had faith in my trusty but rusty taxi, Soldier. Yep, I named it, but every battle steed was deserving of a name, especially those that carried their riders into the war against abject poverty, day after grinding day.