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©John R. Turner

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March 30, 2010

In Hardee County there are many large, shiny pickup trucks. Since these are not inexpensive products you might think it's surprising to find so many in Florida's poorest county. But here they are, nonetheless.

Supposedly the purpose of truck to is to carry cargo of some sort. But for the most part, the pickup trucks of Hardee County have nothing in their beds. In fact, if you examine them carefully you find that the beds of many of them have never carried anything. There's not a scratch or a worn mark anywhere on them. Furthermore, they're often driven by elderly men who don't seem able to hoist anything into them. So, what are they for?
Out and About with Word and Image of Vermont

Pickup Truck Culture
The fancy for big pickup trucks might be seen as fairly harmless (though they do consume a lot of gas) were it not that they tend to be driven faster than other vehicles. On Route 17, it's not uncommon to be passed by a pickup truck going eighty or more miles per hour. They seem to say to their owners, "Drive me fast," and that is a bit dangerous and, one must admit, more than a bit dumb.
The most aggressive ones have their chassis raised a couple feet above their wheels. But these are usually driven by young men. It must be fairly hard to climb up into them. The statement they make is that they often travel off-road through rough country. But their appearance belies that notion. They are generally as unmarked as the ones driven by the elderly. It's pretty clear they've never come within ten feet of a weed.
The answer, pretty clearly, is status. Since they cost a lot of money the ability to buy one confers some distinction. But I think evidence of wealth is not the main thing. Rather, hereabouts, the pickup truck bespeaks virility. Why this should be the case is not perfectly obvious. Driving them takes no particular skill. But they are quite large and, obviously, they're very powerful. When you drive down the road in one you get the sense of being able to run over everybody else. That is the prize the price of a Ford F-150 (the most popular truck in Hardee) confers.