(Photo taken while crossing the Snake River on my drive home from work)
Written October 9th. 2007
The drive home from work this evening was as typical as any other. There was nothing significant about the route I took or the people I shared the pavement with. There was neither an over abundance of red lights or green lights, and most of the tree limbs that had been ripped from the tree tops during Saturdays freak snow storm had now been cleared away. It was a typical drive home, and yet there was something about it that was different. Despite an overwhelming sense of exhaustion in both mind and body, my senses were active, and my mind wondered in ah at the world around me. Everything seemed brighter for some reason, almost amplified in away, and I soaked in the details as best I could without losing track of the road ahead of me. By the time I’d reached city limits I’d counted no less then four attempts to flip on the radio, before reluctantly reminding myself “Oh, that’s right. I don’t have one anymore.” For some reason it just didn’t bother me, and I allowed a grin to cross my face as I thought to myself “Well. Don‘t have to worry about that anymore”.
It’s been a curious week so far, and I’ve been faced with some curious situations. Perhaps I merely needed a moment to put things into perspective. Perhaps I’d found my moment on the drive home.
I had found nothing significant about Monday morning. The alarm had sounded at it’s standard time, I’d thrown the coffee on like clock work, and gotten my yaw yaw’s out waking up to Pink’s reruns and music videos on VH1. Equally the drive into work had been undistinguished, and even the news that the boss would be out for a spell again had not been an overly monopolizing issue. I’d been in a typical mood, on a typical Monday morning, and typically pulled the first trucks in a few minutes early and started in on them by myself, while the rest of the crew stumbled in half awake. It seemed normal. I even allowed myself the pleasure of mind wondering, as I fired up “Thelma” and pretended I was Kermit the frog, along side Ms. Piggy in the pilot episode of “Pigs in space, the red neck series”. Then Thelma coughed, and the colors began to change. It was almost as though that estranged machine set the stage for the rest of the week. It was the way she’d sounded that drew my attention. Or rather the way she didn’t sound. When the side brushes engaged, I didn’t hear the familiar sound of air being feed into the rams. A closer observation confirmed my concern. The side brushes were not extending, Thelma had no air.
A moment of ponderous thought, and a recall of the weekend power outages, again a result of Saturdays freak snow storm, and I bid Ms. Piggy a fond far well as I returned to the land of Static, mild mannered truck wash foremen. It didn’t take long before an idea manifested itself, and I headed for the north back room and the air compressor with a steady pace, while the rest of the crew lethargically assembled in the bays. “HI HO Static, away!“ A quick inspection of the air compressor, and then a look inside the breaker box, and the problem is solved. A simple flip of my finger reconnects the electrical circuit, and the air compressor rumbles to life. Problem solved and on to the next task. It’s not the task I was expecting.
By the time I’ve rounded the entry to bay two I can already hear the woo fully familiar machine gun like rattle coming from the south back room. I pick my pace up into a run, and scramble into the bay screaming “Shut it down, shut it down, it’s sucking air.” The air compressor isn’t the only thing the power knocked out, our water well apparently isn’t working either.
An inspection of well house one, six phone calls, and fifteen minutes later, and I’m finally standing over the valve that junctions our well house with the truck stop’s well house, and I have a six foot long valve key in my hand that looks kind of like Conan the barbarians battle axe, and a Norman Baits looking grin on my face. The wash runs off of three phase power. Lose all three legs and you get a black out. Lost just one or two legs and you’ve got a brown out. Black out’s shut things down. It’s annoying at best, but eventually everything comes back on. Brown out’s have a habit of destroy things. Saturday the wash lost power, but not all of it. A brown out, and with no one around to care for the situation it has fried several components in our well house, leaving me little other option then to slave well house two to our building. I open the valve and offer the world a chuckle. “Bring it on.” It’s another problem solved, and I wave the valve key clumsily around over my head like a Tusken raider out of Star Wars. Fifteen minutes later and we’ve finally finished the first truck of the day and roll on one. I’d figured at that point, that must be the weeks hiccup.
In hind sight, I don’t think there are going to be any hiccup’s at all this week. I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps this week will be a trial.
