I was fired over the weekend.
“Oh thank goodness,” many Reaper readers just said.
Unfortunately, it was not from my real job. Rest assured, you’ll still have the misfortune of having to read this each week. I wish you had a choice, but you don’t.
No, I was volunteered to drive someone else’s truck down a 50-mile dirt road to Utah’s famous “Hole in the Rock.”
Now, here’s the thing with 50-mile dirt roads. They all start out fairly decent. There’s gravel and maybe a little bit of road base laid out there to trick you into thinking, “this isn’t going to be so bad.”
But it is. It is going to be so bad. The thing with 50-mile dirt roads is that they progressively get worse, kind of like a Utah Jazz season.
The road starts to turn into a washboard. Drive on this stuff long enough and you’ll shake out your dental fillings.
Then comes the dust. It doesn’t matter if it rained four inches in the past week, the dust still kicks up and doesn’t settle down. Unless you’re the lead vehicle, you’re driving in a haze so thick, rap stars’ girlfriends would be jealous of it.
At the beginning, you can tell someone has spent some taxpayer money grading the road. By about mile 30, whoever was being paid to make this path a road gave up, pocketed the money and ditched their road grader in a ravine.
Toward the end it’s clear that there are thoroughfares on Mars that have had more human attention paid to them than Hole in the Rock Road. This “road” is actually just a suggestion, and is not for Geo Metros, Honda Civics or minivans of any make or model.
This is a path for manly OHVs, Jeeps and pickup trucks with beefy tires, shocks and four-wheel drives.
I wasn’t worried about the road.
I was worried about the truck, more specifically what would happen if I broke it by running over the wrong boulder, snapping an axel or possibly rolling into the ravine next to that old road grader.
An ancient proverb says, “destroy another man’s home, you can be forgiven. Mess up his truck, and he’ll pursue you to the ends of the Earth to seek vengeance — like Batman.”
There are few unions as strong as that between man and truck. The only bonds of comparable strength are that of mother and infant; dog and table scrap; and Gorilla Glue and whatever — because that stuff’s awesome.
So I took it slow and easy. It wasn’t the first time.
In fact through the years my careful driving habits have resulted in me being unkindly compared to a grandma by everyone from family members to the Utah Highway Patrol.
So as we were making the return trip, I thought I was doing pretty well. You couldn’t smell the transmission burning up, all four tires had mostly remained on the ground and the oil pan remained steadfastly bolted in place.
But then the lead Jeep stopped. The owner of the truck got out, and walked over to me.
“I don’t want to offend anyone, …” the truck’s owner said. I was afraid I’d done something really wrong. After all, this was a big truck. Perhaps I had run over an endangered lizard, a porta potty or a BLM officer without realizing it.
“I know you’re just being careful, but we got to go a little faster, so I’m going to drive.”
BLM guys tend to get grumpy when you run them over. So it was nice to know that I hadn’t done that, and no porta potties or lizards had been squished into extinction either.
I also hadn’t violated that sacred bond between man and truck, meaning I could still be at peace with both the universe and the federal government.
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