TruckSuds: a truckin’ soap opera
Miles here. Last time, we left a bunch of truckers listenin’ to T-Dawg’s description of yet another of B.A.’s adventures in trucking. Trooper Snakes had just offered B.A. a deal on how much over the speed limit he’d been drivin’, an’ in spite of the major earthquake that must’ve occurred at that very moment to shake Snakes’ reputation, T-Dawg swears his story is all true. The perfect paragon of a highway trooper had succumbed to being human. ‘Sides, he had a quota to meet. Let’s lissen in while T-Dawg finishes his yarn.
“I don’t believe you. Something’s not right here,” B.A. protested.
I didn’t believe Snakes either but I couldn’t understand why he would offer a deal if he had proof B.A. was speeding, which he surely did with his radar. Something occurred to me. “Officer Snakes,” I said, “Show us the reading on your radar gun and B.A. will plead guilty to doing eighty.”
“What?” yelled B.A. “Are you out of your mind, Dawg?”
Snakes sighed. “I can’t show you a reading, T-Dawg. My radar’s broken.”
B.A. grinned. “So you don’t have proof I was over the speed limit.”
Now Snakes was riled. “Doggone it, Grouseman. I saw you zip past with my own two eyes. I know you were going at least eighty!” He got out his ticket book and smiled evilly. “I’m going to write you a ticket for doing eighty-five. It’s my word against yours. Who do you think the judge will believe?”
“Officer,” said Dexter. “I’d like to say something.”
Snakes looked momentarily baffled. He apparently hadn’t noticed Dexter, who’d quietly climbed into the cab from the bunk in back. He was perched on the boot, sitting between B.A. and me. “Huh? Who’re you?”
“My name is Dexter Truman. I am twelve years old, an honor student at Merrill Middle School and the youngest Eagle Scout in my troop. I have twenty-three merit badges.”
“What are you doing in this truck?” said Snakes. “Shouldn’t you be in school today?”
“I’m getting a merit badge in Trucking. I have the principal’s permission to skip school today so I can get an education in what it’s like to be a trucker.”
“All right, all right,” said Snakes irritably. “What is it you want to say?”
“I’ve kept my eye on the speedometer the entire time I’ve been in this truck and Mr. Grouseman never went above the speed limit.”
“What?” said Snakes.
“What?” said B.A. and I together.
“Furthermore, if you do write a ticket, I am prepared to testify to that in court. I think my testimony will carry considerable weight with the judge.”
“And just what makes you so sure of that?” said Snakes, his eyes mean and narrow.
“Because all highway traffic violations in this part of the state are heard by Judge Thurman Truman, who is my grandfather.”
Even Officer Chester Snakes knew when he was beaten. He put his sunglasses back on. “Young man, in six years you’ll be able to drive. My advice to you is to never drive this stretch of the highway. I’ll be looking for you.” He went back to his motorcycle and took off.
B.A. started the truck and we went on. Neither he nor I said anything for a couple of minutes. Finally B.A. cleared his throat and broke the silence. “Dexter, I’m very grateful to you. You really saved my bacon there but I’m feeling a little guilty that you broke your Scout honor to do it.”
“Mr. Grouseman,” said Dexter. “A Scout is honest but he’s also loyal. Truckers stand by each other, don’t they?”
“They sure do.”
“Well, in your truck, I’m loyal to you.”
The radio crackled and Al’s voice came over the speaker. “B.A., have you made delivery yet?”
He sighed. “Al honey, I’m afraid I’m going to be a few minutes late.”
“Darn it, B.A. I told them you’d be on time!”
“Well, I would have been but—”
“Why are you late? And don’t tell me some tall tale!”
“I stopped to change a flat tire for a couple of women.”
“A likely story!”
“It’s true, Aunt Al,” piped up Dexter. “Mr. Grouseman stopped to help them. That’s what made us late.”
“Dexter, is that the truth or a ‘trucker truth’ you’re telling me?”
“Aunt Al, a Boy Scout never lies.”
“All right. Well, B.A. I guess I’ll let you off the hook this time.”
“Thank you, Al honey,” said B.A. Not long after we pulled onto the turn-off for Acme.
“Thanks again, Dexter,” said B.A.
“Glad to help, Mr. Grouseman. And thank you. This has been very educational. I’ve learned a lot.”
“What have you learned, Dexter?” I asked.
“I’ve learned that truckers take their work seriously but they’re always ready to help someone in need.”
“That’s true,” I agreed.
“I’ve also learned that they always tell the truth.”
“I’m not sure your aunt would agree with that.”
“And that they never break traffic laws.”
“And I know Trooper Snakes would disagree there.”
“Yes but Aunt Al sits in an office all day long. She’s never even been in the cab of a truck. And Trooper Snakes sits on his motorcycle all day waiting for a speeder. They think the truth is as simple as the time of day and the reading on a radar gun. But inside a trucker’s cab, you see time and the road from a different perspective and so the truth is different too.”
“That’s a very… creative answer, Dexter. Anything else you’ve learned?”
“Yes sir,” he said, carefully slipping off his sash of merit badges. “I’ve learned that I can be a Boy Scout and I can be a trucker, but I can’t be both at the same time.”
B.A. removed his Hunt cap and put it on the boy’s head. “I think you’ve got the makings of a real trucker, Dexter. You drink coffee?”
“My mother and Aunt Al think I’m too young.”
“You’ve done a lot of growing up since you got in this truck. I think you’re man enough for a cup of Mamie’s Midnight Brew. I’ll buy one for you when we get back. Mamie makes it from beans grown on the side of a Hawaiian volcano.”
“And picked only when the volcano is active,” I added.
“Is that true, Mr. Dawg?”
“Dexter, at Mamie’s I swallow whatever is put in front of me and that includes what’s written on the menu. The truth is elusive.”
Everbody in the café laughed at that line, an’ Dawg looked pleased. He does like an audience. Then he got serious. “Miles,” he said, settin’ down his coffee mug. “What’s goin’ to happen to that poor girl the trucker born of unwed parents ran off an’ left?”
“Well, she’s got a job here, an’ a place to stay, so she’s okay for the time bein.’” I told him.
“Well, if she needs anything, you let me know. Barb and I will find a way to help.”
Ain’t that just like a real trucker, to offer to help someone out. What we didn’t know was that Clarissa was goin’ to need some help all right, an’ pretty soon too.