Trucker Etiquette

A boy and his 20 footer
A boy and his 20 footer

Tuesday, 1:30 PM CST
Shiloh, IL

Unlike rental cars that send you out with a full tank, you pick up and return the Uhaul at whatever level the previous customer left it. Mine was 3/8 but I didn’t feel like filing it right away. I wanted to get accustomed to the vehicle first.

After about 50 miles in the pelting rain I stopped for gas in, appropriately enough, Gas City. Easy in and out. Then I saw a Starbucks down the road and went for it. I wasn’t sure where to park because I was still in always forward (never reverse) mode.

I circled Starbucks once then looked next door at Taco Bell and saw them: the Lardassians. Big people driving a big pickup hauling a big boat. They parked sideways taking up 9 spaces then waddled in for their Supreme Mission Clanger Deluxe with extra cheese. I learned how to park.

I also learned why truckers drive the way they do. In the left lane it’s all about the competition. In the right lane it’s about survival. It takes forever to stop those things so you leave many truck lengths in front of you and plenty of room at the on/off ramps. I even slowed down and let people on in front of me. Unheard of.

I also used my turn signals to change lanes which I never do.   In a car I can execute the manouever faster than I can flip the lever.  There’s no wasted motion in my day.

But when you’re not sure what you’re seeing in the side mirrors is accurate you use every device at your disposal. I confess I got goose bumps the first time I passed a truck, signaled to get back in his lane and he flashed his lights. They like me. They really like me.

I left New Albany around 8 am. Happy to report I got ‘er up to 70 this morning. Suck on that Sammy.

A White Siberian and his 20 footer
A White Siberian and his 20 footer

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Previous: I Have No Choice But to Drive 55

For the complete travelogue see On the Odyssey Road
For the complete eviction saga, From the Beginning
Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

I Have No Choice But To Drive 55

Whatcha hauling?
Whatcha hauling?

Monday, 6:00 PM EST

Not as poetic as Sammy Haggar but the truth. Leaning to handle this 20 foot thing in pouring rain. And trying to adjust to everyone passing me in the left lane. This just can’t be.

Emptied two full storage rooms which made me happy. This truck weighs tons. One of the mover kids remarked, “these old things are heavy.”

But he also seemed amused when I explained that the sides were so low on this one antebellum Victorian side chair to accommodate women’s hoop skirts. I try to never miss an opportunity to teach.

I’m off to New Albany to stay with my Derby friends, Jan & Mar. Only a four-hour drive but just had to get going. This Odyssey thang is on.

Next: Trucker Etiquette
Previous: Whitey

For the complete travelogue see On the Odyssey Road
For the complete eviction saga, From the Beginning
Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

 

Whitey

Whitey
Whitey

As I prepare for the great U-haul crossing, one can’t overestimate the importance of travel accessories. I’m lucky to have recently acquired this White Siberian Tiger Back Pack. So handy for incidentals.

I can’t wait to wear it into the truck stops along Interstate 40, not to mention the cowboy bars in Amarillo. Pee Wee redux.

As the crow flies....
As the crow flies….

Next: I Have No Choice But To Drive 55
Previous: Whither Shall I Wonder?
The complete saga, From the Beginning

For the complete travelogue see On the Odyssey Road
Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

Whither Shall I Wander?

 

 

Is that a threat?
Is that a threat?

Simone de Beauvoir said aging is nothing more than an accumulation of things. I was never sure if she meant tangibles or intangibles, probably both. When it comes to the former I would have to wholeheartedly agree.

I’ve always been a good consumer and especially enjoy the acquiring and amassing stages of the process. Once I have things, however, I’m not really possessive or materialistic. I’m always giving things away or boxing them up for another day when I’m tired of them.

Over the past year as I’ve contemplated the unthinkable, moving out of my apartment after 40 years, I’ve been going through stuff and getting organized. I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude. There have been many trips to the Goodwill and some handouts to friends.  But I’m left with a lot of things that are just too good to donate.

Someone suggested I get a booth in an antique store, like down in Palm Springs. If I’m going to do that I must think of the whole iceberg, not just the tip.

In addition to San Francisco, over the decades I’ve transferred many of my prized possessions to my Mother’s 4000 square foot condo in Indiana. For the past year they have been sitting in four storage rooms back there. I’ve decided to rent a U-haul and drive a load to California to start my antique empire (a la Cookie).

As hard as I’ve tried to lure others into that truck, none of my friends thought four days in a U-haul was that appealing. Even with my company. So I’m going it alone

I wanted to get some appropriate reading together to take along on my voyage, like Homer maybe. I think I read The Odyssey in high school but all I can remember is that Odysseus was headed for Ithaca. Probably to study hospitality management.

Then there’s Keuroac which I tried to reread a year ago. Slang just doesn’t age well, if you’re not hearing it in the street it kind of slows you down to interpret it on the page. (See Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind: “You kain show yo’ buzzum befo’ three o’clock an’ dat dress ain’ got no neck an’ no sleeves.”)

