Openly admitting to the practice of Luddism in certain facets of my life is finally being embraced. I confess that I have taken steps to become ordained in the employment of a whisk broom rather than an electrified sucking machine when it came time to clean out the vestry and sanctuary of the F-250.
We tend to forget that simple answers are usually the best answers to almost any problem; that principle is most often attributed to a theologian.
William of Ockham was a Luddite, but living in the 1300s gave him no other choice. Since pre-ordering a pickup with vinyl flooring in lieu of carpeting was not an option (due to slow Internet speeds), tiny brooms were commonly available. I bet William he found them to be perfectly fitting for tasks
Plush carpeting on the floor of a pickup truck is a bad idea, but it picked steam through the nineties as trucks became more of a daily driver for families all over America. As legions of souls realized carpeting was not necessary for a vehicle destined to be sullied by sand, mud, gravel, and sawdust, there was hope for redemption. That’s when the “carpet-delete” option became the go-to box to be checked when purchasing a work-based truck.
Most of my trucks have come into my possession after belonging to someone else, so worn and smelly carpet was part of the deal. Sure, I shampooed a few rugs, but keeping up with the mess was never worth the effort. Work boots with traction-tuned soles track in the residual water and salt from sodium-treated roads. That soon translates to rusty floorboards and a dank and musty odor.
On the most recent truck purchase, I determined that vinyl was both fine and final.
Summers spent on gravel byways and rutted, unkempt roads cause the accumulation of gravel underfoot, near the brake and gas pedals. I’ve been silently promising myself that I would grab the shop vac upon arriving home after one of many trips. I never follow through. I do, however, carry a couple of whisk brooms in the truck.
The oldest and most worn brush is stuffed in a seatback pocket. I use it mostly in winter when trying to brush snow out of the truck just before it returns to its liquid state. Even without rugs, the water tends to pool up in spots. I also have pretty good factory-installed floormats, so I saved a few bucks by avoiding purchasing one of the high-end laser-molded sets.
Like much of my storytelling, an extra layer of plastic mats used to cover up waterproof vinyl floors seems redundant.
This week, after a particularly gritty session of repeatedly getting in and out of the truck, the layer of dirt on the floor began to be more noticeable underfoot. Upon the arrival at the house, the rains had started in earnest. Plugging in the shop vac to an electrical outlet and dragging it through deep puddles in the dooryard hit me as a poor way to be remembered; I grabbed the eight-inch straw broom.
With minimal effort, I cleared the truck floor of over four months of sand, grit, beach shingle, and stones. Between the rubber weatherstripping and body panels typically lie bits of grime and numerous burrowing hemlock needles. The well-worn array of variable-length straw bristles makes quick work of the slag that tries to hang on to the free ride for a little longer.
You can hear soothing 70s tunes— clearly— without the constant howling of a five-horsepower electrified vacuum. Naturally, whisking in time and tempo with the songs on the radio becomes part of the charm.
I’m no Buddy Rich, but if you closed your eyes, you might swear he was doing his best brushwork on a snare drum somewhere near the open doors of the cab. Merv Griffin would have loved it.
The amount of dog hair that floated into the jetstream that day could clog a standard septic system; I am surprised that Ellie isn’t bald. Fuzzballs from her old blanket had sought refuge in the far corners of the cab, but that whisk broom coaxed it out with one or two artful strokes.
I think the whisk broom did far better than the vacuum. And my ears didn’t hurt. In the end, the cab was clean enough for future services in the big blue church of the open road. Sure, the choir music is piped in from Sirius/XM satellites in space; please don’t tell the Luddites. Every man has his vices.
*Thanks for all your support, and I hope you are all ordering my new book, “Dawn in the Dooryard: Reflections from the Jagged Edge of America.” Find your favorite bookstore and pre-order it, or pick it up online. You can grab it wherever fine books are sold. Readers who purchase your books boost the chances that your publisher will pick you up for another. Please consider it. This blog goes out to about twenty-thousand folks every week. If even only half of you buy the book, you might put us on a collision course for a bestseller. Your support is vital, and I appreciate all of you. Thanks