Another Write-wing Conspirator

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

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    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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  • About this “curmudgeon” guy…

    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

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“A Better Class of People”

Posted by The Curmudgeon on December 16, 2010

As I was saying,—

 

Some might recall a recent comment I made about truck drivers; if not, scroll back a few entries.

When I first started driving over-the-road, some asked why I’d leave the safe, quiet, white-collar world to drive a truck. I’d jokingly reply: “Better class of people.”

Here’s a timely case in point:

Last week, I finished picking-up a load in Monte Vista, CO. As I was about to leave, I learned (the hard way, of course) that the starter on my truck had failed. The usual remedy is to “pull-start” the truck (exactly the opposite of “push-starting” a car) using another vehicle. At this point, one continues either to a repair shop to have the starter replaced, or completes the journey and defers the replacement until arriving home. After conferring with my company, we opted for the latter course.

No problem. Done it before, and will probably do so again. The key is to not shut-off the engine until the truck gets to a repair facility.

I set off, entering La Veta Pass about an hour later, about 10:00PM. Not one of my favorite places to drive—even under the best of circumstances. Swirling, gusty winds, frequent encounters with ice, snow, and fog, winding roads, and steep grades. It has claimed a fair number of vehicles—and lives. Not a place to become complacent—and certainly not a place one would choose to break-down.

And this is where I discovered the second problem with the truck: Engine overheating.

Now, merely overheating is an annoyance, to be sure. However, it isn’t insurmountable.

Unless, of course, the truck is equipped with a protection system that shuts the engine down when it overheats—and you already have a faulty starter.

You can no doubt surmise what transpired next.

Yep. Just as I reached the summit (about 9500 feet above sea level), the engine shut itself off. I was at least able to wrestle the beast completely off the road—though just barely.

Next, I reached for my cellular phone to call for help. Nope. “NO SERVICE” was all that was displayed.

So…there I am, sitting in pitch-black conditions, unable to call for help, can’t get the truck going, and it’s about 15° outside—with the temperature inside my now-unheated truck rapidly dropping to meet it. And then there’s the chill factor. To make matters worse, deteriorating road conditions had served to reduce traffic through the pass. To say the least, things weren’t looking too good.

I saw the glare of headlights of an approaching vehicle, and turned-on my two-way radio (most folks call that a CB). It was, indeed a truck coming my way. I called out for help as the Freightliner passed me.

I got an answer.

I briefly explained the situation, and asked that the driver make a call to my company when he reached an area with cell service. She replied that she had service and was pulling-over to make the call.

And this is where the story gets a bit more touching.

She told me: “Hang on. I’m turning around.”

Turning around? Up here?

She rounded the turn and pulled up right behind me and I walked back to greet her. “Get in before you freeze,” she told me. Then she pulled a little further down the road to a safer parking spot. She lent me her phone, and I was able both to talk to my company and to make arrangements for a road service crew to come and get me going again.

And then we waited.

At one point, she repositioned her truck again (some pretty nice handling, I might add) to bring us as close as possible to my disabled rig. And, as it turns out, we learned that our paths had crossed just that morning at a truck stop outside Denver. Small world.

I was surprised that a woman alone would stop to help. “I probably wouldn’t have, but you were some distance away, and just asked me to call for help. After I talked to your company, I figured you were for real.”

Now, we all know that time is money. This is as true of trucking as it is of any business—and more than most. After a while, I started feeling uneasy about her spending so much time sitting there. “No problem,” she said. “I don’t actually load until tomorrow morning. I was just going in early, anyway.”

She sat there with me for three hours, refusing to leave until the wrecker arrived. “You’d freeze out there before they ever showed up.”

And when she departed, she casually dismissed the episode. “No big deal. I had time to kill, anyway.” (Note that truck drivers never have “time to kill.”)

Now…if you were broken-down in a mountain pass and entirely dependent on the kindness of strangers, would the average motorist stop to render assistance?

And that, gentle readers, is why I’ve come to prefer the company of truck drivers.

__________

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26 Responses to ““A Better Class of People””

  1. Rick said

    Cool Jim, that worked out great

  2. Laura said

    I, for one, am glad 🙂

  3. Linda Addis said

    That is a great Christmas story. I sort of thought the great truck drivers with the big hearts were all in the past. Hey, Jim. Did she have an Obama bumper sticker? Just kidding. Angels like that probably don’t have bumper stickers.

