I know, how many of you out there have had to use a pick up truck as a tool? How many gearheads also do construction? I know just what you’re thinking when you look at this Fiat Doblo. You’re thinking, “There’s no way in God’s green Earth that thing can function in a construction setting.”
You’re wrong, because I’ve seen something very close to this used as construction vehicle.
One day I was in this small town in Portugal. It was one of those towns that started out as a castle, then got bigger and bigger as more people flocked to it for safety. Allegedly there are over a thousand castles in the country of Portugal. Given that Portugal is the size and shape of Indiana, that is a staggering amount building. And that is also a staggering amount of maintenance to do.
You think your house has problems? Imagine living in a house that was built 300 years before Europeans knew about the existence of North America. You think you got remodeling hassles?
I was thinking about questions like that when I was walking down a street in this town one morning, and by “street” I mean something that is a little wider than your living room. I was thinking about this stuff walking down a street because driving up the street came a car/truck/thing that looked a lot like a Fiat Doblo loaded down with brick and with two Portuguese guys in the cab. And I mean this thing was loaded down with bricks. They covered the entire area of the flat bed, and were neatly stacked about four feet high.
They pull up to this “house” and get out. The House is about 5 stories tall (counting the rooftop deck) and about a room and a half wide. It’s whitewashed stucco over brick. A nice, middle-class, middle-aged guy comes out of the house and talks with the driver of this Miata-sized flatbed pickup. Five minutes later, the driver is leaning out of the third story window, and the passenger is standing on top of the bricks.
The guy in back starts bending at the waist, grabbing one brick at a time and chucking it underhanded to the guy leaning out of the window. Bend-grab-throw-move-bend-grab-throw-move- bend-grab-throw-move- bend-grab-throw-move, with a monotonous, machine-like consistency.
My mom, who is fluent in Portuguese and has a habit of striking up conversations with complete and utter strangers, starts talking with the nice, middle-class, middle-aged homeowner.
“Estou remodelação minha cozinha, ” [I’m remodeling my kitchen],” he said with a shrug.
My mom keeps talking with the guy, but my dad and I are mesmerized by the coordinated efforts of these two guys. My mom realizes this guy doesn’t have a functioning kitchen, so she invites him along to lunch with us. We walk 37 yards to this little lunch place and disappear inside as the two guys keep chucking bricks.
45 minutes later, we walk out, just in time to see … three … two … one! There goes the final brick. My dad shakes his head as if to say, ‘Never in my life have I worked that hard.’ And bare in mind that father worked as a coal miner for a few years.
Instead, he looked at the tiny Fiat flatbed truck and said, “That little guy sure does come in handy I bet. It sure beats having to CARRY all those bricks over here, and THEN toss them up to the boss.”
A truck like the Fiat Doblo makes little to no sense in 95% of the tasks it might be asked to do here in America. But in its domestic, continental market, this thing is a real smart answer.