There is a small playground on campus that my children and I have fondly named Truck Park. It’s not the main playground that families usually use, and it took us a few weeks of living on campus to even discover it. It’s tucked away behind an old apartment building, nestled up to the seminary’s tennis courts, and trapped in by the maintenance buildings. The only way to access Truck Park is to either enter in behind the maintenance buildings or walk down the steep, grassy hill beside the main road.
The reason we call it Truck Park is because, although it features the usual playground equipment – swings, slides, climbing walls, and a sandbox, part of its main topography is a smattering of abandoned toy trucks. Big ones, little ones, dump trucks, loaders, bulldozers, backhoes, and even one truck that looks like a once, very colorful toolbox. Granted, their colors have faded, their axles are rusty, and some of them are missing essential pieces, but they can still capture the attention of my children for an afternoon.
I imagine that the park was not originally designed to be a toy truck dumping ground for desperate fourth year families, hastily moving off campus to their first church sites. But that seems to be how it has evolved. A graveyard for trucks.
The equipment surrounding the castaway toys is in similar disarray. I am sure it needed repair 10 years ago, let alone today. There are rusty screws protruding out of rotting wood. Splinters are a given, make sure you’ve had your tetanus shots. The slides still work, but the plastic is cracking. The canopy over the lookout tower is weatherworn and shredded to pieces, making it look like the mast of an old, pirate shipwreck.
But that’s not what makes the park so appealing. It’s those trucks! Those unwanted, tossed out trucks. The kids love them. They love to fill them with pebbles and sand. They love to hold on to the dumpers and race them through the park. They love to send them down the tube slide and watch them fly!
And I think that’s why those trucks are there. Those desperate moms and dads who dropped them off over the years on their way to a new life, they knew deep down that those trucks still had life in them. They didn’t belong in the blue garbage receptor with the old shoes, the broken furniture, the outdated computer monitors, the multiple jars of expired salad dressing, or the McDonald’s toys. Those trucks were ready for Truck Park. Those trucks belonged to the next child who would move to campus, looking for a place to play.