(April 26, 2006) Hear the audio version

Back in ’94, when gas prices were low(er) and I had three children under the age of 10, my husband had what he thought was a good idea – to buy one of those SUV behemoths, a Suburban. His was only the second in our part of town, but soon there were more – many more – and they were EVERYWHERE, with their tall, tinted windows blocking my view in parking lots and on the freeway, as well as in my own driveway.

I quickly became an SUV basher. True, ours took the five of us and our gear to Yosemite and Tahoe in one vehicle many times, and came in handy when family or friends moved and needed help hauling their stuff. But more days than not Bill drove it all by himself to the office or on local errands. And then he started working at home. He knew we needed to dispose of the darn thing, but . . . how does one get rid of an SUV responsibly?

It was too big to stuff in the recycling bin. Bomb shelters aren’t in vogue – at least at the moment. Nor could it be genetically reengineered into two normal cars. This winter, a dealer offered to buy it for $4000 and sell it for ten. But then it might end up in the hands of someone who’d drive it solo, barreling down the highway, cell phone in hand. That could also very well happen if we donated it to a nonprofit that would have it auctioned. Ideally, we wanted it used by someone who actually needed an eight-passenger truck.

As luck would have it, a speaker at a fundraising breakfast had the perfect answer. “We need a replacement for our van.” Eureka! So last month the old Suburban found its new lease on life, as a workhorse for an organization in San Jose that helps teens in trouble to make healthy decisions. It’s already putting in full days ferrying young people to their community service projects, job interviews, and retreats out of the city. The director, staff and peer leaders are thrilled with their new set of wheels, which they’ve christened Chuck the Truck. We’re kinda happy about it, too.

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.