Loading began early Saturday morning. Dismantled furniture, water-stained bureaus, bent metal and plastic piping — it all went into the cargo bed of the 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab pickup truck.

There was no need for gentleness. The bed was protected by a tough Duraliner cover. We threw in the refuse, unconcerned about nicks, scratches or dents.

Using the boat-cleat-style tie-downs in the pickup box, we secured the rubble with nylon rope — double-checking cord tension to make sure that the remnants of yesterday’s wants and presumed needs would stay in place on the 14-mile journey to the dump.

My wife and I looked at each other in wonder. Why did we buy these things? Why did we invest time and money into acquiring them? When did they lose their value? Did they ever have any?

We couldn’t answer, and to avoid further confrontation with our greed and waste, we moved faster to rid the garage of treasures that had become clutter.

If there was any joy in this, it was in the big, flame-red Ram 1500 Quad Cab. It looked the way a pickup truck ought to look — mighty, muscular, powerful, seemingly capable of hauling anything.

The four-wheel-drive, four-door truck with the massive chrome horse-collar grille gave us a sense of purpose. We wanted to fill it, test its ability to carry a load. But we might as well have been kindergartners dancing with Goliath.

The truck was a beast. It had more interior room than the already spacious 1998 version it replaced. Its cargo bed was shortened by three inches to help create extra space in the passenger cabin. But, with a hydro-formed steel frame and similarly made cross members, it was been built to carry a heavier load.

The four-wheel-drive version with the eight-foot-long cargo box can haul up to 1,750 pounds, compared with the earlier model’s 1,567-pound capacity.

We managed to load 1,353 pounds (including our combined body weights, according to the dump’s scale). We were exhausted. We couldn’t pick up and throw in another ounce.

Our personal truck, a compact Chevrolet S10, would have creaked and groaned under half that load, especially while traversing the many speed bumps in the dump’s access road. But the Ram 1500 Quad Cab easily moved across those obstacles, barely causing a ripple in the bottled water carried onboard.

The test truck ruled the highway. Its optional 5.9-liter, 245-horsepower Magnum V-8 engine growled through traffic unchallenged by the usual brigands — those inattentive (or downright rude) motorists who cut into traffic sans signals, who squat in the left lane, tailgate or engage in other offensive behavior.

The Ram 1500 Quad Cab was a motorized Moses, parting the traffic on Interstate 95 in the manner of the prophet parting the Red Sea. There was no malice in it. There was no hubris. It was the simple effect of power.

At the the dump in N orthern Virginia, we were treated as royalty. Refuse attendants, who surely see all kinds of trucks on weekend dump runs, left their stations to get a closer look at the big red truck.

“That’s a beauty,” one of the attendants said. He directed us up a hill to discard our “burnables” and urged us to exercise extreme caution.

He was not referring to our personal safety. “It would be a real shame,” the attendant said, “if anything happened to that truck.”

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