Can an old Ford F-150 pick-up have a soul?

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We get our vehicles inspected by a slightly sleazy neighborhood garage who only takes cash for his services, rarely has work and does the bare minimum when it comes to inspection. So minimum we discovered that when Todd had to take his truck to get repaired AND inspected to another garage, the other mechanic said he could not inspect it – too rusty underneath. If he were in an accident, it might buckle. Todd wasn’t sure the logic behind this for if you were on a motorcycle, you certainly would have a lot less protection. And so we had to make a mad dash to find another vehicle for the inspection ran out on Todd’s cream colored 1992 Ford F-150 pick-up in a week.

Anyone who knows my husband knows he doesn’t do computers, he isn’t even completely comfortable on the telephone. So the task of locating a new truck fell onto his wife, who was not thrilled with the job, since I first needed an education. For instance, I did not know that a Toyota Tacoma was a small truck. They are rated so high that when I made an appointment to go see one and test drive it and the salesman guaranteed Todd it could pull a trailer of heavy chainsaw carvings, he was not convinced.

The dealership was only 10 miles away. We could afford this slightly used truck.

“Can’t you be happy with it?” I pleaded.

“No.”

I looked at the dealer, “He won’t be happy in this truck. He needs to be happy in his truck. Goodbye.”

I found some amazing trucks via the internet. One remarkable deal was from a military soldier stationed in another state who supposedly had his truck in storage. You had to buy it outright, send a check, and it would be delivered in a huge container. The soldier was ready to go off to war. After our initial excitement over the extremely low price, I Googled it and found out it was a scam. Two other trucks that we liked, I Googled their dealership and found terrible reports on their honesty and reputation with strict warnings to avoid them.  Shit. This truck search was consuming my life.

So I found three trade-in trucks at dealerships that were all within the mileage and price that we could afford and gave the list to Todd. He was instructed to go out on his own (with an old friend of mine who knew vehicles and saw this sort of thing as sport) and advised him, “It would be a really good idea if you decided to come home with one of them. “ I was going away for a week and by the time I returned, these would all be sold and I would have to start from scratch in locating more. A good used truck at a good price did not last long.

And so he did. But this story is not about his new truck but his old truck.

We had to get rid of it, for the dealer was not interested in a trade-in. It had 290,000 miles on it (and that was before the speedometer broke!). I called the scrap yard and they said we would most likely give $500 for it.

The kids thought we should keep the truck in the family. Park it somewhere on the property. Begin an old vehicle cemetery? To a German homeowner who prides himself on orderliness and neatness, Todd was not going to allow the goats to use it as a jungle gym. It was getting trashed.

But the sad part was it ran just fine. It had NEVER left him down in 22 years. That is huge.

On one trip to Tennessee, three things broke in it while we were on a paddling trip. The key broke in the ignition. You had to leave it in start it, even if you walked away, you could no longer lock it- on that trip. The windshield wipers broke, and that was during a torrential downpour on the expressway in TN. We managed. I can’t remember what the third issue was but the kids SWORE they would never travel in that truck again. They did.

That truck handled our boats- three on the homemade roof rack, a few sticking out of the back. It also drove 6 cardboard boxes holding bikes to JFK where we fly to Spain and ride the historic Camino de Santiago from France to the ocean, as well as holding 7 people in the cab as we drove to the airport.

It had a full back seat that Todd added himself after he bought the stripped down version 22 years ago. He purchased it at the junk yard where it was headed for burial, coming full circle.

When I think of all my memories in that truck, the fondest ones are our cross-country adventures to the Continental Divide Trail, pulling a trailer of llamas across the Midwest for 5 days straight, hauling them up to the top of passes in the Rockies and then home again. It was an adventure living in that truck before we even began our hike. Five summers we did that and here is an excerpt from my 6th book, Scraping Heaven- A Family’s Journey Along the Continental Divide.  

 

5th Summer on the Continental Divide Trail- 1996

“On this last drive west, the kids scrape meat out of their Slim Jims with their teeth and use the transparent casings to play doctor, making believe they are Band-Aids or pieces of skin for skin grafts. Sierra paints her toe nails with colored markers. They draw, write, listen to story tapes, and chew bubble gum. They have a “morning piece” of gum and an “afternoon piece” and they can’t get the first before nine o’clock or the second before noon. If they complain, they wait an additional five minutes for every whine. Sierra saves her chewed pieces from previous days on her window, and by Iowa she has one tough wad to chew. She’s just learned to blow bubbles and pop them, and this is a great pleasure. They’ve learned how to entertain themselves in the truck. We don’t even know they’re along. Crossing the country feels “normal” and comfortable by our fifth year in a row.”

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But this life of our beloved truck, which was our vehicle to so many adventures in 22 years (nearly all of Sierra’s life and all of Bryce’s) is over. We put off taking it to the junk yard, only miles away, for a few weeks.

And when we did, I found it sad.

While Todd filled out the paper work, I walked around the yard and was startled to see the car corpses strewn about, dismembered, covered in dust, not a fitting burial for OUR truck- so noble AND still so dependable and runnable. How could we kill it?

