The “Oh Truck” Adventure

This story is a little too good to let it stay buried in the old days.

It was a Saturday. And gall dang was it ever a hot day, hotter than Moses I’d say. But despite the heat, my exuberance over the start of harvest eclipsed everything else. And that’s why I was riding shotgun in a semi headed for Spangle with a load of peas on a Saturday afternoon. Exuberance: it’s so overrated.

The trip started so well, but isn’t that the truth about most things in life? We – M, Kenny and I – were only two hills into our journey when I commented to M that I was certainly glad he was driving Kenny. Yes, we were still in the field and one good roll away from a tumble down the breaks of the Snake River canyons. What can I say? I know very little about driving trucks like Kenny.

I breathed a little easier once Kenny was rolling down the blacktop. And other than a minor hiccup to fix the turn signals – and saying to heck with it when we couldn’t find the problem – it was a “let them truckers roll” type of drive. We counted cops. We talked. We laughed. We were silent. We drove – he drove, I rode. It was nice. I mean, my Taylor County Pork Queen t-shirt was sticking to my back and my feet felt like I’d stuck ‘em in a fire for a couple hours…but it was nice.

And then, it wasn’t nice. Kenny was pulling up a hill. I was staring out the window thinking…some deep thought I am sure. M was driving…and then M said something close to, “Oh truck!!” And I looked in one of Kenny’s eight side mirrors and said something close to, “Oh truck!”

Smoke streaming out behind us, obscuring vision, not good. My second thought behind “oh truck” was “oh truck, we’re on fire.” And then “the peas are going to burn.” And then “WE are going to burn.”

This was in the space of – oh – three seconds. And then my brain registered something else – or the lack of something else. The roar of Kenny’s engine? Gone. Nada. Zip. Zero. DEAD. In the next three seconds I thought: ditch, crash, big fire. And then I wondered if we’d have enough money to pay off a lawsuit if we crashed in a wheat field and burned someone’s 100-bushel wheat crop to the ground. Hey, I’ve never been in a many-ton vehicle when the smoke rolls and the engine stops – I didn’t know how these type of things worked.

M, however, was obviously not thinking about lawsuits and I’m glad. He did a rather excellent job of rolling Kenny to a stop on the side of the road. If I’d been the cheery, hoo-rah sort, I may have yelped out a “Yay!” or “Super-duper job there!” Instead, I’m sure I said something completely useless and inane like “Well.” Or “That probably wasn’t supposed to happen, huh?” Of course it wasn’t, Erica.

And there we sat. Cars and trucks whooshing past. M and I on the side of the road, the mercury pushing 100+ degrees, 70 miles from home and a dead truck. M, being much more knowledgeable about such matters, pulled the hood and looked at stuff. I looked too. I crossed my arms and nodded my head and did all the stuff I see every guy do in situations like these.

Considering all, M thought maybe Kenny had just overheated. And so we waited for it to unheat – a rather slow process on a hotter-than-Moses day. We talked a little. Not much. I figured M was tussling with how to get us out of this fix – I didn’t want to interrupt that, no sir, no way. At least we were in cell service and I could while away the time with texting and phone calls…but then my phone died.

And so, after setting up some little bright orange triangles for the idiots who couldn’t see Kenny’s huge butt on the side of the highway, I plopped my own butt into the rocks of the roadside ditch to wait. And I waited. I watched M wait. He watched me wait. We both watched Kenny wait. For – oh – an hour-ish, and then we decided to give ‘er a go. Kenny started right up. Idled. Did everything a truck is supposed to do, I think, until M caught sight of the oil leaking out of the something into the something around the turbo. I didn’t have to ask what this meant, because M raced around the front of Kenny to turn him off. Even in redhead-ese, that means “less than stellar”.

Anyway, a short story made long, M started Kenny up and we limped our way the last five miles to Spangle. Nearly 45 minutes later, we landed Kenny and his peas. We left the field around…three in the afternoon? And we got back to the farm around 9:30 that night. Now I have no idea how long that trip is supposed to take on a normal day, but I’m guessing it’s not six and a half hours.

In all honesty, though, I can’t say that I minded all that much. I mean, I’m sure I could have been somewhere else, doing something else in a less heated environment. But I wasn’t. I was on the side of a road with a dead truck, and I’ve always been the type of girl to take life as it happens. Not the lemons-into-lemonade type of crap; just a good, old-fashioned, deal-with-it attitude seems to work for me.

And you know what the really ridiculous thing is? I still really like harvest – not so much “exuberant” anymore – but I still really like harvest and if I was headed into the truck ride knowing Kenny would die? I still woulda hauled myself up in the seat and said, “Let’s roll.”

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