I’ve owned a few pickup trucks over the years but these days I drive a minivan. Embarrassing, I know, especially for a guy who likes to camp and fish and smoke a pipe but it goes like hell on the highway and pulls my boat or trailer with ease. All the seats in the back fold down into the floor which leaves almost as much room for hauling things as a truck bed and everything stays nice and dry. So a minivan it is. Besides, I owe so much money on it that I’ll have it paid off just in time to be buried in it.
I got my first truck in my early twenty’s. It was a 1969 Chevy C 150. It had a straight six engine with a three speed on the column manual transmission. The body was brown with cool moon hubcaps and relatively free of rust. The big bench seat could hold four people. I loved it. Riding down the road, sitting higher than all the cars I felt like a king on his throne. The very expansive hood sticking out in front of the windshield made me feel invincible. It had big solid steel bumpers, front and back. Once, while I was stopped at an intersection a station wagon rear ended me. All I felt was a little nudge. I got out and walked to the back to see this car’s grille laying all over the road while not even having a paint scratch on my nice white bumper. It was awesome. My truck had one funny little thing about it though. Every once in a while it would get stuck in second gear. I’d be driving along real nice, shift from first to second and then go to shift into third and the shift lever wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t go up to third, couldn’t downshift back to first. I had to push the clutch in, which just about took both legs to do, pull over and shut it off. The shift linkage ran down the steering column, through the firewall and linked up to the tranny under the hood. So through trial and error I finally figured out that I had to take a large screwdriver and place the blade between the two shift rods that ran down the steering column under the hood and give it a whack with a hammer. It busted them loose and then I could shift again. Fun times.
So one day I’m at home and my girlfriend is using a very large knife to cut the plastic wrap off of a ham. Plastic, shrink wrapped food is always so appetizing. Now when I was a kid, my dad taught me how to use a knife. A knife in my day was a tool, not a weapon. Boyscouts all carried them. I wasn’t a boyscout but my dad thought it was an important tool for a kid to use. He taught me how to use it properly and I’ve carried a pocket knife all my life. Some people never got the knife training. My girlfriend was one of them. She was cutting the ham plastic with the blade of the knife aiming right at her wrist. As I was about to say something the plastic cut through and the knife made a deep, long gash right across her wrist where the artery lies. As she stood there staring in disbelief, blood shot all over the ham and the counter, the knife clattered to the floor and I grabbed a rag. “Want to take a drive, dear?” was all I could think of to say. On the way to the emergency room the truck stuck in second gear and the hospital was on a hill. Uphill from my house. To this day I don’t know how I did it but I drove that truck the three miles to the hospital in second gear. I’m pretty sure I didn’t stop at any stop signs. We made it without her losing too much blood, got her sewed up, and after popping the truck out of second gear, we drove back home. We didn’t have ham for supper. As it turned out she survived her ordeal just fine but we ended up not staying together forever. I mean after all, she didn’t know how to use a knife.