Big Wheels

So one of the best and worst times in a person’s life came around at last, much as I dreaded it.

They say the two happiest days in a man’s life are when he buys a boat and when he sells the boat. No, this is not a boat column. This is a big truck column.

My trusty old Chevy Silverado had just turned 11, and was starting to get a little long in the tooth (bumper? grill? Whatever…) I had known for a year or so it was going to soon be time to put the ol’ girl out to pasture (scrap yard? junk yard? My dad used to say, “Send it to Suttons!”)

It was a good old truck. Uncomfortable as the dickens, being a single-cab, base model bow-tie truck. That puppy didn’t even have cruise control and you had to move your whole arm to crank down the windows manually rather than with a flick of the finger. There was no carpet, and no CD player. But the old girl never let me down, and I’m grateful for that.

But I finally felt it was time. A quick check showed my 11-year use and 135,000 miles had nibbled the old reprobate’s trade in value down to about $1,600. I was planning on waiting until fall. You can tell I really hang on to things, can’t you? Mostly I’m just cheap, a poor, fiscally challenged fly fisherman and struggling writer. But I figured by fall, I’d have about twenty-five bucks worth of trade in value, and as I have saved roughly twenty bucks up to this point in my life after having been working steadily for some 30 years, I decided had better act fast.

Make a long story even longer, I ended up going to shop on a whim one afternoon. I started out at Courtesy here in Franklin and got no farther. I intended only to shop, here and there, and only in the parish. By the end of the day, I was the proud and somewhat bewildered owner of a 2009 GMC Sierra. I named my terms, they furrowed their brows and kindly refused to say I was nuts, and we came to an agreement. There’s your plug, guys, you gotta pay anything further!

I patted the old Silverado on the hood and told her she had been a good ol’ truck, and I admit I got a little lump in my throat. We had been together 11 years after all, and been places together you wouldn’t believe, lived through lots of hard times and I’m going to stop talking about this right now or I’m gonna start bawling any minute.

Now, this truck is bigger than the ol’ Silverado, having a back seat with what I refer to as “suicide doors.” You know, the ones that swing out backwards, and you have to open the front doors first to open the back doors, a situation which makes me extremely paranoid. I decided long, long ago as my fear of virtually everything grew and grew, that I would never, ever ride in the back of a two-door vehicle again for as long as I live. Makes me crazy just thinking about not having my own easy access out. But I gave in, figuring I’d never ride in the back seat of my own truck anyway, and knowing that I rarely ride a group of people, and then practically never on a highway. See how paranoid I’ve gotten?

It’s also taller than the Silverado, and quite a leg-up for a short, fat boy with bad knees. It ain’t no loaded truck, either, it’s about mid-range, but compared to the last one…well, cruise control, power windows and locks and keyless entry are, to me, like caviar and French wine.

I had to get used to it. I’m still getting used to it. First couple of times I parked on the side of the Banner, I had to get out four times to look and see how close I was to the brick wall. After two weeks of ownership. I got it pretty much down, and have damaged neither truck nor Banner in my learning stage.

It’s a big truck, and I’m a little guy vertically, though horizontally I probably could make some adjustments. It’s also virtually black. My Silverado was kinda pewter colored. It had to accumulate a lot of dust and mud to really look dirty. I can wash the black truck and by the time I pull out on the street it looks like I’ve been riding through the Mojave Desert. Of course, you know how it is, when you get a new car and you’re all proud and trying to act like you really aren’t, you want it to look nice for a few months before you develop that eventual case of the don’t give a durns.

And, of course, there’s that hole in the water, and in the ground, and in the road. You know. A boat is a hole in the water you pour money into. A house is a hole in the ground you pour money into. And a truck with a note is a hole in the road you pour money into for the next mubley-mumble years.

But it’s comfortable, and got more bells and whistles. I like it, and hope to like it for the next decade until “that time” comes again.

