We went accessory shopping yesterday. I needed something to go with that white skirt from last year. Now I need cowboy boots.
Henry is our new F-150, FX4, off-road, extended bed, 4-door crew cab, plaything with a huge engine and whole lot of haul. The wheel well is higher than my waist. Don’t be fooled by that pretty white exterior. He isn’t sporting fancy, girlie, high-polish wood-grain inside that cab.
Oh, no, not any fancy wood-grain for Henry. This truck has high durability fabrics and a plethora of deeply grooved rubber.
Henry seeks adventure.
Once he knows me better, he’ll ask to be called Hank. I can tell these things.
I remember the first time I drove a truck. I was out in the Arizona desert with these guys. I had flown in from Japan to learn the hot weather test process. We were there for work, but it was after work, and a few of the engineers had decided to take some trucks off-road.
The lead engineer on the trip took me in his Ford truck, still equipped with all the monitoring devices. The only lights beyond the truck headlights were the desert stars. The various gauges taped on the dashboard told us more than the view through our windshield, often obscured by the Arizona dust.
After driving for quite some time down a rough, dirt road, he asked me if I wanted a turn.
Me? A turn? I didn’t hesitate. My heart raced. I slid the seat forward as far as it could go, and still pulled on the wheel to bring my feet closer to the pedals. The sweat poured down my back. We had had perfect test weather that day – nearly 120 degrees. Heat radiated off the dirt.
“Put your tire on the rocks,” he called out.
We went. I went fast. I drove country roads in high school in a Pontiac. I drove too fast then, and wasn’t much older. The girl desk jockey from the Japan office wouldn’t be outdone.
“Don’t miss! Tires on the rocks!” I heard him again.
“Okay, okay, okay.”
I hit the rocks. I hit them one by one, I was on a roll. Until all of the sudden, the truck cut out.
A mild panic enveloped me. Driving back roads was not frowned upon. Breaking trucks wasn’t cool.
I knew the lead engineer well enough to know he had rebuilt a Bronco for fun. He had a patent. He could fix the truck. He could even fix a truck in the dark, dusty, Arizona desert.
He looked around. He checked quite a few things. He probably wanted to yell at me, but he didn’t. Finally, he fixed the truck.
We let out a deep breath, and drove back to the hotel.
Fifteen years later, we bought Henry.