My husband picked me up last Friday after work so that we could head to the big/ger city and go to Menards to pick up some shingles for our roof. In most cases that is nothing to take notice of. People pick up their own building supplies all the time. But few drive there in the most pathetic of pick up trucks you could find.
He came and picked me up in a 1986 green/gray pickup truck that had seen better days by 1996, yet still keeps on rumbling. Various parts are welded steel making up for other various parts, the step to the cab dips every time someone puts a foot on it, and the tailpipe is practically falling off. It’s got a weird smell to it — like something found its eternal resting place somewhere in there where the sun don’t shine. It’s the kind of vehicle that I would never follow on the highway. It’s got an up-to-date license plate and insurance. According to my husband, it “runs good.” I suppose that’s true, as long as you don’t sit at a stoplight too long. It’s loud and kinda lopsided, and during the winter has a snow plow bolted to it. Since the controls for the plow are a little shaky, we often get road rut instead of road plowed.
I have to tell you, I was embarrassed for anyone from work seeing me climb into that beast. I mean, here is this 5 foot 1, kinda round granny trying to put her foot up on a step that was more knee-high, grabbing the seat and door frame, trying not to stick my derriere out for public inspection. We rumbled away, reminiscent of the bomber cars I used to watch crash into each other at the raceway up North. It does have seat belts, so at least if the door popped open I’d still be in the cab. Climbing out of the front seat was a treat, too. I’m too short for my feet to land delicately on the ground; it’s about a 7 inch difference between my dangling tootsies and the ground, so there’s not quite enough room to get into a landing stance. So each exit is has a weird and jolting landing pattern to it.
Why do we drive such run down things? Why do we endanger the public — and ourselves — by driving down the highway in such…luxury?
I’m sure we all know someone who owns and drives a beater. I haven’t owned a brand new car since I graduated from high school. In 1970. My husband and I have done well with used vehicles, often bought from one relative or another who gets to buy that new car smell. I haven’t had a car payment in years, and with our finances up and down like Wisconsin weather, this is not the time to try one on for size. So I have no problem with used vehicles. But there’s a difference between “used” and “beat up.”
The Beast is meant for country work. It plows, it pulls cars out of ditches, and it carries heavy loads, saving us (and others) hundreds of dollars on delivery fees. It’s not pretty, but it’s practical. At least in the barest sense of the word. It’s not scary small (like some of those one-person crash cars), and you sit high enough to see the road long before it curves. I pat it every time I climb down from its heights, thankful that we have such an enduring vehicle that year after year gives its all to make our lives easier.
But I’m thinking that pat is more in thanks of getting me home in one piece. Keep patting.