I was thinking of getting a personalized license plate for a long time now. But what could I put on it? I don’t want something macho – I’m the farthest thing from it – noting cutesy, and I sure don’t think I can pull off much philosophy in seven character spaces. My buddy has the wonderful plate FLYGUY, dangit, so I can’t get that one. I thought about NDNFLY (say it out loud, you’ll get it) but that not only borders on cutesy but brushes heresy, too. Besides, I’m not really an Indian, I just play one on TV. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express…once.

How about NTVWTRS, in honor of my first book, my Web site and my whole freakin’ adult life? Not bad, I’ll give that one some thought. Perhaps more apropos would be GOTFISH without punctuation, not only because it would be too many characters, but the ? would lead you to believe I do not possess them and are looking for them and therefore am not much a fisherman, and the ! would imply that I have some, and sorry, I ain’t sharing.

Hmm, I’ll have to work on that. The truck had like seven miles on it the Tuesday I got it, about 110 by Friday, and Saturday morning I took off bright and early for the hills of north Louisiana for some fishing. Fifteen hours and 400 miles later, I had to say I was enamored, and though my memory of ol’ Silver will always be fond, dis here’s a real truck, y’all.

The thing is all this stuff that comes with it for free for a few months, then they wanna sell it to you. That’s unfair advertising practice, especially since I have also fallen head over heels for XM radio. No commercials, I can pick the music I like best, and there’s plenty of channels right up my musical alley. But I am an old radio man from way back, and dagnabit, radio should be free! It isn’t really radio if it isn’t free, and since it’s satellite, that proves my point. But I have programmed in stations playing 60s, 70s and 80s music, and a great one called “Classic Vinyl” that even imitates the sound of a cue-burned record when a song starts sometimes. You know, that crackling, creaking, popping sound we used to get from putting the needle down on the record over, and over, and over again. In da radio business, we used to call it “fried eggs” because that’s what it sounded like.

We used to run this promo at KFMV/KFRA for National Radio Month that featured James Earl Jones in that magnificent voice of his asking the question, “The radio…what would life be without it?”

About $9.95 a month, that’s what.

8 comments to Big Wheels

  • russell

    Roger, I have to say , It has been a good year for you.
    First , the new cell phone with all the bells and whisle
    the T.v. that puts Joe Blows phone number on the screen.
    Now a new Chevy (Like a Rock ) . Enjoy my friend , you only pass through once. Have a great weekend

  • Mike

    Rog, Why not be FLYGUY2?

  • pete cooper, jr.

    ‘Scuse me, y’all, but the FLY GUY is me! Confirm this in any edition of Gulf Coast Fisherman magazine for the past few years and that ancient gravel-splattered ego-plate on the front of my ’96 Ranger. So please do not ask a fly fishing (And other vice-appreciating) friend to infringe on my nom de guerre.
    Other than that, how come, Chief, I haven’t been invited to tour some up-country hills in your new pet? And on that note, I certainly hope you have some sort of cushions on the front seats to insulate them from wet butts! Guess I may have to wear waders, huh?
    Man, the things we do to coddle to new trucks…
    Pete (THE FLY GUY)
    Got that?
    Want me to repeat it?
    Oh, yeah, almost forgot – it’s “Sneakypete”!
    Okay, I’m done! Hope no one got their buns burned by all this foolishness!

  • Liz

    Hi Roger,

    I was given your name by Cajun coast Paddling… Is there some way to contact you directly? Email? Phone?


  • blufloyd

    Ok I think a truck is in my future again. The red Vue is holding up pretty good for 177,000 and one hard knock in the caboose on La 90. It’s red so of course the license number is BLU 1. On firefighter memorial plates which are sort of a license to speed here.

    So you discounted BLTBOT or BOTBLD or WDBOAT or ITSTUF?

  • mike

    roger,i work at courtesy and am very glad you bought a truck from us.i work in parts so if you ever need anything,just let me know.myself and everyone else here is more than happy to accomodate you however we can.again thanks for choosing courtesy chevrolet,buick,gmc.

  • admin

    Took me 10 minutes to figure those out! 🙂

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