by J. Kirkendall
It is a beast of burden for working people. It is travois, a wagon, a good mule, a team of horses or oxen. It speaks to something primitive and modern at the same time. It will carry laser and computer technology, rock and sand, picks and shovels, steel and lumber. It provides shelter in foul weather and is a quiet place to have lunch with a friend or wife and kids.
It can be a phone booth from which one can talk to a boss, co-worker, 911 operator, pizza take-out, or a lover. . . not necessarily in order of importance.
Park on a hill, having climbed a storm-rutted old mining road in grannie gear, and you can watch hawks hunt and dive at prairie dogs, vultures float on the thermal winds, antelope slide under barbed wire fences, and javelina search for edible roots. You can witness rainstorms, dust devils, sand storms, snowstorms, and rainbows. Watch them come and go.
And if you park it in a grove of trees near a stream on a moonlit night with the stereo playing, you and your friends can dance until dawn. You can fall asleep in the back on a mattress or a broken bale of straw while listening to faraway voices, knowing you always carry jumper cables.
Listening to a crackling truck radio you can hear the latest hits, oldies, country, classical, jazz, conservative commentators, liberal news stories, and music from Mexico.
At just the right time in history, you might hear on that radio about the World Trade Center, the Space Shuttle disaster, King’s assassination, and humans setting foot on the moon.
It will carry friends, relatives, fishing equipment, picnic goods, camping supplies, machinery, trash, family keepsakes, dogs, cats, and even a horse if he is the right size and has been trained to make the jump.
You can use it to move adult children out of their parents’ homes, move yourself into a different home, and move a mobile home anywhere on the continent. They are their own special version of a Model T, RV, SUV, and Humvee rolled into one cosmic vehicular experience that some of us find indispensable to life.
That is why a pickup truck.