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“We plunge into love with a naïveté that ignores all prior humiliations. Thank goodness, I guess. Because we never learn, we reach for love again and again.” (Applies equally to hearts and old pickup trucks–and worked for me after 39 years.)
As a guy who wrote an entire book based on his mechanical ineptitude, I take inordinate joy in even the smallest garage-based victory.
My plow truck has refused to move for about a week now. This morning I fixed the problem.
I used only one tool:
Postcript: In the interest of full disclosure, my exultant previous post regarding the hammer repair is somewhat muted by the fact that it locked up again in the city and although I hammered like Thor, this time it wouldn’t break loose and now it’s in the shop. Because it was in the way of traffic I had to have it towed. The wheel skidded all the way up the flatbed. Then when we got to the shop and went to skid it off, the wheel rolled as sweet as you please. Diagnosis pending.
After my last snowplowing episode I bought chains. The good news? They work great (as the photo below indicates) (and thanks, patient local parts store guys who helped me order them). The bad news? They come in a rinky-dink plastic case with little plastic tabs that refuse to open in, umm, cold weather, effectively locking them away no matter how you pray or pry. Until finally, with the kids already late for school and the driveway still impassable, you raise the whole works high above your head, and with all the rage you can muster, you go into gorilla slam-dunk mode and…well, see the second photo, which was actually taken prior to the first.
Based on emails, comments, and underlines, this may be the most popular line I’ve ever composed:
Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Playboy combined.
– Perry, Michael, Truck: A Love Story
I am compelled to admit that over time I have taken to making sport of those who get all ginned up over snowstorms. It’s just a little snow, I say, with a mix of chuckle and disdain. Well, last night I was sacked by the snow, I was pinned deep in my own territory by the snow, I was taunted in the end zone by the snow, and, after establishing in insurmountable lead, the snow continued to run up the score.
Let’s check the stats:
3:52 p.m. – Time I jumped in the plow truck and ran down the hill to help someone get up our hill in a minivan.
1 – Number of times I slid into the ditch with my four-wheel-drive plow truck while “helping” someone in a minivan.
15 – Factor by which I was stuck worse after “gunning” it to get out of the previous predicament. (“Gunning” it known in some circles as “Rammin’ on it.”)
.2 – Number of inches by which my plow blade missed hooking the telephone company’s junction box when everything came to rest. (Time was called in order to count blessings, yea, even in this moment.)
1 – Number of caps borrowed from minivan driver in order to make long walk back up hill to fetch the tractor in driving snow because I was “just gonna run down there and back” and thus dressed myself in the manner of a distracted seventh grader, including no jacket, no cap, and just one glove–which somehow was worse than no gloves at all.
500 – BTUs of necessary warmth generated during hike back up hill during which the coals of self-loathing were fanned by gusts of futile rage.
17 – Degrees required to measure the new angle of the bumper after the neighbor and I got done yanking the truck back on to the road.
5 – Minutes passed before I had the truck stuck again, this time down by the barnyard.
8 – Inches required to measure the length of the crease put in the quarter panel by the railroad tie fencepost down by the barnyard, which isn’t going anywhere.
3 – Total number of times I had to go ask my wife to put all her stuff on again and come help pull me out.
1 – Total number of times right at the end there where I got the plow truck stuck after she had suggested I just park it and wait for daylight.
0 – Exact number of times I asked her for help that time, instead just putting the truck in neutral and yanking it out with the tractor myself.
1 – Number of knots yanked into the brand new tow rope during that last little adventure.
7:52 p.m. – Exact time I just gave up and went in to watch the Packer game.
The Eskimos have a word for snow like this. It is not printable.
Those of us who covet International pickups nurture a perverse sort of pride. Open the cab and you will catch a whiff of geek. As trucks go, Internationals lack the pop culture resonance of a Ford or Chevy, nor do they have the arcane appeal of the rarities—say, a Studebaker Champ. Internationals reside somewhere in the dull middle, associated more with plowed fields than the open road. The heritage of the International Harvester Company is strictly agricultural. Have you heard an International owner make affectionate reference to his truck as a binder? Binder is shorthand for corn binder. How hip can you be, driving a truck nicknamed after an obsolete piece of horse-drawn farm equipment? This is like nicknaming your laptop the slide rule. One feels the geek factor giving way to dork factor.
A friend from out Seattle way was poking around in a junkyard the other day, looking for parts when he peered into the cab of a ’79 Ford and saw some books…
Indies, not undies.
Over on the sneezingcow YouTube channel we just reposted some footage back from when Truck was given a nice award. I couldn’t be at the ceremony because I was headed out on book tour, so we shot this video, which includes a big thank you to independent booksellers, me demonstrating how to write a book and decorate your office like a bachelor, footage of me and my beloved 1951 International L-120 pickup truck, and a demonstration of how to hypnotize a chicken.
My Uncle Stan was a trucker and a Vietnam veteran. He took me across the country in an 18-wheeler. I wrote a song about him called “How Many Miles.”
He died too young, of ALS.
There’ll be an ALS walk in Chippewa Falls this coming Sunday. Info is below. The Long Beds and I are going to show up and play during registration, probably from around 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Nothin’ fancy, just hang out and pick and sing and – at least once – sing about Uncle Stan.
If you’re going to be in the area and can make it, here’s the info:
ALS Walk & Wheel-a-thon
Time: 11:30 a.m., free picnic; and 1:15 p.m., walk.
Date: Sunday, June 9.
Place: Irvine Park, Chippewa Falls.
Registration: On-site registration starts at 11 a.m.
Cost: None, but participants are encouraged to collect pledges. Every step participants take is a step toward funding for patient services and ALS research.
Other: Amyotrophic lateral scleroris, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, which causes the individual to lose the ability to move, speak, swallow and eventually breathe.
More information: 715-271-7257