My Buddy and His Lifted Truck

We have known one another since the second grade. We went through our entire schooling together. Even, beginning college at the same junior college. Our paths of life have woven us away from each other. Only to finds our way back into the friendship, years in the making. A couple years ago, he bought a Ford truck. This wasn’t just any kind of truck. The truck has a 12-inch lift on it. Leaving the base of his truck high in the air. Now, I have always been mesmerized by the lifted pick-up. They are often set up with large, beefy tires on them. Giving the appearance that they could travel wherever you would like. Along any dirt road, winding up the side of a mountain, to any number of spots an average sized vehicle could never dream of travelling. The possibilities with a large, sturdy truck, seem endless. The challenge for me, has always been the idea of getting into a larger truck. It often appeared to require balance and mobility absent from my skill set. I remember the first time I saw this truck of his. My jaw just about hit the floor with envy. I first saw the truck when picking him up a couple years ago. We were headed out on our annual golf trip and he hadn’t told me about it. The first thing I wanted to do was go for a ride. But, I was concerned that with my cerebral palsy, I would lack the coordination needed to climb up inside. 

It feels like we spent a good portion of the trip talking about his new toy. I had a million questions about every aspect of the truck. The many answers, made almost no sense. I have always had a fascination with cars. But, at best, a rudimentary understanding for the operation of them. When he spoke of the gearing of the truck, I got lost. Focusing instead on the impressive size of the vehicle. Wondering what it might be like to ride in something that high off the ground. We spent the next couple years talking about his truck on each trip. I would be startled every time I saw it in front of his house. Shaking my head and chuckling with glee at the picture. The option for taking a ride in the truck was always presented. Each time I would think about trying to make the climb, fear would strike. Forcing me to back away from the idea of going for a ride. I knew the truck had running boards, to help in stepping up inside. But, I questioned whether I could even step that high without falling. At 5’9” I could almost walk under the side-mirror of the truck, fully standing. Until I stood next to a truck of this stature. There was no way of truly understanding what a truck like this was like. Then, a few weeks ago, I found myself down in his area. We were catching up after a few months and a ride in the truck was long overdue. 

I was still apprehensive about getting into the truck. It was parked along the street outside of his house this time, instead of in the driveway. We walked toward the truck as I expressed concern over climbing up inside. He explained how the elevation of the curb would be helpful. While, also letting me know he would find a curb to park next to at the restaurant. He has known me for many years. At some point, I had to trust he understood my capabilities. Having been around me long enough to know if I could handle getting in and out of the truck. As I pulled the handle on the passenger door, the side-step lowered from under the truck. If you have experience with the folding side-step on a Ford. You would likely understand how greatly they have been designed. They remain hidden up under the truck until the one of the doors are opened. Then, come gently down to a level under the floor board of the truck that is lower than I have seen before. The side-steps on most trucks don’t seem to be much lower than the floor board of the vehicle. They have designs that are often pretty shallow. Meaning one might be restricted to only using the ball of their foot to step onto them. For someone like me with cerebral palsy, it doesn’t leave enough room for balance. But, I have now been around a couple Ford trucks with these wide side-steps. They provide enough room to place most of your foot onto them. Giving someone with any ability, the added ability to balance, with more comfort and stability. To my surprise, they helped tremendously on my buddie’s lifted truck. 

The door opened and the side-step lowered into place. When I saw the large step, relief flowed through my body. The step had come down pretty low, and from standing on the curb, it all appeared doable. I grabbed onto the interior door handle with one hand and rested the other hand on the passenger seat. From all the workout sessions in the gym, my hip flexibility was sufficient to place my foot on the side-step. The same work inside the gym helped me balance my body as I pushed off the curb. Up into the lifted pick-up I went with more ease than I could have imagined. Another circumstance to be attributed back to all the work in the gym on my strength and stability. I don’t remember feeling the slightest of wobbles when I climbed onto the side-step. Any kind of tremble would have left me immediately uneasy. But, the emotion never came. Instead, I felt confident in my ability riding down the road in the cool machine. Feeling like I would have the ability to lower myself down, when we arrived. Along with the emotion of being capable of getting back into the truck when it was time to head home. The experience felt like a minor milestone had been achieved in life. Another way in which cerebral palsy was loosening its grip on my abilities. I feel like a lifted truck will no longer be looked upon with the same trepidation. 

Once I had conquered the fear of getting up into the truck safely. Our ride to the restaurant was mesmerizing. I had never ridden in a truck that high off the ground. Always fearful of falling in an attempt to get in or out of a large vehicle. Driving down the road, a normal sized SUV looked like the size of a car. The standard size of a car appeared exceptionally small. My buddy drives a dump truck for a living and I wondered how the height in this truck compared. He thought the heights in each where pretty comparable. Again, I was astounded by the thought. The prospect of driving something that high off the ground brought anxious feelings. Not only would it be challenging to get in and out each day. I still haven’t given it a try from the flat ground, having used a curb on this first success. But, after riding for the short distance, I would fear missing the sight of a small car. I found it challenging to see everything surrounding the truck, being up that high. The experience gave me a new appreciation for the driving he does each day. After a couple years of looking at the truck in awe. Working up the courage to climb inside felt like an achievement. One that happens because of diligent work with Bernard and Dr. Dana on cerebral palsy improvement. Working on cerebral palsy can bring about exciting achievements in life and open new doors. It takes time to reach the new places, but experiences like this make it worthwhile. I look forward to another ride. 

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