“Why do you drive that old thing? With the money you’re making, you could afford a new one!” said a friend of mine as a teenager. The fellow he was talking to was one of his dad’s employees, a talented older mechanic.

They were discussing an older pickup that was pushing 20 years old. Its owner replied that he could fix anything on that old truck; in fact, he had rebuilt a number of the working components.

“I suppose I could afford a newer rig. But this old truck will do anything I want it to do, and it’ll take me any place I want to go or any place I can imagine wanting to go,” was the fellow’s reply.

My friend said it took him lots of years to understand how the fellow thought.

When traveling, I’ve discovered books that read themselves to you through the rig’s stereo. That makes a short trip out of long ones and helps with the staying awake issue, too.


Then there’s the drives where quiet is the order of the day. Days when just the rumble of the exhaust and the hum of the tires on pavement or gravel or dirt – even the jingling of tire chains on packed snow – just gives you time to think.

On one of these quiet trips, I was musing about the rig I was driving, my pickup that is old enough for its own driver’s license. In less than 35,000 miles, it will have logged the half-million mark. With the local wager being which one, me or the pickup, will last the longest, my thoughts drifted.

My friend who’s a mechanic reminds me every time we meet that he wants to buy my truck whenever I’m done with it.

Also musing about my grandsons. Would one of them appreciate that this old truck has more than another couple of hundred thousand miles left in it and keep it up so it’s still presentable and reliable? At least one of them claims to be taller than my 6 feet, 4 inches, so at least he’d appreciate the remodeled driver’s seat position. I’ve got it tweaked so it’s in the same range power-wise as the current crop of new diesel pickups. Got an extra set of alloy wheels when I bought it, so I can save good winter tires for actual winter driving.

Hidden away in a corner of my shop are my cobalt drill bits. It’s amazing the hard materials the cobalt bits will drill through. They are expensive: five times the cost of a good set of titanium-plated bits. That’s why when someone needs to borrow one, I usually just go with the bit – better chance of it coming home unbroken.

Then my thoughts drifted to contemplating how you can get that youngster that’s too much like yourself to swing the rudder of his life just a bit to change where he or she is heading.

Many years ago, a fellow I knew in a church setting made an interesting comment. He was relatively new to the congregation, was in his second marriage and seemed to have a stable, loving home life. His comment, in a classroom setting of other adult men, was, “If I had had the tools I’ve gained in this church 15 years ago, I’d still be in my first marriage.”

That’s where one session of musing ended up: That how you live and how you treat others trumps how you care for tools and vehicles. Just like cobalt drill bits, there’s a learning curve. Lots of guys don’t even know cobalt drill bits exist.

When you have a mentor you can call from two states away and describe the noise and antics of a broken car, and he can tell you what part needs repaired or replaced, where it can be purchased and how much it will cost, and he’s right. …

Then pay attention when he also offers guidance on choosing friends, how to treat people, how to see that your employer gets his money’s worth when you get paid. When looking to start your own family, pay attention to guidance as to which pools you should be “fishing” from to find that special one to spend the next three-quarters or more of a century with. That mentor probably likes you and wants you to be happy.

When you leave on a drive, you make sure there’s adequate oil in the crankcase. Otherwise, there will be catastrophic consequences.

Likewise, to go about establishing a family, you need to check regularly that those most dear to you feel cherished. That they come home to you not because they have no other place to be, but because they would rather be with you than anywhere else in the world.