Up on his ramp, Ulysses stood out above every vehicle in the caryard, and he liked being seen. He was a handsome ute,* with four-wheel drive and low-range power for hills.
Ulysses longed to get out onto the street; or where there were no streets; maybe with his owner on a beach, for fishing or surfing, or into forests or deserts, or mineral sites where no cars could go.
But who would see him way out there?
From his ramp he could eyeball small trucks, but not semi-trailers.
Ulysses hated being just a ute. He wanted to be a semi-trailer; an eighteen-wheeler or a twenty-two wheeler; travelling highways and swapping stories with other semis at diners or depots. Then he would stand out and people would see that he was important.
“I look tall on this ramp, but I can’t stay this high on the roads,” Ulysses thought sadly. “How can I stand out if I stay this small?”
One morning a man came in and looked him over long and hard. After carefully reversing Ulysses off the stand, he took him for a test drive.
Back in the yard he told the salesman: “Ulysses handled those rough roads so easily! I will buy him because he’s light and strong, and he will carry all my equipment.”
“He can’t be a fisherman or a surfer or a miner,” Ulysses thought. “And if I can already carry all his equipment, maybe I’ll never be a semi- trailer.”
Ulysses’ owner’s name was Joe; and Ulysses started working with Joe, carrying computers and electronic cable systems. He enjoyed the work, but he still dreamed of being an important semi.
One day, Ulysses told an older truck about his dream.
“Do you think semis have it easy?” the older truck replied. “They carry heavy loads, and most of them are too high to fit under low bridges like we can. They must also be careful of the wind on open roads and on bridges between hills.
“Other drivers cut in front of them at traffic lights, which is not safe because semi-trailers take much longer to stop than cars do. Once I wanted to be like them, but now that I’ve heard their stories I’m happy to stay this size.
“Some semis get very nervous, so it’s good that trains carry loads that they could never handle.”
Ulysses felt sad. How would he ever stand out like a semi? It looked like his dream of being important would never come true.
Ulysses liked going fast, for he was light and strong. Then one day Joe told him: “Tomorrow we will start working on train signals and track-switching systems. We’ll often be out in the country, but I know you can handle it.”
Joe fitted Ulysses with heavy steel wheels front and back, which made him very sad. He was sure those wheels would slow him down.
“Don’t be sad, Ulysses,” Joe explained. “With these wheels, we will ride on train tracks. Because trains are so heavy, the tracks must be made of steel, and they must cut or tunnel through hills to keep them as flat as possible. Locomotives could never pull trains up steep hills, and they could not stop them safely on steep downhills."
Ulysses started working in rail yards, where he saw lots of trains; and lots of people saw him.
In the country, he liked climbing up or down hills to reach the signals, and with his new wheels lowered onto the tracks he could cruise as smoothly as a train.
He enjoyed this work so much that he began to forget about having to be seen, or about needing to be big like a semi.
One day, on a sweeping bend, as he ran over some wires, he heard some bells ringing. Then he saw lights flashing at a level crossing.
Suddenly, Ulysses remembered his dream.
Two big semis were facing each other, and Ulysses beeped happily as he crossed between them. He still had to look up at them, but he knew they could see him. He suddenly knew that even small utes like him could stand out by helping trains to transport loads that semi-trailers could never carry.
His dream of being important had come true, without him having to grow any bigger.
From that day on, Ulysses proudly showed a message at the top of his windscreen and on his rear window: “2 BE A UTE IS B-E-A-U-T!”
This story is aimed at children, as part of a developing series of scripture truths and parables using a car theme. This one grows out of Matt 6:25 – 34, with special stress on verse 27 “Which of you by being anxious can make himself taller?”
I’ve yet to title this series, but ‘car’ables, ‘car’acter growth or ‘motor’vation tips come to mind….
A further important explanation:
A "ute" is Australia’s contribution to the motoring world. In 1932 a Victorian farmer wrote to the Ford Australia, asking for “a vehicle in which he could take his wife to church on Sundays, and his pigs to market on Mondays.”
In 1934 Ford released the coupe utility, with an enclosed single bench-seat passenger compartment ahead of a flat tray with fixed sides and an opening tailgate. It has always had a lighter chassis than heavy-duty American-style pick-ups, though some utes (like Ulysses) have a 4x4 configuration.
The official title of coupe utility was far too long for us more laconic Aussies – for we have no word that carries the same level of urgency as “manana”- so it was quickly shortened to “ute.”
If I had called my MC (ie “Main Car-acter”) a pickup to aid American readers, my punchline would have become difficult to use. So I invite my USA friends to get “utesed’ to what could be a new word.
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