Head out on the highway
Recently I helped my friends move. Now, when it comes to having me help with the actual hauling of boxes, it’s the equivalent of having two burly friends not show up. Not to imply that I’m lazy, but by noon I was already attempting to organize a union amongst the other helpers (I felt we weren’t getting enough pastry breaks).To make up for my uselessness, I volunteered to single-handedly drive the moving van to Grand Junction. My friends initially balked at this idea, since they were moving to Fort Collins. Eventually we reached a compromise: I could drive the truck to Fort Collins if I promised not to help move the refrigerator.Thus began my journey.It was a dream come true for me. I’d always wanted to be in the cab of an 18-wheeler. This particular U-Haul wasn’t technically an 18-wheeler, in that it only had six wheels, but I figured it was OK to count the wheels on the bicycles loaded in the back.The first thing I did was to adjust the big wing mirrors so that I couldn’t see anything that was happening behind me. I really didn’t want to know … I was terrified enough by what was going to be happening in front of me. Besides, what do I really need mirrors for? I’m a trucker now – people get out of MY way. And God forbid I should ever actually have to back this thing up.The second thing I did was grab for the CB radio. I always wanted a CB as a child, but was never allowed to have one. I tried to make up for it by listening to all the CB songs which were popular at the time. But now, finally, here I was with my very own CB radio and six glorious hours to yak away on it, talking man to man with the others truckers about whatever it is truckers talk about. Soon I’d know. I picked up the microphone, cleared my throat, and spoke the words I’d rehearsed hundreds of times:”Hey, breaker one nine. How ’bout it? Yee haw! Ten four, good buddies, this here’s Barrelin’ Barry, barrelin’ down the freeway of life. What’s the smokey report look like on I-seven-oh? Come back? Over …”No response. Maybe CBs are out of style? I took a deep breath and tried again:”Mercy sakes, 10 four good buddies. I’m pushin’ double nickels with the pedal to the metal. Breaker, breaker, breaker. Anybody got their ears on? Over …”Silence. Maybe I just need to win their confidence. For the next half hour I rattled off every CB catch phrase that I remembered (“Come on back and talk to Teddy Bear …”), in every possible combination, still to no avail. Finally, I pulled the manual from the glove box and turned to the page on CB Radio Operation. A laminated card fell out into my lap.”This model U-Haul is not equipped with a Citizen’s Band Radio,” the card read.”And if you’re reading this,” it continued, “chances are that you have just spent 45 minutes talking into the cigarette lighter.”Fair enough. As it turned out, I was only slightly less competent as a U-Haul driver than I was as a U-Haul packer. In fact, it occurred to me that instead of writing “U-Haul” on the side of the truck, they should write, “Attention Motorists! The Person Behind The Wheel Of This Vehicle Has Little Or No Idea How To Safely Drive A Truck This Large And Is Probably Very Scared. You’d Be Smart To Stay Way The Hell Out Of Their Way.” Of course, if they wrote all that, there would be no room for the scenic Gee-But-Moving-Can-Be-Such-Fun picture. On the side of my truck there was a large painting of colorful tropical fish, with the words, “Hawaii-America’s Moving Adventure.” Also … and this seemed odd … it had Iowa plates.Still, there I was … a truck drivin’ man. Born to live on the open highway, cruising down I-70, singing a Willie Nelson medley, waving happily at other truck drivers as they gave me a wide berth and muttered into their CBs.And then, it happened. I got hungry.(Next time: Eastbound and down at a “choke ‘n’ puke.”)Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com
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