Go Fetch Yourself an Explanation

29 July 02015 (2 years ago)5 minutes of your time

“Oh… you bought a truck? You?” The question has been asked more than once in the last three weeks since we drove off the lot with a shiny new mid-sized pickup. “Why a truck?”

“Why a truck?”

It never really occurred to me, in all honesty, that I’d need to justify it to so many people. And while reason for the justification has come in many different flavours, largely it seems linked to the surprise notion that no one really considered me a “truck person.”

I get it. It doesn’t offend me. It’s just curious… telling… intellectually interesting from the perspective of the labels we put on each other as a modern consumer society with well-defined notions of matching toys to types, personas to purchases.

I tend to mutter something about it having been “time for a change” or “hauling stuff” while Karin counters with the comment that the new truck is my “mid-life crisis vehicle” and so long as it putters out at that… we cool. And those explanations are usually good enough to most anyone not looking for an in depth philosophical inquiry into the nature of modern society and a treatise on the minimum height requirements to ride on this roller coaster we call twenty-first century culture. It’s good enough to put a wedge between this idea of a nerdy computer guy in his grey hatchback with colouring books in the back seat and this running, photographing-things, father now driving this sporty off-road-capable, 4×4 black truck with a hood scoop.

However, this rationale was much more sound than simply a “mid-life crisis” impulse buy so that I could cruise around town in a sporty new truck.

the air of a pretentious philosophical twit

In fact, I would submit to the court (of public opinion and scrutiny) that the truck purchase ranked among some of my more logic and well-reasoned (nay, over-thunked) spends in recent memory. That justification however is hard to sum up in a sentence or two without invoking the air of a pretentious philosophical twit.

It starts something like this: there is a seed in every rational decision that is weighted against the value of gained and lost opportunity, otherwise known as opportunity cost.

Insert Wikipedia definition here: “In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources.”

In other words, with strict limits imposed by reality –anything from either a fixed amount of available money, the illogic of choosing more than one option or the simple fact you can only live your life once– there are obviously considerations to be made in the context of what is gained and what is lost by making a choice. It seems simple if you don’t think about it too hard, but it’s a valuable and refined tool against which the making of high-value, single-choice, narrow-resourced decisions can be weighed and considered.

a deliberate overthunking of the choices

Overthunked, you might say, and perhaps you’re correct. But you don’t necessarily get ahead in this world by under-thinking things and making rash decisions, do you? Sure, occasionally you luck out and stumble into a lucky choice, and when the options are often binary or 50/50, the odds are pretty good that you can trip along and come out on top with enough frequency to discourage any effort to the contrary. If that’s your style, all the power to you. For those of us less inclined to gamble, however, a deliberate overthunking of the choices can be a valuable tool.

Thus, the truck. Or… “Why the heck did you buy a truck?”

The truck was completely overthunk. I admit it.

Weighted against the decade-long-span of time that presumably will be the minimum span of service required by whatever vehicle we chose, the opportunity cost proposition arose and a few additional factors that were less about mileage and safety-ratings and more about fun and lifestyel suddenly came into play. Factors such as:

  • that single child about to enter her pre-teens (shudder) factor, and all the outdoor, sports-equipment, XC-skis in the box, moving stuff around in the wilderness and tents and sleeping in nature and oh, maybe-someday we could but a tent trailer or some kayaks or something possibilities that presented
  • that ten-year-old house needing tweaks over the next decade factor, inducing the notion of near-future renovations, upgraded furniture and appliances, yard junk and trips to hardware stores, and all the unforeseen occasions that you pay a hundred bucks for delivery and wouldn’t-it-be-nice to just have truck to cart that around moments
  • that yes-it-really-kinda-is-my-midlife vehicle factor, and after driving simple urban vehicles for many years, maybe I do kinda want to drive something where I could push the adventure envelope a little further, tossing some photography equipment into a 4×4 or off-roading into some ultra-racing locations, or being the guy with the cooler and the equipment for a change
this is all a bunch of bullshit

Overthunk, complete with the air of a pretentious philosophical twit. AmIright? Yes, you are. Because ultimately, of course and you knew already, this is all a bunch of bullshit.

In the end all this rational opportunity equation balancing and drivel really came down to a justification for something a lot simpler: I bought a truck because I wanted a truck… to do stuff… and it seemed like it would be fun. And yeah, maybe you never thought much that I might be the kinda guy who would buy a truck and drive around town in a 4×4, I guess, but apparently you were wrong.

Now, who needs help moving?

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Brad takes pictures too. He’s not just a one trick pony.

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