It was time to say goodbye.
It was a good truck, a beautiful pickup -- the 2002 GMC 1500 Sierra Denali. I loved it. It was special, the only truck I've driven with four-wheel steering. I'll talk more about that later. My heart is heavy.
Now I want to talk about the breakup. It started at the gas pump.
Denali and I had been touring Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. We were having a good time. The valley is lovely in the spring, all dressed in bright greens and yellows. The sky was azure. The day was pristine. It was a good time to be on the road. But after 300 miles of rolling around, Denali was thirsty, running frighteningly close to empty.
We stopped for gasoline. Denali wanted regular unleaded, and that pleased me. I'm the master of cheap dates, and I appreciate a partner who understands my stinginess. Denali started drinking. Five dollars, ten dollars. I was okay. Fifteen dollars, twenty. I was . . . fine.
Twenty-five dollars, thirty, thirty-five. I nearly passed out. The price and gasoline vapors were making my head spin. Thirty-six dollars and seventy-five cents! Ding! The pump stopped.
I was in shock. I said nothing when I climbed back behind the steering wheel. Denali was still as beautiful as ever, with its leather-covered seats and its full-length, custom-designed console, which extended from the instrument panel to the backside of the front seats.
What a console! It could be used as a cooler for seven quarts of beverage. It had an oversized cup holder, big enough to hold one of those "Big Gulp" cups from a 7-Eleven store. It had versatility. The console could be converted to provide storage space for hanging file folders. Very clever, I thought. I smiled.
But clearly something had changed in the relationship. I felt a chill. This is the kind of truck that will stay with you only as long as you've got the money to keep it stocked with lots of gasoline, I thought.
Everything about Denali seemed to agree with that assessment. Yeah, it could be used to pull a trailer weighing 8,000 pounds. And yeah, with an optional longer cargo box, as opposed to the short box on the test model, it could more than hold its own on anyone's construction site.
But Denali was used to working the better side of the tracks. We weren't going to make it.
But we had a final fling on the return trip to Northern Virginia.
You go through conflicting emotions when a relationship is ending.
You're bitter, angry, saddened. Yet, you want to remember and enjoy the good things in the waning moments, and there was much good about Denali.
There was that four-wheel steering system, for example. Denali is the first truck from General Motors Corp. to get the company's remarkable Quadrasteer system, which reduces its turning circle by nearly 10 feet. That means Denali can easily turn around in very tight corners, pull trailers without wiggling back and forth, or take urban parking spaces that other full-size pickups would ignore.
Quadrasteer adjusts the Denali's rear-wheel angles, turning them opposite to the front wheels at lower speeds and turning them in the same direction of the front wheels at higher speeds. You haven't steered until you steer this way. It's wonderful. But it wasn't enough to keep me and Denali together. We knew the score.
As Sarah Brightman put it in her song "Who Wants to Live Forever?":
"There's no time for us. There's no place for us. What is this thing that builds our dreams, yet slips away from us?"
This thing, in this relationship, is the price of gasoline. Who wants to pay forever?