Monday, September 28, 2009

Come Monday...Crash and Burn

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about, websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time. Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.” This is subject to change, however. In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while. For rants promote change, and change can be good—right? Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

The following is another chapter from the rewrite of The Crackerhead Chronicles, which is an abbreviated account of my life so far. Hopefully, all will be back to normal (for me) soon.

The Seventeenth Crumb
(Crash and Burn)

The frantic pace that I was keeping started to really get to me after about a year of service, however. For there was only so much that my body could take while completely straight.

Nonetheless, the spirit was still willing. So, I had to do something.

Be assured that I really struggled with the dilemma. For I had never taken anything before, but after getting up from my usual rest period of 2-3 hours, I found myself absolutely exhausted in the parking lot of the fairly new Pilot Truckstop in Barstow, CA (around 140 miles northwest of Los Angeles) with a load of produce that needed to be driven straight through to Buffalo, which was still around 2,500 miles away.

Therefore, I went in search of some “help,” and I have to laugh every time I think about it. For everyone in that truckstop must have thought that I was trying to score an 8-ball (an eighth of an ounce) of crank (or something similar) by the way I was acting.

No, I was not after anything illegal. For what I was looking for was ephedrine, and it could be found in its very own display case on (or behind) the counter of almost every truckstop across the land, as well as in a great many convenience stores and gas stations.

I was still spooked by the whole idea, and it certainly did not do much to calm me down to see that its display case was empty. For by then, I was feeling like I did the first time I ever entered a liquor store and bought a fifth of Seagram's V.O. so that I could be (I thought) more like a man I highly respected in the Joplin, MO area back in 1979 (I think).

Anyway, I had become fairly good friends with one of the girls who worked at the Pilot, and she proved most helpful in my endeavor. For not only did she go in the back and find what I was looking for, she also cautioned me not to take more than two pills at a time if I did not want to get the jitters.

Even though I thought that it was very considerate of her to be concerned about my welfare, I knew my constitution. For I have always had to take more (sometimes much more) of the recommended dosage of everything from aspirin to prescribed medication to get any good out of the stuff.

So, I popped four of the little white pills with a cross pattern into my mouth and swallowed them down with a big gulp of Mountain Dew (straight out of an unrefrigerated 2 liter bottle that I kept alongside a gallon pee-jug in a duct tape-reinforced cardboard box between the seats), and then took off for glory. Much to my dismay, I did not even make it to Needles (around 140 miles east of Barstow on I-40) before I had to lie down and try to sleep some more.

Thankfully, I only slept a couple of hours, and what happened next was absolutely amazing. For I proceeded to ingest ten of the ephedrine pills that time, and about ten minutes later, it felt like every hair on my head was standing on end. Oily beads of sweat started to ooze out of my forehead next, and then I could feel my muscles swelling with strength and energy (not so unlike an inflatable doll blowing up). The icing on the cake was a tingling sensation throughout my body.

In other words, it felt like I had just taken a good hit of crank. Well, at least that was what I was thinking at the time. For I had heard others talk about experiencing similar things, but I had never been tempted to try it myself.

Be assured that nothing had changed. For I saw no benefit to upping the ante when I already felt better than I ever had before, and there was also, “Look ma. No jitters!”

It was, however, the beginning of a devoted relationship with the stuff. For without it, I was some kind of special, but with it, I became a super-trucker without any reservations.

A good example of that would be winning a bet with another driver. For he bet that he would have traveled more miles than I the next time we met. Nine days later, I won with 7,932 to his 6,497—and he really was on crank!

Another example makes the point even clearer. For it involved taking off from Rogers, AR with a load of Tyson's finest and delivering them to Denver, CO. After unloading in Denver, I picked up a pre-loaded trailer of boxed beef in Liberal, KS (southwestern corner of the state) and delivered that in Ontario, CA (around 60 miles east of Los Angeles). After making that delivery, I made eight pick-ups of produce from Chula Vista, CA (southern suburb of San Diego) to Salinas headed for Buffalo. After delivering in Buffalo, I loaded wine in Canandaigua, NY (around 90 miles east of Buffalo) and delivered it in Richmond, CA (around 15 miles north of Oakland). Then I picked up a load of almonds and cashew from another warehouse in Richmond and delivered it in Rochester, NY. The last round was picking up another load of wine in Canandaigua and delivering it to Richmond again—all without a wink of sleep.

