Tonight I decided that simply because I’ve spent the last two evenings on the road, driving around different cities for the express purpose of getting in another vehicle and driving around some more, I did not, in fact, deserve a huge Waffle House dinner.
I am not some trucker-poet, hauling canned tomatoes back and forth between here and Wisconsin, quietly creating haikus and newspaper columns as I stare down the white lines.
I’m just an idiot who bought a truck I shouldn’t have and now have to run around test driving new ones.
If you’ve been following this column for even a whisper of time, you’ll know I snagged Rusty back in March. I knew going into it that he was old and beaten, but I was broke and hopeful, and thought maybe we could just muddle through together.
I am a romantic fool, not a mechanic.
Rusty had big tires, and he started and stopped. And so instead of taking it to the shop to be properly vetted, or talking it over with my gearhead brother, or basically doing any due diligence at all, I just went crazy imagining all the cool things we would do together: I’d slowly get money to fix his busted bones, and he would take me on adventures.
I didn’t really see the rust all over the brakes and axles and body — there were too many hearts shooting out of my eyes. The relationship worked for a few months and then he died.
RIP Rusty, you heart-breakin’ sonuvabitch!
I called the insurance company to see if the absolutely banal rental I’m driving is covered, and told the woman what happened to Rusty. She said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, I don’t know what ‘throwing a rod’ means.”
And you know what? I realized right then and there that I don’t really know, either. It makes a horrible racket, it was probably caused by lack of oil changes, and I picture it as a stick-thingy on the side of a piston that works it up and down. I have no idea if I am right and I am not going to look it up.
That is what my brother is for. I help him with things like girls and rent, and he helps me with things like broken cars and busted light fixtures.
But THAT heart-breakin’ sonuvabitch moved to Japan.
The problem here isn’t that I’m a romantic fool; it’s that I’m out of my element.
And so I am Donny, wandering into metaphorical theaters, asking what’s going on with the movie.
I decided I have to go into this decision with a board of directors. Mike in Montrose and Steve in Boulder send me Craigslist ads. My brother gets e-mailed. We discuss. I get sent out to test drive with a list of things to check including sexy stuff like “tarnished dipsticks” and “crusted caps.”
And then I get home and write a report. And we discuss.
If the truck passes the boys’ tests and mine, then it goes to John, at Fuji Motors.
Tomorrow I might be sending a truck to the final stage, and I am excited but also nervous to the point of heaving.
If anything goes wrong, it’ll be time to sell out and go work at a fishery in Alaska. But if it all goes right, I’m naming that truck “Jesus Quintana” because that creep can roll.
Jeanine Fritz covers the automotive industry for the Colorado Daily. Her column appears every Friday.