Wednesday, January 18, 2006

When Garbage Trucks Fly

Long time Grunt Ahoy readers will have seen previous posts regarding my adventures in garbage collecting. This was a job that I had while going to school. It was hard work and extremely dirty. In those other early posts, I also introduced you to the Marlboro Man (M&M). This is the guy that I worked garbage with. He was also one of my best friends at the time. This story is also a continuation of a theme: stunts involving heavy machinery. The first one involved garbage truck wheelies. This one takes flight.

It was six months into my job working as a garbage collector/driver that the old man, who was running the small operation, decided to sell his business and retire. Who he sold it to is another story altogether, that involves a polygamist named Ralph (I'll get to Ralph some other time). Well, M&M and I weren't too happy about this acquisition, and we were a little disgruntled. We decided we'd do our time and then ditch these hillbillies.

One thing you got to know about M&M is that he had a mood disorder and had to take medication for it. This is something that he and his dad shared, but they didn't share the same prescription. About a week prior, having been dissatisfied with his own prescription, M&M decided to try out his dad's meds. This ended up bad. Not only was it the wrong medication in the first place, he also took too much.

M&M went out to do something with one of our other friends and had a 12-hour freakout as a result of this experiment. First thing that happened was he tried to leap out of the car going down the interstate. Friend #2 decided to pull off the interstate and into a gas station. He managed to calm M&M down, then went in the store to get some pop. When he returned M&M was not there. He looked around and discovered him in another car talking to a kid. Apparently, he thought that someone had kidnapped his nephew and was trying to get him to come home with him. Smartly, friend #2 got M&M out of that car before the parent came back out--crisis averted. He took him back home and set him in bed. About an hour into his nap, M&M woke up, stood on his bed, and started calling out football plays, then passed out again. What does all of this have to do with garbage trucks flying? Well after this unpleasant experience M&M decided to stop taking his medication. That was the week we discovered we were being sold out.

It was a Thursday. We had to take Thursday's load to a certain landfill. Going from this landfill back to our "depot" involved going down a badly paved road that crossed over a canal and two railroad tracks. M&M had been driving particularly aggressive that day and was in an unpredictable mood throughout, due to being off his meds. Going to the landfill, I started discussing what we were going to do about being sold: were we going to stay on, or quit, and after that, then what? I could tell that M&M wasn't taking this very well and wasn't speaking much. On the way out of the landfill, I decided to read a magazine that I had found. M&M wasn't making good conversation at the time, anyway. On the straights I noticed that he was going too fast, but assumed that he would slow down in time for the big bumps going over the various crossings. He didn't slow down.

The crossing over the canal was somewhat jarring. We did that at 35 MPH. "Slow down, dammit," I shouted. A growing feeling of insecurity was beginning to fill me with doubt over M&M's stability.

M&M rubbed his face then apologized, "Sorry man. I guess I'm just a little on edge, you know?"

I could understand, so I tried to placate him a little, "Yeah, it sucks, but we'll be alright."

He did slow down for a bit, but slowly crept back up to the same speed as before. I was back to looking at my Victoria's Secret...I mean, Time Magazine, and wondering if he'd slow down before we got to the Rio Grande line. He didn't slow down.

(Wump) "Dammitfucrapushithead...that hurt!" I had bounced from my seat (no seat belt) and had hit my head on the roof of the cab, because of the sudden pop over the tracks. I was one pissed off jackrabbit. I commenced chastising M&M, "Why'd you go and do that for?"

M&M wasn't responding. He had an F'd-up look on his eyes, like he was burrowing a tunnel through the mountain that was down the way.

I guess I thought that he'd snap out of it if I insulted him. "You are gonna kill us doing that, you bastard! Slow down, alright?" I said in a serious tone, fearing for my life.

"F--k it all! I don't care anymore, okay?" He certainly got my attention, then added, "I know how to drive. Leave me alone."

I wasn't so sure now that I'd be making it home. I surrendered myself to fate, exclaiming, "Crap almighty, I'm gonna die!"

I didn't pick that magazine back up. I figured that if I was going to die that day, I'd better leave the naughty thoughts behind and prepare to meet my maker. Besides, I had my eyes further down the road on the Union Pacific line--the big one. This rail line rose about twelve feet from the the road. It is a gentle rise but has a slight lip before the tracks, then it plateaus for a stretch of two rail lines, then slopes back down again. I looked over at the shaky speedo gauge, trying to decipher at what speed my death would occur.

"Not slowing down?" I asked matter of factly.