No, I did not see where I could be doing any damage. For I was feeling better than I had ever felt in my life.

Sherry did, however. For she was a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) going to school to be an RN (Registered Nurse), and just reading the back of the ephedrine bottle freaked her out.

Yes, there was a price being paid. For aside from having to take more and more of the stuff in order to keep going, my personality was undergoing a major metamorphosis, and before long, a very disagreeable monster could be seen every time I looked in a mirror.

Not that it really mattered to me at the time. For I still had my dream of having lots of cattle to chase, and horses to fall off of while doing so, and I believed that I was doing all that I could to achieve it before getting too old to really enjoy that kind of life.

A lot sooner than later, my relationship with Sherry deteriorated to the point of being more like an uneasy truce between enemies than any sort of a happy marriage even during peaceful exchanges. For she was very unhappy with my state of mind, and getting a letter from an old girlfriend did little to improve the situation.

No, it was not a love letter. Well, not exactly. For it was sent to inform me of the birth of Calvin two years earlier.

Talk about being unexpected. For I had only been out with his mother a few times, but like they say, “It only takes once.”

It was still good to hear about having a son, and I got to meet him for the first time a couple of months later. For I got a load headed for Kent, WA (southern suburb of Seattle), and that left me only around 45 miles south of where they lived.

Oh yes, Calvin was most definitely my son. For he was as cute as could be, and could charm the socks off of a wino in a back alley.

He was a little on the small side, however, but he had a rough start. For Calvin had to come out at the end of the second trimester (24 weeks), and weighed only 18 ounces at birth. (Hmm, impatience. Surely another trait that he got from his old man.)

Yes, it can be said that Calvin was a miracle baby in the truest sense of the word, and I will be eternally grateful to the Children's Hospital in Little Rock, AR for giving an assist. For it was in their Intensive Care Nursery where he had to stay for the first six months (I think) of his life.

As it turned out, I had been through where they lived just five or six months earlier on a memorable run to Surrey, BC (eastern suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia). For it was the first time that I had ever been north of Seattle (not to mention the first time across the border into Canada).

There was also this Canadian Border Patrol Officer (I think) who was a stone cold fox (she looked a lot like Shania Twain to me). That is, at least I thought so until she promised to shoot me on the spot if she found anything that she considered disgusting in my sleeper while she was performing a random inspection, and since she did not shoot me, I suppose she really was an object to be desired.

Even after all of that, the second trip into the area was so much better. For I was plumb proud to be Calvin's poppa, and I hoped (for his sake) that he got a lot more of his momma's genes than mine.

Alas, again I found myself in a situation where there was nothing sweet about parting. For it was love at first sight, but I was in no position to spend much time with him.

Speaking of sight, Calvin certainly has a unique pair of eyes. Well, maybe only to me. For his has the same greenish hazel general color as mine, but where mine are encircled with a band of dark blue, his are encircled with a golden band, which makes them quite beautiful.

Anyway, it was time to hit the road again after a short visit, and I did so with renewed determination. For I had gained another to share my dream with.

Perhaps news of Calvin was the last straw (or at least one very near to the top). For it was only a month or two (I think) after I meet him that I lost Sherry and her daughter.

Oddly enough, I got the news when I called her from the cold storage where I was making my last pick-up of pears in Cashmere, WA (around 150 miles east of Seattle), and some might think that it was rather crudely delivered. For when I told Sherry that I would be headed home in less than an hour, she told me not to bother, but I knew where she was coming from.

Before moving on, I am compelled to explain that there is another reason for why I considered it kinda odd to be informed of the impending demise of our marriage while in Cashmere aside from it being fairly close (around 145 miles) to where Calvin lived. For it is in such a beautiful part of the country, but it was just ten miles or so up the road near Wenatchee where the transmission of my purple rocket-ship decided to quit a couple of years earlier, which caused me to almost miss having Christmas with Sherry and her family that year.

