Posted by: bullyforme | July 2, 2009

My Big Hypocrisy

I can’t stand big cars, gas guzzlers, humvees, SUVs, stupidly huge trucks (especially those that have spankin’ clean beds obviously never used). All the gas they use, the road they hog, the parking spots they eclipse – serve to annoy me to no end. What gets my goat most of all is how unnecessary 90% of them are! One can get just as much traction in New England winters with a nice 4 wheel drive Subaru. I know some people have large families and really do need a larger size vehicle for the kids and sports equipment etc. But I just about gag when I see a humongous SUV with a bumper sticker “For My Newfies” or whatnot. Did you really buy that gas guzzler for your dogs? It’s a free country, I guess.

My first car was a Chevy Chevette, my second a Ford Escort, my third a Dodge Shadow, my fourth a Honda Accord. After giving birth to my second child and adopting two dogs I did move up to station wagons. They had plenty of room for the whole family and were not a nuisance downtown. I realized I was moving into dangerous territory when my brother gave me his minivan. But, minivans aren’t too terribly big, and their short noses maneuver pretty well in places like downtown Portsmouth. My minivan fit just so into most parking spots as well, and the gas mileage was pretty good considering. I justified driving this minivan in that I was recycling, not contributing to the glut of new cars unnecessarily produced every day. On a personal level I could easily justify driving it because my payment was $0.00.

It wasn’t but a couple of years before the Bulbasaur (as my oldest Christened it) started acting up – badly. First to go was the air conditioning, on a hot August day of course. No big deal. Second in line came the rocker panels, easily enough fixed with some bondo and duct tape (just kidding). One by one, little things started breaking down, nothing that really mattered, such as the stereo, the power sideview mirrors, the rear window wiper blade, and the smell. Then she started stalling – seriously stalling, as in avoid traffic at all costs. She didn’t stall when in “park” so if I was in traffic, I would just “park” her until it started moving. Kind of comical, but whatever. When she did stall, I would have to turn the ignition off, then on again.

All these things were starting to add up to a lot of anxiety. Every day was a new adventure. What would happen today? Would I stall in rush hour? Would my brake line burst (again)? Would the power window motor break (again)? At 250,000 miles, I was taking “driving it into the ground” to a whole new level. I was starting to panic as well, because her inspection sticker was due to expire and I knew she needed at least $1500 worth of work and a new windshield. My mechanic, who used proceeds from the work on my minivan to fund his vacation, actually begged me to just let it go.

Enter my parents, responsible for so many similar blessings in my life, with the offer of my dad’s Ford F150 truck. Dad has some issues with his feet and legs, and was having a hard time doing what I like to call “wrangling the tiger” or what most people call “driving the truck.” When I say “wrangle the tiger” I totally mean it. This truck has a standard transmission and is just so…big. Getting in and out requires some effort, let alone driving it.

Anyway, rather than sell the truck, my folks figured if they gave it to me, I would have a reliable vehicle and they would get to keep the truck “in the family” for whenever they needed a truck.

When they offered it to me, I was stunned. My minivan was literally on its last gasket, heading willy-nilly toward the scrap pile and I had no idea how I was going to work a new car payment and the extra insurance it would require into my shoestring budget. My parents rule, bless their hearts.

I was so overjoyed I didn’t stop to think about what this would mean. My sneering, condescending attitude toward big vehicles was going to bite me right in the ass. I was about to make the leap from conscientious green girl to a big truck gas guzzler. I would be the one looking the other way in embarrassment while having to pull onto the sidewalk on Marcy Street in order to pass an oncoming vehicle. I would be the one to have to park in two spots at the grocery store. I would be the one pumping gas on a daily basis. I would be the one pulling into the last parking spot on the street corner (and blocking everyone’s view around said corner) because it was so much easier than parallel parking. I would be *that person.* The shame!

As it turns out, I don’t really hang my head in shame (most days). The truck gets better gas mileage then the van did, actually. She’s not as big as the real guzzlers, the F250s, the Cadillac Escalades, the Hummers. I use the bed, a LOT, which helps me reconcile this truck to my previous attitude toward trucks. I’m once again doing my part to reduce the steady flow of new cars rolling off the assembly line and clogging up the earth.

Yes, I have to pull aside on Marcy Street, and yes I do take that corner parking spot whenever I can. But I’ll tell you something else, this truck has taught me a lot about patience. Everything about this truck involves slow, purposeful movements, starting with getting into it. If I move to fast to jump in the truck, I inevitably whack my knee on the honkin’-huge front panel, and/or my head on the handles attached to the top interior for balance. I no longer whip in and out of anywhere. I must go slow in parking lots, pull in to a space inch by inch, and pull out of a space even slower because of all the blind spots. I have to give myself extra time to get to work because of limited parking spots. Where two compact cars will fit, only 2/3 of my truck will. I no longer pass on a two-lane road. I drive the speed limit. (If I speed or pass, I can literally watch my gas tank level drop.) All in all, this truck has made me a much more conscientious driver. My truck gives me mad Zen skilz.

I’ve considered trading it in for a smaller car. My dream vehicle is a Toyota Camry station wagon. Doing so would deprive my parents of the truck, however, so I will continue to drive it at least until they feel they no longer need use of it. I’ll never develop the sense of love some people seem to feel for their trucks (my father’s “I Love My Truck” keychain is still attached to the truck key though).

But – I do appreciate this truck which carries me faithfully to and from work and everywhere else I find myself going. I’m grateful I was blessed with a free vehicle and driving it everyday reminds me also that I’m grateful to be blessed with such awesome parents too. That in itself makes the wrangling worth it.


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