Among the families that live on Chappy year-round, probably half of them have two vehicles and at least one of those vehicles is a pickup truck. Of the households with just one vehicle, I’ll wager that at least half of those are pickups. These trucks are of all makes, models and years. About a third of them are fairly new. Another third are older, with a few dents and a little rust. The final third have so many dents and so much rust that they are not worth fixing. A couple of them have even had their factory-issued beds replaced by homemade wooden flatbeds. The one weakness that they all have in common is the tailgate.

The tailgate is the moving part most susceptible to damage and malfunction. If you are accustomed to leaving your tailgate down, sooner or later you will back into something that puts a big crease in the top edge. If it still latches after that, consider yourself a witness to a modern-day miracle.

If you use your truck to haul seaweed or scallops, the tailgate hinges are the first part of the bed to rust out. The tailgate is just in the way if you do lots of salt water-related activities. Even hauling manure will accelerate its deterioration.

Lately, pickup truck ads have been extolling the huge advantages of the recent generation of newfangled tailgates. The folks who design and manufacture these gizmos are out of touch with reality. They think that what we need is for the tailgate to open automatically at the push of a remote-control button. If you can’t open and close a truck tailgate with you own hands, you’re probably not going to be able to handle what‘s going into or coming out of the truck bed.

The really fancy new tailgates have a built-in step that folds down magically or serves as a desk in another position. These functions require various wiring harnesses, servos, worm gears and high pressure gas cylinders to operate. Imagine how easily it will all come to ruin if you forget to close the tailgate and you back into a tree trunk. Imagine how quickly salt water will disable all of those extra parts. Just think how much a new tailgate will cost. I’ll bet that a regular old-fashioned tailgate from the junkyard won’t fit in there.

Like many new automobile design features, such as blinding decorative LED lighting, headlight switches without an off position, lack of places to hook a tow strap, batteries that are inaccessible for jumping or spare tires that aren’t the right size, these flamboyant new tailgates may be appropriate for the suburbs or the city but certainly aren’t meant for Chappy living.