By John Matonich
I was traveling to my shop the other day when I saw a semi stopped alongside the road. The driver was standing outside talking on his cell phone. I slowed down to see if he needed any help, but he said he was set and waved me on. As I headed down the road, I could see what caused him to pull over. One of his tires had come off his rig and passed him on the highway before it ended up on the shoulder.
This driver’s situation reminded me of two things. The first was an old joke using a Kenny Roger’s song: “You picked a fine time to leave me….loose wheel!” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The second involved a truck stop that I used to frequent after school. I hadn’t thought of that place in a long time, but this trucker’s situation wasn’t a new one for me.
There was a truck stop on the west end of my hometown known as Oscar’s. Oscar was quite the character and from what I had been told he had a very colorful past as did his place of business. I’d stop in for a pop every now and again after high school let out just to get a smile or two from Oscar’s words of wisdom. His old place had been replaced with a new double-wide which had his restaurant in the front and his home in the back.
There is a fair amount of truck traffic on the highway that runs through the town and every time Oscar would see a truck go by without stopping, he would usually throw out some profanity. Something about “F” you and I hope your wheel falls off. It would usually get a chuckle from whoever was in the place and everyone would then go back about their business.
One day while I was there a semi went by and didn’t even slow down. Oscar saw the rig and hollered out his usual profanity about not stopping and hoping a wheel would fall off. About 15 minutes later the door opened up and a trucker came in. That wasn’t unusual given it was a truck stop, but what was unusual was no one heard him pull up. The driver went to the front counter and asked Oscar if he could use his phone. Oscar pushed the phone in his direction and then turned a little white when the driver told him he had just passed his place when suddenly one of his wheels fell off and headed down the highway.
Oscar didn’t say much, but I could see he was in thought. After the driver left, I asked Oscar how he felt about his normal wish for those who didn’t stop. Oscar didn’t miss a beat and said something about it would have been different if the semi would have stopped earlier. That being said, I didn’t hear him throw out his usual profane blast from then on. I guess he did feel a little responsible and really didn’t want to be anymore.
I guess we need to be careful about what we say and when we say it. Oscar is long gone, but I have to wonder of he is listening to any Kenny Rogers tunes wherever he ended up.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: zackzen