“You can set my truck on fire, and roll it down a hill, But I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coupe DeVille
— Joe Diffie, “Pickup Man”
We came to truck ownership in the usual way. We had stuff we needed to haul and no way to haul it. Thus we bought a truck. Back in the dark ages of 1992 trucks were not the “sport vehicles” they often are today. Our truck was so basic that it came with 4-wheel drive and a frame.
No cup holders, CD player, or heated power seats. You want warm buns? Sit on a biscuit. It had only an AM radio. FM was extra. I’m not sure, but the steering wheel may have been extra too. As you can see we were big spenders even then.
Over the next eighteen years we would do everything short of set our truck on fire and roll it down a hill. It brought home building supplies and auction finds. Most memorably a load of bricks so heavy that we scraped the road surface driving home.
Later we would use it to move an entire garage, one winched inch at a time. It pulled vehicles many times its size out of ditches and hauled a bike to motocross races back when we were cool.
Later it graduated to homier pursuits: plowing oceans of snow and hauling rocks to and fro. Things really heated up when we went through no less than three rear windows in the space of two years when Mr. Wonderful and friends kept tossing firewood through the rear window with a startlingly overzealous lack of aim.
The rear bumper has been replaced with a big chunk of angle-iron, and the tailgate fell off years ago. The truck keeps going but the strain of our near endless abuse is beginning to show.
You would not THINK that replacing an 18 year old truck would be difficult but, alas, it is. We seek only a promise that any new truck must be willing to commit to faithful, low-maintenance service for at least two decades.
It should also have the ability to withstand random attacks of flying firewood. Clearly, we aren’t asking for much. In truth: we need a farm truck. Rock-solid but not so new and spiffy that we go through the five stages of grief every time it gets a scratch, dent, or direct hit from a random chunk of debris.
The problem is that all those trucks look exactly like ours and no one in his right mind is selling it. They aren’t just trucks — they’re FAMILY.
When it comes to “cool cars” I consider myself quite experienced. In my distant urban past I owned four bona fide sports cars. As flashy as they were, each of these vehicles and I parted ways with nary a tear.
Now all I can think is that most of the milestones of my adult life: meeting, marriage, making a home and motherhood are all tied up in this one battle-scarred truck.
In the space of 18 years I have gone on numerous dates in this truck (Mr. Wonderful actually committed to the truck long before he committed to me).
We rode to our wedding in this truck and brought our firstborn home from the hospital in it as well. Morphing from motocross to marriage, stickers of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet too would vie for space alongside the racing logos that plastered the rear window.
From garage moving to groceries, the snowplow would make me a menace in many holiday-packed parking lots. As I said to Mr. Wonderful on the rare occasion he offered to sell it: “you’ll pry these keys out of my cold, dead hands.”
We know the sound of that truck in our driveway as we know our own voices. It is the sound of safe. Secure. Daddy’s home.
Now the years telescope into themselves and I find that time — and the odometer — flies when you are having fun. Once driven by a cool guy tapping out a tune on the steering wheel on his way to the races, later that still-cool, slightly older guy would balance a pig-tailed little girl on his lap as they cruised slowly up and down our dusty gravel lane.
We once drove home at a turtle’s pace with our newborn passenger, sure he would break if we sped past 25 mph. Now, if we keep it just a few more years, that newborn might drive it himself.
It’s said that they don’t make ’em like they used to. Here’s to hoping that when it comes to pickups, partners and other things you can count on — that sometimes they still do.