My daughter spotted a sign on a big pickup as we drove home the other day. “Bad Ass Truck” it read. “Look, Mom,” she said. “That truck says Bad — [she paused, not wanting to use a naughty word] — you know, like ‘donkey’ — Truck.”
The sign was right, though; it was a Bad Ass Truck. And I knew just how its driver felt.
Every week, I hop back and forth from an inconspicuous black Honda Accord to a screaming red, Dodge Dakota four-door, depending on the family driving schedule. And right from the day we bought that truck, something changed inside me.
It was my first truck. I’d refused to buy a van because I refused to look that domesticated. Instead, I conceded to a gas-guzzling B.A.T. Each side mirror looked as big as my car. And backing up? I felt like I was a trucker in a semi. The six-seater cab was a challenge, too. With six adults shoe-horned in, most larger than 5’4″ me — let’s just say it’s nice and personal.
But the first four-way intersection I got to on my inaugural truck driver voyage made it all worthwhile. Despite being in the big red truck, I drove at first like a little car driver: I slowed to a stop, and obediently waited for the other two cars to go. They wouldn’t. I sat patiently. Finally one of the drivers, a man, motioned for me to go. Was that fear in his face? I shook my head, and motioned for him to go. Head lowered, he finally went. What was wrong with people?
I looked over at the other driver, a woman who had also arrived ahead of me, and she nodded for me to go. Shrugging, I did so. The second four-way stop, another driver and I arrived at the same time. Immediately, the man who tied with me motioned for me to go. He was in a car. And so it went — drivers motioned for me to turn, gave me right-of-way . . . By the end of the day I felt like a demi-god: I was able to look down at most of the other traffic and I got to go first; even stray cats stayed out of my way.
The next day I drove my car. What a difference: I was back to waiting for my turn! I couldn’t find my Honda in the sea of black vehicles in the parking lot, and I almost hit a seagull when it failed to notice me. But I had changed — I had felt the power of a big truck.
I think I would’ve been happy driving into the sunset with my bad donkey truck, until my daughter’s classroom speech the other day. She wanted to talk about how bad vehicles are. As a family we’re proud that we put out our papers to be recycled each week, we reuse plastic garbage bags, we buy eggs from free range chickens. Okay, I thought. It’s good she’s globally conscious. Then she did a bit of research, and quickly the evidence piled up on the flatbed. Here’s her speech, re-recorded just for you BoB readers:
Suddenly my truck lost some shine. Her argument held weight: I hate sitting in traffic; I don’t want to contribute to global warming; I don’t like my son throwing up in the back seat all over the upholstery thanks to motion sickness; and I’m sick of the gas prices.
Come to think of it, I’m also sick of the cost of upkeep. In six months I’ve dealt with a heater core replacement, shocks replacement, flushing the transmission, and new tires. As for my Accord: it may be more globally conscious, but it’s also ancient, with the little pop-up headlights. Which means in the last six months we’re talking work on front calipers; ball joints, both sides; air conditioning; thermostat; o-ring seal for distributor; wheel-bearings; and an oil change. And that poor little car needs a lot more done: the muffler/exhaust system, the valves adjusted, the crack in windshield repaired, and the antenna replaced.
My daughter’s call to ditch the vehicles is starting to look pretty good, even having now felt the power of truck-driving. Perhaps we could downsize to one vehicle? Maybe the concession would be to keep the truck . . .
If she had her way, we’d be chugging around in a Smart Car. Which sounds quite . . . smart. Except I don’t know where her little brother would fit if we got one. Or their dad.