I am cleaning out my truck. This is an undertaking of mammoth proportions. Large piles of my stuff under the back seat. There is no floor board space back there. If someone rides with me and the back seat is required, my stuff has to be moved out of the way to make room.
I live with this because I know deep down that I need every piece of my stuff with me when I get on the road. What if some guy at the Dollar Store has a dead battery. “Does anybody have a set of jumper cables?” I’m your guy. Some lady in the church parking lot has a flat tire. No jack. No tools. I’m there.
You need a piece of gum? I’ve got you covered. A piece of rope to tie something down, or to drag Timmy out of the well? Look no further. A spare fuse for your brake lights? That’s in the glove box. Low on oil? I’ve got 30W or 15W-40. Water? I’ve got a bottle or two. Something to entertain the kids? There’s a Slinky in the door pocket. The list is almost endless.
I drag a large trash can over to the truck because I know that some of my stuff is just plain junk. Pens that won’t write anymore. Plastic drink straws that somehow made it down in that little crack between the seat and the console. Screws in the cup holder that I intended to put away but never did. I even had two rolls of TP for emergencies. One was squashed almost beyond recognition, the other one I kept.
You never know when the call of nature is going to hit you with such force that your only hope of saving your dignity and your seat cover is a roadside stop and a dash to the bushes. This happened to me on our trip to Colorado a few years ago. We were in a rented car without TP. Twenty minutes after we left the pizza joint, I knew I was in trouble.
Something gurgled and churned in my lower regions. I was concerned. The next facility was two mountain ranges away. “STOP THE CAR.” I won’t get too graphic here, but let’s just say that I left my mark on some lonesome stretch of highway outside of Durango. The Cacti made it the most perilous run of my life. So, don’t be laughing at me for keeping an extra roll of TP in my truck.
Among the various pockets and cubby holes in my truck I found a few memories. There were two of my old employee name tags from Callaway Gardens. I haven’t worked there in over 18 years. A cassette tape of Alan Jackson. My truck actually has a cassette deck but it went out during the Bush administration. A paycheck stub from Southern States that belonged to my Dad.
You must realize that when a guy goes through the stuff in his truck it’s like a woman going through those boxes of all the little keepsakes in the attic. Each piece tells a story. He struggles with a degree of anxiety over his treasures. Do I keep this? Do I throw it away? I might still need that one day. It’s not hurting anything in there. I’ll just put it back and no one will know the difference. You keep an old truck long enough and it gets personal.
The driver’s side door pocket is where I have always kept my maps. A Harris County map. One of the State of GA and one of Alabama. A laminated street map of the City of Atlanta. A fold out of the entire southeastern US. And behind the passenger seat in the seat pocket, my treasure of all treasures, my 1990 Rand McNally Road Atlas of the United States.
I have always loved maps. My buddy, Cory, tells me that I don’t need any maps. He says that because he will ask me something like, “What’s the best was to get to Rock Eagle?” And I’ll give him three options naming each highway and giving him land marks along the way. “How do you know that?” he says. I have no idea. I have maps in my head, I guess.
My biggest dilemma about what to keep and what to throw away is about my maps. Google has changed the map world for most of us. These paper fold-outs in my truck are practically antiques. Guys who use real maps are all over 40 and probably know how to change their own oil. I pull out a map and get laughed at for being ancient.
Thing is, I like to see the entire route at one time. I already know that I can get to Blakely,
GA by going down to Albany and shooting across Hwy 62. But maybe there’s another route that’ll work just as good. A road less taken. Things to see that I haven’t seen before. You can’t figure that out on a little screen on your phone or dashboard.
There is an entire generation dependent on digital directions. Some of them are related to me. They turn on the map to go across town. Checking traffic patterns. Looking for the fasted route. Sometimes I just like to explore the old roads and I don’t care about the quickest route. I haven’t been through Atlanta to get to Athens in years.
I had a customer from Montgomery drive to the farm a couple years back. He plugged us into his onboard computer. Hours later he called me from Thomaston, GA wondering why he couldn’t find us.
“My map tells me I’m at your place, but I don’t see you.”
“That’s because you’re about 50 miles east of us and in the wrong town.”
The reason that I’m cleaning out my old truck is that I need to transfer all my stuff to the new truck. After nearly 480K miles I finally decided that the old truck was sucking my wallet dry on repairs and that it was time for an upgrade. Out with the cassette deck and in with the onboard computer. I have a nice lady in my dash that talks to me and makes me coffee and reminds me to look in the back seat so I don’t forget and leave Max back there when I get out.
I drove to Sterrett, AL yesterday. I plugged the address into the onboard computer.
“I don’t recognize your entry. Please try again.” I will admit that not many folks know how to find Sterret, Alabama. It’s not exactly on the main route.
I checked to make sure that I had entered everything correctly. Yep. Tried again. Same response. Guess what I did? I got out the old Rand McNally and looked it up and got on down the road like I always have.
The problem with the new truck is that there is not much storage for my stuff. I have no console. The cup holders are too small for my coffee cup. No pockets on the back of the seat. The door pockets are too shallow. There are two glove boxes but one is barely big enough for two ink pens. There are no cubby holes in the dash.
But the dash lights work. The head liner is not dangling down around my ears. The fuel gauge is accurate. And it doesn’t blow smoke. The only question is what am I going to do with all my stuff?
I bought a tool box for the bed of the truck. I was determined not to clutter up the back floorboard. Max needs his space, too. I have my maps. I have my 4-way tire tool. Fire extinguisher. All my stuff. And, yes, I have a roll of TP just in case. I’m ready to roll again.