Guest Columnist

Inspired by Scott Pruitt, my truck is in need of an upgrade

Kurt Ullrich
Kurt Ullrich

President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is starting to annoy me. I can put up with rolling back a few regulations. After all, clean water is overrated. And that $43,000 phone booth Pruitt installed in his office so that no one could hear him on the phone? Well, I spent what felt like an eternity working in an open newsroom wherein anyone within 30 feet could hear my telephone conversations, so I’m OK with that too.

And the fact that he paid $50 per night to a lobbyist for a place to stay while he’s in Washington D. C.? Allow me to step to the side while Billie Holiday sings, “Them that’s got shall have/Them that’s not shall lose.” Face it, in the big game of life most of us are bench-sitting chumps.

But a week or so ago Pruitt went too far. He determined that his safety and well-being were so important to the country that he needed to upgrade his special ride to be more in line with that of the President.

To that end he decided that the black, bulletproof Chevrolet Tahoe issued to those in his position wasn’t quite safe enough or flashy enough, so he insisted on a much larger, newer Chevrolet Suburban with bullet-resistant seat covers. This is very humbling for those of us driving Chevys.

My Chevrolet pickup has been on the road for decades without any upgrades. It’s true, but now Pruitt has emboldened me. I practically put my foot in the carburetor just to keep up with the good folks traveling old two-lane highways around here, so as soon as I read about Mr. Pruitt’s upgrades I contacted my friend Dave who is in the process of pulling a 283 V-8 from an old Corvette and dropping in a rebuilt 327 V-8.

Surely you know Dave, or someone like him, a classic American type, the kind we don’t honor as we should, the kind who’d rather pound nails or work on jalopies than read poetry. Don’t be fooled, these guys are what this ride on the great arrow is all about, style, kindness, and great knowledge under ball caps and under auto hoods. Anyway, Dave promised to sell me the 283 V-8 real cheap. We shook on it. Talk about an upgrade.

My truck has neither a radio nor a heater, and the pneumatic windshield wipers don’t work either, though I did have the Naugahyde bench seat cover replaced some years back. It felt like quite a splurge at the time and oh my what was I thinking never giving bullet-proof-ness a single thought? Perhaps a gun rack above the seat will deter would-be shooters. Wait a minute. I don’t own any guns.

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By midsummer I hope to have my truck back out on writer Jack Kerouac’s mad, lonely roads, keeping up with the traffic, stopping in small towns for gasoline and conversation, smug in the knowledge that I know all the right people, all the ones who matter, all the ones who don’t worry about greatness, the ones who can adjust a carburetor with a Roosevelt dime.

• Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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