Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Tom Clancy Phone call

I was supposed to work the Slave Driving job tonight but I received a clandestine text message yesterday urging me to call my contact.

Oh, yeah, by the way the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Let me begin again.Someone was supposed to work tonight and someone else wanted him or her to contact them.

Crap, that’s not very clear.

Okay, how about this:I have a friend; We’ll call her "Pave Diver." Pave Diver was supposed to drive carriage tonight but received a text message from "Schmo." Schmo urged Pave Diver to call her and "Make sure I (Schmo) can talk" This is their conversation, as related to me by my friend Pave Diver. So, of course, it’s all hearsay and thereby inadmissible as evidence in court.

Pave Diver "Can you talk?"

Schmo, whispering, and it sounds like the mouthpiece of the phone is being covered by her hand "Yes."

Pave Diver "What did you want?"

Schmo "I have six people on for tonight, your appointment never called to pay, the weather is supposed to be crappy and I think the new girl is going to come in and drive tonight too. I’m calling you off, but I can’t ’Call you off’, you know? So we have to come up with a good excuse why you can’t drive tonight."

Here is a mathematical equation that is in direct proportion to how often I drive:

2 many drivers
+bad weather
/ # of people in town
+ other extenuating circumstances
= not enough $ 4 me 2 bother

Pave Diver "Okay, I’m too lazy."

Schmo "No, like a real reason.

"Pave Diver "I’m sick. I have boils."

Schmo "Ugh, no. That wont work."

There are two things that will get you out of driving faster then shit through a goose. One is vomiting, the other diarrhea. Why? Because you need someone to hold your horse in order to go to the john, and sometimes other drivers are not available immediately. I’ve seen someone throw-up into their horses poop bag, and it’s not pleasant. Even the horses don’t like it.

It is an excuse you only use when you actually have either one. Or both. Overuse is like crying "Wolf" and trust me, you never want to be in that situation. I’ve driven injured, with my foot in a medical boot, with a messed up finger, allergies, the flu, carpel tunnel, really bad cramps, and split ends. The last thing I ever want to do is drive with nausea or a case of the trots.

Pave Diver "Body lice?"

Schmo "No, and if I tell them that you’ll never step foot in the barn again, that’s just gross. You need something temporary. The barn meeting is on Monday and you have to be here."

(I had forgotten about that, and since we always go drinking at Murphy’s after the Barn Meetings you’d think I would have remembered.)

Pave Diver "Fine, I have a twitch."

Schmo "No. Not serious enough."

Pave Diver "Okay then, two twitches.

Schmo "NO!"

(Schmo is the voice of reason and never lets Pave Diver have any fun!)

Pave Diver "Okay, a sudden and virulent attack of acne that wont allow me to leave the house because of the oozing---"

Schmo "Oh, God that’s sick! No, no, no! I’ll say you signed up for the wrong day."

Pave Diver "That’s makes me sound like a moron."

Schmo (silence)

Schmo "And your point is?"

Pave Diver "See you at the meeting on Monday. Be sure to wear your drinkin’ shoes."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Donde Los Banos de El Diablo Redux

I seem to have a special radar for finding gross and disgusting restroom while on the road. We refer to them as "The Bathrooms of the Devil." Some people are just lucky that way, I guess. On the Tucson trip not only did I find two of them but I also gassed up at The Bates Filling Station and Crack-Mart.

We were on day two of our drive, and had just left Phoenix when I decided to re-fuel. Being the Uber-Cheap bastard that I am I refused to stop in Phoenix (and the traffic was horrible) so I made the executive decision to stop outside of Phoenix in a town called Casa Grande. The highway signs noted that there were two exits for Casa Grande (which is Spanish for "Crappy Little Town with a Big Sounding Name") I declined to get off on the first exit, holding out for exit number two. My fuel gauge indicated that I was at ¼ tank, and since the brilliant folks in the Regan administration made a deal with the Big Three all those years ago my Jeep Wrangler gets about 14 MPG. Not so good for a car described as a "Hummer Escape Pod." Now, if you have never been through Arizona (or Nevada or Utah) you need to know that there are long stretches of highway with absolutely nothing; not even a Starbucks, if you can believe that. So after passing exit number one I came upon what I thought was exit number two, which was the exit for the Tanger Outlet stores. Now, I figured that there would have to be a gas station there, and since it was the next exit past exit number one, I also figured it was the second exit.

