Tom T. Hall, country poet and philosopher of the common man, once said, “Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime: old dogs and children and watermelon wine.” I wouldn’t argue with that much, but I would propose the addition of a possible fourth category. Old trucks.

My truck is now old enough to be in high school. It needs a fresh coat of paint. There’s a dent in the front right fender from a buck deer who was feeling his oats last Fall. The cruise control hasn’t worked since the beginning of the Obama administration. Two hubcaps are MIA and I just haven’t had the heart to replace them. And at 300k miles, it needs a new engine. Which is all to say, I love my old truck.

An old truck doesn’t have to prove anything to you. It already has. That’s how it got to be an old truck.

Old trucks are as good as new money. You’ve already gone through the trouble of paying it off. So even if you have to fix the old fella up from time to time, every month without having to make payment is as good as getting a check from a BMW dealer.

My old truck fits the peculiar contours of my body. The driver’s seat is well worn, perfectly adapted to my behind. The steering wheel has been grooved by my own grip. It is mine in ways a new car couldn’t understand.

The bed has served as a bed a few times too. I’ve slept in it on camping trips and outside concert venues waiting for tickets. And once because I locked my keys inside and was too tired to wait on a locksmith. It is more or less comfortable if you’re not too demanding where roofs are concerned.

When I’m not sleeping in it, the bed of that old truck functions kind of like a center for public works. People I don’t even know stop by to drop beer cans in it, or help themselves to a tarp strap or the odd piece of plywood. A few months ago someone put three sacks of uneaten tacos and a used lawnmower battery in it.

The point is, I don’t think new trucks seem as approachable. Which is a shame. Because what has been more interesting than the stuff that rusty bed has hauled is the stories it has heard. Both gray-haired men and toe-headed boys have slung bellies against the back fenders and elbows over the bars and contended to see who could tell the biggest lie. People are too afraid to lean against new trucks. And leaning is integral to good storytelling.

Frankly, I don’t have time for a new truck. It takes longer to break in a new vehicle than it does to break in a wild horse. I think it took me three years just to get the side mirrors like I wanted them and my seat the perfect distance from the pedals. Why invest that kind of time teaching a new ride where you want things when you have one that already knows?

And then there’s the smell. People yammer all the time about that “wonderful new car smell.” Which is basically a polite way of saying “I enjoy huffing noxious gases and the fragrance of industrial adhesives.” I prefer that “old truck smell.”

My old truck smells faintly of the ghost of the Catahoula Cur dog that used to ride shotgun and eat french fries one at a time out of the console. There’s a slight aroma of honeysuckle and thunder from hours spent riding around country roads with the windows rolled down. It smells of miles and memories and me.

Even though I’ve been left sitting on the side of the road, that old red Chevy has yet to let me down. At those times I just assumed that was exactly where the Good Lord wanted me to be. And besides, the radio still worked.

I don’t begrudge anyone who buys a new “factory vehicle.” I just feel a little sorry for them. Now they will have to wait years to get the mirrors right.

Brandon Meeks

Brandon Meeks is an Arkansas native. He received his PhD. from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He serves his local parish as Theologian-in-Residence. He is also a fan of Alabama football, old folks, and bacon grease.


  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    A great friend of mine…we will call him “Adam” opened my tailgate upon a big pile of concrete we were loading into the back of my truck to use for porchsteps or maybe a bunker of some sort…the howl my truck made in protest caught my attention…I saw what had been done…that was about ten years ago…now…every time I look at that bite-mark in the top of my tailgate, I think of a good friend helping move some heavy rocks…and it brings a smile…just like it did then when I told him, “It’s a work truck…let’s get back to work.”

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    Well, I say– just keep on truckin’ Brandon.

  • Eddie says:

    This is greatness and the reason I love my old truck. Well written my friend

  • Harold says:

    My kind of story. Keep at it.
    I like your State and where

  • Doug Anger says:

    I drive a 2004 Ford diesel.It drives and stops.It feels like a well worn boot.I halls what I need and I can put a wrench to it without too much electronic wizardry.Its paid for.

  • Marse Wolfe says:

    Excellent work Mr. Meeks.

    An Ode to the truck
    It’s like an ole friend around the bend, coming with a hand to lend.
    Sure it’s there in foul or fair, a healing when you need a mend.
    A lot like me it’s worn and tired, yet always faithful when down on yer luck.
    But oh the smiles I’ve had fer miles, drivin my old pickup truck.


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