Buying a used pickup truck, Montana styleThe Budgeteer's "Montana correspondent" takes us through a rather bizarre encounter out in Big Sky Country.
By: Bernie Nordman, Budgeteer News
Roy has been talking about buying a truck for over a year now. From my girly point of view, three months before a wedding is not the best time to buy a truck. However, he has had to put up with so much wedding stuff, this can be like a little reward for good behavior. He misses having a truck and being able to haul his own gravel, dirt and so on. He wanted a truck to take up into the mountains when he goes hunting. The bigger the truck, the bigger the game, right? He didn’t want a fancy or new truck. He wanted an older truck he could take through the brush and so on. (Insert manly grunt here.)
He finally found one on Craigslist. It was a Ford F-150 from 1984. (I learned this later. If you had asked me what kind of truck it was, I would have said “a red one.”) It was owned by an older gentleman who used it to irrigate his sugar beet fields. He doesn’t have to farm anymore, so he asked his son to sell it. They set up a time for him to go see it and away we went.
When we got there, the truck was running and Fred was siphoning gas out of it. Turns out the battery wouldn’t hold a charge, hence the running truck. Fred thought he would fill up a gas can to fill up the lawn mower since the gas tank was full anyway. They shook hands and I looked around at the pretty flowers planted near the house. It was a hot day and I was quickly getting bored.
Finally, it was suggested that we, “Take her for a spin. She doesn’t have insurance, so go toward the right, away from town. When you come back in, don’t shut her off.”
Why are vehicles always referred to as “she.” I think it’s because a man can’t yell at his wife or girlfriend and call her names, so a truck will do. But I’m getting off track here. We climb into the truck and away we go. It’s a stick shift, which I don’t drive. As we bounced down the road, Roy was muttering things to himself about shocks, wheels, alignment and so on. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Then he said to me, “Well, Bernadette, what do you think? It needs blah blah blah.”
My reply was, “I have no idea what you are talking about or how much they cost. If you think you can afford to fix him, go ahead.”
Roy muttered a little more and then replied, “I think we can fix her up, and she is worth the price. I need to think a little more.”
We headed back to the farm and Roy was still undecided. Fred offered to leave him alone for a minute with the truck, to think about it. I was not sure what that was all about. Did he think that Roy would need a minute alone to sweet talk the truck? See if they had something in common? I just kept walking around looking at the flowers. I saw a cute bunny running across the road, which was fun.
Finally, it was decided that “she” would work for Roy. It was time to seal the deal — or so I thought. He told Fred that he would take her. Fred replied, “Well, just let me call the school first. The girls down there are notaries.”
He called and nobody was around. It was noon by this time and the DMV would be closed until 1 p.m. Roy offered to pay him and suggest that the guy drop the title off to him at work later in the afternoon. Fred said, “Tell you what. Keep your money and just take her home. When I come back into town this afternoon, I’ll bring you the title and you can pay me then.”
I thought that was just weird. We got to take the truck without handing over any money. This guy doesn’t know us, and he only has Roy’s phone number. Well, um, alrighty then.
Before we left, we went into the house so they could make up a “bill of sale” for Roy to put in the window of the truck. It said the guy’s name and that he sold the truck to Roy Wahl and then the guy signed it. Maybe I’m just cynical, but, again, that is just weird. Roy taped it to the truck, shook Fred’s hand and it was time to go.
I followed behind Roy in our car, not really paying attention, thinking that it would be nice if Roy would let me stay home after dropping off the truck. Suddenly I saw a tire fly across the road! It took me a minute to figure out that it had come from Roy’s truck. I started panicking and pulled up behind him, asking Roy what happened and if he was OK.
He just grinned at me and told me that he was fine. He asked if I saw that wheel fly off the truck. He had an excited look on his face that I simply did not understand.
“No. Of course not. I just had mental telepathy and decided to stop for a picnic — right here. Of course I saw the tire bouncing down the road!”
Roy went into the field across the road to pick up the tire. He also called Fred and mentioned that we were less than a mile from Fred’s house and the tire flew off. There wasn’t a tire iron or jack in the truck. Fred was so embarrassed. He told Roy to stay right there and he would bring his son out to put the tire on. Roy could have done it himself, but since the guy offered and it was hot, why not let him. The man showed up and apologized up and down. Turns out his son had put a newer tire on and didn’t tighten up the lug nuts. I went to sit under a tree and read my Kindle while they played with the tires. Then it was back in the hot car to follow them to an auto store to pick up more lug nuts. They put those on and we were ready to go. The seller put the lug nut tightener in our truck and told him it was a gift. The least he could have done was give us a new air freshener or seat covers — you know, something fun.
Usually it takes about a half hour to get home from where we bought the truck. I insisted that we take the back roads home. If something else happened, I didn’t want to be on the highway. I watched the back of that truck like it was going to bite me. Roy was just bobbing long, happy to have a new truck. I was thinking that I hoped all the tires stayed on.
Later that day, the gentleman did show up with the signed tile. Roy gave him the money and they shook hands. It was a done deal. Now we have a big, red truck and life is good. Roy cleaned him up and made him shiny and new over the weekend. Now life is nearly complete at the Nordman-Wahl ranch — though I still want a pony.
Duluth “expat” Bernie Nordman will be returning home this fall to get married. She can be reached at email@example.com.