News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, JUlY 31, 2005


What was in the mystery box?

Our daughters Mary Grace and Lynn enjoy asking, "How's your truck, Dad?"

My standard reply is, "It's a truck."

They giggle and recall how much I said I wanted and needed a pickup. Now, they assume I've tired of my '04 Ford Ranger XLT, and, to be honest, I have, a little bit.

It doesn't ride as well as the LeSabre I passed on to Regina, nor does it get nearly the miles on a gallon of gasoline.

Both are reasons the truck has only about 12,000 miles. "That thing's still being broken in," my brother-in-law Don Wilbanks says. He has a '94 that he "wouldn't trade for the world."

There was a lot of interest in the newsroom the Monday morning I rolled into the parking lot and climbed out. The publisher took notice, too.

After a while, the question became when I was going to haul something in my truck and get the bedliner dirty.

"Some day," I'd say.

Monday morning, Gary Lloyd, our long-time chief photographer and imaging coordinator, commented that I was finally hauling something.

I was — a box, wrapped in a blue waterproof cover and secured with twine.

Managing Editor Scott Morris noticed it, too. And, so did publisher Barrett Shelton Jr., who only recently wanted to know if I'd hauled anything yet.

You've got to be careful what you say to the boss, because he might believe you.

When he asked what I was hauling, I replied that it was a cardboard carton filled with rocks and wrapped in a blue canvas.

"I'm tired of folks kidding me about never hauling anything," I said.

He looked bewildered, thought for a moment like he might be paying me too much, and asked, "Are you really?"

Actually, it was a bargain-deal water heater for the farm and I didn't want to unload it until I went to Blount County.

The episode, while sparking a few inquiries, now gives me status among truckers. I've finally hauled something, but the bedliner is still clean.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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