I grew up on a farm and though I haven’t lived that way for decades I guess some aspects of the lifestyle never leave you. I’m not talking about raising cattle in my backyard, though there’s been a zoo inside my house for more years than I lived out in the middle of a cornfield.
No, I’m talking about my pickup truck. It’s getting old and there’s talk of trading it in for a new one. I’ve traded in vehicles many times but now that I’m getting as old as an old truck, the idea of giving away the old for something new just doesn’t sit well with me anymore. On a couple of levels, when it comes to my truck.
First, nearly every ding, scratch, dent and crease in that old black behemoth is there because I put it there, doing things that one does with a truck. And a couple more because of what one shouldn’t do with one. You ever see a farmer driving a nice, shiny old truck – he must be raising daffodils. In his living room.
Actually I’m kinda proud of them – my truck and me, well, we made them together. Maybe when it was new and I was younger such vehicular garnishes would have bothered me, but now that it’s old I do believe those dings, dents and other things give it … character.
Like the time I really thought I could squeeze through the slightly-less-than-a-parking-space left between a car and a light pole in a parking lot. I was sure of it – until the right side of the old girl started to lift up as I edged past the big concrete base of the pole and let out an awful scratching screech. I guess not, I realized, but no sense in going back now. Didn’t touch the car or even mark the pole but I found a nice, long, bright yellow-colored gouge creased deep across the lower part of my black passenger and backseat panel doors.
It was pretty near straight. And the doors still opened and closed.
“Look at that,” I said to her. “We got ourselves a racing stripe.”
Do that with a Prius. And be happy about it. I dare you. It’s what separates us farm boys from city folk, I guess. Manure happens – especially to a pickup truck.
And there was the time when I was sitting in another parking lot. Like any other full-size pickup driver does, I was off to the outer edge of the lot, away from most vehicles. I’d also parked so I could just drive away and not back up. Very simple, very easy, very smart. I’d just gotten back from shopping, sitting and idling with no one around me and looking at my sales receipt, when in the corner of my eye I saw movement by my door.
I looked over and down to see the front end of some non-descript Japanese sedan pushing along the side of my front fender, like a runaway shopping cart with an engine. And a driver. The car gently (as much as a car can do) swiped along my front fender and ended up stopped in front of me.
I’d just been hit by a car. In slow motion. And I wasn’t even moving. The driver looked back at me. I was staring at him. And then he started yelling and gave me the finger.
I was stunned. Of course I did what any other normal, red-blooded American raised on a farm would do.
I started laughing. I couldn’t stop. It was so damn ridiculous. I did manage to get out a couple words, though.
“I was just sitting here, you shithead!”
For me, the whole thing was entirely, completely hilarious. For him, apparently it all became very clear. He stopped yelling and took off. And for my wife? Uh, not so funny.
“You didn’t even get his license plate!?!? Why do I ever let you go anywhere by yourself.”
“I couldn’t stop laughing, hon. And it was just the truck – it’s like a white accent stripe along the fender. Didn’t do any real damage, still drives and everything.”
“This is why you should have a gun.”
“Why do I need a gun?”
“You could have shot out his tires!!!”
Obviously, my lovely wife was not raised on a farm.
If she had been, she wouldn’t think I was crazy. About this, or why I really don’t want to trade in my truck. I want to keep it and drive it until it can barely move. But still running enough to let me edge her into the backyard, park her off to the side and just leave her there. That’s how old trucks and other farm machines are laid to rest. That’s where they should go, to slowly rust away. Just like that old GMC you see up at the top there.