With the Confidence of a 7 Year Old

There are certain things in my life that make me feel secure. And most of them are a little strange. It all goes back to when I was a little kid.

As a pre-kindergartner, I played outside most of the daylight hours. After I began attending school, I ran home, changed my clothes and went outside. That was in the 70’s. Before elementary school kids had homework. Ancient history. We were not scheduled in after school care. We were latch-key kids. And there were very few adults looking over our shoulder.

I would head right for the nearby woods, or a vacant lot where houses were scheduled to be built. There, we scavenged for boards, sheet rock, and other useful items. Then, we dragged them back to where we planned to construct our fort and we built it, using old nails we found on the ground at the construction site. Or other things we scavenged from the garage at home. Often, we brought our lunch or a snack so we wouldn’t have to go home until it got dark. We had work to do, for god’s sake.

I built more forts as a kid than I can count. I was very busy. Sawing, hammering, architecting, and project managing. I truly believed we, the kids in our neighborhood, could do anything. This translated decades later to my work running an Innovation Lab in Seattle. I had a C-level exec ask me once ‘You really think you guys can do this?’ And I answered with the confidence of a seven year old fort-building construction foreman, with an unlimited supply of scavenged building materials, ‘Of course.’ Duh. And, fyi, we did that thing the exec thought we couldn’t possibly do. 😉

When I met Jeff and he went looking to purchase a truck in our early years of dating, I had one request that made him smile. ‘I don’t care what truck you buy but it needs to be able to haul a full sheet of plywood in the back.’ I’m not sure he’d ever dated anyone who voiced this requirement before. I’m pretty sure that sealed it for him.

We have lived in Spain for over four years now. When we left the US, we landed in Valencia with four suitcases. We had sold everything back in the US. Cars, tools, everything. And that made us both a little twitchy. It wasn’t the house or the cars. It was the tools, and our inability to haul anything. We couldn’t drive and pick up something. Everything was delivered. Some might say that delivery is more convenient. But, for us, having come from pioneer stock, it felt constrained. We lacked self sufficiency.

After moving to the farm, I found a way to get a trailer hitch put on the car. Good thing, too. We are heading to Barcelona this weekend to pick up Bessie, the food truck. But you can’t haul a sheet of plywood in a food truck. Or in an Audi station wagon.

Jeff has tried to purchase trucks since we moved here, but it’s been a huge challenge post-Covid with all the chip shortages. And used trucks are like diamonds now. So we switched to trailers. Looking for used trailers on Wallapop (the Craigslist of Spain), we’ve had people call us back for this ad or that ad. But when they hear we are Americans the price goes up by €300-400. Sure, we could pay that but there is a principle here. Jeff would just say No Thanks. Yet, more and more, everything I want to do, both for the house and the business, requires the ability to haul. <heavy sigh>.

We shop a lot in Lugo. There are many grocery stores and home improvement stores. But the one grocery store we had not been to in Lugo was the Carrefour. It sits far from all the others and there is a ton of construction going on in front of it. But we decided to brave the crazy detour and check it out, finally. Even Google maps warns you as you turn onto the street. ‘Acceso Complexo’, or something like that. No kidding. We laughed.

The Carrefour in Lugo is like the Carrefour at El Saler in Valencia. It’s basically a Fred Meyer or Fry’s in the US. One-stop shopping. And it turns out, there is a store attached to the complex that is like Schucks Auto Supply in the US. I think they changed their name, but it’s basically that. Except they also carry utility trailers and roof boxes. Brand spanking new utility trailers!

I ran my hand along the length of the largest one. Hello, old friend. I didn’t have a measuring tape, but by feel I was pretty sure it would carry a sheet of plywood home from the Bricomart.

‘Can we get her?’ I asked Jeff, like that seven year old in the vacant lot.

We went inside and placed our order. It’s roughly the same price as the jacked-up-price for Americans of one on Wallapop. It comes with a two year guarantee. And they’ll give us €400 off services in their shop. So, oil changes or perhaps new tires. Not a bad deal. And we can pick it up tomorrow.

Today, I stood outside the house surveying my domain. I could rip out that scrubby area and lay down some pavers. Then, we could build a fire pit for warm summer evenings to come. Sitting around it, maybe roasting a marshmallow or two. Grill some veggies. Perhaps some hot dogs or sausages. All because, as of tomorrow, we will be the proud owners of a utility trailer. It might sound crazy, because I have no use for it right now, but my seven year-old self feels a little more secure in the knowledge that if I needed a sheet of plywood I could buy ten of them and bring them home, all on my own.

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