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This probably sounds very strange, but it reminded me of a foreign film I once saw where Japanese men carried their frail yet alive parents on their backs up to a mountaintop and left them there- to die of hypothermia and then to have their bones picked clean by vultures and wild animals…an extremely difficult thing to do. And although leaving our truck to die and get crushed and flattened by the smasher is far from this experience, I thought it a terrible waste to kill something when there is so much life in it.

I looked at the secretary and said, “This truck runs so well. Can’t you save it? Couldn’t you use it as a yard truck and give it another lease on life?”

(We thought it would make a good farm truck where it never left the property and did not need to be inspected , but knew no one who could use it.)

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“Harry, do you need  a yard truck?” the secretary asks a worker.

“I’m already using  a van that works fine.”

“Oh please try to find a home and a use for it,” I beg. “It runs perfectly and could have a long life yet.”

She looked at me and said, “I think we can find a place for it.”

I don’t know if she was just pacifying me and afraid I would break down and cry but I let it go.

We drove away in Todd’s new truck and I wondered to myself, Does a truck have a soul? Can it?”

Of course not, but I did found some very interesting stuff about science and it is something to consider. Heavy, but read it and see if there is something here to think about and comment on.

“The material objects which we interact in our environment are composites. A chair, for example, is the label we use to conveniently describe a set of parts including a seat, legs, back and arms. If its construction is of wood, then those parts are made of sets labeled “cells” which are comprised of sets labeled ‘molecules’ which are, in turn, formed by sets labeled ‘atoms’ whose protons, neutrons, and electrons have been fundamentally suspended by hadron groups populated by even smaller sub-sets of quark and lepton particles and anti-particles which may or may not be truly irreducible.

 

An irreducible physical entity is an ‘existence.’ Everything comprised of those entities, from an atom to a galaxy, is a composite.

 

You are ostensibly ‘an existence,’ but your body is a composite- a collection of billions of separate elements or fundamental particles, each with its own individual properties. Each pre-existed particle pre-existed your birth and will ultimately survive your demise.”

If this is the case, and in light of the fact that energy cannot  be created nor destroyed and that the universal system is  composed of four roots (earth, air, water, fire), “nothing comes to be or perishes” but these elements suffer continual rearrangement, our Ford F-150 will live on.

This fact does my heart good and this is what I choose to believe as we drive away in our shiny 2007 Ford- F -150 truck.

PS- Todd just added that we should have tried to find a driver to enter it into a Demolition Derby at nearby Mountain Springs. But I personally would have found that very painful to watch= like your kid getting beat up.

12 thoughts on “Can an old Ford F-150 pick-up have a soul?

  1. Enjoyed this one because it struck a nerve. Had long time Ford p/u on farm growing up that lost a wheel on rainy morning ride to school my senior year. I barely was able to stop it using e brake before hitting rear of school bus! I was fortunate then and had to say farewell to faithful servant. Glad I toured the F-150 plant in Dearborn, Michigan to see where F-150’s are assembled…er born later in life. Great tour to experience indeed.

  2. Funny thing is we have the same year Ford F 150 1992 pick up. I loved the 4 speed stick and teh bench seat so I bought it without checking it out. Nothing but trouble! Yet 160,00 miles later, it still is in the family. Albeit sitting in the yard of my son’s in laws, and not currently registered, but she just isn’t ragged enough to send to the beyond. Good luck with your new truck!

    • thanks Al- I find I get attached to my car’s decorations and “warts” – my bumper stickers, my bumps like where I hit a deer or backed into a pole- they are little reminders of my life with the car much like scars on my skin- it is an extension of my personality, esp those of us who adore driving which I do

  3. Another nice one–you really rip them out!

    If I had known I would have offered you my 1991 Ford F350 crew cab with tradesman topper, compartments and rack. It’s “fine” with a few dings and some rust and a newish engine, but now unregistered, uninsured and “mothballed” for three years due to lowish gas mileage. Instead I use my 95 Toyota Camry wagon–yep–really roomy with rear seats down, comfy and cruise control for long distances, carries good bulk of tools and supplies, etc. including big long ladders on a strap-on rack. It’s been several years wince I needed to transport crews. The Camry gets twice the mileage of the F350. For “good” we drive a 94 XJ6, and for road fun a 95 Miata–who needs expensive?!

    Thanks for reminding me that I better put the Ford for sale at whatever I can get!

    ~ John

    • Thanks for sharing, John. Fun to hear stories. You boys do love your trucks, from babyhood on, with the fascination of the rolling wheels, I’ll never forget watching Bryce do that at 1-yr -old thinking, its is amazing- I never taught him that, his sister never did that.

  4. Good one! A man and his truck (or a family and their truck) – it’s a beautiful thing! ( I saw that on a t-shirt somewhere.) Did you save anything off of it?

    • no, but that would have been a good idea- we thought we ought to at least take it out for a last picnic- but didn’t . Todd just said that he misses his hand-forged handle the most- only a blacksmith would do that!

  5. You go girl – great writing and great story!!!  what did Todd think?   Thank you for another wonderful, enlightening and endearing trip to your home!!!!  I love you dear!   we are all kindred spirits.   Life brings us together for a reason!   Our reason (Annie, Terry and Cindy) is a life long friendship no matter what paths we have chosen in life.  So proud to call you my friend and to know you and your accomplishments.

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