Eric was our neighbor. He lived in a shack of a tumbledown house out by the creek, and he fixed things. He had a big red beard, a big yellow dog and a big smile full of brown teeth - and me and my brother hated him, because he liked our mother.

At first it was just the occasional call. Then he began to come over every Saturday. Late afternoon we'd hide in the treehouse and hear the rattle of his pickup truck, his cheery whistle, and our mother's cheery voice telling him hey. She'd be looking pretty and smelling good. We were jealous as all hell. We dropped rotten apples in his boots, spilt drinks on him, asked him dumb questions. We held spit competitions. We acted like mean weird scarey kids. Once Lark came in wearing a dress of mom's to freak Eric out, but it didn't seem to bug him, which made us mad. One day we could hear them talking and laughing in the house and Lark flipped out. He ran to the pickup truck with me in tow, we climbed in, and stole the truck

Our father had taught Lark to drive. He could go like a bat out of hell on the straight but he wasn't too hot with reverse, and the porch took a whacking as we backed out. At that point Mom rushed out, just in time to see her 12-year-old son and his little sister rattling away at speed down the dirt road through the orchard in her boy friend's pickup truck. She looked scared, but we were having too much fun to stop.
It ended a short way away in some fields. Lark had his foot on the gas, I had my hands on the wheel and we hit a ditch and turned the truck sideways. We had some cool bumps and bruises but we were okay, and so was the truck. We were kind of shaken.

Later, Eric and Lark drove the truck back together and they had a talk. He wasn't mad at him. Lark would never tell me what he said, but after that we kind of agreed that Eric was okay.

A pickup truck is a vehicle that has a large flat cargo area in the back, enclosed on the sides. They are meant for hauling cargo that isn't easily damaged by the elements, such as lumber. Pickup trucks come in many sizes, some of the larger ones having Diesel engines and double-tires in the back.

car | minivan

I bought a pickup truck not too long ago, a bright red Chevrolet "Colorado" with an extended cab. It is the biggest one I can get into my garage. As it was, I had to shift stuff around to accommodate it and, if I want to go to the far side of the garage from inside the house, I have to walk clear around the pickup. No matter.

I've always wanted a pickup so I decided to get one before I am too old to enjoy it. And I really need it. I traded in my Huyandi "Tucson", which I acquired when I was always buying cases of diapers for my mother. She's gone now, and the Tucson was okay for bales of hay and sacks of topsoil, but when I bought the three-wheeler I realized that I couldn't get it into the back of the van.

I tried once to get the trike into the van; first I lower the handlebars, then I removed the seat, then the handlebars. I did load it into the van, but I had to rebuild the trike when I offloaded it, tear it down again for the trip home . . . you get the idea.

Funny thing about the buying a pickup is that a huge percentage of the newer ones are automatic shift. A pickup is a work vehicle, apt to be taken into places where there is broken terrain, or over sand and snow, depending on where the owner lives. Manual shift is handy in a situation like that, to say nothing of dealing with heavy loads where the "low" gear in an automatic doesn't cut it. Plus, I've driven stick shift all my life and am easily bored with automatic drive. But I could not get a manual shift model.

I started out with Ford and had a deal on a second-hand one off the sales lot until I went back home and re-arranged my garage. Back at the dealership I asked them to find an extended cab with manual trasmission for me, either new or used, and they had none in the four agencies in the area.

"Okay", I said, "order one for me from Ford"."

"Oh, we can't do that. You might find something else before it comes in; then we're stuck with it."

I offered to give them payment in full before they ordered, but they refused. Clearly, this particular Ford dealer was not interested in ordering anything from the factory. Or maybe they didn't really believe that an old lady truly wanted to buy a pickup.

I then went shopping for a used Ford pickup at non-Ford sales lots and eventually found myself in a Chevolet agency. At that point I saw the Colorado and decided to buy a new one. There were no small extended cab Chevrolets with manual shift available, but they were willing to locate one. My truck came from Tampa, clear on the other side of the Florida peninsula, 140 miles away.

Here's the thing I found most ridiculous about the whole experience: the salesman who sold the truck to me could not drive stick. When he wanted to take my Tucson to their "Used Car" sales lot up the street for trade-in valuation, I had to chauffer him in my own vehicle as it was manual shift and he couldn't drive it. Go figure.

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