A Tale of Two Trucks [© Thea Nishimori, 2010]

It was Ford Truck Month, as Mike Rowe announced daily on the TV, and since my ancient van had just given out, I was truck shopping. As an interior designer, I need something that can carry large pieces of furniture and is - first and foremost - dependable. I'd heard a lot of good things about the Ford Super Duty series from some of the contractors I worked with, so here I was. The dealer's lot was hardly as crowded as the commercials showed, though, which wasn't surprising in this recession.

Thankfully, I'd been getting a lot of work from people who had older homes and wanted to update them rather than buy new, since there was no way their old ones would sell for what they were worth. The increase in my bank account balance meant that - for the first time ever! - I was going to buy a brand-new vehicle. My steady business success almost made up for the rest of my sucky life, and right now I was on a shopping high - nothing could get me down!

I had just walked around a nice green truck when another one, in a beautiful dark blue, caught my eye. Instantly I could see myself driving in it, with armoires and sofas and rolled-up rugs all tied down in the back. The blue was a pearl-mica midnight, so it glimmered as though a million tiny stars were in its velvety depths. It was love at first sight! I was drawn to it like a magnet to a lodestone, oblivious to anything else for the moment.

Perhaps that was why I didn't see the massive guy who stepped out from between My Truck and the one next to it in time to avoid the collision. In my defense, though, he was moving rather quickly when I ran into his arm, nose-first, and bounced back onto the ground with an undignified yelp. It was probably a good thing that I did, though, or he might not have noticed me and squashed me underfoot like a bug.

"You all right?" he said, peering down into my face.

"I... I'll live," I gasped, scrambling to get up. A large hand grabbed my arm as another one roughly hauled me up onto my feet by the back of my sweater, leaving me slightly disoriented. I brushed myself off (all five-foot-four of me) to regain my composure.

"Hey, don't I know you?" he asked, squinting as though he were nearsighted. For the briefest fraction of a second, I wondered if he were hitting on me, but of course Reality kicked me in the butt before I had a chance to entertain the idea. No such luck, of course - the guy was wearing a wedding band. I could see it as he scratched his chin thoughtfully.

"Um..." He did look familiar. Big arms, denoting a life of manual labor, and naturally tanned skin under a plaid flannel shirt. "Are you a contractor?" I guessed. Elementary, my dear Watson.

"Yeah! I've been working up on Myer Hill for Fred Thornton, at that new subdivision."

"Oh, Fred! Yeah, I've done a couple of his houses this summer."

"Oh, right, you're the interior decorator!" he said, snapping his fingers as he remembered.

"Designer. Mike Stevenson," I corrected him mildly, offering my right hand. He took it in his big meaty one and gave it a firm shake.

"Joe Adams. I do carpentry and some plumbing."

"Well, nice to run into you - literally," I smiled, trying to ignore my still-stinging butt and bruised dignity.

"Yeah! So, buying a truck, huh?"

Okay, maybe that wasn't the brightest comment, seeing as how we were both at a truck dealership, but neither was my response.

"Yeah. You, too?"

"Yeah. My lease is almost up."

"Oh, you lease? How do you like that?"

We talked for a few minutes on the pros and cons of leasing, even though I had my heart already set on buying, but it gave me a chance to get a good look at him. He was probably a couple years older than me, I guessed about forty or so, with a grown-out buzz cut that he obviously didn't fuss over. He was wearing a flannel shirt over a plain t-shirt, and I could see a small tear in the flannel shirt, as well as a couple of stains. I wondered if his wife had given up on mending his clothes because there would be a new tear or stain in it the next day, anyway.

As we talked, my neck started to ache, since I had to look up at him - he had to be six-foot-six if he was an inch! Built like a football player, too. I was lucky I hadn't broken any bones running into him!

"So what options you looking for?" he asked, gesturing vaguely at the nearest row of trucks.

"That one!" I declared, pointing to the midnight blue one. "I don't know anything about cars, or trucks for that matter, but I like that one!"

He laughed heartily, and I swear the sound shook the ground around us.

"It's a nice-lookin' one, but does it have everything you need?"

"Good question," I admitted, going over to inspect it more closely. "It has running boards - that's a necessity - and it has Sync! Cool!"

About that time a salesman finally got out to our corner of the lot, with an ingratiating grin plastered on his face.

"Can I help you gentlemen?"

"Yeah - what all options does this one come with?" Joe asked, and I was grateful that he was taking charge of this discussion. It turned out that the truck I had fallen for (literally!) was a F250 XL with a V8 engine, 4-wheel-drive, 8-foot bed with sprayed-on liner, and audio controls built right into the steering wheel. There was a tailgate step, too - a little fold-away step to help you get in and out of the truck bed - that would be extremely handy for me. The price was a bit staggering, but once the salesman broke it down into the down payment and monthly payments, I knew I could handle it.

"Would you like to take it for a test drive?" the guy asked me.

"Yeah!" I said, eager to get behind the wheel of this beauty.

While the salesman went to grab the key, Joe grinned amiably and asked, "Mind if I ride along? I'm thinking of gettin' one of these, too."

"Of course! I mean, of course I don't mind," I clarified. Then a thought occurred to me. "Were you looking at this one, too?!"

"Sorta, but I wanna get a stripped-down one. I don't need all the fancy bells-'n'-whistles," he said, to my relief.

"Oh, good! 'Cuz I'd sure hate to have to arm-wrestle you for it," I confessed, eliciting another one of his earth-shaking guffaws which, while somewhat intimidating, still had the effect of making me feel jolly, too.

I took it out for a spin on the highway, then pulled into a car pool lot to switch places. Joe pointed out different things about the engine as he drove it back, most of which went over my head, but confirmed my first impression of him - that is, that he was regular guy, definitely hetero (more's the pity), and a nice, easy-going guy to boot. Just the sort of man I need, I thought to myself with a silent sigh, but of course, I always fell for the impossible ones. The one time I thought I'd succeeded in getting a good man, it turned out I'd been duped. But anyway, I tried not to think about the negative stuff, and allowed myself to float on the natural high of shopping.

When we got back to the lot and Joe asked the salesman if he had a more bare-bones version of the same truck, the guy could hardly hide his disappointment, but when I told him that I definitely wanted this one, and he realized that we were each buying a truck, he was on cloud nine right next to me. I also realized, a bit belatedly, that the salesman had thought the two of us were together. The fact that he could've seen us as a couple tickled me pink - although I tried very hard not to let it show, for Joe's sake, since he was rather mortified to be mistaken for a gay guy, even though he tried hard not to let it show, either.

We parted with a friendly "See you 'round," which was probably true, since I'd worked on Fred Thornton's new-build houses on more than one occasion, and the old guy seemed to like my style of interior design. After filling out what seemed like an endless mountain of paperwork, the salesman finally gave me the key, and I drove my new truck off the lot, grinning like a fool.