Yes, I did feel a sense of loss, but to be perfectly honest about it, it was more a sense of relief than anything else. For we had tried hard to make it work, but the divide between us had just grown too wide to span.

No, I was not the only one who was relieved. For Sherry's daughter had hated my guts with a passion since the first time she heard about me, and even talking her mother into letting her attend Space Camp in Huntsville, AL (something that she really, really, really, really wanted to do) did little to take the edge off of the scorn that she held for me.

Anyway, I was free to really spread my wings and fly, but when I unfurled them, a bunch of feathers fell out. For it seemed that taking over 50 ephedrine pills a day (over 1,250 mg) was doing a little damage after all, and then my purple rocket-ship got retired because of having too many miles.

So, I decided to try to do the right thing and go load up Theresa and Calvin and bring them back to live with me in the state of Misery (Missouri, according to Darrell Greenstreet). For he was my beloved son, and I figured that maybe putting a smile on my Heavenly Father’s face for a change might get Him back on my side.

No, I did not doubt that I would be spending all of eternity with Him. For I was, after all, a Southern Baptist, and I clung to once saved/always saved (the Doctrine of Eternal Assurance) with all of my might. However, I also recognized the fact that having my place in Heaven secured was one thing, and having His blessings while I still dwelt in this world was quite another.

No, it did not believe that my Heavenly Father was on my side at the time. Well, at least not to the extent that I wanted Him to be.

Of course, I should have been killed when I hit that full grown (and very pregnant) Black Angus cow (easily 800 pounds) broadside while going around 70 MPH just north of New Meadows, ID (around 120 miles north of Boise). As it turned-out, only the cow and the truck sustained any damage (deceased and partially deceased, respectively), but the way I looked at it, He would have made sure that there were not any cattle out on the road that moonless night if He was all the way on my side.

There is also the Wamsutter, WY (around 240 miles west of Laramie) white-out to consider. For after passing Exit 173 on I-80 while heading west to my first drop of AAA maps in Salt Lake City, UT, it looked like a great white curtain had been drawn across the road in front of me, and without having any prior warning, I plowed right into it doing 75 MPH.

No, I was not exercising some caution, for once. For I had got stuck in an old truck that was primarily used for shuttling trailers around the yard until my new rocket-ship (I hoped) arrived, and 75 MPH was as fast as it would go. (Remember when I was thrilled with a truck that could go 68 MPH?).

Needless to say, it did not take me long to drastically reduce my speed. For I could not see past the hood of my truck (let alone where I was on the highway).

As if that was not bad enough, I have always become quickly disoriented whenever encountering blowing snow at night—especially when it appears to be coming right at me. Sometimes it has gotten so bad that it felt like I had stopped moving or was going backwards, and that night was no exception.

Oh yeah, I wanted to stop really bad, and I was not the only one. For the radio was going nuts, and every once in a while someone would say that they really were stopping. Invariably, someone else would ask them where they were, and my favorite reply to that was, “If I knew where I was on the road, I wouldn’t be stopping, you #@$%in’ idiot!”

So, I kept on truckin' at a torrid pace of 15-20 MPH. For I was afraid of getting run over from behind to go any slower.

Thankfully, I caught a glimpse of a reflector every now and then, and I knew to scoot over to the left a bit every time I felt the trailer start to slide into the bar-ditch. For even in 4-wheel-drive (8-wheel-drive actually, with both differentials locked-in) most OTR trucks do not make very good snowplows.

In fact, it did not take me long to find out that there was something very different about the kind of trucks that I started driving after leaving cattle pastures and wheat fields far behind. Granted, I never found out just what that was, but the bottom line most definitely was that they generally do not do well at all off-pavement.

