As many, or perhaps most of you, know, I daily drive a type of vehicle that is much derided on Jalopnik. That would be a 2006 GMC Sierra … crew cab … with the super shorty 5’8” bed. These trucks are much derided by “the enthusiasts” as show ponies for dudes with tiny schwances that never get dirty or do any work. I have little time for such narrow minded knobs, and take a “he who smelt it, dealt it.” point of view when it comes to gear size accusations. Instead I’m going to tell the good people of Oppo why these trucks can be awesome, and why I love mine so much.
First I shall preach the virtues of the crew cab short bed truck, in general. Think of them as a really good multi tool. Are they the best tool for any one task? No, they definitely are not. The awesomeness of a crew cab short bed truck lies in how many jobs it is good at. Hauling the whole family in comfort, carrying copious amounts of building materials (including dirty stuff you wouldn’t want in the cab of your nice minivan/SUV/wagon), towing campers or race cars, etc. The crew cab short bed pickup can do all these jobs, and all in one package that can fit in your average suburban parking spot. Name another vehicle that can carry my entire family, a couple of scooters upright and secure, and tow my camper with all at the same time. The only thing I can think of, would be a full size van. Other vehicles can only do two out of three of those jobs at once.
“The enthusiasts” deride the lack of an 8' bed, because you can’t fit a sheet of plywood in with the tailgate closed. To that I say, I don’t give a crap. Put the tailgate down and grab a couple of bungee cords or a ratchet strap. Job done. The amount of crap I have hauled in the bed of that truck is incredible. With the short bed, I can still fit in normal parking spots just fine. Throw a tonneau cover on the bed, and the crew cab short bed pickup is the modern replacement for the full size sedans of yesteryear. The trucks are a bit more versatile, although in many cases not as stylish as those bitchin’ big sedans.
So, how did I end up with this thing? In January of 2006, fresh off of student teaching, I was spared the fate of being a substitute teacher for a semester, when a rare mid-year full time job became available in a little town outside of Peoria. I may have (read: definitely did) lie a bit about my automotive experience to get the job teaching Engineering, Architecture, Drafting, Wood Working, and Auto Shop. Turned out, the only other person they interviewed for the job was a friend of mine who just wanted experience getting interviewed, and had no intention of taking the job.
I started my teaching career driving a 2000 Chevy Silverado that my dad had sold me during grad school. This was a tumultuous time in my life, for many reasons which I could go on and on about. I’ll just throw out a few stats. In the 14 months between finishing grad school in May 2005 and starting my second teaching job in August of 2006, I moved EIGHT times. During the single semester I taught at that school, I owned at various points that Silverado, a ‘93 Legacy wagon, a CPO 2004 Pontiac GTO, an ‘89 S-10, and finally ended up with the ‘06 Sierra I’m still DDing. I also drove no less than nine loaner rentals in that time, because that GTO turned out to be such a steaming pile of shit that it spent 31 days out of service in the 3-½ months I owned it.
Emotionally drained by my CPO experience, thankfully not financially because of the warranty, I decided I needed a brand new vehicle to replace the GTO. I insisted on brand new this time, because I learned the hard way that the lemon law does not apply to used vehicles, no matter how close to new they are (the GTO had been in service for 15 months and 5200 miles when I purchased it). My budget was $20 grand. In 2006, that didn’t give me a lot of choices. It was basically an econo box, or a pickup truck. I decided to go for a pickup truck, being both a large person and having a construction background, I knew that’s what I would be happiest with of those two choices.
Now, here’s the weird part. I was single at the time. I had no wife, no girlfriend, no kids, no prospects, no nothing. I didn’t even have any friends in that town. It was just me. So how the hell did I end up with a crew cab truck? Truth be told, after test driving several trucks, I had picked out a grey, regular cab, short bed Sierra. It was 2wd with a locking rear end, a towing package, and the 5.3 liter LS motor. All this for a tick over $19k, it was everything I wanted, and under budget. As the salesman and I were heading inside to do the paperwork, he took one more look around the lot to see what else he had that I might like. Along the road there were two crew cab trucks, with a $21k price on the windshield. They were both 2wd, had a locking rear end, and the towing package. The only downside, was they had the 4.8 liter baby LS motor. I test drove it to see if the smaller motor bothered me, and it didn’t. Truth be told, my truck is slow as dog shit, but it gets the job done and that’s all I care.