Finally I thought of my Journal. In February 1973 I drove from Chicago to Los Angeles with a friend from Bloomington. My only other experience with cross-country driving. We got a drive away car, a Lincoln Mark IV, and embarked on one of the most mind numbing but exciting trips of my life.

The full title was The Journal of Bianca Schwartz’s Pilgrimage to the Golden State as Told Posthumously to Her Sisters Co-Starring the Buxom Buzz. (I was still learning about camp and may have overdone it a bit.) I will try to scour up a copy for my en route pleasure.

So next Monday, with so much great literature in mind, I begin my next adventure. On the Odyssey Road with Bianca Schwartz.

Well, a temporary week-long conversion couldn't hurt. In lieu of insurance.
Well, a temporary week-long conversion couldn’t hurt. In lieu of insurance.

 

Next: Whitey
Previous: Good Morning Jones Street
The complete saga, From the Beginning

For the complete travelogue see On the Odyssey Road
Contact: ellistoellis@gmail.com

Good Morning Jones Street

Meet the New Frisco
Meet the New Frisco

I woke up this morning to find this peaceful slumberer outside my window. As they remodel the old apartments next door and turn them into million dollar condos or $4200 a month one bedroom rentals, life in the streets goes on.

I hope he woke up naturally and not by a two by four being thrown over the side.

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Hitler Youth

Fashion forward
Fashion forward

Gary gave me the Stones DVD of their 2013 Hyde Park concert.  It commemorated the 44th anniversary of their free concert for Brian Jones in the same venue. To honor him that day they released thousands of butterflies into the air. Only a fraction took flight, the rest suffocated from being boxed up in the hot July sun. Obviously pre-PETA.

I watched it today and they sounded great. No matter how many times they play the same songs they always make them different. Sometimes a number that was so-so in the studio can be stellar played live. Like It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. Likewise a perfect song in the studio like Gimme Shelter just can’t be captured in person.

My favorite moment was Mick reappearing in the Michael Fish Shirt Dress he wore at the original concert. In 1969 I was just a country teenager with no concept of what my life would be. When I saw pictures of Mick in his Mr. Fish I felt I could do anything I wanted.

Being part of the Pop generation we were skeptical of all imagery. Yes, Hitler was a villain but did you see how he manipulated those crowds? I’m convinced the Stones studied his films because they mastered the art of inciting to a frenzy. Like Adolph it started with their propaganda, intentionally or not. Keith is close to death. They’re back in jail again. This is the last tour. It’s worked for 50 years.

Today there’s much less hype, much mellower audiences. One occasionally gets a waft of Munich, however, when you see the Investment Fund Manager in the front row, arm raised in defiance, mouthing the lyrics to You’ve Got the Silver.

Before there was the Citibank VIP sections in the stadiums there was the pre-punk mosh pits of the arenas. In 1972 Gary and I saw them several times in the mid-west where we honed our stage rushing technique. You had to break just at the right moment in Stevie Wonder’s set. Too soon and security would pull you out. Too late and you couldn’t get close. We always made it.

When the notice appeared for the lottery of New York tickets I submitted a couple hundred postcards under five different names. All five won. I had 20 tickets, enough to go every night with plenty left to scalp.  It paid for the trip.

Grouping at The St. Regis, July 1972
Grouping at The St. Regis, July 1972

We were only able to rush the stage opening night at Madison Square Garden. After that teams of guards propped up huge sheets of plywood at the end of all aisles and in front of the entrances on the main floor. Primitive but effective.

But that first night our timing was perfect, we made it to the third row just as they launched into Brown Sugar. The rough and tumble of the mid-west shows did not prepare us for the violence and brutality of New York. Gary and I were separated, the mob pushed from all directions squeezing those in front against the stage. People were on the floor. There was no security and no way out.

As I was about to be crushed I felt an arm around my waist pulling me backwards and up onto a chair. We were packed so tightly I couldn’t turn to see who grabbed me. I tried to thank him over my shoulder. He kept a firm grip on my bare midriff throughout the whole show.

When it was over and the crowd started to thin, I got off the chair and turned to properly thank my benefactor. I noticed that he was this cute kid. And that his other arm was around his girlfriend on the next chair. Sheepish grins and that was that.

Those first few moments standing on the chair I focused on stabilizing. When I did eventually look to the stage, Charlie Watts was staring directly at me. He had witnessed the whole Guernica scene and had a look of concern on his face (without missing a beat, of course).

I knew why he was watching so I continued to project panic not wanting to break the spell. Finally I decided to be honest and let him know I was okay. I flashed a big smile. As soon as I did, Charlie calmly turned his head and stared into space. It was the coolest “fuck you” ever.

My blurry homage to Keith and Jean Paul Gaultier, 1984
My blurry homage to Keith and Jean Paul Gaultier, 1984

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Previous: Go Ahead and Call It Frisco What the Hell Do I Care
The complete saga, From the Beginning

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