18 February 2013

I Love My Truck

Now no more than a country music cliche, back in the day Glen Campbell nailed the crazy affection an owner sometimes has for his or her truck. Released in 1981, the year of my first, highly utilitarian Suburban, I'm meditating on "I Love My Truck" after sending my beloved, plush 1991 Suburban down the road. Appropriate to her Texas-sized girth, her issues, however few, were outsize enough to have prompted my mechanic to tell me he wouldn't anymore take my money.

I love my truck
She's right outside
I ain't got much love
But I sure got a ride
It don't matter who lived
It don't matter who lied
I got my truck right by my side

A former mechanic liked to say I could drive a village around in that tank, maybe because I am so small and it is so very big. Boog Powell, a former Chevy spokesman, once gave me a very big smile and thumbs-up as he crossed on foot in front of me. Every state cop who ever stopped me for speeding (hey, it was made to go fast - 14 mpg at 55 mph, yet 17 mpg at 80 mph!) laughed and let me go. Even the trooper assisting me as I sat broken down on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the middle lane of the west-bound bay bridge somehow found it funny. On duty for my city job, always dressed to the nines trolling through broken-down neighborhoods, dealers and look-outs would approach my open window and ask if I were a police officer (who else would be that meshugana?). No air bag, no problem. No matter what, that truck made me feel safe.

You got Sally and you got Sue
And I got a Chevrolet
She takes me home after work
Don't ever miss a day

Other than chewing through batteries, she was no drama queen until the first head gasket blew. Repaired, she returned to her retiring ways, though her creeping rust was of growing concern. The recent, second blown head gasket sobered me plenty, but I couldn't square junking my Barcolounger on wheels. The back seat seems never sat-in, though I did once hide there, un-watched through blacked-out windows, eating a friend's homemade hot cross buns during Passover (though absolutely no one else was ever allowed to eat or drink in my truck) and I'll never forget my dear departed Sophie sprawled out, diva-style, making a show of ignoring eight-week old Hennie as I hurtled that aforementioned 80 mph towards home from Virginia. With the seats folded down, I moved clothes by the armful to Bolton Hill and then here to the harbor. That 4 x 8 bed also conveyed lumber and flea market finds and bicycles and wedding cakes, but the most precious spot, the front passenger seat, ferried an eclectic assortment of folks who mostly are still my friends.

She don't care what I am
She don't care what I ain't
But she ain't no cheap pickup
She just needs a couple coats of paint

After the 2010 back-to-back blizzards peeled part of a re-paint, I floated the idea of replacing the truck with the Chevy HHR (modeled on a '49 Suburban) I had long been crushing on. Though I chickened out, I never stopped pining away for that car. A chance encounter yielded a priceless photo of a white HHR parked next to my white Suburban; indeed, it's clear from that rear view how senior begat junior. A few weeks back, with the Suburban beached after belching the tell-tale, blown head gasket white smoke, fate intervened with the incredibly low-mileage, exact HHR I wanted - white, with rare cashmere leather interior, and tons of bling. Lots of phone calls and photos later, this Texas (!) car came home to me, and today, in a veritable game of motoring musical chairs, my Suburban went home to Harford County, from where she originally hailed, to the son of the Chevy dealer service manager who oversaw the few nips and tucks needed to sail my mini-Suburban through Maryland state inspection. This morning, I joyfully passed the keys to that ecstatic young man possessed of the resources necessary to keep the truck-love rolling on.