Tuesday morning is like watching a rerun. Alarm, coffee, Pinks reruns and just to mix things up a bit, something interesting on the History Channel for my morning yaw yaw’s. I don’t even make it to work before the colors change a little more. Out the door, and onto my truck and I notice the drivers side door isn’t shut tight like I‘d left it the night before. It’s actually one of those things I’ve been both dreading and anticipating for a few years now. A quick check of the cab confirms my concern. My stereo is gone. It's been stolen.
By noon my neck was cramping, and my head was throbbing as I sat myself down at the boss’s desk to fill out a disciplinary write up slip, thinking all the while how much easier it was back in the day to simply say “That was about the dumbest f***ing thing I’ve ever seen anyone do before“, and that it was not only an effective way of teaching someone not to repeat a very poorly planned action, but also efficient in that I did not have to pull myself away from the bays to fill out what will more then likely be an ignored write up (you have to keep in mind, I nearly lost my job over that statement earlier this year). I thought about that, and then I wondered just how much time I was going to have to waste polishing out the stainless steel air cans that had been damaged the night before, while multitask like considering the best way to deliver the write up, without making it appear racist. That’s just how much time it took for me to fill out the report. That or I was just thinking really fast. Either way matters little, in the end it was time well wasted. The threat will fall on deaf ears, but that’s okay, because it was by the book, and no one will be able to threaten a law suit against me and or the company over it. From there I spend the next few hours pondering just how I was going to approach the gentleman, when he finally returned to have his damaged air cans polished.
Ponder away says I. Ponder away. When the driver finally did pull in I let out a long sigh, and consider that perhaps the colors had changed yet again. It was an ole boy out of Alberta, Canada that I’ve known for years. We spend the next hour polishing his air cans, joking, chewing the fat, and discussing (amongst ourselves) that in ten years this was only the second time this had ever happened, and that it was quite possibly the dumbest f***ing thing either one of us had ever seen anyone do before…ever.
Curious how carefully chosen colorful abusive adverbs can add such a profoundly resounding “Mmm Hmm” to a situation.
I finished up on the cans and offered my good days just in time to receive the news that well house one was back up and running…For about six minutes.
A quick trip out to well house two to fetch the valve key, pretending I’m the definitive bald version of Ace Ventura with a big stick, fallowed by a vigorous stroll to the junction valve, and I‘m feeling pretty good about myself and the world . Valve shut, key replaced and it’s back to the bays just in time to meet and greet the crew that has traveled all they way down from Jerome, for no other reason then to clean out our wash bay sumps. Apparently this information does not sit well with Captain “I don’t have time for this”, and he blows a gasket when I tell him that I’ll be shutting a bay down to accommodate the sump cleaning. He apparently thought stressing his importance to the world two and half saliva spewing inches from my face would have some manner of impact on me, and in away I did. He was in the perfect position to watch as our water pressure once again feel from 60 pounds to 0.
Well house one’s down again, and it’s another very, very, vigorous stroll, with Captain “I don’t have time for this” barking at my heels, out to the well for an inspection, fallowed by a head shacking, cigarette hot boxing, jaunt back over to well house two for the valve key (minus Tusken raider whooping, though very tempting at the time), fallowed by another hasty eye rolling venture back over to the junction valve. Water back on, and Captain “I don’t have time for this” apparently decides he really doesn’t and leaves. I wave politely has he thunders around the north side of the building like an eighty thousand pound jet propelled battering ram. The driver standing next to me waves as well, but curiously enough only uses one finger, and then sprouts forth several of those words and phrases I’m not allowed to use at work anymore.
As my crew is clocking out for the day I pat them each on the back, and tell them good job. Despite all of the problems and detours, we’ve met our quota for the day, and I’m feeling pretty satisfied. I ponder all of this and soak in how colorful the world is in silence, habitually reaching once again for the radio that is no longer there on my drive home. The only conclusion I can draw to is that the world is very colorful. It’s a curious kaleidoscope of unpredictable colors.
Until next time folks. Stay warm, stay dry, and stay safe