Janet Combs (copy)

Janet Combs

A small pick-up truck is essential for do-it-yourself types. Driving one, you’re always ready to stop at a yard sale and pick up a bargain, load up your construction debris and take it to the landfill or grab a couple of bales of pine needles on sale.

About the pine needles — several neighbors have warned me that snakes and feral cats are drawn to hide in the pine straw. Can this be true? I can’t imagine them coexisting, so I suppose it’s a matter of who sets up camp first. At any rate, all feral cats and snakes are welcome in our yard — perhaps they will scare off the woodpeckers once and for all.

Fear not tolerant readers of the Lowcountry, this is not another woodpecker column! No, this is a column about the pick-up truck, the most versatile “statement” vehicle you’ll ever own.

Many country songs have been written about the pick-up truck, lyrics resonating with familiar themes of patriotism, toughness, and sexiness. I am fairly certain that is what my fellow drivers think when I pass them on Highway 17.

“There goes a vigorous, hardy and yet strangely alluring American granny hauling sheetrock!”

I smile and nod, because this is an excellent statement to make, whether my destination is the parking lot at a grocery store, a home improvement warehouse or physical therapy.

Television commercials reinforce the versatility of the pick-up truck; it can tow boats and trailers, move the contents of apartments and homes, and become an instant hub for festivities involving savory, high-sodium processed foods such as the grilled hot dog. In fact, the pick-up is the only vehicle with a party named for its rear end. Better known as  “tailgating.” No one goes "Jaguaring" after the game or gets invited to a weekend "Benzing." It’s purely and simply a truck thing.

This weekend I had a new and exhilarating pick-up truck experience, and get your minds out of the gutter, people. I am talking about mobile, electrical drive-by repair!

One thing my husband says frequently when we are in the midst of a project is that we “have to be smarter than the things we are working with.” Now this may seem kind of obvious, as I have generally thought of myself as smarter than a sheet of plywood. But what it really means is to think differently; that the routine way is not always the best way to approach a job.

This was a phrase his grandfather taught his father, and his father taught him. His grandmother and mother already knew it and didn’t bother repeating it, because what is raising children other than a 24/7 challenge in being smarter than the things you are working with?

Here was our challenge: 11 ceiling-mounted lights under our raised beach home. Every single one of them needed new energy-efficient LED bulbs, and many needed replacement lenses, since the old incandescent bulbs had either melted or burned holes in them.

“I wonder if the truck would be the right height to change these out,” my husband mused.

“Genius!” I said.

I knew his reply would be that we just have to be smarter than what we’re working with, so I said it at the exact same time. This meant we owed each other a beer, but at present we only have “grapefruit shandy” in our refrigerator and we don’t really like it. Although, to be honest, we’ve never tried it with breakfast.

Instead of moving and ascending the ladder 11 times, I simply sat my American, vigorous, and yes, seductive self on the side of the pick-up truck as my husband drove it directly under each fixture. I deftly maneuvered the cordless drill and the job was done in a flash.

That’s a commercial you’ll never see for a pick-up truck. But you should. I know a grandma who’s perfect for the part.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Contact her at www.janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.