Thursday, August 2, 2007

I Have Tasted the Good Life, but I Know It's Not Mine

We have a 15-year-old truck that has over 162,000 miles on it. I bought it used, when it was six years old, and I've definitely gotten my money's worth. More than 100,000 miles showing on the odometer belong to me, and it's given me very few problems in the nine years I've owned it.

It's a good truck. But, it's getting old, and it's really a little on the small side to tow the trailer I currently own. I've had the trailer for years, but I've never towed it around much. I lived in it for three years in a trailer park, and it's been a guest bedroom on my driveway for the last six years. I've taken it to local campgrounds a few times, but the only major trip I've made was the one I made this last summer.

I realized during my vacation, after breaking down four times, that it's probably time to look at replacing the truck, especially since it was having to struggle on some of the bigger hills.

Last night, The SO and I went truck shopping.

We were "just looking," so we strolled into one of the local car dealerships fairly close to closing time. We were instantly mobbed by salespeople, who were very nice and showed us a simply amazing 3/4 ton diesel truck.

My first truck was a 1982 Subaru Brat. I have no idea what my parents paid for the thing, but I don't expect it was more than a few thousand dollars. They got a deal on it, as it was a previous year's model that had been used as a demo. It was a nice car, but there were no frills. It had an AM radio, crank windows, vinyl seats and a manual transmission. There was no air conditioner, power door looks, or anything else. I put over 100,000 miles on it before I traded it for a brand new 1989 Toyota truck.

My second truck cost about $9,000. It was much fancier than the Subaru, having cloth seats, power steering and brakes and air conditioning. It had an AM/FM radio. But it still wasn't a luxury vehicle. It had a manual transmission and crank windows. I put 180,000 miles on that truck before I traded it in for the truck I have now.

The truck I had now was six years old and had power everything. Power windows, power door locks, automatic transmission, an AM/FM radio with cassette. It wasn't the fanciest truck on the market, as it had a manual slide cloth bench seat, but it had a bed liner, toolbox, and after market rims. Even used, it cost what I thought was a staggering amount of money for truck. I paid $14,000 for it.

So last night, we looked at trucks. I could not believe what I was seeing. Long gone are the days of vinyl seats, crank windows, and AM radios. Long gone are the days when trucks were designed to get dirty and do work. The truck we looked at last night was the epitome of opulence. The seats were leather, the floors were carpeted, there were three 12-volt plugs designed for powering computers and other electronic devices, not for lighting cigarettes. It had a premium sound system, an integrated trailer brake control and auxiliary switches to power options like a winch or underbody lighting. The truck could seat five people, and had cup holders hidden in every possible nook and cranny. I counted at least six or seven of them.

In short, the truck was simply amazing.

We didn't take it for a test drive, but we started the engine. Even though it was a diesel, it purred quietly. When we closed the doors, we barely knew the engine was running.

I thought to myself, I would love to own a truck like this.

Then I looked at the price tag.

This beautiful truck's price was a staggering $50,000.

Yep, that's right, Fifty-thousand dollars.

I thought I was going to fall to my knees. Instead, I just nodded like it was no big deal and collected brochures and a price quote from the dealer. I walked off the lot, imagining myself driving the truck off the lot, but knowing that I could never, ever, even in my wildest dreams, afford a truck such as that.

And then I started thinking even more.

I started to think about all the places that I've taken my current truck. I thought about the miles of dirt road I've pounded across, the dusty campgrounds, and the muddy farmland I've explored. I thought about the loads of firewood, manure, trash, and even rotten, maggot-infested restaurant food waste I've hauled. I thought about the fact that my dog (when I had one) used to live in my truck, and even though I made efforts to keep the truck nice and clean, accidents invariably happened. The SO spilled a soft drink on the carpet, and dropped a purple fountain pen on the cloth seats.

I started to think about how paranoid I am about our one-year-old car. It was a very inexpensive car designed for economy-minded people, but I still won't allow anyone to eat in the car, transport open food containers or drink anything besides water. I constantly have to remind The Kid to wipe her feet before she gets in, and not to put her shoes on the back of the seats. I fuss, worry, and fume about the car, and I'm out there, every weekend, washing, waxing and vacuuming.

If I get that worked up over an economy car, how will I feel driving around in a truck worth such a staggering amount of money? How will I feel the first time The Kid wants to eat in the truck (after all, we eat in the current one) or The SO wants a cup of coffee?

Can you hear me screaming now?

I realized that, even if I had the money to afford such a wonderful and luxurious truck, I would never buy one. I'd be too busy worrying about it, yelling at people not to put their fingerprints on the paint, and cleaning up after it.

Even worse, I wouldn't be able to use such a nice truck for real work. So it would a showpiece on my driveway. I'd use it to haul around my trailer, but I wouldn't be able to take it to any of the fun campgrounds I usually enjoy, because I'd have to travel over dirt roads to get there. I certainly would not be okay with tossing the keys to a friend so they could haul their lawn waste to the dump, and I definitely wouldn't haul stinky food waste ever again.

So I would have my truck, but I'd be so busy taking care of it, that I wouldn't be able to really enjoy it.

So, when I buy a truck, I'll buy a used one that's in nice shape, but I'll definitely be taking a pass on fancy leather seats, carpeting and all the extras.

I've come to the same conclusions about my body and my diet. I know I will lose weight, but I don't think that I'm ever going to have the kind of body that I sometimes dream about. When I see 50-year-olds with six pack abs, I think "that would be cool if I could look like that." When I see skinny women in their 40's and 50's who look great, I wish I could be them.

But then I realize that I would have to work so hard to look like that. As it is, I struggle to lose weight. Yesterday my entire menu consisted of two Carnation Instant Breakfasts, a salad and three pieces of pizza. I'm guessing that the pizza was 300 calories a slice, so probably all total I had 1,500 calories or so for the entire day.

I gained three pounds overnight.

So I'm realizing that if I want to be really skinny, I'm either going to have to starve myself like crazy or exercise every waking minute. Neither of those options sound very appealing, so I realize that I'm going to have to set my sights just a little bit lower.

Sure, I'll lose weight. Sure, I'll improve my health, but I don't think I'm ever going to have that luxury body that other people look at and covet. Just like my truck, I'll have to settle for something that's "good enough." It will be better than what I have, but I'm probably not going to turn heads or gather stares as I walk down the street.

After visiting the new car lot yesterday, I can honestly say that I've tasted the good life, but I know it's not mine.

1 comment:

Lady T said...

having worked at a Carmax before, i believe you could probably find a really "nice" truck, late 90's model or 2000 even, for the upper teens. trucks have come a long way......whatever you find will probably seem luxurious compared to your trucks in the past...but it wont be sooo nice, that you get crazy over it, you know?

great realization. i find that i have a bit more peace about things when i let go of a timetable. eventually, i'll get to where i'm going.....though i can't seem to help being impatient at times.