Road Commission Blues

One day at the job was pretty much like any other: Show up, wake up, look at the map, prep the truck, head out, get the counters from the day before, come back, reset the counters, go to lunch, set out the counters, come in, go home.

The truck was kind of cool. Huge, in the way only a mid-70s Suburban could be. Orange like a traffic cone. Indestructible. Ugly. Perfect.

Our first day out we got stuck on a gravel road when we turned on the on the job light, and left it on through lunch and drained the battery dry.

Once we spent the day doing truck maintenance and discovered that we didn’t know where the oil dipstick was. There were several dipsticks, and they all came up covered with the same brown-ish fluid. It wasn’t until a week later that we figured out that the one dip-stick we had been looking at, which said the truck was all full-up with oil, was actually the power steering fluid dipstick, which was telling us that the power steering fluid was turning into taffy. When we actually found the oil dipstick it was dry as a bone, and probably had been for the entire summer. The truck was running just fine.

Then there was the day I got stuck in the ditch.

After the first couple of weeks on the job Phil and I realized that there was no way we could fill up a 40 hour week with the work we were given, so we began to take long lunches. These would usually start around 11:30, and run until 2 or so. We had no cell-phones, no CB radio, no way of contacting Road Commission Central without actually driving back. And they had no way of tracking our whereabouts.

In 1990 Jackson County was full of small parks, as often or not on the shore of a small lake which might be surrounded by small houses and specked with large people in tiny bathing suits. Over the course of the summer we found all of them. It didn’t matter where we were at the start of the day. Come 11:00 the map would come out and we would debate the plusses and minuses of driving all the way across the county to find beautiful women in bikinis, or a place suitably up-wind of a farm, or the border of Ted Nugent’s property. Try as we might, we never saw one of the Nuge’s black panthers. He was probably lying about them.

More as time allows.