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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on July 31st, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 21

This old truck

BY ROB KRIDER


For trips to the lake, runs to Pick-and-Pull for racecar parts, or back and forth from Orchard Supply Hardware to deliver landscaping bricks, I drive a Dodge Ram 1500 two-wheel drive P.O.S. pickup truck. There’s nothing fancy about it. I don’t have it jacked up on big tires; it doesn’t have cool custom wheels or desert racing lights. The truck is essentially bone stock, which means it hasn’t been modified. Well, it hasn’t been modified by me, but the sun has modified the truck quite a bit—especially the paint, which at one time was red, but is now oxidized, orange, and in some places bare metal.

I’m not going to lie; the truck has certainly seen better days. My neighbor, who probably doesn’t appreciate it in my driveway next to his house, said the truck looks like it lost a demolition derby. Honestly, I don’t really care what it looks like. The truck exists for only three reasons. One: To haul crap. Two: To tow crap. And Three: To embarrass my kids.

Part of my job as a parent to two teenagers is to embarrass them. It is actually in the parenting handbook, chapter 10, section 2, third paragraph: “In any given opportunity, it the sole responsibility of a parent or guardian to embarrass the living hell out his or her teenage child, especially at school and in front of their friends.” Apparently, based on the handbook, I am a very good parent, because every time I drop my kids off in my beat-up old pickup truck, I am embarrassing them at school and in front of their friends.

I will admit there are a few things about the truck that could be fixed. The heater doesn’t work, so wintertime can get a bit chilly. I priced out how much it would cost to fix the heater core ($1,500) and decided to fix the issue by purchasing a thicker jacket for only $60. Without a heater, I also don’t have a defroster. I have replaced the defrost feature with an old T-shirt that I keep on the dashboard. It is the right front passenger’s job to keep the windshield clean. “C’mon, keep wiping, I can’t see a thing!” The plastic dashboard of the truck has begun to deteriorate from sun damage and cave in on itself. When I run the air conditioning, broken pieces of the dashboard regurgitate through the air vents and pelt the passengers. That is always a fun conversation.

“Ouch, what was that?”

“That was the dashboard.”

“Why is it attacking me?”

“The truck heard what you said about it when you got in. Don’t insult the truck.”

The windshield is cracked in about six different places. This crack began as a very small, innocent windshield chip from a rock. Then the crack got much worse when one day my wife, whom I love, put her feet against the windshield and decided to stretch her legs. This caused the crack to enlarge itself from a little chip into an all-encompassing, across-the-entire-span-of-the-windshield “thank you very much, Honey” super crack. Now the windshield is like a pair of bifocals; I need to decide if I’m going to drive looking above the crack, or lean down and look below the crack.

The truck’s engine sounds like it is trying to destroy itself each time it starts up. The fact that it keeps running is really the eighth wonder of the world. Every time I start the truck I think, “Today could be its last day.” Miraculously it keeps on truckin’, regardless of the fact that I haven’t changed the oil in it since … “Um, let’s see, we took that trip to Oregon, and I remember thinking I should change it before we leave, but, of course, I never did. I think that was in the winter, yes it was winter because we froze without the heater, yes it was winter, winter of 2010.” It is true; I haven’t really taken very good care of maintaining the truck. Regardless, the truck still takes care of me.

Because the junky old truck keeps on running, I don’t see any reason to replace it. Sure, a nice new Ford F-150 Raptor would look cool in the driveway (and make my neighbor and my kids very happy) but I can’t justify spending $60,000 to run to OSH to pick up $4 worth of an 8-foot piece of plastic sprinkler pipe. Plus, if I had a brand new Raptor that comes with a $1,100 a month payment and brand new paint, the last thing I would want to do is put stuff in the truck bed and possibly scratch my new baby.

The old truck in my driveway is paid for, so I don’t blink an eye if we drop a half-ton of rocks in the back of it. That is the truck’s job: to be used as a tool for hauling. Yes, the motor is tired, so it certainly doesn’t haul ass. My daughter says all it really knows how to haul is “ugly.”

My kids plead with me not to take them to school in the truck. They try to get me to drop them off a block from the campus so they can walk in. I love them, so I do what they ask. But then I sneakily follow them, wait for them to be right in front of the campus near their friends, and then honk the horn. “Goodbye!” Waving from the cab of the junky truck, I yell, “Have a great day at school today!” Parent of the year.

 

Rob plans on giving the truck to his daughter two years from now when she turns 16.