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Mamies Gas-Up & Go Cafe'

TruckSuds: a truckin’ soap opera

Howdy from Miles, everbody. Hope your highway’s straight and your EOBR is too. A few days ago, some of the long-time truckers decided to ‘help’ a new trucker out with all kinds of advice. Well, naturally, I just had to listen in on that – after all, I started as a original teamster – my wagon was pulled by actual oat-burners back in the day. Mebbe I could learn somethin’ an’ go back OTR. (DON’T tell Nadine.) So’s anyway, I ast Mamie if there was anythin’ I could do for her inside the café. So while I’m bussin’ tables, I overhear this:

“My brother-in-law was the greenest trucker you ever saw. Tried to back to a dock one day and kept having to jump out of the truck and swing the doors open on the trailer. He didn’t know they had latches. You already knew that, didn’t you, Hank?”

Poor Hank; they was jus’ getting’ started. An’ he hadn’t realized they was stringin’ him along; not to be mean, they was killin’ time until the four-wheelers finished their commute an’ they could get their last delivery made. So he made the mistake of askin’ questions. “Where’s a good place to get a tire fixed around here?”

“Depends. Do you want to have a tire that’s only flat on one side, or do you want it actually fixed?”

“Don’t turn in to the repair bay at the next light. The only thing they’ll fix real good and inflate in there is your credit card bill.”

“Well, hell, kid, how many tires you need to run on? You got seventeen others.”

“You shoulda got it fixed afore it had all them little ones, all over the road like that. What kind of a irresponsible truck driver are you?”

Now, they was all enjoyin’ theirselves somethin’ fierce, a couple of ’em actually lettin’ Mamie’s pie sit for more than ten seconds while they thought up more whoppers. But I began to suspect maybe Hank wasn’t the ‘dumb new driver’ they was thinkin’ he was, when he ast, “When I’m runnin’ a little late, is it okay if I go past the next scale?”

“Why, sure …. They don’t mind. You can even call them on your cell an’ let ’em know you’re a little behind.”

“A little behind is likely what they’ll call you, too.”

“Don’t call the scale an’ tell them that! Best just to tiptoe past.”

“No, you don’t want to tiptoe past. The Smokeys get their feelings hurt if you ignore them. You go ahead an’ drive on by, but give ’em a big blast on your air horn, so’s they know you’re sayin’ ‘Howdy.’ ”

“Aw, pull in anyway. There’s a special lane for drivers in a hurry. You just go to the lane that’s got a red light on it, pull up and wait there. You’ll have someone helping you real quick.”

So then, after they finish laughin’ an’ slappin’ each other on the back, Hank says, “Well, thanks, guys, for helpin’ me out. And I can trade you a little information that’ll maybe save all of you some bucks. When you’re close to running out of turn signal fluid, you can take your girlfriend’s lipstick, melt it down, and pour the liquid into that little notch on the dashboard. That notch leads to a tiny tank that stores the turn signal fluid. Had a mechanic tell me that once.”

So Hank goes up to the register and pays Nadine for his lunch, gives a friendly wave, an’ walks out to his truck. Turns out he’s drivin’ a special commodities truck that’s evidently DOD, ‘cause there’s two black SUVs followin’ him an’ all the men inside has got black sunglasses on. He ain’t no newbie, thet’s fer sure. So I kinda laughed to myself. But I laughed even harder when I saw one of the biggest loudmouths looking at his dashboard real close before he left. The topper was when one of the boys ast Nadine if she had an extra lipstick he could have.

“No, I don’t,” my lil’ ol’ wife says, “An’ don’t you ask to borrow my mascara neither.”