In Chapter 2 of Alas, Babylon, Randy is preparing for the threat of nuclear war and potentially the collapse of civilization. While he is leaving his house to gather his loved ones, he observes Missouri, his maid, getting into her car, an antique Model-A Ford. He makes note that it is kept in good running condition by Malachai, his yardman.
This foreshadows the importance of Malachai in the future, as it is a small glimpse at his technical abilities, particularly with cars. Later, after the destruction and practical collapse of society, Malachai acts as engineer and mechanic on all things in Randy's quasi-compound of family and friends. The hints of skill in various areas from both Malachai and Missouri are noted as foreshadowing of their practicality and usefulness when it becomes necessary later.