Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Truck Culture

Instead of focusing on all those double-parked Uberlyft vehicles on my ride to work the other day, I found myself noticing the number of pickup trucks. Not just rolling past me, but sitting on the curb along my route to school. Rams and Tacomas and F-150s, oh my. Very few of these would be part of the mid-size classification.  These were the big boys. The kind that would periodically need to have their wheel wells scraped to remove the occasional Fiat or Smart Car that made the mistake of getting in their way.

Or bicyclist.

These are the kind of vehicles that, when roaring by with their custom exhaust, car alarms are set off via the vibrations. They were easy enough to find, at least on my path. I wondered just how many of these trucks were used for heavy lifting. The mud and the lumber and the boulders dropped from front loaders into the beds of these beasts of burden. The slow motion churning of gravel as they pull titanic loads of scrap metal out of the way or dragging fallen trees off the road so that rescue vehicles crews make their appointed rounds.

I wondered how many of them make their daily commute to a parking lot somewhere and sit all day, waiting for their chance to do something heroic. Then they make their way home to that spot in front of the house where they sit and dream of anything other than that commute to the parking lot. Most of them looked fairly pristine, as if they had been used primarily for hauling cotton batting or the week's supply run from Costco. Mud was absent from their mudflaps and though there were a few beds filled with construction materials and tool chests that appeared to have been used recently, the majority seemed to be hulking reminders of an America that used to need more trucks.

I can remember sitting in the cab of a real work truck. The kind my cousins used to drive on the farm. Three of us on the bench seat, with me in the middle trying not to be self-conscious about the stick shift I was asked to straddle. That truck was clean enough, but it was worn by early mornings and late nights. Days of hard work in the sun had faded the paint and there were chips and scratches where something with a nail or barbed wire was not cleanly avoided. None of the trucks along the street on which I rode looked like that. Maybe they were just waiting for their chance.

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