On the Mark: The benefits of a big old truck

MARK STRAIN

With the tourist season in full swing and our roads becoming more congested than we have seen for quite a few years, the signs seem to indicate we are having a rather good season. Hopefully that will translate into more real estate sales to reduce the foreclosure glut and more retail purchases so more locals will get their jobs back.

But with the influx of tourists comes the challenge of trying to get anywhere without being added to the traffic statistics. With the price of fuel climbing ever higher and more tourists than we have had for quite some time, there seem to be more small cars on the road then ever before. That is probably good for fuel efficiency but perhaps not always the safest way to travel on our congested roads.

Not too long ago, after more than 30 years of driving around our overly crowded roadways, I was on the receiving end of a fender bender incident. Up until then I had managed to avoid rubberneckers, blue-haired gawkers, drivers performing personal beauty improvements, mobile phone yakkers, and those under the influence of something other than their common senses.

I had stopped for a red light on one of our overly done six-lane roadways. There was not much traffic at the time and neither lane around me was occupied. Then I felt it, a bump, a small innocuous thud from the rear of my vehicle. My vehicle is a 10-year-old full size ¾-ton diesel pickup. It is big, cumbersome, not good enough on mileage with today’s prices, but it is paid for and in these times, that is nice.

I looked in my rear view mirror and my side mirrors and saw nothing, no one. It made no sense, I was sure I had felt a bump. I got out to investigate just to be sure nothing would get run over if I moved and sure enough, there underneath by back bumper, kinda connected to my trailer hitch and ball was an older model itty bitty car.

Either this guy was trying to pass by going underneath my truck or he had somewhat incredibly not noticed a ¾-ton truck in his path, but there he, his passenger and his car were, partially under my truck.

This midget vehicle was packed with two male passengers, who fortunately were not injured despite their vehicle being somewhat modified by my trailer hitch. Neither individual spoke much; at first I was not sure why until I dialed my cell phone when it became more obvious. Then I heard “policia?”, to which I nodded yes, pretty sure a police report would be wise since their vehicle did not appear as if it could drive away. Seemed the sensible thing to do especially since with the damage it was most likely required.

No sooner had I said yes then both men scurried out of the car and began tidying up their vehicle by emptying beer cans and then stuffing them under the rug in their trunk. This kept up for a minute till a passing deputy offered to help push their vehicle out of the lane of traffic.

Then the really interesting part started when the officer asked for the routine paperwork we all seem to carry; driver license, insurance, vehicle registration, etc. Turns out the driver was not a driver, he didn’t have a license. Turns out he had been drinking. Turns out it wasn’t even his car.

The deputy that was assigned to take the information arrived in minutes and took over the questioning, trying to understand what had happened. I explained the minor bump I had felt while sitting at the light, and the other guys explained something in their language, which the deputy understood but I didn’t. Based on the fact I was eventually told I could leave and was not issued a ticket I assumed the deputy put the facts together correctly.

Weeks later an insurance company called, apparently the real owner of the car had insurance and the insurance company wanted to settle. Since I only had a small dent in my bumper there was not a lot to settle, but in the process I found out that the itty bitty car had been so badly damaged it was considered a total loss.

I manage to get 20 miles per gallon from my pickup. That is pretty good for a big vehicle. I have considered looking for something with better mileage, especially with the fuel prices we are seeing and the even higher ones we can expect to see, but after this traffic incident, the idea of a mini vehicle for mileage is not the only factor I take into consideration. After all, had I had a tiny vehicle like the one that hit me, not only would the vehicle damage have been worse, the possibility of injuries would have been far more likely.

I think I will stick with my old pickup for a while longer and just be more efficient with my road trips.

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