Lord of the Dings

old_farm_truck_in_field I grew up on a farm and though I haven’t lived that way for decades I guess some aspects of the lifestyle never leave you. I’m not talking about raising cattle in my backyard, though there’s been a zoo inside my house for more years than I lived out in the middle of a cornfield.

No, I’m talking about my pickup truck. It’s getting old and there’s talk of trading it in for a new one. I’ve traded in vehicles many times but now that I’m getting as old as an old truck, the idea of giving away the old for something new just doesn’t sit well with me anymore. On a couple of levels, when it comes to my truck.

First, nearly every ding, scratch, dent and crease in that old black behemoth is there because I put it there, doing things that one does with a truck. And a couple more because of what one shouldn’t do with one. You ever see a farmer driving a nice, shiny old truck – he must be raising daffodils. In his living room.

Actually I’m kinda proud of them – my truck and me, well, we made them together. Maybe when it was new and I was younger such vehicular garnishes would have bothered me, but now that it’s old I do believe those dings, dents and other things give it … character.

Like the time I really thought I could squeeze through the slightly-less-than-a-parking-space left between a car and a light pole in a parking lot. I was sure of it – until the right side of the old girl started to lift up as I edged past the big concrete base of the pole and let out an awful scratching screech. I guess not, I realized, but no sense in going back now. Didn’t touch the car or even mark the pole but I found a nice, long, bright yellow-colored gouge creased deep across the lower part of my black passenger and backseat panel doors.

It was pretty near straight. And the doors still opened and closed.

“Look at that,” I said to her. “We got ourselves a racing stripe.”

Do that with a Prius. And be happy about it. I dare you. It’s what separates us farm boys from city folk, I guess. Manure happens – especially to a pickup truck.

And there was the time when I was sitting in another parking lot. Like any other full-size pickup driver does, I was off to the outer edge of the lot, away from most vehicles. I’d also parked so I could just drive away and not back up. Very simple, very easy, very smart. I’d just gotten back from shopping, sitting and idling with no one around me and looking at my sales receipt, when in the corner of my eye I saw movement by my door.

I looked over and down to see the front end of some non-descript Japanese sedan pushing along the side of my front fender, like a runaway shopping cart with an engine. And a driver. The car gently (as much as a car can do) swiped along my front fender and ended up stopped in front of me.

I’d just been hit by a car. In slow motion. And I wasn’t even moving. The driver looked back at me. I was staring at him. And then he started yelling and gave me the finger.

I was stunned. Of course I did what any other normal, red-blooded American raised on a farm would do.

I started laughing. I couldn’t stop. It was so damn ridiculous. I did manage to get out a couple words, though.

“I was just sitting here, you shithead!”

For me, the whole thing was entirely, completely hilarious. For him, apparently it all became very clear. He stopped yelling and took off. And for my wife? Uh, not so funny.

“You didn’t even get his license plate!?!? Why do I ever let you go anywhere by yourself.”

“I couldn’t stop laughing, hon. And it was just the truck – it’s like a white accent stripe along the fender. Didn’t do any real damage, still drives and everything.”

“This is why you should have a gun.”

“Why do I need a gun?”

“You could have shot out his tires!!!”

Obviously, my lovely wife was not raised on a farm.

If she had been, she wouldn’t think I was crazy. About this, or why I really don’t want to trade in my truck. I want to keep it and drive it until it can barely move. But still running enough to let me edge her into the backyard, park her off to the side and just leave her there. That’s how old trucks and other farm machines are laid to rest. That’s where they should go, to slowly rust away. Just like that old GMC you see up at the top there.

Gone, but never forgotten. I’ll even keep the keys in the ignition. Out in the sticks, you do that. You never know when someone, or something, might need it.???????????????????????????????????????


And now, the news most fowl and furry

I don’t know about you, but I get a little tired of following the news day in and day out, night in and night out, and seeing that it would appear, from the overwhelming bulk of it, that anything newsworthy has something to do with people.

People doing the crime, people making the laws, people breaking the laws, people waging the wars, people making the peace … people, people, people, people.

Bores me to death, to tell you the truth. Motley bunch of attention-mongers, aren’t we?

Having spent some years in the news business, I know that while people may be the root cause of most of each day’s news – few do anything really interesting when they make it.

Take, for example, an event such as … 5,000 people crossing the street. Stop the presses to report it? Interrupt the afternoon talk shows to break the news? Hardly.

On the other hand, say it was 5,000 …

If it walks like 5,000 ducks, if it quacks like 5,000 ducks, it must be …

… ducks, Yes, you read me right – DUCKS. Now THAT’S news.

A few roads in the Chinese city of Taizhou today were jammed when a farmer relocated his enormous flock of ducks to a nearby pond, with help from only a long wooden pole and a couple of assistants. According to local media, the farmer boasted that he didn’t lose a single duck on the three-quarters-of-a-mile journey.

Just him, a few assistants and a stick moved 5,000 ducks? And he didn’t lose one? Amazing. Try that with an entire day-care staff and 5,000 kids and I’ll bet you’ll lose a couple hundred.

And, of course, that story would lead the evening TV news. See what I mean? Sheesh.

Here’s another example. Say, you’re playing softball at the local park. While making a no-seeum throw to the plate, stopping that tying run from scoring and making the last out, you feel the urge to purge.

Game over and you run off the field and straight to a big plastic porta-poo booth – the only one in the park. You reach for the door handle, give it a tug and it’s … locked, a.k.a. in use. And you’re sure it’s the same guy you saw go in, two innings ago. Do you call the local TV news station and get yourself into the 11 p.m. lineup? I doubt it.

But, let’s say you’re a Canadian black bear, sitting outside an occupied outhouse in the forests of Winnipeg? Maybe at a picnic table, calmly waiting your turn, like the well-mannered, sophisticated fellow below …

A picture-perfect picture of patience …

Now, you’ve been patient. Though Gord Shurvell, a 65-year-old Winnipeg man staying with friends in a nearby hunting cabin, has been in there since you arrived. Well, you have to go, but you don’t have to go that bad. You can wait.

Seconds tick to minutes, which clump into many minutes. You gotta go – now. Gord’s got to be finished, for holy Molson’s sake. So why the hell is he still farting around in there?

“I’d already done my business,” Shurvell recalled, when suddenly an angry black bear entered the outhouse, grabbed him and dragged him half-naked into the woods. “All the [defense] I had was a … piece of [toilet] paper in this hand.”

A friend heard the commotion, got his gun and shot the bear. Oh and I’ll bet that’s what those Canadian reporters thought was the news.