Sunday, February 28, 2010

Slidell, Louisiana. What Happens Here Stays Here...

Before we get started today, I probably ought to explain to those of you haven’t been following along that this is the fourth part of a road trip we’re taking. We’re headed to Taft, Louisiana to pick up a load of some kind of chemical containers. We’re taking a break at a truck stop just outside of Slidell, La. Who knows? Maybe even do a little partying. The rest of the crew is inside doing what they’re doing. Me? Well, I’m out here in the truck getting caught up on my paper work and figuring out the best route to take once we head for West Virginia tomorrow afternoon. But hey, here comes the rest of the crew. I gotta get all this stuff put away.

So, you guys ready? What’s that? Oh yeah, this place is huge. You can get about anything you can think of in there. Yeah, they have pretty much anything you’d ever need. You can get your groceries in there. They have trucker, biker, and cowboy stuff. Clothes of all kinds. You can play video games, get a hair cut, or have your shoes shined. You can take a shower and do your laundry if you need to. Upstairs in the driver’s lounge you can usually catch a movie and they’ll give you free popcorn to boot. And if you come through on a Sunday morning, feeling a little lonely, or just need someone to talk to, there’s a chapel out back.

Hey, before we walk over to the bar, I want to show guys something. See those two gals over by that flat bed a couple of rows up? It won’t be long before they’re back here? They’re hookers. Truckers call them lot lizards. And see that guy in the blue Caprice that’s been driving around? I’m pretty sure he’s their pimp. And more than likely, he’s the one with all the drugs too.

Here they come. What’s that sweetheart? You want to know if I’m looking for a date? I don’t know. What are you offering? About that time the tall, skinny one showed me her boobs, said she was something special and promised it‘d be a date I‘d never forget. Sorry sweetheart, I’m just messing with you. Nah, I’m not looking for a date. My wife really wouldn’t understand. What’s that? I don’t know. I’ll ask them. Hey guys, These two young ladies, Star and Fallen Angel want to know if any of you’d like to spend a little time with them tonight. Hey, we’re all adults here, you guys do what you want. Remember, what happens here stays here.

I’m going to head on across the street. Come on, I’ll introduce you to an old friend of mine. One I haven’t seen in a very long time. I wonder if he’s still mad.

Billy Cunningham! How in the world have you been? Man, it’s good to see you. Billy looked up from behind the bar just shook his head and said, well, well, well, look what the dogs drug in. Thought maybe you’d died or something, Bojangles. And you know, you’re lucky I don’t just come across this bar and beat the crap out of you.

Ah shut up, tough guy. We both know the only reason you don’t is because you know you can’t take me. Besides, you know as well as I do that cowboy started the fight that night. What was I supposed to do, just stand there and let beat on me? Billy started laughing and said, you might as well have. He beat the crap out of you anyway! Yeah, you’re real funny, tough guy. Hey, why don’t you bring us a couple of pitchers and a Coke, will you? I brought a some friends I’d like you to meet.

So what do you think, guys? What’s so special about it? Oh, nothing I guess. Yeah, it’s just a bar. A bar like you’d find anywhere. They have a bar, booths, and tables. There’s a juke box and a couple of pool tables and a dance floor, they have live music on the weekends. I guess it’s just the people. Most of the people here are truckers. And like tuckers everywhere, we’re never in one place for much longer than a day at a time. You know, the here today and gone tomorrow thing. I’ve met a lot of good people out here on the road. But I’ve also met some I hope I never see again. You just gotta watch yourself.

Well hey, it’s getting late. I’m going to head back to the truck and get some sleep. Nah, I’m not drinking, you guys go ahead. I guess I finally outgrew most of that stuff. Go ahead and stay as late as you want. Do me a favor though, keep an eye on Bob. I don’t think Billy likes him.

Kevin McGinty

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On To Slidell...

Alright guys, check it out. We’re about to cross the Mississippi River. It kind of makes the Kansas River back home look like a creek, doesn’t it? We’re just outside Memphis and should be pulling onto the truck stop in about fifteen minutes or so. What’s that? You say you guys are about to pee your pants. Yeah, me too. But I gotta be honest though. While you guys were sleeping I pulled into a rest area twice on the way here. Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you up. You looked so peaceful and all. I’ll tell you what. I’ll drop you off out front so you can run in and take care of business, I’ll go ahead and fuel up then find us a parking place and meet you inside in about a half an hour or so. And hey, if some of you end up in the restaurant before I get back, save me a seat, will you?

