Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Go east young man

I’ve spent the last several weeks getting settled- I admit, it took much longer than expected.

In late September I left the Bay Area at precisely 12 noon on a beautiful Sunday in a 24 foot Budget truck, loaded top to bottom, left to right, in back and in the cab. I headed out on what should have been an 11 or so hour drive from Gilroy, Ca across to I5 south, through to Bakersfield, over to Needles, on into Arizona via I40 east.

Final destination was to be Prescott, AZ- my oldest brother’s new home town. Prescott is about 25 miles south of my new home town of Paulden. The plan being that I drive out on this fine Sunday, deliver all of my worldly possessions to a soon to be rented storage unit, then return to the bay area for my final two weeks of work and to, um, tie up all loose ends.

My wife was to follow me out in our van as one half of a caravan. The second half was our old friend Dan the Man in his car. They were scheduled to leave Gilroy on Monday morning at day break. She would stay at my brothers- find a job, finalize the transfer of the house, and I would return to the Bay Area with Dan the Man.

I was to return in 2 weeks with my two doggies in my truck, to my new home, find a job, and live happily ever after.

This, of course, was the plan- my plan- so it was not to be.

All went well, for the first few hours. I entertained myself by singing along to whatever classic rock station would come in. Reception was poor- the radio was an older AM/FM but no tape or CD player. The stations would fade in and out depending on where my head was positioned in relation to the left side view mirror and the passenger windshield wiper. I found that I could here Bob Seager when the wipers were on, the driver window was ¾ up, and my left nostril was clogged. AC/DC was best with the right wing open, the glove box closed, and my left index finger in my right ear. Oddly enough, Country stations and radio preachers came in loud and clear at all times.

Very disappointing as I do not like country music and I’m beyond saving.

As the sun set and the stations faded, I chose the lesser of 2 evils and locked in on a station that claimed to play the best of all kinds of music- Country and Western.

Several weeks prior to my departure, Stevo “Wonderbread” Tavares played for me a Buck Owens hit- Tiger by the Tail- a song I had never before heard. Within 3 hours between Baron, CA and Kingman, AZ I heard this classic 3 times.

I reached Kingman at around 10 pm. I had stopped several times on the road and was running about an hour or so behind. After 4 Rock Stars, 3 Red Bulls, and 2 Buck Owens I had the shakes but was getting tired. I decided that if I got too tired I would pull over, call my brother and let him know I would see him in the morning.

I pulled into a little truck stop gas station on the west side of Kingman and filled up with diesel. It was late and I was tired, so I went inside to buy a padlock for the roll up on the truck. I figured I could sleep some and arrive in Prescott around sun up.

I grabbed a cheapo lock, about 8 bucks worth and paid with a fifty. The clerk, who looked like Benny Hill in drag, rang me up and handed me 40 dollars in singles. I thought this strange and told her so, asking if she had any bigger bills. She laughed and said “I thought you were going out back”.

“Out back” turned out to be what looked like a hamburger stand but was in reality Kingman Az very own roadside stip clu… sorry, “Gentlemens Club”. I know this, not because I went in, but because when Benny Hill said “out back” I looked “out back” and saw 2 women about 52 years old, whose teeth have long ago decided that Kingman AZ was no place for respectable teeth to be, leaning up against a hamburger stand. I’ not sure, but I think I saw the pretty one smoking out of the hole in her neck.

I decided that I wasn’t that tired after all and got back in the truck and headed east.

An hour or so and a Buck Owens later, I arrived in what Arizonians call Seligman, the rest of us call it a gas station with a coffee pot. I pulled in and said hi to Gil behind the counter and some lady eating Cheetoes and poured myself what us truckers call “a cup of coffee”.

I got back in the truck ready to roll. The truck however was not. It would not start, no juice, no lights, no Buck Owens, no nothin’.

Hey, no problem, I had a 24 hour road side service number for budget for just such an emergency. After several attempts, I found that when Budget says “24 Hours” they don’t mean in a row. I then tried my AAA roadside service number, they’ll have someone out in one hour- that should mean I would be talking to a tow truck driver at around 11 pm, I would be on the road at about 11 20 or so, and in Prescott before 1 am. Good enough I said, please have the driver bang on the truck as I would be napping in the cab.

I shut my eyes and it seemed like only minutes later, there was a knock on my door. Wait, it was only minutes and this was no tow truck driver it was Cheeto lady. Had I forgot to pay? Not yet anyway. It seems as though this particular Chevron also caters to the more, lets say, carnal fuel. I assured her that I was quite fine waiting alone, and that if she was looking for more teeth to accompany the orange pair she now had, she could head west about an hour.

I woke at 2:30, and called AAA again. I was told that the driver was on his way, sorry for the delay. He did arrive at about 4:15, looked under the hood, obviously didn’t recognize much because he didn’t bother to touch anything, and said “I don’t even know where the battery is on these thing”, then closed the hood, got in his truck and left.

I re-entered the Gas 'n' Girl to call trips A and complain, but after 15 minutes on hold decided to try Budget once again. I evidently caught them between breaks and was told cheerfully by Dave the operator that he would be happy to send out a replacement vehicle within the hour and I could be on my way. I asked if they would also be sending out a moving crew to transfer all of my stuff to the new truck. Dave the operator said “maybe it would be better to send out a guy to try and start the truck”. I nominate Dave the operator for employee of the month. Dave the operator employee of the month told me that a tow truck would be out in 1 hour or less. That was at 4:35 am. Tow truck guy pulled up at 7:05 am. I was tired.

I arrived in Prescott at about 8 am on Monday September 20th. Tired, grumpy, and fully expecting that my wife and Dan the Man were enroute.

I called the Mrs. cell phone “were leaving in about a half hour”. Well, I was about 9 hours late, how could I complain? Dan the Man is notorious for being late, 8:30 was a pretty god start time for him. Ok 8:30 it is. I decided to take a shower and crash out.

10:45- “where are you guys now?” expecting, oh, Bakersfield at least. “we decided to get breakfast, we’re leaving for the restaurant in a few minutes”. Still at home? “yes”. Oh well, driving cars, not a truck, they’ll make good time.

11:50- “where are you guys now?”. “Just leaving the café”. Hey, people gotta eat, right?

1:20- “where are you guys now?”. “Just leaving the gas station”. Can’t drive with no gas, right?

2:15- “where are you guys now?”. “Just leaving the house, we forgot something”. Good thing they remembered while they were still close to home, right?

3:45- “where are you guys now?”. “Just leaving the store, we needed to pick up some stuff for the road”. Gotta have supplies, right?

4:10- “where are you guys now?”. “Just leaving the tire store- thought I’d get the tires rotated before the trip”. Better safe than sorry, right?

5:15- “where are you guys now?”. “We're going to eat dinner before we hit the road”. Hey, people gotta ea… wait, already used that. WHAT”S GOING ON? They’re 12 hours behind schedule and they haven’t left Gilroy yet!!

At 6:30, I got a call to inform me that as it’s getting dark, they’ll leave in the morning.

Bright and early.

At the crack of noon.

Wife and Dan the Man arrived on Wednesday morning at about 6 am- approximately 49 hours after they started an 11 hour drive and 24 hours before Dan the Man and I were scheduled to return to the bay area.

I decided then and there- I would do the driving on that trip.


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