This is the part where I showed more foresite than I ever realized until much later. I bought that truck, because it was an incredible deal. I didn’t need a crew cab, but I was offered an entire back seat and two more doors for the paltry price of $2,000 extra. I took the deal and ran. I was out the door for under $22k, including tax and an extended warranty that was long enough that I would never suffer the fate of having to pay for repairs while still making my loan payment. A little over budget, yes, but I had done enough car shopping by that point to know a great deal when I saw it.
I bought that truck about a week before I finished up that semester working in a small town. I learned a lot about small town politics, met some great people, taught some great kids, but it was clear to me that I had to get the hell out of there while the getting was good. I pointed my new truck loaded with my things to the North East and headed out of town a whole lot wiser than I had been when I got there, and started my life in earnest.
The new job paid a lot better, but came with a whole new set of challenges. I traveled between two schools every day. Starting at one in the morning, and finishing at the other in the afternoon. That first year I taught in two buildings, in seven different rooms, and in three different workshops. Being constantly on the go, I learned how to work from a laptop bag, with my truck as my true home base. That was the year I finally acquired the taste for coffee.
That was the year I also entered the dating pool for the first time. Without getting too personal, in high school and in college, my head was too far up my own ass to do any dating. My shiney new truck brought my dumb ass to those dates, both good and bad. Frankly I don’t have any dating horror stories, because it wasn’t too long before I met the woman who would become Mrs. Shop Teacher. It was the day after Thanksgiving 2006 that I picked her up for a lunchtime date. That date would end up at a Denny’s at 3:00 am, when she fell asleep in her Moons Over My Hammy. I dropped her back off at her parent’s house, and then had one hell of an excruciating drive back to my place, trying not to fall asleep. A few months later, on a warm spring evening, we were standing next to my truck about to part ways for the week, when she first told me that she loved me.
A few years after that, we drove away from our wedding in that trusty pickemup truck. In the years between, I had moved a couple of times, changed jobs once more, and we bought our home together (yeah, we did the buy a house and marriage part slightly out of order). All along the way, my truck was there by my side. Never failing to start, never failing to get me where I needed to go, never demanding more than maintenance and gas ... and a few relatively minor warranty repairs to be honest.
Now here is where the foresight I mentioned before kicked in. This is the part of the story where we first had a kid. If I had purchased that regular cab truck, game over, time to buy another vehicle. Instead, I threw a cheap folding vinyl tonneau cover on the bed, and pressed the truck into family hauler duty. A task which it has performed flawlessly ever since. I now have two little girls. They both came home from the hospital in what they have named “Truckie.” They love Truckie as much as I do. It’s been our family hauler, vacation monster, tow beast, and the thing that never fails to get me to work each day, so I can bring the bacon home to my babies.
To be fair, it’s getting a little long in the tooth. I failed to replace the brake lines before rust caused one to burst about a year and a half ago. This summer we ended up taking my buddy’s Grand Marquis on vacation instead of my truck, because a lazy alignment tech missed a bad ball joint, and we only figured it out the night before our trip. In the last couple months, it has started randomly throwing check engine lights, an airbag sensor has gone bad, and the oil pressure sending unit is undoubtedly also bad (reads 80 psi at all times). Oh yeah, and the rocker panels are turning into swiss cheese.
But with each issue, is a fix. The lines were all replaced with the relatively cheap replacement kit of powder-coated lines. The ball joint is sorted, and everything is in tip top on the front end. A replacement airbag sensor is waiting to be installed once things warm up, and I’ll deal with the oil pressure sending unit in the spring. I’m going to drop a grand to have the rockers redone this summer, and I guess it’s time to finally buy a scan tool. It’s been nearly 14 years and 149k miles so far, but my family isn’t giving up on Truckie that easily. He’s our truck, and we love him. He’s always there for us.