"*" Nothing, M&M had a kamikaze fix in on the line.

I tried to brace myself the best I could, but figured that any attempts to live were futile. We hit the small hill at about 40 MPH. The lip goosed us pretty hard, then nothing but air. In front of us there was an interstate overpass. I swear on my great grandmother that we ended up at eye level with it. We cleared the tracks completely. Two wheels on the front axle, eight on the tandem in the back. We got ten wheels hanging...holy shit! During flight, I hovered in the air without touching anything. Time slowed down to the point of being conscious of my blood flow. The landing was coming up, but I was at peace. I was pretty sure we'd brake a kingpin on the front axle and end up rolling on our side; I'd be thrown out, impaled on the shifter, or flung through the windshield out on the road with my brains dashed out of my skull--I accepted this.

We landed real hard on the decline. The tires chirped just like we were landing a jet liner. My spine still hurts from the landing, but the recoil was worse. I hit the roof of the cab again, but this time it was my whole body and not my head. I came down on the steel dash, bounced, then hit the floor board with my face. M&M was held in place by the gargantuan steering wheel. I was bleeding from my nose, my hands, and had bruises all over my body. Amazingly, the truck stayed true, and kept heading down the road after it got done bouncing a few more times.

After we got back in control, we were both full of emotion. I was curled up on the floor boards, swearing up and down at him for almost killing us. We both tried to suppress ourselves, but after my tantrum, we started crying and laughing because we were joyful that we'd made it. I'll never forget that day: the day when a garbage truck took flight.

82 comments:

DaBugg said...

Incredible story grunt! I felt like I was reading a scene from Steven King, except better since I knew it was factual. Your descriptions put me right in the seat next to you. Incredible! Thanks for my daily entertainment.

The Grunt said...

Thanks for the feedback/compliment, Dabugg. Maybe someday I can get paid to write this stuff.

maura said...

Ah! That's terrifying!

I've noticed that a lot of your stories have to do with driving...or driving really fast...or driving gone wrong...

The Grunt said...

Maura, I'm trying to get better at terrifying people, for entertainment purposes only. That one was not fiction, so it was a little easier to get the scary bit down. Also, I love to drive. I don't even care if the car is not that great; I like to drive. So, I think those are memories I choose to hold on to, even the more morbid, scary, or tragic ones. Also, I've witnessed and participated in many driving follies

My first driving experience was when I was four. My dad and brother left me in the Caddy with it running. We were out at our property in Flagstaff parked on a dirt road. As soon as they got out, I pulled the shifter into drive and floored it. Funny thing was that I was only tall enough to see the bottom of the steering wheel (I was standing, leaning against the bottom of the car seat). Fortunately, the Caddy was digging a big trench in the dirt and could not get going. My Dad managed to get in the car and stop it.

There's another one for you.
Have a great day!

Thomas said...

I almost got run over by a garbage truck the other day.

The Grunt said...

Maybe the mob is thinking ahead, Thomas. They don't want you to become Seattle's next D.A.

rjw said...

That's a great story, Grunt, well told. I've been airborne on my motorbike a couple of times but a ten-wheeler!!
There have been a couple of interesting motoring incidents in Lancaster just recently. A rookie bus driver took a wrong turn and tried to pass his double-decker under a railway bridge with 10 ft of clearance. The front half of the top-deck was extremely compacted but luckily nobody was sitting there.
And just a few days ago a lorry shunted a car driven by an eighty year old woman through the stone wall of the river bridge. She plunged 40 ft landing in only 4ft of water. She coolly phoned the breakdown service, telling them only that there was "water in the engine". She was ok and passed her shopping out of the window to the rescue team before letting them haul her out.
Keep up the good work !!

The Grunt said...

Thank you, Rob, I will.

I've got to start on a novel, then we'll see if I got chops.

Scott said...

Excellent story!! Haha... that must have been quite the experience.

As for "The Rapist" dropping 81 on us, well screw him! Haha.

D

Pokey said...

I think this is my favorite story yet.

The Grunt said...

Thanks for the compliments/feedback. I'll try to see if anything can top this one. I hope that I haven't peaked.

As for the "Rapist", he's a selfish player. Only he would be that much of a ball hog. Kobe doesn't trust his team mates, which means he probably won't win anymore championships.

Anonymous said...

It's oilspiller! Hi again! I haven't put a new post on in forever. Kinda' forgot. You still have me on your links? Thanks! I'll visit every month or so...till then I'm signin' off!

The Grunt said...

I was wondering where you went off to. Glad to have you back, Oilspiller.

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