Oh crap! Hey guys, it’s almost 5 o’clock in the morning. We gotta get going. How about we grab a quick breakfast and meet back here in an hour. That way we can get out of town before traffic gets too bad. That’s kind of the way I try to plan my runs. You try to hit the big cities either real early in the morning or real late at night.

I can already tell, it’s going to be a good day to be on the road. Interstate all the way. We’re taking I-55 straight through the heart of Mississippi, and let me tell you, life just doesn’t get much better than that. I don’t know whether any of you have through Mississippi or not. If you have, you know what I‘m talking about. It’s an absolutely beautiful state. Anyway, we’ll stay on I-55 clear into Louisiana where we’ll pick up I-12, then it’s a straight shot to Slidell. Let’s get going. Hey, you want to hand me that Arlo Guthrie CD. Yeah, that’s the one. Sing along if you want. Good morning America, how are ya.

Breaker 1-9, how bout that north-bound cattle truck working his way up to Music Town, you got your radio on? Yeah, you got the Trail Boss here, what can I do for you? Hey thanks Trail Boss, you got Bojangles here. How’s it looking back your way? Oh, Bojangles, be careful out there. The Chicken Coops (weigh stations) are open and it looks like they’re pulling everybody in. Better have all your paper work in line. They’re checking that too. Dang, Trail Boss, you’re just full of good news, aren’t you? He came back and just laughed then said, where you headed anyway, Bojangles? I told him we we’re headed to Slidell to get a little rest. Trail Boss laughed and said, you lie like a dog, Bojangles. You know as well as I do that rest is the last thing on your mind if you’re going to Slidell! Just be careful, Bojangles. This is the Trail Boss and I’m headed to the house. I said, be careful out there, Trail Boss. You got Bojangles on this end and we’re heading south just as fast as this old truck will take us.

I probably should have told you more about the truck stop we’re headed to in Slidell. Let’s see, how do I say this? Hmm, let’s just say it’s not a place you’d want to take your mom to. How’s that?

Anyway, there it is. Let’s see if we can find a parking place. Hey breaker 1-9, you got Bojangles here, where‘s all the trashy (party) people hanging out tonight? Yeah, you got the Alabama Kid here, Bojangles, we‘re all hanging out in the back row waiting for the show to begin. Bring it on back, there’s plenty of room. Hey thanks, Alabama Kid. We’ll be there in a couple of minutes. You guys ready? Here’s the deal. Slidell is a little like Vegas. What happens here, stays here.

Man, I could really use a shower. How about we get cleaned up, get something to eat, and meet back here at the truck around 6 o’clock. A good friend of mine, Billy Cunningham and his wife run the bar across the street and if you’re interested, I’ll buy the first round.

Hey, wait a minute. Did you guys hear that. It sounds like something’s banging on the back of the sleeper. There it is again. Sounds like someone’s crying too. Hear it? I’ll be right back, I’d better check it out.

What the hell!? Bob, what in the world are you doing back here? Man, you could have frozen to death. Are you crazy or something?

Hey guys, look what I found, all shivering and curled up in the fetal position on the deck plate between the cab and the trailer. It’s our buddy, Bob Smith from back home. He says he was coming back from the bathroom back in Memphis when he saw us leaving. He says he ran alongside the passenger side of the truck and even tried banging on the door. Bob, I’m sorry man. I had no idea you were back there. I really thought everybody that was coming along was onboard. If it makes you feel better, from now on, we’ll do a head count before hitting the road. Okay? Now go on, get your butt up there in that truck and get warmed up. Man, I’m getting cold just looking at you.

I’ll tell you what, Bob. Just to prove to you that I still want to be friends, I’ll even buy you a beer tonight. How’s that?

Kevin McGinty

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hop In...

You ready? Go ahead and throw your bags in one of those outside compartments and climb on up. Slide on back there in the sleeper. There’s a seat on both ends and two bunks to sleep on. Over there is the fridge, microwave, built in stereo, and a TV-DVD player. Over in that corner is a stack of movies and some of my old CDs. Get settled in and make yourself at home.

