Learning to Love Their Differences

Her husband had lots of wild ideas. But purchasing a giant Army truck was going too far.

Posted in , Jul 30, 2013

Julie Garmon with husband Rick and son Thomas.

One January night, I called my husband, Rick, and our 20-year-old son, Thomas, to supper. They were outside tinkering with Thomas’s pickup truck. The three of us sat down at our old farm table.

After Rick said the blessing, I passed the mashed potatoes and asked how things had gone at work. Rick runs his own auto-repair shop and Thomas, a college student, works for him part time.

Rick elbowed Thomas. “Go ahead. Tell her.”

Uh-oh. This couldn’t be good.

“We saw an Army truck for sale on eBay today,” Thomas said. “It looks awesome.”

I had a bad feeling I knew where this was going. Still, a woman could hope. “Is it cute, like a little green mail truck?”

Rick laughed. “I wouldn’t call it cute. It’s a deuce and a half. We’re thinking about buying it,” he said casually, as though they were considering a Matchbox car collection.

“A deuce and a half? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” But I could tell by the gleam in his brown eyes that my husband was way beyond reason. His sense of adventure was going to ruffle my quiet, peaceful world. Again.

That’s what happens when an introverted bookworm marries an extrovert who thrives on fun and hobbies—the wilder, the better.

“Means it can hold two and a half tons of cargo,” Rick said. “An Army truck makes a statement. Especially an old one.”

I don’t like making statements. I like to fit in, not stand out. I love cooking, sitting on the porch with a book, walking in the woods. Why couldn’t Rick be more like me? Now he was filling our son’s head with peculiar ideas. I could understand that they love cars, but Army trucks?

“You gotta see it, Julie. It’s incredible.”

“Don’t you ever want to do normal things like other men? Play golf on Saturdays, and—”

“That’s no fun. Besides, the truck will be a great advertisement. I’ll get the business name and our phone number printed on the side.”

I cringed. Our name in bold letters. For the whole world to see. Couldn’t he get a website like everybody else?

In 34 years of marriage, Rick has had more than a few crazy ideas. Building a log house. Rescuing parakeets and constructing an outdoor atrium for them. His plans had worked, but they were so radical. So risky. So strange. So public.

I glanced at Rick as I cleared the table, thinking, This time you’ve really lost your mind! He and Thomas tried to show me the truck on eBay. I refused to look. Maybe if I ignored their plan, they’d forget about it.

The following Sunday afternoon Thomas texted me. Ask Dad if he wants me to bid on it. That’s another thing. Rick loves his big blocky old cell phone, which is so antiquated it doesn’t have texting capabilities. I’d begged him to upgrade and learn to text, but I was wasting my breath.

I read the text to him in a flat tone. I’d lost the battle. I’d never be able to change my husband.

“Tell Thomas whatever he wants to do is fine.”

“This is insane! Bidding on some junky truck you’ve never seen. How are y’all paying for it?”

“We’re splitting it. It’s two thousand four hundred fifty dollars. These trucks usually sell for fifty-five hundred or more. If we ever decide to, we could sell it for scrap metal and make our money back. Plus, if there’s an emergency, the truck’s a workhorse. It can run on anything—even water, temporarily, and it can push cars off the street,” he said.

Push cars off the street? Oh, Lord…

Rick couldn’t keep a straight face, though. “I’ve never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life,” I snapped. I sent Thomas a text to place the bid. “Where’s this miracle-working truck?”


“What if you get there and realize that I’m right?” Surely nobody could have this many far-out ideas and have them all work out fine.

“It’s listed as being in good condition. If the seller’s misrepresenting the truth, we won’t buy it. Relax, Julie. This isn’t a big deal.”

Before I could respond, Thomas called saying they’d won the auction. My mouth went dry. We now owned a huge old Army truck. I handed the phone over. Rick congratulated Thomas, then invited me to ride along with them to pick up the truck. I declined. I wasn’t going to be seen in that thing.

Saturday morning, they got ready for the almost 600-mile round-trip to Savannah. “Life’s too short to live like everybody else,” Rick said. “Have a little fun, Julie.”

His words pricked my heart. I said goodbye and plodded to my office. I didn’t get much work done for looking out the window. Lord, why is Rick driven to be so different? Why does he like loud things? Don’t risks scare him a little bit? Isn’t he ever afraid of making a mistake? Of looking foolish?

At five o’clock, i heard a low rumble. I peeked out the window again. The Army truck was lumbering up our long gravel driveway like a camouflage-colored mastodon. Much worse than I’d imagined. Bigger than a giant dump truck.

I walked outside as Thomas parked the beast. A deuce and a half? It was more like a doozy and a half. Even our dog approached with caution.

“Isn’t it great?” Rick said.

I was speechless. He was going to drive this around town? Where people could see him? With our family name plastered all over it?

Thomas jumped out of the cab. “Check it out, Mom,” he said.

“A few years ago,” Rick said, “Thomas and I talked about how neat it would be to have an Army truck. Sort of takes me back to playing G.I. Joes.”

Did he sit around thinking of crazy new things to try? Why couldn’t he be content with life exactly how it is?

Rick squeezed Thomas’s shoulders. “Two-hundred and eighty-eight miles of shifting gears. Rough ride, wasn’t it?”

Thomas smiled. “Wasn’t too bad.”

I studied the ugly creature without saying much. What was there to say?

The following afternoon, Thomas invited me for a ride. I didn’t have it in me to say no. “Take your coat, Mom. It’s gonna be cold.” The Army truck waited, parked in the woods. Lurking would be more like it. At least no one could see it from the street.

Carefully, I climbed up the tall step and slid to the middle of the thinly padded metal seat. Rick sat beside me and Thomas drove down the driveway. There was no heater.

“Guess what we’re naming it,” Rick hollered over the engine’s roar.

“The Refrigerator?” I said, shoving my hands in my pockets.

“The General. It was made in 1970,” Thomas said. “A piece of American history. It goes fifty-six miles an hour and has only forty-five thousand miles on it.”

Thomas turned right onto a main road, exposing us to the curious expressions of onlookers. Some even gaped. I didn’t blame them. We were absurd. I looked for something I could crawl under.

Then I noticed cars slowing to let us enter traffic. And even though the truck made a terrible racket, neighbors smiled and waved. Nobody jeered or pointed. Just the opposite. I could see excitement shining in their eyes. This truck was something different. Something interesting.

Sitting there, shivering, with the engine rumbling around me, I sensed God stirring my heart. This was exactly how he had made my husband. To be like the General. Fearless. Tough. He didn’t mind making a scene if need be. Had no desire to be like everyone else. Dependable. A workhorse. Honest.

The very things that had driven me nuts are the reasons I was crazy about Rick. We don’t marry people because they’re perfect. We marry them because we love them.

If he were just like me—reserved, quiet, cautious, prone to embarrassment—imagine how dull our lives would be! We’d be like two church mice hiding in a hole. One thing about being married to Rick, we had fun. Every single day, he made me laugh.

With new appreciation for my man and our Army truck, I sat taller and waved to our neighbors. I spoke loudly. Proudly. “Don’t ever sell it for scrap metal, okay? I...well, I love the General.”

Rick’s eyes met mine. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, and I love you too. Thanks for being you. I wouldn’t change you even if I could.”

He squeezed my hand. “Ditto.”


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