A Socratic Rancher 12-28-09
This goat story starts with a truck.
A neighbor was in a pinch, borrowed 500 dollars, but couldn’t pay it back, so he gave me his 1952 Ford 1-ton truck to settle the account. The truck wasn’t restored or tricked up, nor was it a wreck. It was just a good ol’ $500 truck. I put a bright red $600 FOR SALE sign in the windshield and parked it out on the corner.
For over three years, no one asked about it.
Then, one summer afternoon I got a call from a California film maker named Bruce. His crew planned to shoot a scene two miles up the road from my place, renovating the old, defunct Lyle’s Service Station to a full service station of old, circa the 1950s. Bruce’s scouts had noticed my 1952 truck on the corner, and wanted to use it in the scene. “We normally pay $500 a day for time pieces,” he explained.
In my head I said a loud “Yes!,” but my voice said, “Hasn’t been started for a while, so it probably needs a new battery.”
“OK, listen,” Bruce said, “we try really hard to get along with locals, so the best I can do without going to a P.O. would be $700 a day.”
“That should work.”
“Can you drive it up to the scene?”
After buying a new battery, I drove it up the road to the scene where it stayed for four days. Bruce’s crew transformed the old filling station with materials and props hauled in on a custom, 50-foot covered trailer with scenes of the old West painted on the sides: miners panning gold, fawns in a meadow, mountain streams flowing from glacier meadows …
On the fifth day I went up to the scene to get the truck, and Bruce gave me a check for $2,800. Milling around, in case I might see a famous actor, I approached my truck where two guys from the film crew were checking it out, looking under the hood, bouncing the fenders and such.
“Where did Bruce ever get this old truck?” one of them asked the other.
“Some old goat down the road let him have it for $700 a day,” said the other, gently elbowing his companion.
“No way. Seven hundred? He stole it!”
I didn’t mind being called a goat, mind you, because I had more than a few goats at the time and considered them on par with most politicians in terms of intelligence and integrity. Nor did I mind my truck being a time piece in a film at a bargain price. It was the word “old” that caused me to drive off in a huff.
As sometimes happens with old trucks that go unnoticed for long periods, a sudden flurry of interest flared up out of nowhere. A few days after returning it from the film set, a man came into my shop while I was welding, announcing himself by saying: “Hi there, young man.”
Startled, I nearly dropped my hood, but managed to smile. “Hi there.”
“Sorry to bother you, but I see you’ve got a nice ’52 out there. I have one just like it, only it’s in kinda bad shape, and I could sure use yours as a donor truck.”
“It’s a pretty good ol truck.”
“Would you take $500?”
“No, I would not.” I went straight to my safe and signed over the title to him.
“You’re giving me the truck?”
“Long story, but that truck doesn’t owe me a penny, and you were smart to call me a young man.”
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