December 17, 2018

Brand X Truck

I lost a good friend the other day. He went over to the dark side. Let me explain.

I own a Brand A truck. Brand A trucks are the best. Guys who own Brand B, C, or even all the way down to X, know in their hearts that Brand A is the best. I can’t say which make Brand A is, because even though those other guys know it, they won’t admit it.

This friend also owned a Brand A truck, and the universe was in balance. But then, in what I can only imagine was a wave of euphoria brought on by the smell of Armor-All on vinyl, he actually bought a Brand X. And to make matters worse, he bought a used one. You see, when you buy a new truck, you never actually know for sure that there is anyone in the world who doesn’t want that truck, but when you buy a used one, you know there is at least one guy who doesn’t want it. That automatically means that you are not buying the best truck in the world.

In fairness, he did keep his Brand A truck as a spare, gassed up and ready, in case Brand X falters, just as we all know it will.

To be honest, I had never driven a Brand X truck, so I had no first-hand knowledge of just how bad they are. I can only base my opinion on a lifetime of observation.

One of my early jobs was working on a township road crew. We had two dump trucks, a 1952 Brockway, and a 1956 Brand X. I never got to drive the Brand X, because it was an automatic and reserved for the drivers who didn’t know how to double-clutch. So, if you couldn’t handle a real truck, they gave you the Brand X. A lot of folks don’t even know what double-clutching is, and that’s exactly my point.

I made a more recent observation just the other day. I was encountering a lot of stop-and-go traffic on the freeway, and finally saw the reason. There was an access road that ran parallel to the freeway, and off the access road was a new housing development. It was so new that the streets weren’t paved yet, and a young fella was using his Brand X 4×4 in a manner that I, and a number of other commuters, had never seen before. He was digging holes. After he had dug four holes exactly half a wheel deep, his truck just sat there with both bumpers and the running boards resting on the ground.

Even with a Brand A, this is not an ideal situation. He and a Brand A tow truck driver were assessing the predicament. When I related this story to my friend, his reaction was, “That has nothing to do with the truck, that’s the driver.”
“Yes, but if his judgment is flawed about where to drive, wouldn’t it also be flawed on what to drive?”

As luck would have it, shortly after he bought the Brand X, my truck was unavailable and I needed one. I tried to borrow his old Brand A, but it wasn’t readily available either. He asked, “Is there some reason why you don’t want to borrow the Brand X?” There are some things that can’t be said even to the best of friends, so a little while later I was headed down the road in his Brand X. One of the first things I noticed was a little window in the rear-view mirror that had a 5 in it. What the heck does that mean? Maybe it’s the gear I’m in. No, that can’t be right, because the truck is an automatic. Besides, what possible good would that do? Then as I turned a corner, I saw the 5 change to a 5W, then W, and it became clear. It wasn’t a 5 at all; it was an S. I had been driving south, and then turned west. I was so relieved to find out that I had been right all along. That I-17 south did actually head south, and when I turned west, it really was west. Imagine how easy it would have been for Kit Carson if he had been a Brand X owner.

I also noticed there was glass all around me. I felt like a machine gunner in a bomber turret. It was great for looking around, and it was unlikely someone could sneak up on me. But when I’m out in the back country I don’t want to be decapitated by the first elderberry bush branch that slaps across my windshield. The overall experience didn’t hurt me, but there was absolutely no evidence that my lifetime of observations was wrong. Maybe my friend can use that compass to find his way back from the dark side.

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