Thursday, September 29, 2011

Confessions of a U-Haul Virgin

I am half a century old, and until today, I have never rented a U-Haul.  Ever.
How odd is that?  Upon reflection, I can clearly see why I’ve never rented one, but it still kind of weirds me out.

 We used to have an SUV and a horse trailer. Anything big that needed moving got moved in that.  Furniture, garbage, hay, stuff for the yard, stuff from the yard.  Yes, even horses.  In it all went, no problem, no $19.95 a day, no 7 bucks extra for the dolly.

Then we traded in the old Dodge Durango for a little black Volvo, and since it’s really hard to pull a horse trailer with a Volvo, shortly thereafter the trailer got sold too.

I stopped showing horses years ago, so I really didn’t need the trailer.  Or so I thought.  True, I didn’t need the trailer for its intended purpose, but I needed it for everything else.

Big piles of tree branches, busted furniture, uprooted dead bushes, dog poop, leaves?  Hitch up the trailer, fill ‘er up,  and haul it to the dump.

Blizzard! Snow!  Ice! Spoiled rotten diva horses are making “I’m not comfy” faces. Must buy many bales of bedding! Into the trailer it went, and I was a hero in the eyes of my equines.

So here I am, grandmother of three on the ground and one on the way, fixin’ to retire soon, driving a minivan.  I don’t know how I came to this shockingly stereotypical middle-aged, middle-class state of being.  But I do know exactly how many bales of hay, sacks of grain, bags of bedding,  fourth graders, and greyhounds will fit into my minivan.*

I also know that the piles of boxes in my office will not fit unless I choose to take a few at a time and make many, many trips.  Six miles is not a long trip, but multiplied by double digits, it does start to wear on you.  The vast majority of our furniture is not minivan-friendly, either.

Enter the U-Haul truck.

This is a beeg-ass truck.  It’s only the medium-sized one, but it is big, inside and out. I expected it to be big in the cargo area, but it seems awfully oversized in the people compartment as well.  Am I just feeling punchy, or does this seem rather discriminatory to you?  Now, I am not supermodel height, nor am I particularly short.  In fact, if you consult the insurance charts, at 5’4”, I am dead-on average.   I have no trouble driving minivans, pickup trucks, even my husband’s Volvo.  But sitting in the driver’s seat of this thing, I feel like a five-year-old.  My feet don’t even reach the pedals.   Just lower the seat, you say?  Tried that. With the seat lowered so I can reach the pedals,  I have to peer through the gaps in the steering wheel in order to see the road.    Frustilation* ensues.

My point?  Clearly, this is a boy truck.  Clearly, I am not going to be able to drive the thing, and that bugs me no end.  What’s the fun of having a beeg-ass truck if you don’t get to drive it?

I have had this feeling before.  I remember being in Kindergarten and wanting to play with the pretend hammers and stuff at the pretend tool bench, and being redirected to the pretend kitchen area.  WTF? What an outrage!  My dad let me use the real hammer at home, thankyouverymuch.  My dad didn’t mess around. He had even introduced me to the wonders of duct tape.  Face it, no plastic flob of scrambled eggs is ever going to hold a candle to that.

Thank God for my forward-thinking dad, who, while the rest of the world sat glued to Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, never divided the world into rigid ideals of boy-ness and girl-ness.  In my world there was only person-ness, and I consider myself blessed.  I grew up believing that I could be and do anything I set my mind to and held fast to that belief,  even if I got sent to the corner for pounding the plastic scrambled eggs flat with the pretend hammer.

It’s funny how certain situations can take you straight back to pivotal moments in your childhood. The U-Haul smelled like the inside of our garage, where things got built and hands got dirty. I had really wanted to drive that truck.  My inner tomboy was crushed, but there was no time to rail against the unfairness of it all.  There were many, many boxes of all sizes, and not one, but two seven-buck-a-day dollies just waiting for me to assert my manly-woman-ness on them.

My long-awaited transition from frustilated, slightly squishy, minivan-driving suburban grandmother to lean, mean rural farm girl was not going to be thwarted by any discriminatory, male-biased, beeg-ass orange truck.

Technically, I suppose I am still a U-Haul virgin. But I did get to throw in the first box.  I didn’t even use the dolly. And it felt good.

So it begins!

*3, 6, 4, 4, and 2. A medium-sized blue heeler will also fit in addition to any of the above, but only if she rides shotgun.
*Frustilation (n) fruh-stih-LAY-shun: Word invented by my granddaughter, Lily, to express just about anything having to do with her little sister.


  1. I HATE U-haul. Next time we are on a cruise together (and you have plenty of free time), ask me why.

  2. You got it, Mark. I love a good beeg-ass truck story. I'll even provide the hard liquor!