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Making New Friends the Hard Way

December 25, 2021

A BMW is a beautiful car, but the beauty of my 2004 F350 pickup truck is its ability to pull a 16-foot stock trailer loaded with Scottish Highlander cattle.

On a recent trip to Sam’s Club, I ran into a lovely family from Ohio, or rather I ran into their car with my farm truck. I blame my mistake on the new-fangled backup cameras we all have in our vehicles. It wasn't because I forgot to look at the console monitor, it was because it wasn't there. It never was.

Our other, somewhat-newer truck (2006), the one with a camera and monitor, was in the shop with a gushing oil leak, but farm chores don't stop when equipment breaks. With an estimate of "a couple of days" for repairs, we had to implement Plan B and put our older (2004) F350 diesel pickup truck, the one without a backup camera, into service. But first, we had to replace its two dead batteries.

A Heated Garage

Changing a battery in a passenger car can be challenging, but swapping out batteries in a diesel truck is a job for professionals or at least someone with a heated garage and the right tools. Bruce and I chose Sam’s Club because we could wait inside while the mechanics worked their magic.

When driving a vehicle with a camera monitor, I rely on the beep-beep-beep to stop me from backing into telephone poles and sometimes other cars. There was a time I didn't need a camera to help me back up. In fact, I've successfully backed box trucks into tight spots without even a rearview mirror.

When we arrived at Sam’s, we were third in line, so the attendant told me to park. I was under strict instructions to leave the engine running to avoid a re-start. Brilliant me thought that I'd back into the parking space so it would be easy to jump-start if necessary. I looked around, picked a spot, pulled forward, and started backing.

Smashing a Grille

I glanced at the console to check the backup camera that wasn't there. Crunch! The trailer hitch on my rusty farm truck met the grille of a sleek 2018 BMW sedan from Ohio. The grille did not hold up well.

After providing insurance information, I got to know this amazing family who is vacationing in New Hampshire. John accepted my profuse apologies and shrugged off the damage as “these things happen.” I’m not sure I would have been as generous if the same happened to me. Of course, they hadn’t come to the store just to get their grille smashed. The BMW had a tire that kept losing pressure. But it turns out the store didn’t have the replacement tire they needed. Not their lucky day.

A Better Farmer Than a Driver

As we walked around Sam’s Club waiting for our vehicles, we met the family in the dairy aisle and upfront after checking out. I tried to soften the blow to their auto by inviting my new friends to the farm. I hope they show up so I can introduce them to farming New Hampshire style and hopefully convince them that I’m a better farmer than a driver.

Carole Soule

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