Today we’re headed to Slidell, Louisiana (915 miles) with this load of water beds I picked up in Casper, Wyoming three days ago. We’re supposed to drop this load off and pick up an empty trailer at a drop yard in Slidell, then take it to some chemical plant somewhere outside of Taft, Louisiana, about a 70 mile drive. Not bad but it takes us right through the heart of New Orleans. It’s not that I don’t like New Orleans. Hell I love the place. It’s just that cities, especially old one’s aren’t exactly truck friendly. You’ll see what I mean when we get there.

Well hey, it’s already 6 o’clock in the morning, we gotta get going. I’d really like to make it through Kansas City before traffic gets crazy. If we don’t run into too many problems on the road, we ought to be eating lunch in Springfield, Missouri in about four or five hours. Then it’s another hard five or six hours till we shut down for the night in Memphis.

Breaker 1-9. How bout that west-bound, flatbed just coming into T-Town. You got your radio on, Bud? A few seconds later a loud, booming, semi-friendly voice crackles over the C.B., You got The Wagon Master here. Who we got on that end and what’s on your mind east-bound? Hey, thanks for the break, Wagon Master. You got Bojangles on this end. How’s it looking over your shoulder? Wagon Master comes back and says he hasn’t seen a cop all night. Then he talked about how hard it was snowing south of Kansas City where he had just come from. Great. That’s exactly where we’re headed. I thanked him for the depressing weather update, wished him well, and told him to keep it between the ditches. This is Bojangles, and we’re outta here.

Hey, I’m gonna need one of you guys to help navigate this thing. I usually do it myself but it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes. We’re going to drop south around KC then hit 71 South. We’ll stay on that one till we get to Harrisonville where we’ll have to take some other road. That’s where the navigator comes in. You’ll need to pick out a route that’ll take us south through Springfield and Branson, Missouri. From there we’ll probably take 65 South to Little Rock, Arkansas, where we’ll run into I-40 East and on into Memphis. Which, by the way, is where I plan on calling it a day anyway. It’s a little over halfway to Slidell and by then I’ll be out of hours anyway.

Alright, there it is, South 71. You guys doing okay back there? What’s that? You say you didn’t realize it would be such a rough ride. Sorry, I guess I just figured everybody knew that. Yeah, it gets pretty bad. You’ll get used to it though. Hey, check it out, the sun’s just starting to rise. I get to watch the sun come up almost every morning. And it’s something I never get tired of.

I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to pop in an old Arlo Guthrie CD I came across a while back at a truck stop. Ever hear him sing the song called “City of New Orleans?” You know the one. It goes something like this. Good morning America, how are ya? Say, don’t you know me, I’m your native son. I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done. Anyway, something like that. Seems kind of fitting.

Hey guys, we lost a lot of time because of the snow back around KC. What do you say we bypass lunch in Springfield and keep pushing on to Memphis? There’s plenty of stuff for sandwiches in the fridge and should be plenty to drink. You guys okay with that? You sure? Good.

Might as well get comfortable then. Hey, why don’t you put in that movie. Yeah, the one on top. That’s the one. It’s called Fried Green Tomatoes. I just love that old movie. I’ll talk to you when we get to Memphis…

Kevin McGinty

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is It a Long Story Grandpa...

I’ve never mentioned it here on cjonline, but I used to drive a truck over the road. And I thought it might be fun to share a story about one of the loads I hauled. But first, I’ll tell you the story of what reminded me of it to begin with. That part’s a story about my 10-year-old grandson, Adam.

Ever since he was about five, Adam has spent Saturday nights with us. We’ve become great buddies and do a lot of stuff together. Currently we’re working on some Star Wars, Robotic Arm thing he got for Christmas. It’s one of those “Easy to Assemble” projects. Yeah right. The stupid thing probably has somewhere around a bazillion pieces. And if you don’t get every single one of them exactly right none of it works.

Well, that’s what happened. We had it all together and when it was time to test it out, two of the fingers wouldn’t move. Hey, it was good enough for me but Adam insisted we take the whole thing apart and fix it. That’s exactly what we did and it’s still sitting there on his table in the basement.

Last Saturday night we decided to give it another shot. We got all the pieces arranged the best we could and got started. It wasn’t long before, Adam decided he really didn’t want to mess with it which was just fine with me. I got on the computer while he entertained himself by going through my boxes of stuff. He dug out one of my old brief cases. It used to be my Dad’s. He used it when was a platform operator for Gulf Oil out in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s black and has his name taped on by one those old ribbon guns. It’s covered with the logos of several different oil field related companies and a bunch of safety awards. Yeah, you could say it has a lot of sentimental value.

