Thinkin’ about Trucks

In the world prior to COVID-19, I was sitting in our pickup truck while my husband made a much-needed dump delivery. As he emptied the junk from the bed, the cab swayed back and forth. I tried really hard to breathe through my mouth to avoid that dumpy stench. To pass the time, I thought about how I always feel when I sit in a truck.

Small. Foreign. Extremely not male.

I’ve been in trucks more than a time or two, but not so much as to make myself at home in them. I always feel kind of ill at ease in these behemoths. Climbing into them is a challenge. They’re usually dirty inside and out, and when I’m riding in one, I always seem to be going somewhere I don’t routinely go. A dump. A repo yard. A junkyard. A lumberyard. (Yards, in general, seem to attract trucks, don’t they?)

I’ve bounced down many an unpaved back road in a truck. I’ve hauled things. Moved things. Picked up things. Towed things. Delivered things. Every time I’m in a truck, it seems, I’m about to do something that I don’t find particularly fun. It will be dirty, sweaty, potentially painful and unpleasant, and quite likely long overdue. Either that, or I’m about to go somewhere I couldn’t normally go. Someplace rocky or steep or rugged or muddy.

Trucks often look like they’re about to fall apart, but at the same time they feel like the most reliable things on earth. That’s quite the contradiction. One thing’s for certain, though. I always feel like I’m about to get ‘er done when I’m in a truck.

Yes, indeed. And for some reason my Southern accent tends to come to the surface. I start to use words like “chores”. I start droppin’ my g’s.

I’m always ever-so-grateful to have use of a truck, because whatever it is I’m doing could not be done without one. And I know I’m utterly dependent upon the good will of its owner. That can sometimes be awkward. I’m sure truck owners get rather sick of being asked for favors.

No one has ever loaned me their truck. I’ve been told more than once that I wouldn’t be able to drive a truck or start a truck or stop a truck. I’ve always found that supremely insulting, and sexist, but I’m also secretly relieved, because I really don’t want to be bothered. I can’t imagine putting myself in one of those smelly, noisy, rattling things if I didn’t have to.

Love them or hate them, though, trucks sure can come in handy. That, and they always make me want to take a shower after interacting with them. Most cars don’t do that. So there you have it. Trucks promote hygiene.

Truck

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A Summery Throwback

I’ve written so many blog posts at this point that I often don’t remember what I’ve written. So when I need an ego massage, I’ll sometimes go back and read some of my older ones. In doing so, I stumbled upon one that makes me particularly proud.

It’s a story about the very best of my childhood summers, and it’s also a story about how little things can make a lifelong impression. A cool story for a hot day. I hope you’ll click on over and read Tony the Ice Cream Man.

Ice Cream Truck

Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Not For All the Tea in China

As I write this, I’m sitting on the drawbridge where I work, gazing out the window at the much, much, MUCH higher fixed bridge next door. I have to say my heart is in my throat, because what is happening is there’s a bucket truck on that bridge, and the bucket is being extended out over the water, and down, down, down below the bridge structure. Apparently they’re inspecting the underside of the bridge or doing some welding or repairs or something. But that thing looks like a spindly little Tonka toy from here.

There are two people in the bucket, and they’re 182 feet above the canal. They’ve been at it for hours in the rain. The bucket goes under and they stay there for a looooong time. Then it swings back out, rises up, slides between the girders, and the truck moves further along the bridge. Then the process is repeated.

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I’m sure whatever they’re doing is quite necessary, and I hope that they’re being paid quite well, but my gut reaction is that you couldn’t pay me enough to risk my life like that. It’s just not something I’d want to be doing on a Saturday morning, or any other time of the week for that matter.

When I opened drawbridges in Jacksonville, Florida, we often talked about a mishap with one of those trucks. The bucket arm gave away, and four people were left clinging to a sideways bucket, 200 feet above the St. Johns River. You can see footage of this scary event, complete with interviews with the people involved here. They all survived, fortunately, but what a scary experience.

It is a constant shock to me, what some people are willing to do to make a living.

