It’s widely known that people tend to resemble their pets, that men often marry women who remind them of their mothers, and that women prefer men who look like Brad Pitt.
Given all the subliminal stuff going on here, I have concluded that studying a person’s vehicle and its contents isn’t just snooping, it’s a form of psychoanalysis.
For instance, some years back my wife, our two young sons and I were “doing lunch” at a local fast-food restaurant. As we ate, the boys speculated about how many cows it would take to make a billion Big Macs. My wife and I gazed out at the parking lot and enjoyed our favorite pastime, namely, people watching.
As an exhausted-looking mother struggled to herd her brood of four unruly grade schoolers into a tired-looking minivan, my wife mused, “Ever notice how people tend to resemble their vehicles?”
“Notice?” I replied. “Why, I’ve been studying that phenomenon for decades. Let’s part the mists of time, and I’ll take you back to the humble origins of my research.”
My wife shook her head.
“There you go, getting all misty on me again. I swear, you spend most of your time walking around in a fog.”
Ignoring my wife’s barb, I shared with her this highly illuminating chronicle:
The first pickup truck I ever saw was the one that belonged to our next-door neighbor, Martin. As I recall, it was an ugly bluish-greenish thing and was what one might call an in-between vehicle, that is, it was somewhere in between a valuable antique and an old piece of junk. It generally leaned toward the junk end of the spectrum.
Martin was a frenetic man, the kind of guy who was constantly in a hurry. Besides farming his quarter section of land, he also did a good deal of carpentry work in our neighborhood. As such, the box of his pickup was usually filled with all manner of miscellany: odd chunks of lumber, sawhorses, rusty barbwire, assorted hand tools, a humongous cast iron jack. I got the impression Martin could have randomly pulled over and built a small house with the stuff that was in the box of his pickup.
Watching Martin start his pickup was an exhilarating experience. His pickup was so old that it had a “kick” starter – a button on the floor that was actually the end of a rod that was connected to the starter motor – and a manual choke. Martin had a starting procedure that he followed religiously: flip the key to the on position, give the carburetor some choke, pump the accelerator twice, kick the starter, mumble an assortment of imprecations and ... vroom. All of this as he puffed furiously on an unfiltered Lucky Strike, creating a thick cloud of smoke that encircled his head.
Martin’s general appearance matched his pickup. The only time his overalls were clean was when he purchased a new pair, a momentous event that occurred about twice a year.
Standing in sharp contrast to Martin was Dad’s uncle Stanley. Like Martin, Stanley was an old Norwegian bachelor farmer, but the similarities ended there.
Stanley was what one might call a gentleman farmer. His striped bib overalls were never marred by even the slightest smudge, and his farmstead was always as tidy as a rabbit’s whiskers. But perhaps the most notable feature about Stanley was his temperament, which could best be described as “so laid-back that you often suspected he was napping.”
Stanley always drove a new or nearly new pickup that sported all of the latest features, including an automatic transmission and an automatic choke. A pickup that didn’t need any incantations to get it started.
That Stanley led a sedate and uncluttered life could be affirmed by looking into the box of his pickup. He never hauled anything back there save for the sheet of plywood he had put down to protect its bed.
“And so,” I said to my wife, “you can see why I know so much about the many ways that peoples’ personalities are reflected in their vehicles. I’ve been studying the matter for a long time.”
“OK,” she replied. “What would we learn by examining your pickup? The last time I rode in it, I saw an old cow magnet, the wrapper from a 100 Grand Bar and some petrified French fries that looked as though they’d been there since the Carter administration. What does that say about you?”
“That’s wonderful news! It means I’m a wealthy cattle magnate who hails from France. All of my struggles have been nothing but a nightmare.”
“Yeah, right,” my wife snorted. “In your dreams.”
Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at [email protected]