Just how prestigious have pickup trucks become?

In an effort to see if, in fact, pickup trucks have become an acceptable form of travel at all levels of society, The Washington Post undertook its own informal survey.

We rented a Ford pickup from Koons Ford Inc. in Virginia. A brand new, model 150 pickup, it was bright orange with a full set of extras: power steering, power brakes air conditioning, AM-FM stereo radio, wall-to-wall carpeting, and automatic transmission.

It passed the first test. My girlfriend, 4-foot-11-inch Myla Lerner was able to easily drive it around a suburban neighborhood. She had never before been in a truck.

The truck successfully fit in the drive-in lane at my bank, where I was making a deposit. It did, however, screen from the teller's view the person who pulled up at my right, who was trying to complain that this deposit receipt showed "$0.00" on it after the teller had accepted his check.

After easily driving around the streets of Georgetown for several minutes, and forcing several cars to the side of some of the narrower streets (I did notice that while driving a pickup, everyone else gets out of the way), I drove up to the front of Rive Gauche, the costly and populor French restaurant at Wisconsin and "M" Streets frequented by Washington's elite.

Fully expecting to have to wait several minutes before the parking valet would realize that a pickup truck - rather a limonsine - was stopped there for dinner, I was surprised to see the attendant leap to open my door.

"You get many of these stopping here for dinner?" I asked.

"Third one tonight," said valet Alberto Gomez.

Gomez further said that there has been a marked increase in the number of pickup trucks arriving at the restaurant in the past six months.

He said he also has been an increase in the number of vans - but no mobile homes, yet.

But most interesting, perhaps, was Gomez' final assessment at the end of the evening as he delivered the truck back to its driver.

"Truckers," he said with a smile, "are also the best tippers."