I explained to him that it had once belonged to his great grand father and how he gave it to me the night I swung by his house in Lake Charles, Louisiana while I was driving a truck over the road.

Adam seemed genuinely impressed with that part of the story. We opened it up and there were a bunch of my old log books, note books, load information sheets, nationwide fuel stop locations, telephone numbers, pictures, post cards, and pens that don’t work anymore. You know, treasures.

I was looking through the log books when one trip in particular caught my eye. It was a load of chemicals I’d hauled from Taft, Louisiana to a town called Nitro, West Virginia. A hell trip if ever there was one. I asked Adam if wanted to hear the story. He thought about, then said something like, I’m sure it’s a good story grandpa, but is it going to be a long one? I was really hoping I could go upstairs to play my game pretty soon. I couldn’t help but laugh and told him to get his butt up there and get after it then.

So, here’s the deal. Now there’s nobody left to tell my story to except you guys. How about it, are you up to a road trip in a 75,000 lb. truck loaded down with explosive chemicals? Just so you know, this particular trip’s going to involve fun things like truck-stop hookers in Slidell, Louisiana, The Huey P. Long Bridge in New Orleans, a chemical plant explosion in Nitro, West Virginia, and the E.P.A. It wasn’t one of my favorite runs but it’s one of the one’s I’ll always remember.

Talk to you guys later…

Kevin McGinty

Friday, February 19, 2010

Random Thoughts...

Just a few random thoughts to wind up the week:

So Tiger Woods comes out and apologizes for cheating on his wife and like so many other multi millionaires, he uses an addiction for an excuse. Whatever. It’s funny too, he really wanted to make sure people understood that his wife never did hit him. He’s a lucky guy. If his wife had been anything like mine, she’d have beat him half to death, sex addiction or not.

Just the other day, Hillary Clinton shocked the world by announcing that it appears that Iran is slowly becoming a Military dictatorship. And Thursday, the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delivered a shock of their own by telling the world it looks like maybe, just maybe Iran is actually working toward a nuclear weapons program. Duh! You just can’t get anything past these people, can you?

Last but not least, a couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Corporations should be allowed to contribute to political campaigns of their choice. The outrage was swift and severe. But when Obama unveiled his 1.5 billion dollar, tax payer supported, plan today to bailout victims of the housing crisis in the state of Nevada while he just happened to be there campaigning for Harry Reid, we don’t even hear a whisper. Hmm, weird…

Have a good weekend guys, talk to you later…

Kevin McGinty

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lies, Lies, and more Lies...

I gotta hand it to you global warming believers out there. No matter how much evidence is presented to prove you wrong, you continue to believe.

When the hacked email scandal broke, (climate gate) instead of questioning the lies the emails revealed, you wanted to attack the hackers. Because, you know, they’re the real criminals here, right? Typical.

When the ICPP, (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) who’s statement of principles goes something like this; Our mission is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, transparent basis, scientific, technical socio-economic information. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy. When the IPCC released their, Nobel Prize winning report warning that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 and in the process billions of people who depend on the glaciers for drinking water will perish. You cheered them on.

But when the scientist behind the Himalayan glacier report scandal, Dr. Murari Lal, admitted the report was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders. He said in an interview, “We thought if we could highlight it, it would impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” Suddenly, you don’t want to talk about it. Hmm.

When discredited, scientist, Jeff Jones, said the other day that there has been no warming of any kind in the last fifteen years and admitted the earth was probably much warmer in mid-evil times, you remain silent. Weird.

But still, you believe. You say, all this proves nothing.

Ah, but it does. It proves that when you build your house on a foundation of nothing but lies, exaggerations, and half-truths, the entire house will eventually crumble.

Yet you continue to believe. Weird…

Kevin McGinty

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Small Miracles

Thank God for small miracles.

Because of the massive blizzards that have pounded the entire eastern seaboard over the last few days, Washington D.C. and Congress has been shut down for the last three days in a row now. How many trillions of dollars do you suppose that has saved us?

Also because of major winter storms throughout the entire United States the last two years now, Al Gore has gone into hiding. Don’t worry though, his allies of the faith, are still out there. I heard a guy the other day claiming the downturn of the earth’s temperature the last few years and this years major winter blizzards are further proof of global-warming. Sorry, but a lot of us just aren’t buying it anymore.

