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.
3 years ago