We got off the highway, and low and behold! No gas stations! So we continued to drive on the frontage road back towards Phoenix, furtively searching for a Circle K or QT.

Nope. Nothing. Just a whole lot of dark.

We did pass a small motel, which The Kid said reminded her of The Bates Motel from Psycho.
We drove a little further until finally, like an oasis in the desert, we saw a little two-pump filling station and "store".

Eyeballing my gas gauge I decided that something was better then nothing so we stopped.

A compact car was parked in front of the door, filled with less then upstanding looking individuals. The driver was inside, robbing the place I assumed. The gas station’s pumps did not accept credit cards, so I was forced to make contact with a live person, so I locked the doors and told The Kid to dial 911 if I didn’t return in five minutes. I went inside and waited behind a disheveled Crack head/getaway driver to pay my $40.00 cash. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Ms Crack head paid for her beers and whatever else she was purchasing for the rest of her gang, and I was able to give the clerk my money so she could set the gas pump to pre-paid.
The clerk told me to pull up to the front pump because it was faster. Now, apparently they are in a different time zone in "Crappy Little Town with a Big Sounding Name" because the pump took ten minutes to dispense 12 gallons of gas. So I was left to wonder "Faster then what? Siphoning gas out of someone’s tank with a garden hose?"

The entire time the Crack-mobile was still parked in front of the door (waiting for us to leave so they could rob it? Enjoying their adult beverages before they continued their journey? Neither of those prospects were too good) And The Kid was getting the distinct feeling that if we did not escape soon our next family portrait would be on a milk carton. Finally the meter read "$40.00", she unlocked my door, we fired up the Jeep and made a fast getaway.

The next exit up the road was really the second one. Well lit, Shell, Mobile, Love’s, all the comforts and pleasure of a well traveled truck stop.

And the moral of the story? I am an idiot.

But you already knew that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where Angels don't fear to tread

We have returned for our trip to Tucson, and it was a lot of fun. I could tell you about the traffic, the hotels, driving through the Mojave (booooring!) Our visit to the end of the Grand Canyon or the drive through Zion National park (breath taking, plus fun for me in the Jeep) and that I did, indeed, find the bathrooms of the Devil, but the thing we did which moved us the most was our visit to Angels Rest in Kanab Canyon.

It’s part of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. A small part, when you consider that the entire place is huge. It is a pet cemetery, but to call is that makes it sound like a solemn and grim place.

We arrived and entered through the gate. Immediately you are struck by the sound of wind chimes, and the colorful tokens left on the grave markers. Each chime has a small engraved plaque attached to the bottom with a family or animals names, and there are tons of them. Similar to Tibetan prayer flags, it is an audible reminder of those who are now silent. And the place is large. The memorials are for all types of animals, and several markers are in honor of humans who have passed on and felt a kinship with animals. There are many markers instructing the pets to meet their former owners at the Rainbow Bridge, so they may be together again in whatever afterlife comes. It was a powerful experience and if you are ever in the area I suggest you drive through.

We stopped there because The Kid does fundraising for Best Friend’s sister charity, No More Homeless Pets in Utah. Each year for Strut Your Mutt she collects donations and then on a Saturday in May we go to Sugarhouse Park and walk (ok, we carry Sammie Two Chews because she little and on the plump side) with about 10,000 other animal lovers to raise awareness about the importance of spaying or neutering dogs and cats to help eliminate the abundance of animals and the need for euthanasia in shelters. It was The Kids idea to do this, and because I believe you need to teach your kid that life is not just about you, I help her out with the website and the other mundane aspects of the project. Every year she has raised over $250.00 and was given special recognition two years ago for raising over $550.00. She was 12 years old and raised more money then many of the Dog Packs (groups of 5 or more) most of whom were adults. We will be participating again this year, and our visit helped fuel her enthusiasm.
I cannot find more words to describe this most peaceful spot, so I will leave you with pictures.