Broke Ain’t So Bad

photo-7

I’m not sure what color the truck was. I drove it for a year but I’ve never seen another color quite like it.

Bondo.

That’s probably the best word to describe the color of the truck I drove my senior year of high school.

Bondo is the name of the plastic putty you put on your car to cover up dings and dents. That truck had a lot of dings and dents. And the Bondo used to cover up those dings and dents didn’t exactly match the paint job, thus creating some new, hideous color. Bondo was the color of that truck.

My dad gave me that truck. It’s what I drove in to my job at Chick-fil-a. Well, at least I tried to. One morning, I cranked it up and nothing happened. I tried again. Still nothing. I had to call my aunt to come and get me. I was 30 minutes late for work that day. It was my first day on the job. By God’s grace, it wasn’t my last.

A few months later I was driving to work. Same job. Same truck. I heard a loud bang and the sound of something scraping under my truck. My steering wheel quit working. I found out later that the drive shaft fell out. Or was it the cam shaft? Maybe it was both. One of my co-workers was a few cars behind me. She gave me a ride to work that day. We made it on time.

Nobody ever asked me to turn up a song so that they could hear it through the Radio Shack speakers in that truck.

Nobody ever asked me where I got my RoadHandler tires from. At least not with a straight face.

Mostly, people just pointed and laughed. And gave me a ride to work.

16-year-old Ethan Couch’s truck was different. In June of 2013 he was driving an F-350. And he was drunk. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. Logic tells us that Ethan’s irresponsibility was the reason that he wrecked, killing four people and seriously injuring two more. Couch’s attorney made a name for himself when he proposed a different reason. Affluenza. Simply put, Couch’s parents babied him and gave him no guidance other than teaching him that money could get him out of almost anything. More simply, he was too rich for his own good.

A judge seemed to agree.

On Wednesday she denied a request from prosecutors to send the teenager to jail. Instead, he gets probation and a stay at an expensive California rehabilitation center. If he breaks the terms of his probation, Couch could get jail time.

Could.

So much for Lady Justice being blind. As it turns out, she has a way of peeking through her blindfold at the first sign of money.

There is a lot that could be said about Ethan Couch’s story. For one, his parents failed him. They gave him everything. And when it was all said and done, they gave him nothing. Money can buy you a lot. It can even get you out of a lengthy jail sentence. But there are a few lessons that money can’t buy you. There are some lessons that can only be learned by driving an old, broken down truck.

My truck wasn’t given to me to teach me a lesson. It was given to me because it was all that my family could manage. But even still, I learned a valuable lesson from driving that truck around.

Broke ain’t so bad.

Ethan Couch could have really used a truck like mine.

It’s not that I never did anything wrong in my truck. It’s just that I could only do so much. It’s hard to drag race when you can’t drive over 40 miles per hour without some kind of a shaft falling off.

At the end of my senior year, I sold my truck. I felt sorry for the man who came to buy it. He was a family man. I thought that he needed to be driving something much nicer than my old truck. He handed me an envelope full of cash and drove off. I haven’t seen that truck since.

I didn’t quit feeling sorry for that man until I got a little older and realized that he was just being smart. I thought about him last year when I bought some guy’s old, beat up Toyota. I handed him an envelope full of cash and drove off. My family was with me.

Most people don’t see anything nice when they look at my old Toyota. But I do. Not having much has a way of making you appreciate things when you have more. Even if it’s just a little more.

There’s no Bondo on my Toyota.

The tires are new.

And nothing has fallen off of it. Yet.

I plan on driving that Toyota for as long as I can.

And when they’re old enough, there’s a good chance that I’ll give it to one of my sons. There are valuable lessons that they need to learn from that old Toyota. But if it ever breaks down on one of them, I’ll be there to give a ride to work. Free of charge.

Broke ain’t so bad.

Leave a Reply