Seventeen years later, it’s a new year (almost)

The end of the year is one of those times when many people take stock of their lives. I guess 2015 was better than 2014 although I have had many better years. I lost only one close friend and a cousin this year. My medical condition is probably better than the year before. I still suffer from chronic pain and diabetes. I have made strides in lowering my A1C and hope that during my next blood test I will find it at or near an acceptable range.

One thing that has not changed, is my automobile. I thought about this while returning to my pickup truck this afternoon after buying a few odds and ends at Kroger.

My 1998 Toyota Tacoma has some scratches and a noticeable dent in the back, passenger side of its bed.

I am living in the same town in which I bought the truck, Beaumont, Texas, back in December 1997. Although, there was a seven-year period during which time I lived in Central Texas rather than the Upper Texas Coast where I currently live.

A couple of months after buying the truck, I moved to Waco – whose boosters consider the city as “The Heart of Texas” — where I worked my last full-time job from 1998 to 2015. That is a whole other story, perhaps hundreds of stories, as I worked as a journalist. I should say, though, this post is a look back or, perhaps a story, about that maroon pickup of mine that now registers 175,000 miles on its odometer. Perhaps mileage is more important than time anyway. My late brother John, a character if there was one to be had, said whenever someone told him he looked older than his age: “It’s not the years, it’s the miles.”

I looked at the small scratch this afternoon that extends nearly the length of the passenger side of my vehicle. That happened not long after I moved to Waco. I stayed at a hotel for quite some time and I returned home one evening to find some man who was visibly shit-faced. He told me: “This is my parking space. You need to move.” I told him there were no assigned parking places there and that I was not going to move my truck. Later, in my room, I heard what sounded like an awful metallic sound. I looked out the window and saw the same man. He was “keying” my truck. I wanted to yell “What the f*** are you doing you ass****? But I was concerned he might start a fight or worse. This is Texas after all, where men with guns are everywhere. I opted instead to call the local police department in the small suburban town north of Waco where I was living.

The police officer talked to the man and took my report, but did not arrest the vandal. He said he could only do something only if the cop actually saw the drunken fool committing the crime. The officer said I would need to come to police headquarters during working hours and file a complaint.

Just minutes after the police left, out came, once more, the drunken criminal mischief-maker. The troublemaker was hovering around my truck as if he intended to do more damage. I called the cops once again. The cop returned and told the man to get back to his room and stay there, or else he would go to jail for drunkenness.

I filed charges and found out that the man who damaged my truck was arrested and jailed, then soon was released on bail. Someone told me, maybe the suburban police officer, that the man had an argument with his wife that night and checked into the motel.  I don’t know how long it took the case to be disposed of through the county court. I think the charge was classified as a Class B Misdemeanor because of the amount of damage he did. Eventually, the vandal pleaded out and was assessed probation and was ordered to pay me restitution for the damages. I got the check for the amount of money the body work would cost. But I needed the money more than I needed body repair so the scratch remains to this day.

There are other scratches on the pickup from times both remembered and not. A number of tiny bumps can be found on the roof and hood of the truck, the product of at least one particularly intense hail storm near Dallas. I had spent the weekend with a friend when the storm hit. I looked out the window of his house and found the ground covered in white, as if it had snowed. Goodness, gracious, great balls of hail!

More recently someone must have backed into my truck bed, leaving a noticeable dent. Oh well, the scratches and bumps lend a certain amount of character to one’s wheels. I would tend to agree if someone would tell me that these bumps and bruises lower the value of the truck. Nevertheless, I have received several offers for my ride. One day I might just take up one of these offers for the right price. I had about $1,900 worth of repairs made on various mechanical issues this year. That is definitely the most I have spent repairing the truck during the 17 years I have had it. The old Toy-ota still runs well, receives much better mileage than before the repair – definitely a good deal since gas prices here have fallen to $1.50 per gallon – and my old pickup truck built during the last century is street legal.

What more does a man need?