Have Truck, Will Travel

Feeling lonely? Trying to make new friends? Want to get out of the house more? Forget those classified ads. Skip the local bar scene. Go ahead–drop out of Loser Anonymous.

Buy a new pickup truck. Trust me–you’re never, ever, be alone again. Brothers and Sisters, I offer a seven-year testimonial. That’s how long I’ve owned my red Toyota truck. It was a great deal when I bought it new, but the warranty never mentioned the phone calls. Like the one last Saturday from my friend Don.

“Say, Dave, whatcha doing this week?” Testing the waters. The first sign.

“Not much,” I reply. Waiting.

“Oh…great. Say, my girlfriend’s down in Santa Barbara now, but I have her treadmill machine up here. So I was wondering if…”

Thus begins another episode of “Have Truck, Will Travel,” with yours truly as a modern day Paladin, roaming the West, helping people in need. It’s been this way for 106,419 miles. Lee wants to get his Christmas tree. David needs to pick up lumber. Ken has trash to haul to the dump. Jan is moving. Justin is moving. Cathy is moving. Jan decides to move again. They all know who to call.

Which is fine. I’ve never said no, falling for more pickup lines than Mae West. It’s part of the unwritten code of the pickup truck owner. You won’t find this code mentioned in the official owner documents. But the word came down from the mountain long ago, I believe the one just outside (where else?) Truckee.

We truck owners don’t like to boast, but I can tell you this with certainty. The truck owner, whether Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Chevy, or Mitsubishi it be, takes a solemn pledge when the dealer hands over those shiny new keys.

Some compare it to the passing of the Olympic torch. I consider it on par with the infamous Contract with America. New and improved. Road-tested. Ready to go the distance. As long as I own a pickup truck, this is my obligation, my sworn duty. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail, nor even a Lakers basketball game on TV will keep me from my appointed rounds. When a friend is truly in need, I’m there–quietly, unselfishly, promptly with my truck.

I vow to undertake at least a five-year mission, to explore strange new roads and small town by-ways, to seek out new life. To boldly go where no mere car owner has gone before. To discover if anyone needs to borrow my truck.

When you’re down and troubled. And you need a helping hand. And nothing–whoa, nothing–is going right. Close your eyes and think of me, and soon I will be there. Just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. All you’ve got to do is call. And I’ll be there. You’ve got a friend.

With a truck.

It’s the least I can do. These are my friends. I don’t have any money to loan, nor particular skills to share. But I have this aging, slightly dented truck, and miles to go before I sleep. So, it’s off to Santa Barbara.

Hillary Clinton argues that it takes a village. Bob Dole insists it takes a family. If you ask me, they’re both wrong. It really takes a friend with a reliable truck.

Someone willing to go the distance.

San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune (September 1996)

Published by Dave Congalton

Writer. Radio Host. Screenwriter. Enjoying the Good Life on California's Central Coast.

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