My first experience with such happened when I decided to do a U-turn after figuring out that I was going the wrong direction on US 54 late one evening around Iola, KS (around 30 miles southwest of Blue Mound). Hey, I could see that there wasn’t anyone coming in either direction for miles, and the bar-ditch was nice and wide, with a gentle slope. Therefore, it looked like it would be no problem, but as soon as my passenger-side drive tires left the pavement, I sunk down to the frame, which left me at a perfect 90 degree angle, with the trailer blocking both lanes. (Two cables on the wrecker snapped before pulling me out.)

Another experience was even more embarrassing to me. For it was actually two experiences. For on two different attempts to pull into the driveway that led to the loading dock of an asparagus ranch right on the Mexican border south of Yuma, AZ, I got stuck in less than a foot of sand. (The driver of the farm tractor that pulled me out both times had a good laugh both times.)

Getting back to the blizzard at hand, I was surprised to discover that I was not as isolated as I felt. For during one of my course adjustments, I caught sight of the headlights of a little white (of course) car just before my trailer got back in line.

It is a wonder that they did not follow my trailer into the bar-ditch. For there could not have been more than a foot of space between the front of their car and my trailer's safety bumper (a lowered bumper that is meant to help prevent small vehicles from running under trailers in the back.

Be assured that I knew how they felt. For I had sometimes tried to keep-up with Yellow Freight trucks that had to have had some sort of on-board radar system in order to maintain a 58 MPH pace during times when the fog in the San Joaquin Valley (central California) reduced visibility to less than 30 feet.

Sometimes it got even worse than that in the San Joaquin Valley. In fact, there was one time when I pulled over on the shoulder of CA 99 to see if I could recognize any landmarks outside of the truck, and I found myself sitting less than five feet from the Modesto exit that I was looking for.

Be assured that it was at least that bad that night in Wyoming, and I was never so happy to see Point of Rocks in my life when it finally came into view. For I could actually see it!

Much to my relief, Satan’s 41-mile sleigh ride came to a halt as abruptly as it started. For the cause of the massive white-out was high winds out of the north blowing snow across the road, and a fairly high bluff around Mile Marker 132 kept them at bay.

Before putting it to bed for a few hours, I traveled another 25 miles or so, and after finding a place to park at the Flying J Truckstop in Rock Springs, WY, which had to have been another miracle, I jumped out of the cab, kissed the ground and yelled, “THANK YOU!,” just as loud as I could. For I knew that extraordinary driving skills had absolutely nothing to do with getting through that swirling mess, and I was very grateful that He had seen fit to keep me out of the ditch (or worse).

Much to my chagrin (now), the operative word to the last part of that is was (even then). For before I laid my head down to sleep while parked at that Flying J, I started to fantasize about what it would be like to hook-up with a Mormon babe or two down there in Salt Lake later that day.

It literally boggles the mind, I know. For there I was, praising my Lord and Savior with all of my heart and then thinking about something like that mere minutes later.

Nonetheless, I could argue that it was not all my fault. For I used to wonder if there were any ugly girls in Utah.

Once, I even asked a gorgeous blonde waitress in a truckstop outside of Green River, UT (around 175 miles southeast of Salt Lake City) about how there could be so many drop-dead gorgeous women in the state. In reply, she told me that she had no idea what I was talking about, along with something about just moving there with her husband and their kids from Tulsa, OK after her husband getting a good job with a mining operation in the area.

I finally came to the conclusion there must be at least some somewhat less than lovely lasses somewhere in the state, but that they were probably only let out late at night in places where there were not any illuminating lights around. For the law of averages had to come into play at some point. On the other hand, mathematics never came easy to me.

Alas, my fantasy of finding a good Mormon girl to play slap and tickle for a little with never happened, and I suppose that was another blessing that I should have been more thankful for. For a girl being raised in such a repressive society would have probably eaten me alive after being let out of her gilded cage, but what a way to go (naturally-speaking, of course).

Perhaps not there, but I was starting to think seriously about going somewhere. For Jesse James Days really were over (at least for me) with the advent of the CDL (Commercial Driver's License).

