By Alan Burkhart
As some of you already know, I’m currently unemployed and hunting a new job. This has actually proven to be more work than having a job. It’s the first time I’ve been out of work for longer than a week or two, and it’s frustrating. The whole process of applying for unemployment, wallpapering the town with job applications and stressing over bills is frustrating to say the least. For me, it’s uncharted territory.
Anyway, one of my best friends recently had a death in his family. He’s an independent trucker and was already under a load bound for South Carolina. He called me to inquire if I’d be willing to deliver the load and bring another load back to Mississippi. Two friends in need: One needing some extra cash to get through the next week or so, and the other needing someone to deliver his load to keep the customer happy. Problems solved. I packed my duffel and made the 50-minute drive to his house to grab the truck.
The delivery was simple. One piece (a small dredging tool), two chains, no problem. I delivered during the morning while the weather was relatively cool. Then I was off to make the 150-mile trip to Hazlehurst, GA and reload at an equipment auction.
En route, I stopped in some little community at the junction of US Hwy 1 and I-16 for a quick pit stop. It’s a tiny little country store with a 10-ft grocery aisle, a 20-ft beer cooler and a pool table. Now folks, I’ve been driving trucks for 30+ years and I have seen some truly revolting public restrooms in my time. This one was less than pristine, but not so filthy that I feared catching leprosy from the door knob. However, as public restrooms go, it was a tad too “cozy” for my taste. Note in the image the charming “shared” TP dispenser. I was unsure if the brush between the toilets was for cleaning, or if it was assumed one might want to scratch his back whilst using the facility. Thank God the door had a functioning lock. Otherwise I’d have been forced to go find a tree.
By the time I arrived at the auction yard, it was 3:45 pm and the sun was like a blowtorch. High humidity, few clouds, no breeze. I backed up to the dock and a guy brought out the three pieces I was to haul: An asphalt roller, a street sweeper, and a Ford L-9000 dump truck. He drove the stuff onto the trailer, bid me a fond farewell, and I began tying down the load.
This was when I was reminded that:
- I’m not as young as I used to be
- I’m not as slim as I used to be
- My gimpy leg (broke my ankle last February) doesn’t like jumping and climbing
- I am, after all, a heart patient and,
- I’m way out of practice tying down machinery
I became fatigued almost instantly. So, I pulled outside the auction yard to an open area with lots of welcome shade. I cranked up the a/c, stole one of my buddy’s Dole fruit cups from his cooler, and settled in to wait for the sun to drop a bit lower.
Once the sun dropped behind some convenient clouds I crawled out of the cool of the cab and set to work. I got the load secured with little trouble although I was exhausted by the time I was done. While I don’t plan to return to machinery-hauling (which I did for a living in the 80’s and early 90’s), it was fun to get to mess with it once after all these years. Had I taken better care of myself in the intervening years, I’d still be able to do it without it being such a chore. But those days are behind me and I fear best left behind. Hindsight is always 20-20 as the saying goes.
The trip back to MS took me through Plains, GA. For some reason, this town still seems to think it’s a good thing to acknowledge its one famous resident. At least Jimmy-Boy can legitimately claim that he is no longer the worst president in US history. He’s 2nd worst, or perhaps third, depending upon your opinions of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Or, did you think I’d be able to write a blog post completely free of politics? Me???
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