(El Reno, OK) – I’ve been on the road for a couple of days now. I’m delivering a bus to a dealership here in El Reno tomorrow morning, picking up another one, and taking it to Cypress, Texas. And there have been a couple of mildly interesting experiences along the way.
Yesterday I stopped at a Tennessee rest stop to take a… uh… a rest. Parked next to me was a large pick up truck, hauling a flat-bed trailer on which sat a small, beat-up car. In the driver’s seat of the car was a young guy. I went up to him and said, “You know, if you want to get this thing moving, I think you should be in the truck, not the car… heh heh.” And he told me that he’d been there for 21 hours, because the truck had broken down. I caught words like “torque” and “engine” and “truck.” So apparently the truck was having a problem involving the engine and torque.
In any case, he was waiting for his buddy to come out and bring him another truck. And the buddy lives in Kansas. More than 700 miles away. He said it would be another 10 hours before he’d get there. He had already exhausted all the fun opportunities available at an interstate rest stop, and was resigned to just sitting there and waiting for more than 30 hours. He’d been living on stale cinnamon buns, Doritos, cookies and chips from the vending machine. He’s on leave at the moment, stationed at Ft. Riley, and had to be getting back.
I felt helpless. I really wanted to do something for the poor kid, but there was nothing I could realistically do. He was a bit concerned about the fact that it was supposed to get pretty chilly last night, and I offered him a sweatshirt, which he declined. Nice guy, and I really felt bad for him. I hope he got out of there unscathed.
Then, this morning, I awoke at the Knights Inn in Jackson, Tennessee (which is good, because that’s where I went to sleep Saturday night.) A little after 5:00, I went outside with a cup of coffee to wake up, and heard an engine running, a bit roughly. I didn’t think too much about it – thought it was a generator or something. But I went outside about 45 minutes later, and by the dawn’s early light, realized that it was a car, still idling in the parking lot. Then, at 7 or 7:15, as I was getting ready to climb aboard the bus and head out, I noticed that the car was still idling. And that’s when I got a little concerned.
I didn’t see anyone in the car, but I didn’t want to get too close either. For a few minutes, I debated the idea of calling the police. On one hand, do they care if a car has been innocently idling for more than 2 hours in a motel parking lot? On the other hand, why would a car be idling for more than 2 hours in a motel parking lot? It couldn’t be anything good. So I called the Jackson Police. The very nice dispatcher told me they’d send someone out.
I was ready to leave before the cops got there, but I decided to stick around for a few minutes to see what would happen. Two squad cars pulled up, I pointed out the car, and tried to look busily disinterested while they investigated. Turns out there was someone in the car. They found a young African-American guy in the reclined driver’s seat. I wanted to stick around a few minutes to see what happened next, but I had to get on the road.
So I didn’t get any closure on either of these two experiences. Did the army guy’s friend show up from Kansas with a replacement truck? Did he finally get back to the base?
And why was that other guy sitting in a car in a motel parking lot for hours with the engine running? Did they arrest him for something? Was a drug deal going down?
So today, I’ve been in two states I’d never visited before: Arkansas and Oklahoma, where evidently the wind comes sweeping down the plain, where the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.
But you couldn’t prove it by me.