Tom Clyde: Lipstick on a truck
As winter moves in, I’ve been trying to reposition my relationship with my truck. You can’t live where I do and not have a four-wheel drive with the clearance to get through deep snow. I need a full-sized truck on the ranch for all kinds of things. So having a truck is not really an option. Driving it, on the other hand, is completely discretionary. I could get a nice new truck loaded up with all the options usually found on luxury cars, and make that my daily driver. But they get crappy gas mileage and require a tugboat to park in most settings. There’s not a convenient way to leave skis or a bike in the truck without putting a shell on the bed, and once you’ve done that, the utility of the truck on the ranch is completely gone.
There’s also the problem of having a nice truck on the ranch. Any farm truck is going to get trashed. I drive it through brush that scratches it up, through mud and other biohazards that cover the cow pastures, and throw stuff in the bed that bangs it up. In other words, there is no way to have a nice truck on a farm, or at least not for long.
So the solution has always been to have a nice car that gets responsible gas mileage and is fun to drive. The car stays more or less manure free, and I seldom (but not never) haul a load of barbed wire fencing materials home from the feed store in the back of the VW. The truck, then, becomes even more of a beater.
In this case, the truck is a 1999 Ford that I bought (ab)used from Summit County. It had done duty as a Sheriff’s patrol car in the Barney Fife days before the para-military SUVs with the blacked-out windows, then the building inspectors drove it, and in its final indignity at the County, Search and Rescue got it. After beating the poor thing within an inch of its life, they patched it up, and sold it at an annual surplus auction. I’ve owned if for 8 years now. It’s safe to say the bloom is off the rose.
Over the summer, I started looking at replacement trucks that have a few years on them. For an investment of about $10,000, plus whatever the current truck would bring, I could replace it with something that has roughly the same miles on it, and also needs new wheel bearings and exhaust. The only thing I would be getting is a little less rust and a new family of mice living in the ductwork.
So I’m resigned to keeping it a while longer, and have been trying to rekindle the relationship between a man and his truck. The truck came with a big brush guard/cow catcher on the front. It looked pretty cool in the beginning. Over the years, it had become a big wad of rusted metal. Pieces were falling off. I bought an angle grinder and cut it off. I polished the haze off the headlights, and buffed the red over-spray from a tractor painting project off the hood. Apparently nothing will remove the combination of burs and dog hair from the back seat area. I replaced the duct tape on the side mirror. It’s in for the wheel bearing replacement now. But all my efforts are just lipstick on a pig.
Lipstick or not, we are not in love. All buffed up, it is still a rusted out hunk of junk that needs to be replaced, but will serve its purpose until something better comes along.
Speaking of which, Tuesday is election day. I always vote early because I have a pretty low tolerance for standing in line while a lot old people encounter an electronic device for the first time. But you have until Tuesday. The local elections matter, and a few votes can change the outcomes there. But if you are fed up with Congress having been on strike for the last six years, accomplishing nothing and dodging their constitutional obligations to at least discuss things like starting a new war, you can do something about it. When the going gets tough, this Congress goes on vacation. This is your chance to fire them.
Like my rusted out truck, Congressman Rob Bishop has reached the point of obsolescence. It says right on his website that he has "served his political party for more than 30 years." Well, at least we know what the problem is. He doesn’t understand who he works for. After 12 years in Congress, his list of accomplishments is still waiting to be written.
Something better has come along. The only endorsement I’m making this year is Donna McAleer for Congress.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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