I was in 8th grade.
Live Aid and We are the World.
Reagan was sworn in for a second term.
The first WrestleMania went top-rope at the Garden.
Somewhere in Canada, a brand-new, black Ford F-150 Stepside rolled off the production line.
Some twenty-five years later, the new version of We are the World failed miserably, the Cold War is now hot-as-Afghanistan, WrestleMania is bigger than all of us, and that pickup found its way South to my driveway in Upstate NY.
It’s been a while since I last owned a truck. Incomplete doesn’t quite describe how I’ve felt all these years. Borrowing my dad’s is OK, and I’m grateful for his generosity, but the logistics tend to be a pain in the ass. Drive my car over to their place, get the truck, use the truck, clean the truck if I make a mess of it, put gas in the truck if I drove it any distance, take the truck back and drive my car home. And the projects I undertake – whether landscaping, hauling trash, hunting or fishing – always finish up at times when I’d much rather park the truck, then park my butt, have a beer and relax.
Having a truck again simplifies things. Having an old truck (oh yea, 25 years old puts it in the antique category…crap) with an indestructible straight-six engine allows me the ability to get my hands dirty instead of making appointments and paying someone else to change the oil, plugs, wires and all that good routine maintenance stuff. I can tweak, tune, repair, replace and generally mess with it till my heart’s content.
I can fill the bed with topsoil, mulch, firewood, plants or powertools. The kid’s bikes and sports gear…hell the kids themselves (for short rides anyhow).
I can throw a kayak or canoe in the back, tackle boxes, poles, coolers, waders, boots, tree stands, ground blinds, decoys and whatever I pull out of the water, carry from the field or drag out of the woods.
No roof rack. I’ve got bungee cords and tie-down straps.
Forget camp chairs. I’ve got a tailgate.
I can put a sticker in the back window of Calvin peeing on a Chevy or Dodge logo (don’t hold your breath for that one), or for Ducks Unlimited, Air Assault, Canandaigua Lacrosse and a list of other gear companies I hunt, fish and camp with. How about this one: My kids can out fish your honor student.
A truck is a new perspective: accomplish more by slowing down. It’s not the destination anymore. I’m enjoying the hell out of the drive there. Much like my decision to spend more time this year hunting, fishing, enjoying down-time with the kids and simply paying more attention. I know there’ll be a time when my kids won’t sit up on the bench seat next to me anymore and go for a ride, as cool as the day is long. These moments are not sitting around waiting for me, that’s for sure. So, until then, we’re going to put that new antique through its paces and get back to slowing down.
25 years has gone entirely too fast.
Thank God for trucks.