Fully loaded

Some of my readers may be familiar with my husband’s pick-up truck.  It’s a 1995 Dodge Dakota.  It wasn’t new when he got it.  It was what’s called a “program vehicle.”  That means it was perhaps part of a fleet of vehicles leased by a car rental agency like Hertz or Avis.  We know that whoever had it first was based in Florida. It had 10,000 milies on it and was one year old.

Now, you take a chance whenever you buy a used car, of course. You’re not sure how hard it has been driven or where it has been driven. And I have a particular concern about that when it comes to pick-ups and SUVs, especially the 4-wheel-drive variety. I had visions of this one zooming through and into the waters of the Everglades as its drivers craned their necks to get an up-close-and-personal view of the real world of alligators.

It was a used car in 1996. But it was new to Terry. Here it is, fresh from the used car dealer and with 10,000 miles on it.

It was a used car in 1996. But it was new to Terry. Here it is, fresh from the used car dealer and with 10,000 miles on it.

Nevertheless, Terry had wanted a Dodge Dakota for a long time. He wanted a blue one. He wanted a sun-roof. He wanted 4-wheel-drive. He wanted leather seats. He wanted a good sound system. He wanted a CD player (multiple CDs, if possible). This just wasn’t affordable for us in a new vehicle. And, suddenly, there it was. Customized and complete with leather bucket seats, sitting on the used car lot (I guess they call them pre-owned vehicles now). We took it for a spin, made sure everything was working, the deal fell together and, voila! It was his (and the finance company’s).

About 15 years ago, Terry had a business meeting in Chicago, and he stayed the night at the Seneca Hotel, just off of that classy North Michigan Avenue. Had we known our way around a little better, he probably would just have driven across the state line, parked the truck and taken the commuter train into the city. But we didn’t know about that at the time, so he decided to drive the truck to the hotel and get it parked.

You know how those big city hotels are, with canopied entrances and bell captains in fancy uniforms. This one was no exception. This bell captain was decked out in his deep burgundy uniform and gold epaulets and buttons and his bell captain hat. Terry maneuvered through the traffic and pulled up into that little semi-circular drive. As he got out of the pick-up, the bell captain peered inside, rocked back on his heels, and observed: “Full-ee loaded. Yes, siree.  Full-ee loaded!”

Makes a guy feel kinda good.  You know, to have someone else admire your machine when it’s a five-year-old used vehicle and has thousands of miles on it, most of which you didn’t put there yourself.

“Full-ee loaded. Yes, siree. Full-ee loaded!”

Then there was the time that Terry was in Milwaukee scouting out locations for a large meeting and one of the hotels he visited was entertaining a convention of Porsche enthusiasts. He and a few colleagues were in the elevator when it stopped and several other people joined them. Terry could see by their tags that they were part of that convention so he struck up a conversation.

“Oh, I see that you’re Porsche drivers,” he said and pronouncing the word “porsh.”

The one woman among them turned around to look at him and said simply, “Porsche” (porscha). Then she faced the door of the elevator again.

Terry  immediate quipped, “Oh, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t know. I drive a Dodge-a.”

Well, his Dodge-a may have been full-ee loaded, but it clearly would not have been as impressive to this Porsche driver in Milwaukee as it was to the bell captain at the Seneca in Chicago.

You know, most of us, in one way or another, are part of a fleet of vehicles such as Terry’s Dodge pick-up had been at one time. Or we could look at that convention of Porsche enthusiasts as a fleet of some kind – folks who share an interest in a particular means of transportation. Most of the time, when we think of a fleet of some kind, it may be government vehicles or ships or business trucks like the fleet of UPS vans. Some private companies own a fleet of airplanes and, of course, the major airlines have their own fleets of aircraft. Car rental companies have a fleet. Buses used for transporting kids to school or vacationers or commuters are all usually part of a fleet.

But you and I are part of a fleet of people. Sometimes that fleet is a people of one mind, one consensus, one belief system. We become a fleet when we are working together even though we are going separate directions, to different places. We are a fleet when our travels and our missions enable us to share our opinions and beliefs and try to sway others to think the way we do – in essence to get them to join our fleet.

It’s really hard to find independent thinkers anymore. Most everyone wants to believe they are independent thinkers, but most of us are not. We gravitate toward others who share what we believe and we settle in to be part of a fleet that is not independent of one another at all, but wholly dependent upon each other.

That can be good when we’re advocating on behalf of those who need the help of others. But it can be really bad when we become so entrenched in our own fleet of believers that we will not allow ourselves to consider other beliefs whether they are part of another fleet or wholly independent.

There was some snickering in the elevator that day when Terry responded that he didn’t know how to correctly pronounce the name Porsche because he drove a Dodge-a. And some of those snickers came from the Porsche enthusiasts so you have to give them credit for enjoying the joke and the company even if it was only for a short elevator ride.

A "program" car that Terry bought in 1996.

A “program” car that Terry bought in 1996.

It’s probably good to remember to have a sense of humor no matter what fleet of folks you might be attracted to – sports teams, train enthusiasts, stamp collectors, crafters, political parties, religious organizations.

Terry’s Dodge-a has 207,000 miles on it today. It’s come a long way from the fleet where it started. And, yes, it has wear and tear. It’s not part of a fleet of new cars anymore. But it still gets some admiring comments from some sectors.

Often it’s good to break away from that which has been comfortable from the very beginning and seek out new ventures, new paths, new avenues to travel apart. We can always go back to that which is comfortable. But finding out how others think, especially when we can do it with humor, will only expand our own outlook and protect us from an insular focus. Then, before we spout our beliefs with such emphasis, we can be “full-ee loaded” with not only knowledge but a broadening of our minds and a greater touch of humility.


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Share here:

10 comments for “Fully loaded

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This