Monday, November 17, 2003

Life lessons from a pickup truck

For the first time in my life, I own a pickup truck. When I bought my truck, I didn't go half way. I bought a full-size, extended-cab, long-bed Chevrolet pickup with a 290-some horsepower 5.3 liter V8 engine.

Anyone who has ever owned a pickup or even driven one for any length of time will understand what I'm about to say. For the uninitiated, I'll explain.

Most, if not all, pickup trucks are rear wheel drive. By design, all pickup trucks have little or no weight in the back - unless, of course, you're hauling something. This creates some interesting physics issues, especially when it's raining or the streets are otherwise slick.

It was raining this morning as I drove to work and, as I often do, I spun the back tires as I began to move after the light turned green. I have never owned a vehicle with a V8 and this one, as explained above, has a learning curve.

As I continued my drive to work and my efforts to keep my rear wheels moving me forward, I realized a pickup truck could teach us all at least two valuable life lessons.

Even when the street is not slick from water or ice, you can easily spin the tires if you give the engine too much power when starting from a stop. (I did it when I test-drove the truck.) In addition, even if you start without laying some rubber, you have to finesse the truck up to speed before you gun it. If not, you run the risk of spinning the tires again.

So, here is what I learned.

1. Just because you have power, doesn't mean you have to, or even can, use it.

2. When you have power, know when and how to use it effectively.

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