Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"But why does your Mom drive a pickup truck?"

I had a silly little game that I used to play in parking lots. This is a couple of years ago when I was driving my beloved 1987 Pontiac Safari Station Wagon. It was a beaut. Full size, rear wheel drive, all eight cylinders, power everything. Legally seated nine. Ah, how I loved that car. The game was called "Who's Longer" and it went like this: Pick the most ostentatious ridiculous truck type thing in the lot. Go for ones that are obvious useless status symbols. Park beside that one. Back the big car into the spot, as far in as you can get it. Then notice that the back bumper is way behind the Fake Truck and the front bumper is way ahead. You have just won "Who's Longer!" Smugly think of the tens of thousands of dollars that thing cost, and then consider the $2000 body-and-paint job that it cost you to save your magnificent car from the junk yard. Smile.

So why did I give up this wonderful piece of vintage North American steel? It didn't really have to do with the thirstiness of the beast, believe it or not. It came down to this unavoidable truth: IT WAS NOT A TRUCK.

If I ever planned to do the following activities I would need a truck:
-haul a horse trailer
-haul a load of gravel
-sidewalk bricks
-move my husband's office/studio three times in a year
-bring the free piano home
-take all four bikes, two suitcases, a plastic tub full of pillows and a cooler to a rental cottage week
-go to the drive-in with the lawnchairs on the back for true outdoor viewing experience

We found the truck that suited our needs and came in on the price range. It was already fifteen years old but we were cool with that. Trucks are built better than cars and tend to hold their years better. It had the extended cab (it's not legal to put your kids in the box so they have to ride in the cab, you know) it had the V8, and it had the trailer hitch. Perfect. It also had the swanky nice interior. Bonus. No radio, sadly. But it also had a feature I hadn't really specified: the extra two feet of length out behind. We ended up with the 8 foot box. I didn't really need it but I got it. The price was right.

Of course the obvious question had to be asked. "You live in town. You don't have a horse trailer. You don't have to haul hay."

Well if you're going to get hung up on details, let me state that no, I do not have a horse trailer--YET. Now if I bought one, how would I get it home? Hmm? See, a truck is important. And all of those things, except for the hay, I have put in my truck. We get the hay brought to the farm on an actual hay wagon, so we can put a year's worth in the barn in one shot. But if I were to take my horses somewhere I might have to throw a few bales in the truck box, right???

AS for the questions regarding my environmental disrespect, I have to agree but also defend. Yeah, she's a pig. It costs about a $100 to fill the tank these days. And it don't last real long. But my trips are either across town, or a long trip about 4x a year, so don't get your pants in a knot. Besides, we bike a lot. That's a total novelty for me. I wasn't allowed as a child to bike down the gravel shoulder of the highway to go into town. Besides, the truck is actually better on gas than the magnificent car was.

I spent the first week driving over curbs accidentally. You'd think me who grew up driving trucks and station wagons and other huge GM cars from the 70's would have been able to avoid the curb jumping but geez, this thing was LONG. And parking it is an exercise. Most spots cannot be driven into, you have got to back it in because of the length+ turning radius. When you start backing in, you have to go ahead first further than you think.

I use the trailer mirrors and now I hate backing a normal car because I can't see the back tires in the mirrors.

Funny thing is, playing "Who's Longer" lost its appeal. I'm always longer. The only way I lose is if I find a truck with an 8ft box AND a crew cab with 4 doors. That's okay. I don't use my truck as a weapon, but if I need to get into traffic, I get in. I usually get the parking spots I want, just because few argue with the revers lights that are at a normal car's windshield height.

So, why do I like my truck so much? Practical reasons aside, I'm going to cut the crap and tell the truth. I'm a small woman. I get lost in crowds. I really like being bigger, even if it only lasts until I jump down out of my truck. Besides, every now and then Jethro and I trade so I can shift gears in the VW and he gets to drive around feeling like a cowboy for a day... and when he has to explain that it's his wife's truck, those of those who know me, simply smile and nod.


Laura McGowan said...

Nice writing - thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Heidi the Hick said...

thanks Laura! I almost missed your comment. That's a lovely critter you've got there in your photo!