Monday, November 14, 2011

Pickup Truck Adventures, Part 1

We recently bought a new (used) car, for gas-saving purposes. For me, it was my first car.

Yep. All my vehicles, previously, were trucks.

I started driving late; I think I was in my very early 20s when I got my driver's license. I was terrified of driving; and was convinced I was going to end up a statistic in a Reader's Digest article about young people and traffic deaths. And I was bad at driving. It took me three or four tries to get my license, because I would get nervous when taking my driving test and mess up.

I have wonderful and generous parents who gave me my first vehicle to drive: a late 80s model Mitsubishi truck; one of those tiny little things. At the time I was teaching riding on our farm full-time, and working on another horse farm as well; so a truck was the most practical choice for me. It was silver, and it has no power steering. I got a great upper arm workout driving that truck.
It wasn't expensive, cute, or flashy; but it became apparent that my parents had made a wise choice in giving me this old truck, because even in my early 20s, I had the typical first-time driver / vehicle owner scrapes.

The first heart-pounding scrape of my driving career was with this truck. I had been watching a neighbor's cats, and one evening, I took my 18 year old brother with me to her house to feed them. The neighbor lived on top of a sloping hill, and I parked my truck on the quiet, one lane street that sloped downhill from there. At the bottom of the hill, the street ended abruptly next to some trees and a creek with steep banks.

You can tell where this is going, right? Heeheeheeee............

I parked, we got out, and started heading up the beck steps, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the truck start rolling. We both took off running as the truck rolled down the street, headed straight for my neighbor's new SUV! Apparently I had not put the truck in park; or I had not done it all the way and it slipped out of park. My athletic, soccer champion brother took a huge risk to his safety and jumped in between the vehicles just as they were about to collide, stuck his hand in the window, grabbed the wheel and steered my truck away from the SUV with inches between them. The truck instead scraped by a utility trailer that was parked behind the SUV, and ripped off the trailer light.

But the truck kept rolling as the hill got steeper, and my brother was running after it with everything he could muster, me not far behind. the truck went about a block and just as it went to crash into a wooden fence containing some goats and a mare and foal, my brother wrenched open the door, jumped into the driver's seat and stomped on the emergency brake.

The driver's side door was gouged; but the side of my brother's face was cut and bleeding all over the place from his close scrape between the vehicles, and his arm was bruised and sore as well. He had been somewhat crushed as the two vehicles had brushed by each other. We drove home (just down the street a few blocks) and confessed to my parents. I remember my Mom scolding my brother for risking his life jumping between the vehicles. She stressed that "it could have been much worse than just a cut and scraped head; he could have been run over and crushed; we should have just let the truck go and crash into the creek; the truck was replaceable; think of how close that was...!" And of course she was right. I felt really guilty as she drove off with him to the ER. (He was bruised, scraped, and cut, but was ok.)

I drove the truck for several months after that, and up until I killed it. Yep, I killed it. I was driving to a student's house one day to give her a riding lesson on her horse, and as I was headed up a tall hill on the highway that went through a huge game preserve in the county, it chugged, sputtered, clanked, and then..... stopped. I got it parked next to the road. No signal on my cell. Stranded on a barren 2-lane in the middle of a game preserve. Yay. I hopped out and walked up the road a little ways until I got some signal on my phone; and got Mom on her cell. She was pretty far from me, picking up my sister and brother from their high school debate club. I'd simply have to wait. And wait I did, for an hour. Mom showed up, followed by a tow truck. The tow truck driver looked under the hood and said "Yep. Motor's froze up". Mom looked at me and said, "Have you been checking your oil?" Of course I had not. I had never opened the hood. I assumed my Dad was doing it for me. The truck was destroyed; we sold it to the scrap people; and I had to borrow my parent's vehicles for a while.

My truck adventures were just getting started, however..........

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