Dents in Pickup Trucks

Once upon a time, long ago – I was 15 or 16, I believe. Dad had a project going, on the back side of our 70 acres, and I had been dragooned to help. We were replacing an old barb-wire fence with a new one. The old fence was really old – my grandfather had likely put it up. It ran from tree to tree, mostly, so you can imagine how straight it was.

We were doing it right. There was a lot of chainsaw work to remove enough trees so that we could ease the tractor and pickup truck down the fence line, as we planted fence posts and stretched wire.

So anyway, we were probably a couple of hundred yards from where we’d left the truck, and Dad sent me back to get it. It was an old 1/2 ton GMC Jimmy.

I was easing it down the road we had cut through the woods along the fence line, and I came to a spot where I needed to go between a couple of tree stumps. I judged that I had room to make it through, incorrectly as it turns out. I rippled the sheet metal on both sides of the truck, down low under the doors. Naturally, I figured I was in for a rough time.

I finished delivering the truck to Dad. I pulled up, maybe 20 feet away from where he was sitting drinking a beer and smoking. I walked over to him, knowing I had to confess what I’d done.

“Dad, you see the side of your truck over there?”

“Yep.” He looked pretty grim.

I said, “The other side looks just like it.”

He cracked up. And I never got in trouble.

He was pretty good about that; he knew, of course, that I did not do it on purpose. Several of his trucks took a beating from me. I cleverly used a tractor to destroy the door retainer on one of them…

I told you that one so I could tell you this one:

My oldest son, R, was learning to drive. He had advanced to the point of being allowed to drive solo in my pickup truck, a Ford Ranger, on our land (not on the road).

Anyhow, he was coming around the corner of my mother’s mobile home, and misjudged the clearance – he apparently forgot about the hitch on the end. He clipped the hitch, rocking the trailer some, blew the back right tire of the truck, and came to a stop.

I walked out towards where he stopped, laughing my head off. I wasn’t laughing at him, I was laughing because I had done so many similar things in my past. I think he got mad at me, and himself, for making the mistake. There was a small dent in the bodywork down low, just like I’d done to both sides of my Dad’s truck.

And I told you that one so I could tell you this one:

Our other son, J, could tear up a ball bearing with a rubber hammer. On a trampoline.

The brand-new lawn mower that literally made one/half of a pass around the yard, before he hit – of all things – a plow which was buried in the ground, sticking up just enough to hit with the blade. It bent the crank – the mower was toast. Not J’s fault.

The Ford tractor which J was piloting, and on which he managed to bend the exhaust stack back at about a 45 degree angle, going under something low.


I guess this story is about forgiveness. How can you be mad at somebody for making the same sort of mistakes you made as a kid?


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One Response to Dents in Pickup Trucks

  1. Ali says:

    Another one! PLEASE keep writing these–they make any day brighter!

    I’m beginning to have a bit of a guilty conscience, though–you phrase things in a way that sticks, and I feel compelled to quote bits of these stories at J when I talk to him (“The little wart got to work” has become a particular favorite. . . ). Poor J.

    It only seems fair to share this–When I was little, we lived across from a pasture (well, across from, next to, alongside of. . . it was pretty much pasture whichever way the preposition headed). The people across the way kept cows, and there was a strip of grass and a stand of walnut trees between the road and them. One day my father allowed me, in all my second-grade glory, to cut the grass over there. I quickly discovered that running over the walnut pods created a wonderful helicopter-like noise, and, if I was lucky, a projectile. What I hoped for, of course, was a walnut that would come flying out with enough force to strike one of the cows. I was so busy watching for that I forgot to watch where I was going. . . and managed to clothesline myself–and flip the mower–on the Blatantly Obvious Hammock that had only been strung between two of the trees since we’d moved in. Sadly, this was entirely my fault, and Daddy didn’t have quite the same sense of humor that you seemed to about things. Wouldn’t it have been glorious to see a cow thwapped in the forehead with one of those walnuts, though? Just like a tennis ball. . . they were even the same lime green.

    More stories soon? Please?

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