Thursday, April 6, 2006

Call Me a Trucker

I am a trucker now. I became the proud owner of a truck in the same way I became the proud owner of a Cocker Spaniel and a Pomeranian. I didn't go to kennels in search of the perfect dog and I didn't go to car dealerships in search of the perfect vehicle. Both pets and truck came to me by way of being rescues. In both cases, I resisted at first before finally giving in. Actually, if I'd been choosing breeds, I'd own another German Shepherd and Pekinese and if I'd been choosing vehicle models, I'd own another Buick.

The truck was John's. Thankfully, it isn't a big, honking Crew Cab but a baby truck, a Chevy S10 Supreme. It has all the goodies, especially, because it was formerly my son's, a top-of-the-line c.d. player with extra-large speakers. It is quick; it is pretty; it is comfortable....but, it is a truck. When John got married, Lisa already had a new car. He also has a big work truck. They wanted to get out from under one vehicle payment. He suggested I use the truck as a trade-in because my car, the beloved Buick, was a 1990 and although it still ran like a dream, it had 108,000 miles on it and was beginning to show some wear. My future plan was to go down to see Chris Palmer at Denney's from whom I'd bought the Buick and trade it in on another Buick a few years newer. John's idea was that we could kill two birds with one stone. He could ditch the truck and I could get a newer car.

Problem was the truck is a 2003 and he still owed quite a bit on it. In order to come out on the deal, I would have had to trade it in on a brand-new car, an expensive brand-new car, a more expensive car than I could afford. So, in the end, I did as Moms do (and as the owner's of rescue Cockers and Pomeranians do), I took the path of least resistance and accepted the orphan that needed a home.

I have not bonded with the little truck. For instance, in just a few expert motions, I could slide the Buick into a parking space not much longer than the car itself. I often got admiring comments from people who watched me park the Buick. By contrast, I can't get a feel for the truck's dimensions, either lengthwise or width-wise. I have gone from being an expert parallel parker to one of those people who will drive around the block twelve times to find a space I can simply pull into head-first. But even that doesn't help much, because once I've parked and get out, I discover I am nine feet from the curb.

Once, a man embarrassed me by yelling from the sidewalk, "hey, lady, do you know you're parked in the middle of the street?"

In the same way, I'm befuddled by where the front of the truck actually is. I pull into my space,and see when I get that I'm straddling two parking spots instead of being parked anywhere close to being within the lines.

And it is no better with head-on parking spaces. The truck is kind of a low-rider. It has this extra piece under the front bumper that comes almost to the ground. John pounded into my head that I had to be careful about pulling up too close or I'd smush that piece into the curb. I took his warning so much to heart that when I pull into a straight-ahead space, I end up a full car length from the curb. If you come to Village Pantry and see all the other vehicles lined up like soldiers and then a black truck with its rear end sticking far out into the driving lane, you'll know that's me.

The upshot of all this is that people probably think I'm crazy if they watch me making attempt after attempt to park the truck properly. I pull into my space and get out, eye my location, get back in and pull in closer to the curb, get out, eye my location, get back in and pull a little farther up, get out and eye my location, get back in and reverse a little farther back, get out and eye my location....well, you get the picture. I have to leave an extra ten minutes earlier for work now so that I can make my parking adjustments without being late.

And another bad thing about the truck is that we don't really match. The Buick and I were a perfect pair. No flash but still a little dash. Totally reliable in our undemanding middle age. No beauty queens but companionable on a long trip. "It doesn't look like you," many people have told me about the truck. Well, it doesn't feel like me either. Driving it, I feel much the same as I would if I showed up at work wearing a mini-skirt.

And, lastly, a big negative regarding the truck is that John still feels a certain amount of possessiveness and John and I are diametrically opposite as vehicle owners. When he had the truck, it never went a mile over the suggested time for an oil change. It gleamed from regular washings, sweepings and polishings. It was decorated sparingly. The glove compartment was bare except for the owner's manual. The extra storage compartment contained only a few selected c.d.s. The section in the back held one box of tissues. The bed of the truck is virginal. It has a covering thing over it which sort of defeats the purpose of having a truck as far as I'm concerned.

Now, the glove box is chock-ful of stuff - receipts and napkins and pens and lighters and phone chargers. The storage is over-flowing with c.d.s, some of them falling onto the floor. The behind-the-seat section is filled with books and sacks and political signs. I can see that it hurts John that I smoke in the truck which he never did although, in deference to his sensitivity, I bought an ashtray rather than using the truck's own ashtray (which, in any case, is about large enough for a single butt).

He tries to be un-bossy as he asks in a pretend-casual way, "have you had the oil changed yet?" or "you going to wash the truck any time soon?" He actually winces when I tell him I'm thinking of taking the cover off the bed so I can haul a load of mulch.

I love the Cocker and the Pomeranian. Maybe I'll learn to love the truck.