ANN BAILEY: New pickup may not be best training vehicle for sonDuring the past year I reached another milestone in my parental life when my eldest son began learning to drive. Practice sessions on country roads have brought back a lot of memories of my own driving experiences as a teenager.
During the past year I reached another milestone in my parental life when my eldest son began learning to drive. Practice sessions on country roads have brought back a lot of memories of my own driving experiences as a teenager.
One of the things I recall vividly is that my dad insisted that I practice driving in a vehicle with a standard transmission. That was a practical directive on his part because he wanted me to have the skills to drive truck during harvest.
I learned to drive the pickup on the gravel road between our house and my grandparents’ house. There was little traffic so I could pretty much just concentrate on learning to synchronize shifting the gears without popping the clutch. My dad, though generally not known for his patience, was pretty tolerant about being jolted to and fro when I did let out the clutch too quickly.
With practice I eventually learned to show the ’67 red Chevy pickup who was boss and to herd it down the road without grinding the gears too much. I was glad, though, that my dad’s, blue off-farm pickup was a newer model with an automatic transmission.
Throughout high school and college, I drove the blue pickup, and then, others he owned fairly frequently. I used them to run errands for him and my brother for parts, to haul my horse and horse trailer and for moving my furniture and other belongings when I changed addresses.
Later, after I got married, Brian and I continued to borrow my dad’s pickup, especially after moving to the farm. We used it to pull hay trailers, to pick up boards and other fencing material from the lumberyard and to deliver straw to people who wanted to buy some bales.
After driving vehicles of many sorts for about 40 years, I can say without a doubt that, given a choice between a sports car and a pickup, I would take a pickup any day. Pickups’ practicality, versatility and size, compared with the superior visibility they afford drivers make it easy for me to decide between the two. Meanwhile, my personality and country lifestyle can relate much better to pickups than sports cars.
A pickup of our own
This fall, Brian and I decided that it might be time to get a pickup. We were pretty sure that our cars weren’t meant for plowing through snowdrifts and we didn’t want to put them to the same test as we did the old van that they replaced. We decided that a four-wheel drive pickup would provide us with assurance that we could make it to work unless the weather and road conditions were so difficult that we shouldn’t be attempting to get there.
We also wanted a pickup that would have room for our family of five, plus an occasional dog that needed to go to the vet. After looking for a few months, we found the pickup we wanted and it’s ready to be called to action when we need to haul something or after our first big snow.
One thing the pickup won’t be used for regularly, at least for a while, is as a vehicle for our son’s travels. When he gets his license, we’ll likely get him a pickup, but it will be more similar to the old, red one that I learned to drive, than the one we bought.
I had enough fender-benders the first few years of driving to know that it’s pretty inevitable for young drivers to make mistakes in judgment. If my son needs any proof of that, I’ll have him take a look at the garage door at my parents’ house that I widened when I was backing out.