On the upside, I heard a report that the ten American’s being held in Haiti could be released as early as tomorrow. Hopefully, by the time you read this they’ll all be on their way home and we can have a little good news for a change…

Kevin McGinty

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How About Standing Up For America For A Change...

Dear Mr. President,

It’s no secret I don’t like you or what you’re trying to do to our country and according to your plunging approval ratings, a lot of others feel the same way.

You’ve spent the last year traveling around the world apologizing for everything America has ever done, real or imagined, to anyone who would listen. We’ve watched you bow to way too many world leaders. You say it’s a sign of respect. I disagree.

But Mr. President, you have a unique chance to stand up for America for a change. I’m talking about the ten Americans being held against their will in horrid conditions in a jail somewhere in the middle of Haiti.

You might remind, Haitian President, Mr. Preval, that if it weren’t for America and her generous people most of their population would have starved to death by now. You might remind him that it was the American’s who first responded when his country was destroyed. You might want to mention that we responded because that’s what we do. And we do it because we care.

You need to assure him you realize there were probably international laws broken by the actions of the ten American citizens being held in his country for trying to rescue kids from his ravaged, dysfunctional country. Assure him they will be held accountable for their actions. Remind him that although these American citizens might not have had the paper work required of them, they were just trying to help some of the kids he‘s not able to anyway.

Explain to him that it’s imperative the Americans they’re holding be transferred to U.S. custody within 48 hours or you will send in a few marines and we’ll take them back, by force, if that’s the way it has to be. And if has to come to that, America will pack up everything we’re doing there, go home and take care of ourselves for a change. Maybe France will step up to the plate.

What’s it going to be, Mr. President? Are you going to stand up for America for a change or are you going to let this idiot make a fool out of us?

Kevin McGinty

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What A Crock...

“The lopsided approach of only cutting expenditures isn’t working. The state clearly needs additional revenue, and it’s time the Legislature quit listening to lobbyists’ gloom and doom predictions and come up with a plan to deal with the issue.”

Those are the words of a lady from Lecompton in a letter to the editor the other day. And in my own humble opinion, it’s a completely, bass-akward way of thinking.

How about this, how about instead of constantly raising our taxes, how about we hold our elected officials personally responsible for the decisions they make as far as how they spend the tax dollars they’ve all promised to be good stewards of.

They tell us we’re $400 million short of being able to balance the budget. It’s a crisis they say. Yeah it probably is too. You don’t think it has anything to do with the wasteful spending they’ve done in past years, do you? Of course not. We’ve already cut government expenses to the bone.

How vital was it to dump $300 million into the bottomless pit otherwise known as our State Capital Building right here in Topeka when most of us in the private sector are doing our best just to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

Locally, our know it all, Topeka City Council, in all their collective, infinite wisdom told us the City’s broke and the only way we can have decent streets to drive on is to approve a tax increase. Okay, enough of us fell for it and voted to give them just what they asked for.

Yeah, the City’s broke alright. So broke that they approved some of the most ridiculously, expensive projects I’ve ever heard of in the middle of a recession. Yeah, we really “needed” to spend $1.2 million dollars to replace the cart paths at the Topeka Public Golf Course. There must be an overwhelming “need” to have a new building at Gage Park’s Helen Hocker Theater. I mean, the need must be huge if we’re willing to put up $853,000 dollars to build it, right? Oh yeah, let’s not forget the Landon Trail. They approved an additional $145,000 dollars to extend it. What a crock.

Oh yeah, how about those poor ol’ school districts out there. They’re just barely getting by, right? That’s another crock and those of us who pay attention, know it too.

Tell me, what’d they do with the $700 million the Supreme Court handed them a few years ago. How many new gyms did they build? How many new band and football uniforms did that money buy? How many new football and soccer fields have we paid for? What about baseball diamonds? And once you build all these impressive facilities, you simply have to have new stadiums to go along with them, right? Whatever!

I was working in Hays a couple of weeks ago. And it just so happened they were hosting a big wrestling tournament. Schools were in town from all over western Kansas. Nothing wrong with that. But you should have seen what they were driving. Parking lots all over town were loaded with top of the line, School District, Chevy Suburbans and Ford Expeditions.

Yeah, they’re broke alright. They’re talking about closing and consolidating schools. Talking about cutting programs and laying off teachers. But there’s no way in hell the administrators should have to travel in anything but the best.
What a crock…

Kevin McGinty