Well, not completely. For I would still try to drive for days without sleep, and I would not balk at an opportunity to make some extra money by sneaking grossly overweight loads from here to there whenever I could get one. These included hauling over 60,000 pounds of loose potatoes from Monte Vista, CO (around 240 miles southwest of Denver) to Siloam Springs, AR (around 20 miles west of Springdale), and hauling a double load of rolled aluminum out of Oswego, NY (around 100 miles east of Buffalo) to Birmingham, AL.

It was on my first double load of aluminum that I got to follow in the footsteps of Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap while avoiding DOT weight stations on the main roads, and that was not the most “exciting” part of the trip. Suffice to say, I decided upon an alternative route after that adventure.

Looking back upon it all, I can see where having to give up my license to fly may have been a good thing to a certain extent. For before that happened, I actually passed an ambulance (with its red lights just a flashing away) while doing over 90 MPH on a two lane road in New Mexico with a load grossing over 110,000 pounds.

No, it was not the same after getting my wings clipped. For with a CDL, moving violation points would show up from all over, and that took a lot of the fun out of playing outlaw.

As if that was not enough, my super-trucker pills were falling down on the job, but I kept giving them chances to redeem themselves. For I would shovel more and more of them down my throat, more and more often, and even after throwing up mostly blood for a full six hours one night at a rest area near Echo, UT (around 35 miles southeast of Ogden) as a result of ingesting 100 pills in a span of two hours, I remained a loyal customer.

Yes, I had a problem, but not in the way that most would think. For there was not any physical addiction in play, but in all fairness, of what good news is that when you keep thinking that just a few more will do the trick.

To be honest about it, it may have not made any difference, but I would like to think that I would not have been so desperate if I could have been just like I was before. For I drove an awful lot of miles on nothing more than a bellyful of Mountain Dew or something similar, but when the pill bottle started letting me down, I was left without enough strength to stay out of bed for more than a couple of hours at a time—let alone enough to drive a thousand miles.

Remember the run I made from Salinas, CA to Wilkes-Barre, PA in 37.5 hours completely straight? Well, it took me over 110 hours, with the last 20 miles taking over four hours, to make that very same run after I started falling apart.

No, my disposition was not improving. For the farther I fell behind, the madder (in every sense of the word) I got, and that made for a very pleasant experience for Calvin and his mother, I’m sure.

Hey, I even have proof! For after stopping by the house one day in the very merry month of May in 1993, I discovered that they had packed up and left with the only vehicle still running, and just for good measure, Theresa had called the electric company (obviously before calling the telephone company) and had the meter removed.

So, after I completed the run that I was on and brought a load back to the yard, I told my boss that I needed to take some time off, which was not a problem. For he was suffering from my drastically reduced abilities almost as much as I was.

Finding a ride over to the house was also not a problem. For I just called an old drinking buddy of mine and asked him to come pick me up.

After spending a few hours catching up, he dropped me off, and there I sat in a darkened house, just watching the shadows rise and fall. By the way, have I failed to mention that I had been seeing “things” for quite some time by then?


  1. "The Love that will not let me go" works overtime sometimes. I wonder why he bothers....

  2. There are times when I still find it almost impossible to accept. For it sounds too fantastic to believe, but what He has personally revealed to me is that it is all by design in order to prove HIMSELF worthy of receiving all of our love and trust.

    Now, this is not to say that we are not responsible for any of our actions. For no one could be found guilty of sin if that was true, but unless we are willing to concede that either there is nothing that He can do about things or He does not care to, it has to be that all that has happened in this world is in accordance to the plan that He set into motion long before any of us came to be.

    Of course, the other side of the coin is that much of what happens in this world is beyond tragic, as you and I (along with millions upon millions of others) are living right now. Hence, opportunities to give Him the full benefit of our doubts, which is what makes the kind of love that He can receive from us so satisfying, but if it cannot be accepted that He is in full control of ALL that happens, those opportunities are wasted.


Since the Blogger spam filter has been found sorely lacking lately, I will start moderating comments. Be assured that I am only interested in deleting spam. So, if you feel a need to take me to task over something—even anonymously, go ahead and let 'er rip, and I will publish it as soon as I can.