ZZ Truck and the G-string cheese incident
One of the first things that crossed my mind when we finally signed the lease and our dreams of becoming real-live farmers suddenly became a startling reality was “shit! We don’t have a truck”. And as everyone knows, any self-respecting farmer needs a truck. You just can’t be considered a farmer if you don’t have one, and we would be guffawed out of every feed and tack store in the county if we consistently turned up in our little red Toyota Echo (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Following a few days of persistent and tough negotiating, the case for the truck was won, and Lex was suitably convinced. I quickly set to work scouring Craigslist and the local rag for anything that resembled our desired vehicle. I talked with sellers on the phone, sent umpteen emails, and discussed our needs with several friends including the ever-helpful, mechanical wizard, Mr. Wookey. It was decided that we were looking too small; apparently when you’re in the market for a truck, you have to aim big, aim safe, and aim damn-right tough. So we upped the stakes, halted the search for piddly little pretend trucks and concentrated our efforts on finding a truck worthy of towing some seriously heavy shit.
It was under these super-charged conditions that I happened upon the ad for the ‘Orland Public Auto Auction’. The ad featured a vehicle that turned out to be their poster-child for the event; a 2001 Ford F-150, 4 wheel-drive with camper shell, and only about a 1/2 million miles, it was perfect. It would meet our needs with its ability to tow some really heavy shit, and had the bonus features that I had almost convinced lex that we needed. The date was set, my mind was made up; we would go to the auction and buy that truck.
On the morning of the auction, we drove up to Orland with an hour or so to spare so as to spend a bit of time ogling the vehicles, and making sure the truck started, went ‘vroom’ when we asked it, and didn’t fart too much black smoke out its rear end. Of course we had some help in our testing of these all-important mechanical thingy-ma-bobs; Mr. Wookey had also made the trip out to Orland before even the first sparrow had farted, to ogle some vehicles himself, being the rev-head that he truly is. Before the auction started we had made our budget cut-off decision and looked at some other trucks all of which didn’t measure up to the Ford F-150 with the shiny bits. There were a couple of really old, farty, black smoke belching, type trucks that we snobbishly dismissed, a freezer van that Mr. Wookey was especially excited about, and a 1985 Chevy pickup that we all agreed would make a fairly decent farm truck, and backup if our sweet bidding skills were outmatched and we didn’t, in fact, win the Ford F-150 with all the shiny bits.
Throughout all the pre-auction banter, I was becoming more and more nervous, there were a lot of people there, and surely most of them would have seen that truck and how could they not all be wanting to buy it? The answer is simple; only about 1/3 of the people there were actually looking to buy a vehicle, the rest were there on their Sunday family outing. As the auctioneer was introducing his assistants and explaining the rules of the auction the place was steadily filling with what can only be described as “an interesting assortment of people”. It appears that the spectacle of a public car auction is enough to draw out every Tweaker, Bogan, Rev-head, Boy-racer, Gang-banger, Ned, and meth-addict from San Fransisco north to the Oregon border, and bring their entire families too – apparently the hot-dogs and bovril are too good to miss.
So, we’re there, sitting on what is known as ‘the bleachers’, surrounded by the residents of such beauty spots as Clear Lake, Oroville, and Cohasset , watching the auctioneer’s two sons as they strutted around handing out candy canes to toothless patrons and generally entertaining the crowd. The anticipation of the first sale was building to a rumbled peak, and it was with a rumble that the sale began – the rumble of a semi-operational Volvo station-wagon, limping into the auction house.
The bidding started slowly as the auctioneer was trying to milk every last dollar out of the bidders, but soon quickened up to a more lively pace and by the time the F-150 with all the shiny bits came in, the auctioneer was talking faster than the announcer at the Melbourne Cup, and I was anxious. It was over in a flash. The bidding started at around $1500 and before I knew it I was bidding at $3250 and Lex was elbowing me in the ribs yelling “Stop!” So I duly stopped, and the guy I was bidding against won himself a beautiful gold Ford F-150 with so many shiny bits he’s going to need some new sunnies. We went into the auction with a budget of $3000, and during the frantic bidding process I made the decision to go up to $3500, but I hadn’t communicated that fact so Lex was panicking that I might just keep going and end up having to do a runner out the back, forfeiting our $20 bidders deposit and leaving behind all hope of ever owning the F150 with all its shiny bells and even shinier whistles.
After another hour or so sitting on the bleachers watching cars come and go, including Mr. Wookey’s freezer van which he also lost, and taking in all the unusual and downright perplexing, sights of the day (the girl in front with the G-string up to her armpits who insisted on feeding her baby cheese from an aerosol can drew particular attention, and not least for the G-string incident), in came the 1985 Chevy 3/4 tonne pickup. Now this is a truck that has absolutely no shiny bits whatsoever, in fact it’s so un-shiny that the auctioneer started the bidding somewhere close to free. The win was easy, a couple of half-arsed bids from semi-interested rev-heads, one or two grunted increases by some suspicious-looking beardy-wierdies (myself included) and it was mine – I was the proud owner of a decidedly un-shiny 1985 Chevy 3/4 tonne pickup. Sweet!
After the rapture had subsided and the (exhaust) dust had settled, the truth hit, and it hit me like a 3/4 tonne Chevy truck. Transactions complete, bits of paper exchanged and I suddenly found myself racing down Interstate 5 at somewhere between 50 and 70 miles per hour in a truck I knew absolutely nothing about; I didn’t even know if the brakes worked, if it was prone to sudden explosions, or if I could get anything other than deceptive Christian rock on the radio. Yep, it made it that far……..far enough for me to have at least those three minor concerns manifest themselves in my pearly white knuckles and the tips of my Hell-singed ears – but not much further.