The Worst Movie I’ve Ever Seen

It’s four o’clock in the morning and I’m at work with absolutely nothing to do. Thank God for cable TV, right? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case at 4 a.m. I settled on a movie called “Trucks”. Based on a Stephen King story, this movie was made in 1997 and starred Timothy Busfield, an actor I’ve always liked, so in spite of the cheesy description (“A gas-station owner must figure out a way to stop a band of marauding, driverless vehicles.”) I figured, what the heck. Not like I had anything better to do.

This is supposed to be a horror film, but it was so bad that it wound up feeling more like a comedy. Here were some of the highlights. Or maybe they should be called lowlights.

  • A group of people are trapped in a restaurant together as driverless trucks drive around and around and around out front, and Timothy Busfield earnestly says that the one advantage they have is that they’re smarter than the trucks.
  • One man posits that this situation must surely have something to do with Area 51.
  • A postman is delivering mail on a mysteriously deserted business street (perhaps he is delivering on a Sunday, who knows?), when a tonka truck bursts through the window of a toy store and crashes into his ankle. He says ouch. The truck backs up and hits him again. He falls in the street. The truck rams his head. Candy apple red blood spurts everywhere. The toy truck rams him over and over again until he’s dead. Close up on the truck, with slimy guts all over the radiator.
  • Busfield spends a great deal of time figuring out how to distract the trucks.
  • Redneck number 1 decides to make Molotov cocktails and throw them at one of the trucks. Redneck number 2 gets ticked off because the truck in question is his truck. So he runs outside and jumps behind the wheel, but of course he can’t control the truck. Redneck 1 throws another Molotov cocktail at the truck. The hood bursts into flame. The truck crashes into the building and it explodes, taking both rednecks with it.
  • A man is working on a truck that he intends to use to make their escape (because amidst all this chaos, he apparently hasn’t figured out that trucks are the enemy), and when he finally gets it fixed, the truck pins him against the garage door, crushing him to death. His hysterical wife chases the truck down and attacks it with an ax. She has to be knocked out with convenient tranquilizers. She later wanders off and gets run down by a truck that she apparently can’t hear coming and isn’t anticipating. Are they really smarter than the trucks?
  • Since they are trapped together in a building, being attacked by enemies, a guy who is supposed to be an aging flower child says, “Now we know how Mayor Daley felt in Chicago ’68.”
  • All the trucks converge in the parking lot and begin honking to each other. “They must be communicating,” Busfield says.
  • The people in the restaurant receive their news via an old television. On more than one occasion it shows static, then you hear the reporter’s voice, then the cook reaches up and turns a nob on the TV to tune it and they get to see the report. The only problem is there’s no nob on the TV.
  • Two teens take refuge from the trucks in a drainage ditch, and a demonic dump truck pours rocks to block their exit.
  • The payphone in the besieged parking lot begins to ring. Someone says, “Maybe we should answer that.” Someone else says, “It may be a trick.” Someone does answer, and of course gets mowed down by a truck.
  • Busfield finally figures out that the trucks want him to give them gas. He goes out and starts nervously pumping. His love interest races out to him and he says, “What are you doing? Get back inside!” She says, “No! You’re going to need help!”
  • The cook decides to shoot out one of the headlights of an approaching truck. That sends it into the ditch. In retaliation, another truck crashes through the restaurant. So Busfield shoots it. One shot and the whole place explodes.
  • A lineman with the power company is trying to restore power to the area since the trucks took out a transformer. He’s up in his cherry picker when his truck comes to life and rams him into the power lines where he’s electrocuted in a hail of sparks and bursts into flame. The truck actually growls in satisfaction.
  • The few survivors hike out of the area and are conveniently rescued by a helicopter, barely escaping annihilation by a semi-truck as they’re trying to get on board. Hurray! They’re saved. And then they notice (spoiler alert) no one is piloting the helicopter. The end.

I don’t know how they managed it, but they combined the worst special effects with the worst acting and the worst sound and the world’s most pathetic choice in music. It was just epically bad.Timothy Busfield must be mortified in retrospect. I’d love to know the thought process in making this movie. How many people looked at it and said, “Oh, yeah! This is going to be great!”  The director would have been better off playing it off as a comedy spoof of horror films, but apparently he took this fiasco seriously right to the bitter end.

I haven’t laughed so hard in years. The only thing that would have made the experience better was if it had been featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Trucks