I used to own a 1993 Dodge Dakota. It was maroon and tan. It had an extended bed. The interior was tan. And ripped. And flaking. The bed was chipped and dinged. The beack window did not lash. It had a stolen cd player in it...which I did not steal. The driver's side rearview mirrow was missing.....that was my fault. It had a Scooby-Do bobble head on the dashboard, a present from my brother. It was also missing the driver side window roll-down handle. Also a gift from my brother. Around Scooby was a horseshoe that no one would have thought was special but me, as it was obtained on a trip to a dear friend's grandfather's ranch. My high school graduation tassle, bleached nearly colorless by the sun also hung from noble Scooby's neck. The dashboard was cracked because my "stolen" cd player skipped often, and the best way to get it on track was to hit the dashboard above it. There was a hole in the ceiling material because in high school at Christmastime I would hang mistletoe in the truck in hopes that a girl would think it a cute enough gimmick and kiss me. It worked twice, and they were in the cheeck. The glove compartment was broken, and when I hit a bump, the door often fell heavily on my passengers' knees. My best friend "fixed" the lock with duct tape, which only worked enough of the time to lull my riders into a false sense of safety.
The bed had a black tar substance in it that no person could ever identify....or destroy. Being an extended bed, it was long enough to sleep in comfortably. I know this because I once took refuge in it when visting a friend at college whose dorm was kept at around 90 degrees. And I often napped in it when my brother took piano lessons.
In college, the truck became known as the community moving vehicle. Many a friend came along, needing something that could move his/her belongings. Some didn't even need me. Just the truck. There were days when I myself had no clue where the truck actually was, because someone had taken it to haul a fridge/couch/drum set/cooker. Sometimes it came back with an extra ding or two, or a new scratch, which was most often dutifully pointed out to me, followed by my statement, "Who could tell that one from the million others?".
My philosophy on trucks has always been that they are created to be used. If you are afraid to use them, buy an SUV. Thus the truck was lent to the world with no fear, because it was deemed indestructable. And indeed, for the five years that I drove it, mercilessly asking more of its V6 engine than any man should, it seemed so.
Alas, all loves are not meant forever. The truck finally met its end after a multi-state move pulling an overloaded U-Haul trailer. After a month of having to stop-start and curse it into action every morning, I had to give it up. I sold it to a friend for $300, and called began a search.
And perhaps here is where I made my mistake. I thought to myself, "It is time to grow up and get something real, something nice that people will like." And I did. I bought a 2003 Toyota Tundra. The exterior was spotless. The interior nearly so. It had okay mileage for a Toyota beast. The bed was shorter than I really wanted, but not too small. And the price was good. I fell for it, fell for the allure. Fell for the image of me in a new truck.
But I have discovered something about my nice, shiny object. It has, in many ways, come to change me. A few months ago, I actually stood outside of my truck and admired its beauty. I actually felt myself "bettered" by owning such a symbol of manliness and maturity. In a month, I am changing jobs, and my truck will truly become "recreational". I will no longer use it for work, and I began to envision it as a symbol for my new self. I wanted to get it a topper, Rhino-line the bed. Keep it waxed, shiny, and clean. Retire it from true use, and allow people to see it and love it. I even began hesitating to allow others to drive my truck. I did not want it hurt.
At the same time, I began to decide that it was time to change out my lifestyle. I needed to save up and buy a new TV, mine was too small and I had owned it for years. I needed a new camera, mine does not take pictures that are discernable by man anymore. I needed new clothes, new furniture, some flashy kitchen appliances, and a kickin' sound system. I needed art for my apartment, not just old family pics. My books needed nice shelving, so that they could be presented better. An overhaul was required....now that I was changing into a "growned-up".
Then, somebody backed into my truck. She didn't have insurance. She lied about that. My truck has a huge dent in the back. I was furious. I tried to tell myself that it was cool, it was only a truck, but it had grown to something more. I felt defeated that my thing of beauty had been wrecked. And even though it can be banged out and fixed, I felt that the truck was somehow damaged, destroyed beyond repair.
And then today, I was hauling some lumber to my job site. The lumber was too long for my truck bed, so I stuck it through the rear window and held it as I drove. Then I hit a bump....and cracked the windshield.
My once fantastic truck now has a busted windshield and a dented side. It is dirty and full of tools and building suppied. Some that I work with have started to tell me it is going to end up looking like the old truck. At first this bothered me....
....But then I got to thinking about the old truck. About my truck philosphy. About how freely I loved to hand over the keys to see the people I loved accomplish tasks required of them. I thought about how much more comfortable I was in the Dodge, knowing that, while it was a beat up old beast, it fit me.
And I realized that I had fallen prey to idolatry. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had. The truck became something to be put on a pedastal, to be revered. Not a tool for life, but a trophy of who I had become.
And that, dear reader, is not me. So, I am getting the truck fixed. I will make it smooth and shiny. I will have the windshield replaced. I may even spring for the truck liner and cover some day.
But I will also give it out freely to be driven by those who need it. I will haul what needs to be hauled, scratches be damned. And when someone returns it to me with scratches, dents, and dings, I will not be discouraged. I will remember that this is what I have always wanted, and love that my big, bad beast of a Tundra can make the world a better place, even if it does come out looking a little worse for the wear.
*Disclaimer* I love my truck. I am blessed to own such a sweet ride. I am not complaining about the actual vehicle, simply the road I allowed it to take me down....
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