  4. On a long and lonesome highway
    East of Omaha
    You can listen to the engine
    Moanin’ out his one note song
    You can think about the woman
    Or the girl you knew the night before
    But your thoughts will soon be wandering
    The way they always do
    When you’re ridin’ sixteen hours
    And there’s nothin’ much to do
    And you don’t feel much like ridin’,
    You just wish the trip was through

    Here I am
    On the road again
    There I am
    Up on the stage
    Here I go
    Playin’ star again
    There I go
    Turn the page

    Bob Seger ~ Turn the Page

    • Laura said

      One of my favorite Seger tunes.

    • Ah, yes. One of my all-time favorites—and one that’s heard in the cab of my truck quite frequently.

      Here’s another for you:

      I’ve been warped by the rain,
      driven by the snow,
      drunk and dirty,
      and don’t you know I’m still…willin’.

      I was out on the road
      late at night,
      seen my pretty Alice in every headlight,
      Alice…Dallas Alice.

      I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari,
      Tehachapi to Tonopah.
      Driven every kind of rig that ever was made.
      I even drove the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed.
      And if you give me weed, whites and wine…show me a sign…
      I’ll be willin’
      to be a-movin’.

      Well, I smuggled lots of smokes and folks from Mexico.
      I get baked by the sun every time I go
      to Mexico.

      I’ve been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet,
      had my head stoved-in,
      but, I’m still on my feet
      and I’m still…willin’.

      I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari,
      Tehachapi to Tonopah.
      Driven every kind of rig that ever was made.
      I even drove the back roads
      so I wouldn’t get weighed.
      And if you give me weed, whites, and wine…
      show me a sign…
      I’ll be willin’
      to be movin’.

  5. Swan Trumpet said

    I’m a Seger fan, Laura, and the fact that he’s from Michigan helps. Most of my family is in western MI and I’ve made and continue to make many trips by road and air back and forth. I prefer the road trips with great music and Bob Seger is a poet extraordinaire.

    And Jim, your lyrics had me stumped but google quickly informed me that the song is Willin’ by Lowell George and performed by Linda Ronstadt. My musical interests run the gamut from medieval Gregorian Chant all the way to hip hop (primarily for the dance component) but Linda Ronstadt just isn’t there. When I was younger I recall cringing at the popularity of her Blue Bayou and if by chance I should hear that song today, I’d be sorely tempted to “pull a Belushi” and smash the offending object that gawd-awful screeching was emanating from. So there! 🙂

    • Oh, goodie. Music appreciation time. 😉

      Yes, Linda Rondstadt “covered” the tune—along with several others. It isn’t my favorite rendition.

      When Lowell George wrote the song, he was with the band “Little Feat,” and they of course did the original recording.

      My favorite is the version recorded by The Flying Burrito Brothers; it has just enough of that hard edge to it that I think the song really requires.

  6. Swan Trumpet said

    Ahhh. That makes all the difference. I love Six Days on the Road by The Flying Burrito Brothers. I haven’t heard them perform Willin’ but I’m sure it’s a great improvement over Ronstadt’s version. Come to think of it, I’d even prefer Alvin & The Chipmunks singing to Ronstadt. My husband believes I have Ronstadt Derangement Syndrome. 🙂

    • Laura said

      heh. Never been a Ronstadt fan, but…she doesn’t make me cringe either. Now…the hip hop? That could make me “pull a Belushi” and cause derangement! I’m with you on the Gregorian chant (when in the mood).

      • Do you happen to like the Big Band era and Lindy hop or jive dancing? Here’s an amazing You Tube clip from a 1941 movie, Hellzapoppin with eye-popping dancing. After watching this and remembering what my Grandma used to tell me of her dancing days, I’m surprised that Elvis was thought to be scandalous with his hip gyrations in the 50s. Elvis was tame compared to this stuff.

      • Laura said

        Wow! You’re right…scandalous! But very cool. I don’t think I had that much energy on my best younger day. And yes, I have a decent collection of Big Band era music. My mp3 player has it’s own Big band dedicated playlist. I’m also a fan of classical but more of the baroque style than anything and even more so, string quartets and chamber music. I have 60’s classic rock, Country & Western (the older stuff…can’t beat the Marty Robbins ballads), jazz, blues, some opera and contemporary Christian. I also have plain old instrumental easy listening and more. (What category does Herb Alpert fit into?)

  7. And Jim? I apologize for completely hijacking your thread off topic. Don’t tell Santa I’ve been bad, ok? 🙂

  8. Laura,

    One of my sisters is a violinist who plays with a Chamber Orchestra so I’m very familiar with the Baroque classics, but I like the earlier Renaissance repertoire more. As for Herb Alpert, I have no idea what category he belongs to, but I have to respect his enormous talent even if he’s not on my iPod.

