I’ve driven the same truck for nearly ten years now. We’ve been together since April of 2002 when she was barely a year old. At the time she was in awesome shape with nary a scratch on her. Still, it wasn’t love at first sight by any means. The first time the salesman drove it around the corner I was stunned by just how *blue* it was. I mean it was bright blue, every inch it seemed. It was a stark contrast from the two-tone green/silver truck I was trading in.
But she was a rare find. I had scoured the internet looking for this exact truck. She had to be a diesel (my gasser couldn’t pull the trailer effectively any longer), she had to be a two wheel drive (I couldn’t afford a diesel AND a 4×4 – besides, it would be cheaper to maintain) and it had to be a standard. She was the only one in the province. And she was about to be mine.
Now, almost a decade later and she is starting to show signs of some rough use. We’ve had some great times together and I’m not known for being the most gentle with the things I own. This past weekend as I was in the car wash giving it its first cleaning since the Spring I was reflecting on how nice the new truck in front of me looked. I started to wonder what it would be like to be starting brand new again, to start forming new memories with a new truck.
Well, knowing that I just don’t have the extra cash on hand to be doing such a thing I quickly put those thoughts out of my mind. Instead I started to look at the ole girl with a different mindset. Those marks? They’re not flaws, they’re memories. Each dent, each scratch, every nick and ding represents a memory. You often here people talk about “character marks” with a dismissive tone, but this truck does have true character. I started thinking about the stories behind each piece of damage and this posting started forming in my mind…
I think the very first damage I did to this truck was to the plastic part of the bumper on the passenger side. It was barely a month after I bought the truck and we were backing into a campsite at Rochon Sands Provincial Park. I hadn’t taken the time to get used to the length of the truck and I was concentrating so hard on my mirrors I didn’t notice a small post sticking out of the ground as the front end swing around.
I remember how sick I felt at that sound. I also remember thinking how I’d have to take it into a body shop and get that repaired right away. After all, this was my new baby – I couldn’t live with it in that condition could I? Well, I guess all these years later I know what the answer is.
Mark #2 is an odd one. To this day I don’t know how it got there. I’m not even sure where it happened, but I do recall the day I first spotted it.
It was the summer of 2003. We were in Banff National Park and I had parked down a side street in the townsite while we wandered around checking out the shops and things. We returned to the truck and as I came around the tailgate to the driver’s door I saw it – a massive paint scrape just on the rear corner of the cab.
I had never seen it before. I assume someone came along and hit it with the handlebars of his bike or something but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that there is no way I did it –- honest! This one wasn’t my fault at all but it does bring back memories of a great road trip.’
The next “incident” didn’t happen until the summer of 2007. This was the summer of the very first Ghost Town Convention. We were on some backroad in southern Saskatchewan when our convoy came across fresh oil. I was in the middle of the pack and the people in front of me didn’t slow down. I followed suit and didn’t hesitate – there was a sickening sound of oily gravel being thrown up under the undercarriage. The sticky mess coated the wheel wells and mudflaps. I figured it would either wear off over time or I’d get some solvent and clean it up but I never did. I’ve now come to the conclusion that the oil will be on this truck until the day it gets hauled to the scrapheap. In retrospect I now consider that oily road in Saskatchewan to be *the* moment when my truck crossed into “beater” territory.’
The first real dent I put in the truck came in the summer of 2008 shortly after we moved to Priddis and onto the acreage. The garage is just barely large enough to accommodate “The Beast” so I need to be very careful when backing in. I need to be just inches from the workbench on the passenger side if I’m going to have enough room to open the driver’s door to exit without smacking the car.
When backing in I normally have two rules: 1) Turn off the radio, and 2) Roll down the window. My theory is that you’ll often be able to hear when you back into something long before you feel it. Well, guess who violated his own rules and slowly scraped the passenger side of the box against the work bench? Lesson learned.
The last time I did any damage to the truck was the summer of 2009. We were on vacation in Oregon and I had dropped Shirley at the outlet mall in Lincoln City while I went to check out a nearby park and do some Geocaching. I ended up locking the keys in the truck. I had left one of the small windows open and I had to do some tricky manoeuvring with a hooked stick to finally reach the lock and flip it open. This was done with the assistance of someone from Seattle who saw me struggling and decided to see if I needed help or if I was just an incompetent car thief.
I was so intent on getting the door unlocked I failed to notice that my belt buckle was scraping the paint quite badly. “It’ll buff out” I said yet, two years later, those scratches are still there and they server as a reminder why I have added another rule: “Always visually verify you have the keys when leaving the vehicle.”
I don’t know how many years The Beast and I have left together. Certainly I have no plans on replacing her but, as I know all too well, all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time to put an end to that. I’m hoping I’ll still have a good number of years left – I just hope I can stop creating such a character vehicle.