I am a man with a truck.
A man with a truck has swagger and I have had a truck as my primary source of transportation most of my adult life.
That doesn’t mean I am averse to taking the car when necessary. I simply prefer the utility of my truck.
If I need to take off the trash, I take off the trash. Need a load of mulch? No problem. Trip to the local home improvement store? Piece of cake.
In fact, these so called “home improvement warehouses” were seemingly custom made for us men and our trucks.
When I pull into one, I can immediately detect a small testosterone boost in myself and an octane boost in the truck. They are like a fountain of youth for middle aged guys with trucks over 250,000 miles.
I am a member of that population.
Recently I made an unscheduled visit to one such store. I had coaxed my 9 year old into going to town with me to have the oil changed and figured a little bonding time would be nice.
We pulled into the parking lot and, as usual, my chest inflated ever so slightly as thoughts of power tools danced in my head. As we walked to the entrance, I could feel myself becoming more masculine with every step. My voice got deeper. I could feel hairs sprouting on my chest in never before seen spots. I could be clean shaven in the parking lot and have a full day’s growth by the time I reached the door.
As we passed through those golden gates, I admonished my daughter with an important reminder, “Remember, we are only here for air filters and pack of drywall screws.”
Within moments, we had bagged our first quarry with only a minimal distraction. That minimal distraction was a wooden yard stick which I convinced my daughter would be used exclusively for discipline, giving her a few light pops when she wasn’t looking just to test drive it. It was well worth the 98 cents.
As we completed our perusal of the drywall screws, I had made a couple of additions to my mental list. “I should go ahead and get those mailboxes while I am here.” The 30-year-old stone mailbox in front of my house was on its last legs and I had gotten approval from Uncle Sam and the neighbors to tear it down and replace it with new and shiner ones for us and the neighbors.
Having no buggy since I was there for only two small items, I decided to man it out and have my daughter carry the filters, screws and yard stick while I dragged two huge boxes of Rubber Made mailboxes to the checkout. As my mind worked, I knew I would need 4X4’s to mount them to as well. When we reached the register, I asked the associate if I could leave everything there while I returned for another item. She, of course, agreed and offered to get me a buggy.
“No thanks, we’re good.” I politely declined. What I really wanted to say was, “How dare you imply I need a buggy. Can’t you see the hair on my chest? Is my waist not thinner since I walked in the door?” I am in a home improvement store and by default, must be a physical specimen worthy donning Spartan armor and playing a leading role in the next installment of 300. I chuckled at her lack of understanding and continued toward the lumber with my daughter in tow.
On the way back from the lumber department, I learned three things:
- Pressure treated pine 4X4’s are heavier than I remembered.
- Carrying them to the register while my daughter decided to exact her vengeance by whacking me on the rear end with my own 98 cent yard stick, although probably entertaining for her was not one of the most pleasant experiences I have ever had. And…
- I was going to need a bag of concrete – Lord help me, why didn’t I just take the buggy?
Making every effort to conceal how heavily I was breathing, I approached the register and managed a smile to the same lady who had offered me a buggy previously. She smiled and made an effort to conceal the “I told you so” look on her face.
As I lowered the 4X4’s gingerly from my shoulder, my aching back cried out furiously at me for subjecting it to such exertion. My groans were fortunately masked by my wheezing, and I claimed allergies had gotten the best of me to save face. I don’t think she bought it.
My aching back and pride agreed that I would wait and pick up a bag of concrete another day.
Learning from my mistakes, I grabbed one of the huge rolling platforms to fit everything on as she rung it up for me.
“Can I ride on it too?” asked my daughter enthusiastically. “Absolutely not!” I viciously shot her down knowing that one additional pound might be more than I could bear after suffering the grievous workout I had just endured. I immediately felt guilty over my harshness and tried to appease her. “When we get everything loaded into the back of the truck, I will let you ride it back into the store, ok?”
She again bubbled. “Ok, but Daddy? We didn’t drive the truck. We had the oil changed in mom’s car, remember?”
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© Michael L. Collins
* Originally published in the July 2, 2014 edition of The Mountain Press