June 14, 2014 6:33:45 PM
A friend, who by day is a buttoned-down lawyer, has for years driven a pickup truck. He's not the only person in that line of work to do so. Last time I checked, our D.A. drove a Toyota Tacoma. I suspect the truck for these guys is an antidote for long hours reading tedious legal briefs or time spent in the bowels of the courthouse doing title searches.
Check the parking lot at Baptist Memorial. Plenty of doctors drive 'em, too. Girls, who spend their days in offices, own trucks.
I suppose the pickup serves as an ever-present reminder of more glorious possibilities, an expression of our inner cowboy. If one were so inclined he or she could light out for the territory in a pickup, sleep in the back and drive on until he or she had escaped the gravitational pull of home. Or, more prosaically, he or she could use it to haul stuff on the weekends.
You wouldn't think the acquisition of a 7-year-old pickup truck would be cause for exuberance, but I'm as excited as a teenager with his first car.
For years I've been driving a third-hand Ford Ranger with an interior that looks like it was once the home of a restless panther. The truck was perfect for my purposes: I could haul stuff in it, get in it wearing mud-splattered jeans and could have cared less what I hauled in the back.
The Ranger had its eccentricities. The a/c worked intermittently. Heading west from town, it would run until I hit the river bridge whereupon it would take a break. And then, by the Macon Meridian exit, as the cab began to heat up, the a/c would kick back in. The tailgate was finicky, prone to falling off assuming you could get it open far enough for it to do so.
As reported in this column a couple years back Beth and daughter Tanner were at a critical point in a raccoon relocation when the thing fell off. No toes were crushed and the raccoon happily waddled off toward White's Slough, but the girls' adrenal glands were exercised.
We once test drove a Ford F-150, and I know I'm going to make some people mad with this, but the thing felt like a sofa with wheels. At the time you could get a new F-150, basic model, somewhere in the low-20s. Add leather and other flourishes and call it something highfalutin like "Platinum" or "King Ranch" and that cushioned ride could set you back between 40 and 50 grand.
We couldn't seem to agree on the degree of luxury we needed, so we did nothing. I stayed with the Ranger.
Occasionally I'd visit a car lot after hours or make a half-hearted stab at finding a used truck on e-Bay, all to no avail.
In the meantime, the Ranger from Panther Burn chugged along.
And then the other night I took a stab at The Dispatch crossword puzzle. When I stalled out at 21-across, a four-letter word for "ski lift type," I started reading the classifieds. And there it was, a 2007 "extra clean" Toyota Tacoma with 38,000 miles.
The next morning I called and the gentleman answering the phone described the truck and gave me directions to his house. We didn't exchange names. When Ben Yarber opened the door, he looked startled.
"I've been meaning to call you," he said welcoming me in. "I wanted to talk with you about your dad, who gave me my first job in radio, in 1961."
He went on to describe the interview and my father's habit of sitting on the flat-top fire hydrant in front of the building and visiting with passers by.
Ben's pickup was beautiful. From the looks of it, keeping it looking new has been his hobby these past seven years.
"My wife more than once said I loved that truck so much I should go out and sleep in it," he said.
"It's more than I need," Ben said. "I just need a clunker to haul a lawn mower to my church in West Point and back." (Ben is pastor of Faith Baptist Church.)
We bought the truck and traded him the Ranger as part of the deal.
The new truck comes with its own set of problems, though. I can't stand the thought of getting it dirty.
Birney Imes III is the immediate past publisher of The Dispatch.
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