The Tactical Vehicle Is Dead. Long Live The Tactical Vehicle!
May 31, 2012
11 years is not an extraordinarily long time to own and drive a vehicle… especially not when that vehicle is a 3/4 ton, diesel powered Dodge Ram. These trucks are known to log a million miles or more, and the Cummins diesel engine is arguably one of the best on the market.
But 11 years is still six years past warranty, and time for the little things to start coming undone. An electronic switch here and there. A little cosmetic issue like missing trim, cracked dashboard, and rattling screws in one place or another. An air-conditioning compressor that no longer compresses conditioned air. And the repair bills… a couple hundred dollars here, five hundred there, a thousand over yonder… it’s time to consider the future.
I’m one of those people who can get attached to things, particularly things that invoke fond memories. A truck, especially one that’s been so many places and conveyed me to so many awesome experiences is one of those things. I know it’s inanimate and generally non-sentient (arguable), but still… I feel bad when it’s time to say good-bye, even when I know it’s the right thing to do. I mean, heck, this old truck tried pretty hard to do everything I asked of it… and it generally succeeded, even when I shouldn’t have asked some of those things. That’s more than I can say for a few dogs, a couple of horses, and some people I’ve known. But of course it’s a machine, and it doesn’t really possess any sort of “free will” (again, arguable).
But the little signs were there, and since I’ve been making these monthly runs between CA and TX, they’ve been getting more noticeable. Since January, I’ve dropped over $2500 into repairs as old stuff just starts to wear out. It’s to be expected with a vehicle of this age. When the AC began to fail, a little research told me what I didn’t want to know… it was going to be an expensive fix.
I took the truck to the Dodge dealership in Uvalde (Cecil Atkisson, if you’re interested… tell them I sent you), intending to have them give me a solid estimate on the fix. As I pulled into the lot, I decided to just go have another look at the new trucks (I’d dropped by a few days earlier, when the lot was closed, to do a little window shopping). I have to admit, I’d been thinking about replacing the old one, but it was still sort of a vague idea. The idea of a new truck, with a new truck warranty, became more and more appealing as I looked over the offerings.
I had a little bit of money set aside, earmarked in case one of the lots adjacent to Hillside Manor became available. I began to rationalize and reason. What would I need more in the next five to ten years? An extra 25 acres, or a new vehicle? I’m not always the most logical person in the world, but it struck me that, at some point in the near future, I was going to need to replace my truck… regardless of how much land I owned. It might not be soon, but it’s a simple inevitability. And in the meantime, I’d be continuing to repair these little things as they wore out… nickel and dime and dime and dollar. By the end of my little mental exercise, it had come to me that the only right decision was to buy a new truck. (I believe it is not opposable thumbs or the use of language that sets us apart from the “lower” animals, but the ability to rationalize. Possible, this is why rationalization is a dangerous trait.)
Truthfully, it wasn’t an entirely spontaneous idea.
This has been in my mind for a while now, and I’d been putting it off in large part due to nothing more than sentimentality toward the old truck. Well that, and the hopeful wish that one of these properties would miraculously come available at a good price and I could scoop it up with cash. But replacing my old truck was, to my mind, the more reasonable thing to do.
And I did.
I bought a Dodge Ram 3500, 4×4 Longhorn Edition (I’m a sure ’nuff Texan now!) with a long-bed and crew cab. This one has a REAL backseat, and more bells and whistles than some aircraft. Sure, it’s a bit fancier than anything I ever imagined I might buy, but the price was right (after some negotiation).
I’m actually looking forward to this weekend’s 34 hour drive back to CA, just so I can spend some quality time with my new ride.