The Illustrated Tow Truck
I was sitting at a light, on the way to some suburban endeavor this morning, when I noticed a tow-truck idling next to me in traffic. Normally, I wouldn’t look twice, but I happened to notice that on the long, thin, metal edge of the bed, there was a pattern. The truck itself was red, but the pattern consisted of festive little yellow asterisks and triple swipes of powder blue, over and over again on the red metal. I studied it, and decided it was definitely hand-painted.
A thought occurred to me at that moment: Who the hell hand-paints a tow truck? Isn’t that the most utilitarian thing there is? It’s not cute and fun, like a taxi cab. In fact, it evokes times of great pain in the ass – rumbling up to take you away from the scene of your accident or yanking you from the parking space you thought was perfectly legal. So help me, though, this tow truck had the equivalent of a filigreed edge along its side. Hand painted. With happy little colors like a nursery.
Did the driver do it? Did it come that way? Is that a factory setting, or some happy wife proud of the first truck her husband owned? I picture some delightful codger, touching up the hand-painting his equally codgerly truck. She’s named Marlene, and she takes a minute to get going in the morning, but so does he. She will be parked proudly in his driveway, and eventually, in a happier, more Shire-like world, if her axle gives out, her motor will power some alternate contraption of his own making, like a pulley clothesline that automatically rotates his laundry so he can stand in one place and hang it. There she’ll be, with headlight eyes and a rusty, happy smile, puttering and sputtering, but still being useful well beyond her years. Sure, the kids’ll sell her when the codger passes away, but she smile just as much she become the belle of the junkyard, housing a raccoon that has babies in her vinyl front seat.
For a minute, I wondered if all tow trucks were painted that way and I never bothered to notice. Then, I decided I didn’t want to know. This tow truck brought me a big smile in Saturday morning traffic, and that was all that she needed to do, she and whoever decided to paint her. So, thanks, Marlene, and it nice to meet you. Please give the raccoons all my best.
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Hi. I'm Amanda Dobbs.