I drive a red 2003 Ford Ranger named Sentry the Defiant, and I love him more than most other things in my life. I think of Sentry not so much as a mere mode of transportation or object I own but as a partner in life–one who helps me accomplish my goals (hauling shit), supports me in stressful situations (driving on ice/snow/other forms of precipitation), and challenges me to be a better person (one who gets oil changes on the regular and whatnot).
Since acquiring Sentry, I have spent a lot of time thinking about people who own trucks, and specifically women who drive them. In terms of defying stereotypical gender roles and solidifying my independence, I would consider owning a truck one of the most “feminist” things I’ve ever done. In those blissful moments cruising the open highway, dreamcatcher hanging from the rearview mirror, I think to myself, “Could I ever love someone as much as I love Sentry? And if I did, how could he ever be as reliable and useful as a truck?” While I do have a (human) boyfriend I care about very much and who is actually a much better conversationalist that Sentry, I would argue that he is the exception, and in most cases, trucks are better than boyfriends. Every girl should have one. Here’s why:
1. You can haul shit. Specifically, your own shit. I can think of few greater feelings than being able to pack everything you own into the back of your truck and just go. Especially while blasting that Destiny’s Child Independent Women Part I and thinking about how much you’re not making seven trips in your boyfriend’s ’96 Altima.
2. You can haul shit. Specifically, other people’s shit. For money. And slushies. The great thing about being a girl is that people are sexist bastards and assume you have neither truck nor muscles, and therefore are useless in the household-moving process. I don’t have to lie and/or avoid people bugging me about borrowing my truck to help them move, and when I do offer up Sentry’s services, I am
handsomely rewarded fondly appreciated.
3. You can put whatever you want in/on your truck. Try that with a boyfriend. They’re all like, “Thanks for the Star Wars t-shirt, but I only wear ironic nerd-paraphernalia when it’s pre-used, and this has a distinctly non-Goodwill, rather Target-esque smell.” They should take their Target t-shirts with a smile and be glad I’m not imposing my sweater vest obsession on them. Anyway, I’ve noticed this about truck people: we view our trucks as an extension of ourselves, and the stickers and decals and fake testicles we adhere to them serve to strengthen this ideal version of ourselves we project to the world. Currently, Sentry proudly bears an Oregon Ducks decal and a Coheed and Cambria decal on the back window and a dreamcatcher on the rearview mirror. I have plans for a howling wolf decal in the near future. I can paint Sentry any color I desire. I can morph Sentry into my perfect vision of him, and he will never complain to his friends that his girlfriend made him wear it.
4. You get out what you put into the relationship with your truck. This is not always the case with boyfriends. When I put new tires on my truck, or get an oil change, or put sandbags in the bed, my truck runs better or I run less risk of dying in a fiery crash. It seems like no matter how much effort you put into your human romantic relationship, your odds of dying in a fiery crash remain about the same. And, let’s be honest: I’ve never had to tell my truck that he has left me “emotionally exhausted.”
5. There’s only room for two (unless you have an extended cab). It’s great. I never have to drive a group of people anywhere or give randos rides home (just one rando at a time, folks), because I only have one passenger seat. You would think this would be an apt metaphor for a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship–“just me and you, baby…us and the open road.” But then your boyfriend invites all his bro pals along to your six-month-anniversary dinner date (the equivalent of having 4 drunken rednecks illegally riding in the truck bed), or worse, tries to force the threesome issue (shoving some bitch into the half-space between the driver and passenger seats, again, highly illegal!).
6. You can sleep in the bed of your truck. Drive-ins, camping, maybe a simple change of scenery for the night. Avoiding drunk driving. Your truck has your back. It’s like the racecar bed you always wanted as a kid. Your boyfriend’s bed will never compare to sleeping in your truck.
7. You can traverse formidable terrain together. Your boyfriend’s like, “Hey babez can you pick me up a calzone while you’re out?” and you text back, “SORRY CANNOT AM DRIVING ON ROCKS AND WATERFALLS AND GLACIERS!!!” I don’t have to worry about getting stuck or not being able to drive over things that are in my way. Sentry will get me through it. Like most people my age, I wonder about my future, and I like to discuss these thoughts with my partner. I’ll say things like, “Do you think I should go to grad school?” or “Do you think I should keep plucking these grays out or just give in and dye it already?” and the boyfriend will say, “Sure, babe, do whatever you want or whatever.” I pose similar questions to my truck and Sentry is like, “FUCK YES you should go to grad school and by that I mean we can DRIVE THERE IN MYSELF!!!”
8. Your singing sounds amazing in the confines of a truck cab. Something about the small space combined with a banging stereo (read: the original tape deck) makes singing in a truck like singing in the shower times ten! You can belt your heart out without fear of being mocked by your fellow drivers, as well. Your vehicle is taller than theirs so they can’t even see you jamming out. Having a boyfriend in the passenger seat would just throw off the acoustics and lessen the dynamics of your stunning voice, especially when he is trying to play Linkin Park, so it’s best to avoid that situation altogether.
9. Your bliss is contagious. In contrast to your new-boyfriend bliss (or worse, the recent-engagement euphoria), chronic social media oversharing and all, the joy of owning a truck is something others both enjoy witnessing and wish they could partake in themselves. There have been numerous occasions when I have used my truck to help friends move furniture, or to drive through conditions too perilous for their sedans, or have even let them drive Sentry themselves. They all get out of my truck with the same wistful expression, saying something to the effect of, “Man, now I really want a small-to-medium sized pickup truck with unique decals and the ability to haul stuff as well as provide a safe and comfortable sleeping area.” I know, my friend. I know.
10. You defy stereotypes every day. I love the look on a man’s face when I pass him and I know he was not expecting to see a girl driving a truck. I love it when I go on a first date and the boy walks me to my car and by that I mean my truck. I love it when a guy and I diverge to our separate vehicles, and I get in my truck and he gets in some tiny little car, and I can tell he feels at least slightly emasculated. It’s not my goal to make anyone feel bad about who they are or what they drive, but I believe that if you feel weird about being a girl driving a truck or being a guy driving a small car when a girl is driving the bigger vehicle, you need to reevaluate your internalized gender bias. Trucks are empowering to women, building confidence and helping us achieve our goals. I say, instead of encouraging young girls to wish for boyfriends or husbands, we inspire them to dream of trucks.