Q: I work as an attorney at a firm in downtown Houston. And though I drive a 2018 Ford F-150 King Ranch, it’s never too much of an issue navigating the parking garage of the tower where we office. Lately, though, I’ve been coming across a Chevy Silverado 2500 HD crew cab with a long bed that is way too much truck to park in our garage. When that thing is in certain spots, I can barely get by. One time I had to back down two levels, which took about twenty minutes and really pissed me off. This guy should know better than to squeeze that thing into our garage, shouldn’t he?
Name Withheld, Houston
A: Boy, you sure got a good one when you cut that beast from the big remuda that is today’s pickup truck market, Mr. Name Withheld. Indeed, the Ford F-150 is the “Truck of Texas,” a title this beloved pickup picked up the last two years at the Truck Rodeo, an annual event put on by the Texas Auto Writers Association in which a variety of trucks gather outside of Dripping Springs and go head-to-head in on-road and off-road competition. The version of the F-150 that you own, the King Ranch® edition, is an especially fine truck. Luxuriously rugged—or is it ruggedly luxurious?—this plush brute features ventilated and heated bucket seats trimmed in genuine King Ranch® leather and color-coordinated carpet, plus carpeted King Ranch® floor mats. It’s an eye-catching mount that not only carries the name of the iconic South Texas spread, but also evokes its rawhidey cowboy mythos—and all that it implies.
Truck advertisements, seizing on those implications, are full of images of gleaming vehicles driven by sweaty, handsomely burly men in work gloves ferrying mountains of hay bales over ridiculously rough terrain. Or, sometimes, it’s a good-looking hand yanking up a mesquite stump on a hot Texas day. Such ads tap into the lore behind the vehicle’s original workman purpose, but their target audience isn’t actually cowboys, roughnecks, or ranch hands—it’s the well-compensated lawyers, accountants, and bankers longing to get in touch with their inner cowboy, roughneck, or ranch hand. Thanks to these slick spots, the highways, byways, ranch roads, farm roads, and city streets here in “Truck Country” are full of just such ’pokes and their steely rides. And so too are our parking garages.
In addition to all the bells and whistles, your F-150 also has a crew cab and six and a half feet of bed, and measures an impressive 243.7 inches in length. It’s not bigger than Rhode Island (Fact: The actual King Ranch is bigger than Rhode Island), but it is a whole lot of truck, especially for a big-city lawyer trying to hitch up in a tight parking garage space. As you have apparently learned, the truck in which your nemesis—probably one of those accountants from the 23rd floor—rides to work is bigger still. When the measuring tape is stretched out, that guy’s Chevy Silverado 2500 HD comes in at a whopping 258.4 inches—only a little more than one foot longer than yours.
But before you give this cuss a dressing down and things escalate to the point of an old-fashioned dustup on level P5, the Texanist would have you take a step back and consider the effect your own vehicle might be having on your fellow parkers. Sure, most folks can probably squeeze by you as they wend their way up the garage’s serpentine incline, but they probably have to slow down and closely eyeball the clearance as they do so. And what about the person parked directly across from you, who has to angle his car back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, when he tries to head out at the end of the day? Or the person parked next to you who has to shimmy her way out of her driver-side door because your truck’s immense girth has drastically reduced her clearance for an easy egress? The simple fact is, both the Ford F-150 King Ranch® and the Chevy Silverado 2500 HD are too much truck for a downtown Houston office garage. Hell, they’re too much truck for downtown Houston, period. Neither of these vehicles is where it ought to be—and neither driver is where he or his inner cowboy longs to be, either. (The Texanist has taken the liberty of assuming that both you and the Chevy driver are men because, well, the Texanist has never met a woman who would be foolhardy enough to try to park such a beast in an office parking lot.)
The real culprits here, the ones actually responsible for your ire, are the truck makers themselves and their allies on Madison Avenue, who foist upon the general public unreal enticements. In a perfect world, truck ads would, at least occasionally, feature middle-aged accountants, bankers, dentists, and lawyers loading and unloading file boxes and the kids’ bicycles from the bed, and straining to pull in and out of downtown parking garages.
But, alas, this is not the world in which we live. The Texanist has never had the pleasure of attending the Truck Rodeo and can’t be sure, but he doesn’t imagine that they have an event that requires the drivers of twenty-foot-long trucks to squeeze into a parking space intended for a Toyota Corolla without creating a nuisance, or worse, causing a ruckus. Perhaps they should.
Have a question for the Texanist? He’s always available here. Be sure to tell him where you’re from.
A version of this is published in the June 2018 issue.