In September, my car bit the dust. It wasn’t much of a car, really, a little old station wagon mostly made of plastic that vibrated horribly the entire time it was running, purchased in a moment of desperation. It was a Suzuki, and I admit I missed the memo and didn’t even know Suzuki made cars. I had it for one year when the axle rusted, and once we realized every other Suzuki station wagon on the face of the planet was rusted in the same place, we ditched the car.
Now, after the past few unemployed years, we’re surviving, but we don’t have a car budget, so getting a new used car was out of the question. My eighteen year-old son came to rescue and decided it was time to get a pickup truck.
So, his new car is a Ford F-150 that is a year older than he is. Extended cab, big as a tank, rear-wheel drive that slides in the rain and slides in the snow. The driver door doesn’t work on the inside, so I gracefully slide to the passenger side to exit, hopping out with a smile like “Don’t you wish you were cool enough to get out YOUR passenger side door?”
And let’s talk gas mileage. It has a massive drinking problem. I no longer think of trips in terms of minutes or hours, but instead it’s all by gallons. I take my youngest to an art class weekly which is a two-gallon trip. Every time I leave the house I ask myself if this is really worth the gallons, and then I stay home. Should be saving me a fortune in impulse shopping money.
But, it’s not my car. I pay no insurance, which is great. My son does repairs, although the thing hasn’t needed much since we got it. And if I lose control in the rain, I know I’m going to win; I’m bigger than most things on the road. Sort of safe and sort of cheap. What else could a person want?
Also, we’ve entered a new world. Other pickup drivers smile when I pass them; I’m part of their club. When I stop at Southern States to buy chicken feed, the salesman gets to plunk it into the bed of the truck, which allows me to pretend I’m a farm girl and not just a silly suburban wannabe. And wow, do we make fun of little trucks, especially shiny ones. My youngest and I stopped at a light behind one of those little sporty trucks, and at the same time we both burst out laughing. “Aw,” said my son, “that truck is just adorable.”
So, yeah, I drive a big rusty pickup truck. I don’t love it, but it’s the best thing for now. I don’t hate it, but the size wears me out. Somehow lugging something so huge with me everywhere I go just makes me feel tired. I tell myself it’s great for buying feed or straw for the chickens, but the sad truth is we bought the last straw bale in my husband’s little Mazda MX-3, which would fit in the bed of the truck.
Mostly, it points to a big pride problem I have, the feeling that we should have ‘arrived’ somehow, that we should be in a better financial place than we were twenty years ago, when my vehicle situation says we’re not.
This weekend, though, a friend needed help moving. Like me, she has lots of friends who have arrived, but guess who had the equipment to come help? You guessed it–our crazy big pickup truck and some of my strong guys were able to do a lot more than most, and that felt cool. For the first time ever, I wanted to hug that silly old truck.
There is no new vehicle in my foreseeable future. I may need to sabotage my son’s relationship with his girlfriend to make sure he never leaves and takes his truck with him. But for now, I will drive the monster around town and dream of the old days of small cars with small gas bills, and I will be pleased when God uses my weaknesses to help people–even an old truck–because that’s really what it’s all about. And I will hope to death in heaven we can just walk or fly or teleport. I’ve had enough of cars in this lifetime to last me.