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The Old Truck was Only Mostly Green

March 19, 2014

I need to sell my truck before we move. What do you think I should ask for it?

Well, based on the amount of money you put into it. . .probably ten or twelve thousand dollars.

It was old. Not old enough to be really valuable, simply old enough to not be considered new at all, probably about 30 years.

It was green. Well, that’s not true. It was mostly green. It showed patches of primer and a couple different home patch jobs.

It was worn. The truck was originally manufactured in Canada so it was in kilometers, 216,000 km, or about 135,000 miles. And they were hard miles.

I think it had originally been a service vehicle of some kind. It had never had a radio. The spot where the radio would go had a plastic cover with the word “Ford” on it. It was an F250, but about as stripped down as you could get. The heater worked well. Air conditioning was accomplished by opening the wing windows and driving really fast. Not that it was built for speed. It was a truck built strictly for work.

And I loved it.

The conversation I quoted at the beginning was with my mechanic. I think he put one of his kids through college on what I paid him in labor on that truck. I didn’t much care about the looks of it. In fact, I took a certain amount of pride in how badly it looked. But, the engine was kept in prime condition.

I had to have emissions tests down every two years, and it was always fun to watch the emissions tech. He’d stick the tailpipe probe in and run the test. Then, I’d see him double check the results. Then double check the placement of the probe and finally run the tests a second time. He simply couldn’t believe a truck that ugly could have an engine that ran that clean.

I owned the truck during my time at Microsoft. As you might imagine it was a terrible vehicle to commute in. Not only was there no radio, of course, but it got about 9 mile per gallon. It had a great big V8 engine and even idling it sucked gas out of it’s twin 20 gallon tanks at an alarming rate.

The truck had two huge advantages. First, when driving a vehicle like that, freeway merging is simple. I would put my blinker on and just move over. It looked to the rest of the people on the freeway like I didn’t care if I smashed into someone or not. I didn’t put a dent on it the whole time I owned it, but it was pretty beat up when I bought it. On the rare occasions I drove it to Microsoft, I used to love to find some really nice Porsche or Miata, or some other nice car to park REALLY close to.

The second advantage is that it was a manual transmission. My first daughter learned to drive in that old truck. We’d go find a parking lot and I’d make her practice starting, stopping, backing and turning. The clutch was so stiff she nearly had to stand up to press it down. By the time she moved on to small automatics, she had no trouble controlling her cars.

So, what’s this doing on a business blog?

Probably I’m a little reminiscent. I sold the truck for $1,000 and I think the buyer overpaid. We had to move out of state and taking the truck was impractical.

But, the truck was a tool. And because it was beat up and well used, I was more than willing to pitch in and do whatever needed to be done. I have friends who own trucks that are nicer than my Suburban. They are a little more hesitant to toss it into a situation where it might get a little more banged up.

As project managers, we need to remember that not all trucks need to look like they just rolled off the showroom floor. As we assemble teams, we should look for the resources and people that will best fit the job and not necessarily those that look the nicest.

And on the freeway, let the beat up truck merge in. You never know.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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