High Riders

As the dawn of a new day breaks, the rumbling sound of cold starts cuts through the air of Little Rock and certain high school teens begin their quest for parking spots to contain their monstrous rigs.

If one were to gaze upon the dozens of vehicles that line the rows of the school’s parking lot, he or she would be able to identify nearly every type of car. From Land Rovers to Jeeps to Civics, the brand diversity is extensive. These cars can vary in almost every aspect other than the fact that the select gas-guzzling giants dwarf each of them like linebackers in a daycare. However, despite their intimidating nature, each of these trucks carries with it both a story and a purpose that go much deeper than simple attention-seeking.

Senior Carson Waters has considered himself an advocate of the truck scene for many years. He is the owner of a lifted 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe with many modifications, and he was a regular attendee of truck shows in the pre-coronavirus world.

From a young age, Waters knew that he wanted a truck like the ones he saw on Instagram and at truck shows. He started saving his money when he was 12, knowing that he would spend it on personalizing his future truck. “I’ve considered myself to be an advocate for the truck scene ever since I’ve known what a truck was,” said Waters. “Obviously my thoughts on certain things have changed, but the love for it all has always been there.”

In 2019, Waters turned 16 and received his first car, the 2005 Tahoe that he still drives today, albeit with a drastic change of aesthetics. His parents bought the truck for him, but they made a deal that he would have to pay for any after-market additions himself. 

Waters had known that this would be the case, so in the months before his birthday, he had time to contemplate his spending of long-saved funds. After careful consideration, Waters decided that as soon as he received the car, he would pull the trigger on after-market additions, including a six-and-a-half inch lift kit, big wheels, and mud tires. 

After owning the truck for a couple of weeks, Waters came to find out that it wasn’t as glamorous or easy as truck pages on Instagram made it seem. “With all of the stuff that I have added, and with wires running everywhere, there always seems to be something that isn’t working or some part that is breaking down,” said Waters. “It is also always dirty. Keeping it clean is nearly impossible and it takes hours to do anyways.”

There is also a safety issue involved with having a truck like his. Due to the size of the tires and their width, the truck is prone to hydroplaning, adding another level of concern to driving such a large truck. 

However, even with all of the negative things that go along with owning a big truck, Waters stands strong in his confidence in his decision. “When I first bought everything, I felt great. I regret nothing because I had thought about it for so long and I knew this was what I wanted to do,” said Waters. “For a long time, I considered all of the things that might be an issue, because it was such a big decision.” Spending that type of money on a vehicle isn’t a good idea to some people and it definitely isn’t for everyone. A lot of them say its stupid, but to understand it, you have to be a part of it.”

Waters’ Truck shows off its underglow in the dark.

Just as there were some issues that Waters didn’t expect, there were also meaningful perks that he did not anticipate. “It can definitely be a hassle to take care of,” said Waters, “but what makes it all worth it for me is putting a smile on people’s faces when they see my truck. It makes my day to see a little kid looking in awe at my truck from the car next to me at a stoplight.”

“To get the full experience, the good and the bad,” said junior and truck enthusiast Garrett Grace, “you have to own a truck like ours.”

However, not everyone has this same response to large trucks, as Waters says that there is never a shortage of negative reactions. “My response to people who make fun of big trucks and call us rednecks for owning them is that this is what I like to do,” said Waters. “Don’t bring me down for setting a goal in my life and then achieving it. I know you might not like big trucks but that’s your opinion and don’t bring me down for having a different opinion and passion than you do.”

In addition to comments simply about one’s taste in large trucks, Waters also receives negative comments regarding his acquisition of the truck. “For the most part everyone I talk to loves my truck and asks questions about it,” said Waters, “but every now and then people hate on my truck and call it ‘daddy’s money.’ These people either don’t understand or don’t care about the work, time, and effort that I have put into making this truck my own. These comments are the ones that get to me the most because people making assumptions like that insults all of the time and hard work I have put into the truck.”

Regardless of these comments, at the end of the day, Waters is always able to let these negative comments roll off of him by finding his own ways of dealing with these “haters.” “I know the truth about what I’ve put into it,” said Waters, “so I just don’t respond to the kind of people that contradict that. It’s not ‘daddy’s money.’ My parents paid for a 15-year-old bone stock Tahoe and I have added every noticeable thing to it myself.”

After owning the truck for some time and getting used to the gaping faces with which people would stare at it, Waters felt an urge to branch out to fellow owners of large truck builds at truck shows. He knew that he was in the big leagues now, where truck size had no direct correlation with good aesthetics. There was no room for shoddy work lest he face disparaging remarks from veteran members of the truck scene.

“I was a little bit nervous for my first few shows,” said Waters. “Mostly because I didn’t know what these people who were really experienced in the truck scene would think about my build, but after I went to two or three, I realized that there is no tearing each other down.  Everyone fits in at the shows, really no matter what you drive. We all respect each other’s builds because we know the effort that went into each build.” 

Waters is not alone in the truck scene at Catholic High. Juniors Whit Knisley and Garrett Grace are just a few of his fellow Rockets who consider themselves to be proponents of truck culture. 

Knisley’s truck is different from Waters’s in nearly every aspect, but this, Knisley says, is the beauty of the truck world. “My truck is definitely the most noticeable in the lot. It’s probably the tallest and is a bright red with chrome wheels. If you could give trucks a personality I think that [Waters’s truck] would be completely different than mine. I wouldn’t want to drive something like his, but that is obviously what he likes so I respect that 100 percent.”   

“It will always be important to me to have a unique truck,” said Waters. “It’s my passion. It’s a way for me to express myself and stand out. It’s so rewarding to see all the love my truck gets from other people. I don’t think I could drive a normal car because this is who I am and the culture I am a part of, and I’m never going to change that.”


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