Friday, October 10, 2014

I Need A Truck That Runs on Daisies

Erik had a molar removed on Column Day, and was not feeling very funny. When he called, we pretended not to understand him — "Uh kent weh mu colluh" — and made him repeat himself four or five times. He swore at us, we think, and hung up. We're running a reprint from 2005.

I've got a serious confession to make. I'm not proud of what I've done, but I can't shoulder this terrible burden any longer. Even though my liberal friends will gasp in disbelief, and my conservative friends will point their fingers and shout, "See?! See?! Hypocrisy!" I have to say it.

I used to own an SUV.

A gas guzzling, planet wrecking "I'm changing the environment ask me how" SUV.

I feel so guilty, like I've committed an unpardonable sin like stealing from old people, or accepting a prepaid trip from foreign lobbyists.

Me: Hello, my name is Erik, and I'm an SUV owner.

Support Group: Hello, Erik

Me: It's been 12 months since I've owned an SUV. I still lay awake at night, dreaming of the spacious roominess and feelings of supremeÍ power as I bore down on smaller, weaker drivers with 280 horses strapped under me, CRUISING DOWN THE HIGHWAY, KNOWING I COULD HAUL A BOAT, TRAILER, AND SMALL VILLAGE THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AT A MOMENT'S — uhhh, that is, I feel shame for all the gas I consumed and ozone-killing poison I pumped into the atmosphere.

Actually, it was my wife's SUV, which makes me an enabler. But I still carry the guilt. I used to be a strong environmentalist in my younger days, so I felt appropriately ashamed for all the damage our SUV was doing.

So I assuaged those feelings by driving a full-size Chevy pickup. (Mine looked a lot like the one in the photo, but that's not actually my truck.) Not one of those Nancy-boy-it's-really-just-a-big-car SUVs. And not one of those toy pickups that need a little windup key to get started5. No, my pickup was one of the big ones, it was appropriately dirty, and I could haul 100 two-by-fours without missing a beat.

When I drove, car owners pulled over in fear. SUV owners glared at me in fits of yuppie jealousy. The toy pickup drivers would hang their heads in shame and putt-putt home.

However, the engine wasn't in great shape, and so my gas mileage was — let's just say it was a bit on the thirsty side. It's not that it was inefficient. . . at least not if you measured it in feet instead of miles per gallon. Global oil prices rose and fell, depending on whether I took a road trip. I realized I had a problem when OPEC named me Customer of the Year over Shell and ExxonMobil.

That's when my beloved truck began to conflict with my past environmental activist tendencies, and I began to have serious doubts about whether I should own a pickup, or switch over to a car that ran on solar power and liberal guilt. Unfortunately, Indiana is a conservative state, and it actually causes inefficiencies in the creation of guilt — too many knee-jerk reactions really limit how much guilt can be created by one man — so I decided to stick with a regular gas combustion engine. At least until someone could create an electric car that traveled for more than 20 miles on a single charge and didn't look stupid.

I finally got rid of my truck when I started a new job that required an hour long daily commute. When I started, some quick calculations showed that I'd be spending my children's inheritance each month just to get to work each day. And that didn't count all the extra trips to the Spotted Owl Skeet Shooting Range on the weekends.

So I sold my truck and got a car that gets 30 miles per gallon, but gets blown off the road whenever I get passed by a semi.

Now I can drive to and from work four times on a full tank of gas, although it struggles to haul anything heavier than a pair of socks. And while the toy pickup guys now point and laugh at me, at least the Nature Conservancy gave me the Most Improved Award for 2004. I proudly display the sticker on the passenger side window, but now the car leans toward that side.

But I think I found a compromise. In the next couple of years, Toyota will come out with all new hybrid vehicles. Not a gas-only engine in their entire line, including their trucks. Their new pickup promises 30 miles per gallon and 290 horsepower. And I'm seriously considering getting one. They're energy efficient, but they're also big, macho, manly machines. WITH ONE OF THOSE MONSTERS, I CAN RULE THE ROAD ONCE AGAIN!

At least if my wife lets me get one.


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