“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

We’ve all taken on responsibilities. Mine include being a husband, father, and grandfather. I take these seriously and try to honor them with all my being. Yet, I have one responsibility that I didn’t put much thought into, until recently.

Years ago, I made the choice to own a pickup truck. Of course, I knew friends would want to borrow it, for moving to a new home, taking stuff to Goodwill, or bringing home their huge Christmas tree, but that didn’t stop me.

I knew I could deal with their requests by saying, “No,” but often, a better way was telling them it was a manual five-speed. That usually did it. They made other arrangements.

Trucks are perfect on Habitat for Humanity job sites.
Trucks are perfect on Habitat for Humanity job sites.

There’s more to pickups than you might think. The first question is huge – Ford or Chevy? You can’t be a truck person and think that answer doesn’t matter. It does. I’m a Ford person. Period.

My truck is a simple F-150 4×4 regular cab, short bed with a manual transmission. There is no carpet, and only crank windows with large wing vents for a great breeze on a summer day. The one luxury is an old cassette deck. The truck is twenty years old, simple and mine.

Bruce, Joyce, and Louisa Dear
My wife, my dog, and a very basic truck (around here somewhere) are all I really need. Photo by Deborah Triplett.

Some people need all the other stuff, but the single bench seat, in a regular cab truck, let’s me think I’m driving an old buckboard, or covered wagon. We’re headed out west, just me, Joyce, and Louisa Dear. It’s the perfect minimalist truck.

My relationship with my truck is positive and personal and that’s why, when I hear people speak despairingly about pickups and pickup truck drivers, it makes me wonder how I can reverse this image.

Are people unhappy with the truck, or the way it is driven?

I have decided that I will follow three simple rules in my truck, and all my driving:
  1. I will drive under the speed limit.
  2. I will let people into the waiting line of traffic.
  3. I will allow walkers to clear the intersection.

All simple and kind things, but some pickups don’t make these choices. You see, it’s the bad guys in a truck that give the good guys in a truck their bad name.

It’s not the brand or style of vehicle, but the driver and their inner personality traits being projected by their driving patterns that create the negative image. Right?

What about you? What, and more importantly, how do you drive?

Can you describe ways different marques, brands, seem to bring out different traits in their drivers?

Why do Subaru owners behave differently than Saab owners? Accord owners versus Audi owners? What other brands bring out what other personality traits?

Can you tell us stories about women in silver Mercedes who flip double birds at thirty endangered cyclist, or black ‘Beamers that go thru, long after yellow has faded to red, or large SUV’s that need two parking spaces, or pickups with NRA stickers who seem entitled to do anything they please? Are all those actions the fault of the Mercedes, Beamer, SUV, and pickup or do we just make an association?

Eleanor Roosevelt was right, we express our philosophy, our true self, in our choices. Choices are ultimately our responsibility.

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran


K.B. may want my truck someday, but if my plan to live to 100 works out, the truck will be 45 years old then. I hope he wants it and remembers – it’s a big responsibility. Maybe I should pass it on a few years early, what do you think?