What Is A Work Truck? - Garage Editorial
As I stared out the window of a 757, aboard a 4½-hour Delta flight to Atlanta and ultimately West Virginia to tow with the new Super Duty trucks, sparkling water and twin .42-ounce mini pretzels spread across my lap tray and 4-month-old baby sleeping peacefully two seats over (yes, he was drugged with pediatrician-approved Benadryl), I was plagued by a certain question: How do you know if something is a work truck? Is the “work” part more important, or is it the “truck” part that really counts? What is “work,” and what is a “truck”? Or, when combined, do the two parts morph into a third something that is uniquely “work truck?” There was always the chance that, being somewhat of a “guest editor” for at least this issue, I was completely over-thinking the matter. Maybe we all just instinctively know what a work truck is when we see one.
By this time, one pack of pretzels had slid off the edge of my tray and fallen to the floor, certainly gone for at least the remainder of the flight. At least it wasn’t the drink, yet. The view had become a dreary blanket of gray, which I assumed was the reason 90 percent of the plane’s windows were closed. I mean, we all see magnificent Earth from 35,000 feet all the time, right? So why bother acting interested now… That’s fine, I’ll be the geek excited about cool things, like the neat planet on which we live. I don’t get it. Anyway, back to work trucks. To figure out what a work truck is, I did what any honest adult would do and consulted the Tonka Toys website. It seemed like a logical solution, since Tonka represented everything “work truck” in the simplest, truest fashion I could think of. Aren’t we all just big kids playing with full-scale trucks? After a few visual representations, I supposed I would find some clarity.
Despite increased turbulence, reduced armrest space (I was losing that battle), cramped typing fingers (I was on an iPhone, after all), and the faint feeling that my preflight vanilla latte and sparkling water were catching up with me, I logged onto the mighty Internet. Using some skillful browsing prowess that was almost up to par with most third graders, I discovered many types of work trucks: dump trucks, bulldozers, front end loaders, tow trucks, trenchers, sanitation trucks, cherry pickers, tankers, farm tractors, fire trucks, ambulances, garbage trucks, cement mixers, car carriers, assault vehicles, SWAT vehicles, construction rigs, and utility haulers. I probably racked up a huge Internet bill but, to my credit, I showed utmost restraint by not even purchasing one Tonka toy. I mean, how cool were these names: Extreme Extinguisher, Flame Destroyer, Cement Thrasher, and Dirt Destroyer?
I learned something from my sky-high Tonka toy browsing, something simple but profound: a work truck needed a job, and it was purposebuilt to better achieve that job, task, or assignment. It needed to be doing, and by “doing” I mean going above and beyond the call of an average passenger vehicle going about its normal routine. It needed to tow, haul, chase, protect, produce, provide, carry, rescue, transport, plow, clean, spread, communicate, serve, demolish, extinguish, mix…the list of action verbs goes on. Trumping any inherent identity the “truck” had in itself, it was defined by what it did -- by the service for which it was tasked. Therefore, I put “truck” in quotes because this definition of a work truck applied liberal boundaries to what constituted a truck, so that any vehicle that was truck-like could fit the category. A work truck could be a traditional pickup truck (with body-on-frame construction, a removable bed, and rear-wheel drive). It could be any configuration of van (cargo van, compact cargo van, passenger van, compact passenger van). It could be any configuration of commercial truck (big rig semi, cargo, box). It could be large or small, dirty or clean, refined or rugged, new or old, upscale or beat to…well, you know. Actually, that’s how most of them were. Why? Because they had jobs to do. If it was built to do a job -- and therefore needed a job -- it was likely a work truck.
I relinquished my empty cup of sparkling water as the seatbelt sign flashed on, triggered by slight turbulence that also caused the baby to erupt momentarily (but Benadryl really does work). The man’s computer next to me finally beeped loudly and died. The Word document, which was typed completely in Chinese, disappeared. I was disappointed that he had spent the whole flight reading the document but never typing. The sky turned from a soft, dreary, gray to scattered cumulus clouds. In fact, I could see land again. After all, you will never catch me with a closed window on an airplane.