Every first Monday in October I make a mental note that it’s my anniversary of working in the magazine business. No parties, no fanfare, just a deep satisfaction that I have been doing what I love for a very long time.
This past October I mentioned to my family that I started at Dirt Rider magazine at the old Petersen Publishing firm 29 years ago. That meant 2012 represented my 30th year in the magazine business, and we joked around about a whirlwind tour or some kind of PR campaign to celebrate. But I’m not that kind of guy; I don’t need the extra attention to feel good about myself.
The truth is, I couldn’t feel any better about doing this job than I already do. Most of the time, I don’t even describe what I do as a job. When someone I don’t know asks what I do for a living, I often say something like, “I screw around a lot. I take photos of trucks and write about them and the people who own them. I drive and fly around the country to do that—plus I attend some interesting truck events. I go to sled pulls, dyno events, drag races, show ’n’ shines, and visit companies that make products for the people who do all those fun things.”
I don’t mention the parts that aren’t so much fun, like staying up late to make a deadline (or getting up early…I started writing this at 5:30 in the morning on final deadline day for this issue), sorting through freelancers’ photos and trying to match them up with captions that barely resemble English or (worse) having to write my own captions for an event I didn’t go to or a truck I’ve never seen in person, driving 2½ hours (each way) to go to a 30-minute meeting at the company’s El Segundo office, and other stuff like that. Every job has things you don’t want to do. But in this job, the cool stuff outweighs anything that might be just a bit of a drag.
Bob Carpenter circ. 1983....
Bob Carpenter circ. 1983. Yeah, the same guy as above.
By far, the coolest part of being a truck magazine editor is the fact that I get to help make people’s dreams come true. You have no idea how many letters (and now emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, etc.) I get from grateful readers whose trucks have appeared in the pages of my magazine. People tell me on a regular basis that it has been their lifetime desire to be recognized by a national publication, and they are overjoyed that I have given that to them. Letters say: “You have no idea how much this means to me” or “I can’t thank you enough for running the feature on my truck” or even “God bless you, Mr. Carpenter. My life is now complete”. Yes, truck owners are passionate about their pickups and feel some pretty strong emotions when seeing their vehicle in 8-Lug magazine.
A recent email from a reader whose truck was featured stated, “I went to a local Walmart for five days in a row till it had the magazine, and I bought several copies. I want you to know it’s not just about me, but it helps all the shops that have helped me. My fabricator was going nuts when he saw it! My wife and kids loved seeing it. They have been through everything with me and behind me 100 percent. I can’t express the feeling that I had seeing my kid’s faces when they read it and saw the pictures.”
We joked around at dinner last night that I should start promoting a new slogan: “Making dreams come true since 1982.” So many people think I have no idea how much it means to them. Trust me, I do.