    • Laura said

      Very cool. I would love to have learned the violin. My favorite instrument. One of my daughter’s previous roommate’s sister (is that convoluted?) is a cellist in an orchestra and she’s wonderful. I like the earlier stuff too. I like almost any classical with strings. The curmudgeon and myself have been season ticket holders for the local symphony (not currently) and as such, we did get to go to a special night featuring Itzhak Perlman and I loved it.
      I take it by your name and your sister’s occupation, you are a musical family?

      • Hmm. This thread keeps surprising me. Like you, the violin is probably my favorite instrument, with the cello a close second. I like the violin because of its versatility. The great violinists like Perlman, Menuhin, and Stern are on one end of the spectrum, and at the other are the great fiddlers that play klezmer, bluegrass, or the genuine “hillbilly” music I have a weird fondness for.

        I suppose we’re a musical family in the sense that most of us are passionate about music. Some of us play various instruments, others sing, and I’m the self-appointed critic who quit clarinet lessons after 2 weeks in the 3rd grade. My husband and I get to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and BAM fairly often, but we also like Brooklyn’s more raucus bar and street music.

        Have a great New Year’s Eve.

      • Though I wouldn’t call the violin my favorite, I certainly enjoy it. The versatility has always struck me; it can go from light-and-lively “fiddling” to classical and mournful.

        A few years ago, Laura and I were fortunate enough to attend a performance by Itzhak Perlman. I was struck as much by the sweet sounds as by Perlman himself; not “full of himself” as one might expect from one of his stature—and at times quite funny.

        At the other end of the spectrum (to most, anyway), I’m always moved by the violin strains featured in George Strait’s Amarillo by Morning (particularly as the song fades out; it sometimes feels as though the guy with the fiddle has grabbed your heart and twisted it around) and by Jay Ungar’s Ashokan Farewell — stuff that has that rare capacity for producing a lump in the throat.

        Jim

  9. I’ve been lucky enough to have attended several of Perlman’s performances and he never disappoints. I’m sure that some of my fondness for the man is because, like my father, he suffered from polio as a child. Perlman also plays a mean klezmer fiddle and owns an early 18th century genuine Stradivarius – the same one Yehudi Menuhin played. I like Amarillo by Morning and Ashokan Farewell but I also get that same “lump in the throat” listening to an Elgar violin concerto or the Adagio in G Minor by Albinoni.

    Adding another dimension to my enjoyment of the violin is the rich American country version, sometimes called hillbilly, mountain, or bluegrass music. It’s music that defies description. You feel it rather than explain it. It’s jazz and blues, tragedy and comedy.

    There’s a great company called Old Hat Records that’s the only one of its kind. They release quality reissues of vintage American music. If you get the time, check them out. They have plenty of samples and the music is amazing.

  10. Laura said

    On the fly here. Sorry for absence. Took off to MN to greet a new grandson :-). Love Adagio in G Minor, Air on G String (hush, Jim) among others (concerto for 2 violins is probably my all time favorite) that are on the tip of my brain but in a hurry at the moment. I did recently discover that I do like some of the classical spiritual w/vocals (I have no idea of it’s classification)in particular, Lionheart: Palestrina. Sort of a more musical chant. Beautiful! The “Rick” that actually placed the first comment in this thread is a great bass player. He has had the privilege of playing with some world famous musicians (mostly in studio, I believe) and all done by sound. He’s in a gospel group and I believe has an inclination toward the bluegrass. We’re in bluegrass country down here in Bama.

  11. Swan Trumpet said

    That’s wonderful, Laura. Congratulations. We have a grandson and he’s the best thing since ice cream. He’s 5 now and he plays drums and a mean game of Guitar Hero III. Up here in NY, we are well-supplied with ear plugs. Did Rick know Eddie Hinton?

  12. Silvertears said

    That’s just good old southern hospitality, Jim, and it was my pleasure. Reading your blog made it an honor, though I hope you haven’t had anymore unfortunate break downs in freezing cold temps. I’ll catch ya up on La Veta.

  13. i am proud to say that young woman was my daughter and she is one heckuva driver… she got the fever when i took her with me during the summer she was 14… before school started she knew how to drive that truck and now, 20 yrs later she has far surpassed her momma’s skills!!! i retired 12 years ago after 18 yrs of driving.. i am very very proud of her and her heart is bigger than you could ever imagine… silvertears, you have made your momma more proud than i can say.. i love you!

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