Lee Pitts: I Don’t Brake For Cows
I don’t know why my friend Joan sent me Allen Swift’s obituary, other than the fact he was the oldest living owner of a vehicle that had been purchased new. I suspect it’s because she thought I held that title because I drove a truck that’s so old it didn’t have a heated steering wheel, although it did have a heated seat whenever I ate beans for breakfast. Even though my truck dated back to 1985, I’m a piker compared to Mr. Swift who owned his 1928 Rolls Royce for 82 years and drove it until the day he died at 102 years of age. (I could say something sarcastic here about the safety of 100 year old drivers but I don’t want to offend my target audience.)
Mr. Swift got his Rolls Royce as a graduation present and drove it around the world several times. (I tried that in my old truck but it always died when it got sea water in its muffler.) I paid $14,000 for my 1985 three quarter ton, long bed, Chevy pickup and it too was in immaculate condition except for a door made entirely from Bondo and alfalfa that grew through the seat covers. I think it would qualify as the oldest ranch truck owned by the original owner that could still go zero to sixty in three months.
I’ve always said that life is a series of dogs, horses, trucks and spouses and in my 66 years I’ve had 14 dogs, one lovable horse, one wonderful wife and five pickups. Sadly, only the wife is still with us.
So, we recently went to look at new trucks and I didn’t have sticker shock… I had sticker heart attack. When they told me the truck I liked would cost $65,000 they had to use the defibrillator paddles on me the car agency kept handy to bring cheapskates like me back to life. When they said the sales tax would be $5,000 and the total price was double what I paid for my first house, I called Homeland Security and turned them in for using weapons of math destruction.
Since I literally drive my vehicles till their wheels fall off, it had been 33 years since I’d last bought a truck. I was amazed by all the wonderful new features such as cruise control, heated mirrors, rear window defoggers and keyless entry. My 1985 Chevy truck had keyless entry too but that was just because thieves had broken a wind wing. Remember those?
I was puzzled by one feature on the new trucks and that was the braille on the steering wheel. I’ll admit, I haven’t been to town for awhile but are we now allowing the blind to drive? I also wondered about features called Sirius/XM and Bluetooth, which sounded to me like the truck needed deworming. But I had to admit, I liked the TV screen in the dashboard. The only time my old truck had a TV in the cab was when we bought a new one at Costco and hauled it home inside the truck because the rear end was filled with toilet paper, dog food and soda pop.
Sadly, I finally had to retire my old truck because it was leaking oil worse than the Exxon Valdez and if I filled both tanks with cheap gas when I drove down Main Street it backfired like an artillery barrage and folks on the sidewalk were ducking and diving for cover.
My old truck didn’t have air conditioning because neither window would roll down and the only “entertainment center” it had was a radio that only received one station: Static 101FM. It had a heater but it was unusable because a calf called Squirty lived up to his name when we put him in the cab to warm him up, so if you turned on the heater you were blasted with the nauseating smell of sour milk. It didn’t have brakes either so if I wanted to stop I had to hit something cheap. There were no trees on the place but if I ran into fence posts it meant more repair work for the wife. That meant that in an emergency I had to brush up against an old cow to stop. I believe this is where the term ‘cow-punching’ originated.
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