Discover more from Poiema
Tiretracks in the Sand
Why I love My Old Truck
Tom T. Hall, country poet and philosopher of the common man, once crooned, “Ain't but three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime: old dogs and children and watermelon wine.” I wouldn’t argue with that much, but I would propose the addition of a possible fourth category. Old trucks.
My truck is now old enough to be in high school. It needs a fresh coat of paint. There’s a dent in the front right fender from a buck deer who was feeling his oats last Fall. And a crack in the dash from a fiery moment of unsanctified temper. The cruise control hasn’t worked since the beginning of the Obama administration. Two hubcaps are MIA and I just haven’t had the heart to replace them. And at 300k miles, it needs a new engine. Which is all to say, I love my old truck.
An old truck doesn’t have to prove anything to you. It already has. That’s how it got to be an old truck.
Old trucks are as good as new money. You’ve already gone through the trouble of paying it off. So even if you have to fix the old fella up from time to time, every month without having to make payment is as good as getting a check from a BMW dealer.
My old truck fits the peculiar contours of my body. The driver’s seat is well worn, perfectly adapted to my behind. The steering wheel has been grooved by my own grip. It is mine in ways a new car couldn’t understand.
The bed has served as a bed a few times too. I’ve slept in it on camping trips and outside concert venues waiting for tickets. And once because I locked my keys inside and was too tired to wait on a locksmith. It is more or less comfortable if you’re not too demanding where roofs are concerned.
When I’m not sleeping in it, the bed of that old truck functions kind of like a center for public works. People I don’t even know stop by to drop beer cans in it, or help themselves to a tarp strap or a piece of plywood. A few months ago someone put three sacks of tacos and a used lawnmower battery in it.
The point is, I don’t think new trucks seem as approachable. Which is a shame. Because what has been more interesting than the stuff that rusty bed has hauled is the stories it has heard. Both gray-haired men and toe-headed boys have slung bellies against the back fenders and elbows over the bars and contended to see who could tell the biggest lie. People are too afraid to lean against new trucks. And leaning is integral to good storytelling.
Frankly, I don’t have time for a new truck. It takes longer to break in a new vehicle than it does to break in a wild horse. I think it took me three years just to get the side mirrors like I wanted them and my seat the perfect distance from the pedals. Why invest that kind of time teaching a new ride where you want things when you have one that already knows?
And then there’s the smell. People yammer all the time about that “wonderful new car smell.” Which is basically a polite way of saying “I enjoy huffing noxious gases and the fragrance of industrial adhesives.” I prefer that “old truck smell.”
My old truck smells faintly of the ghost of the Catahoula Cur dog that used to ride shotgun and eat french fries one at a time out of the console. There’s a slight aroma of honeysuckle and thunder from hours spent riding around country roads with the windows rolled down. It smells of miles and memories and me.
Even though I’ve been left sitting on the side of the road, that old red Chevy has yet to let me down. At those times I just assumed that was exactly where the Good Lord wanted me to be. And besides, the radio still worked.
I don’t begrudge anyone who buys a new “factory vehicle.” I just feel a little sorry for them. They will have to wait years to get the mirrors right.
Please Consider Supporting Us
If you have found value in my work and writing, then this may be an opportunity for you to support my future endeavors. Given the time and resources it takes to research and write books, articles, lessons, and all the rest of it, I can’t do this work apart from your generosity.
If you would like to support our work on a monthly basis, consider doing so as one of our patrons through Patreon.
If you would like to make a one time donation, you can do so by sending it directly through PayPal.