My dad bought his red Dodge Dakota truck in 1995. When he got the truck it had already hit a deer and two cows. Since he has owned it, its value has gone down considerably, even though he has spent more money fixing it than he paid for it. If it was worth as much money as it has cost to keep it running we could sell it and buy a new car. It is red with a stripe down one side– yes, only one side, the other side has no stripe, I have no idea why this is. There is also a huge dent above the right hind wheel that occurred when a horse tried to jump in the back of the truck. The new, improved, revamped bumper is bent slightly down from the deer and other things that it has hit.
The back of the truck is mostly full of my dad’s horse shoeing stuff. It is in no way neat or in any kind of arrangement. There are always empty horseshoe boxes piled to the brim. Underneath the boxes, balls of twine are entangled in old non-usable horseshoes.
If you get inside of the truck, you enter a whole different place than the outside world. Notice that I said if you get in; what I mean by this is you can’t get in through the passenger side unless someone opens it from the inside. The driver’s side door doesn’t open all of the time, and when it does you can’t possibly slam it hard enough to get it to shut all of the way. Most of the time the passenger side is overheaped with trash, mostly empty pop bottles and cans.
Inside it usually smells like horses. My dad shoes horses for a living, so the smell is on him and then is transferred to the seats and anything else that he touches. Also, he keeps his apron in the cab of the truck and it definitely smells like horses. Once in a while when I get in, I get a sniff of a mixture of vinegar and dust. The smell of vinegar comes from the homemade fly spray that my dad makes, and the smell of dust is from all of the dirt that is that has gathered in the corners on the dash.
Once I finally get past the aroma of the truck I proceed to turn the key and hope it will start. Most of the time when I turn the key it does nothing more than click. My dad warned me about this and instructed to me that if I kept on trying it would eventually start. So I proceed to give it a few more turns until it finally starts. Once it has started I don’t get my hopes up, because within about five to ten seconds it usually sputters, revs up, and dies. So then I have to attempt the starting process again. It usually takes at least two tries before it will stays running.
The fun part begins when you actually drive the “rust bucket,” as my little brother calls it. The manual on the truck explains that you are supposed to shift between 2500 and 3000 Rpm’s. This is impossible if you want to go over 30 miles per hour. I get up to about 4000 Rpm’s before I start to think about shifting. It seems like there needs to be another gear between third and fourth. When I shift to fourth the revolutions per minute drop from 4000 to 1000 and I end up losing speed instead of gaining speed. When I am able to shift into fourth–when I am going downhill–there might as well not be any more gears. Fifth gear is nearly impossible to use. Every once in a while I accidentally shift into fifth gear. I’m quickly reminded that that is not a good idea when I’m thrown into the steering wheel from the truck lurching and jolting forward and backward. I have to leave for my destination 10 minutes earlier than I would normally leave when I have to drive the red truck. Forty-five miles per hour is almost unattainable.
I usually try to avoid having to drive the old “rust bucket,” but every once in a while my parents leave it at the school for me to drive home. I try to be the last one to leave just in case it dies on the way out. When I am blessed with the opportunity to drive the dented, 1988, red Dodge Dakota, I appreciate not only better vehicles but also more enjoyable places.