Our special string of September Sundays of cuppas with Paul Curran continues as Willow of willowdot21 makes the most of her break from hosting his weekly guest post at her place on the other side of the big pond. Take it away, my loquacious Canadian friend.
If We Were Having Coffee
Coffee Break at the Antrim Truck Stop, Arnprior, Ontario
Your Barista – Paul
Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today, and I’m happy to be here once again. For the next few weeks Willow will not be able to access her internet dependably, so we’ll be meeting here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the backyard. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B have prepared a nice, comfy place for us outside on the newly mown lawn of the Little Bitty, so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather this morning is cool at about 66 degrees Fahrenheit with overcast skies. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa and calorie-free electronic sweets while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been?
I went for a walk down memory lane Friday night, visiting a place in space and time that I haven’t seen for 35 years. It started when I happened upon an old Conway Twitty (Country and Western) song “Tight Fitting Jeans.”
Free with Tractor Purchase
Back in 1980 at the ripe old age of 21, I had just purchased my first truck, a used Kenworth Tractor from a character called Mac. I bartered hard for that truck – borrowing from 11 different places, including a seller’s mortgage. It came with a contract and two old Conway Twitty cassette tapes – which I suspect were just overlooked when the truck changed hands. My new pride had been owned by Mac’s brother, and was painted the bright orange of a local carrier. It was only about 18 months old, and no effort had ever been made to make it pretty. Lordy, that truck was ugly, but in my eyes no vehicle had ever been more beautiful.
It was a cold February day when I turned the Kenworth into my new employer’s yard in Maine to pick up my trailer and do the necessary paperwork. The afternoon sun was a yellow heatless ball in the sky that diffused light over the snow-covered landscape, leaving a feeling of emptiness contrasting with my excitement at my new truck and new job. The inside of the truck gleamed and smelled of Armor All and pine air freshener as I opened the door and stepped down onto the yard that would become so familiar over the next six years. There would be many memories made here – both joyful and painful. None of that had happened yet as I walked through the cold and into a new life in this small terminal in an obscure town in rural Maine.
Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? Fill up as we have a lot of driving to do. After spending the rest of that day doing employment paperwork and writing tests and discovering a whole new world, I left with my trailer to head for northern New Brunswick to load the next evening. It snowed hard on my way and the wheels were often breaking grip and spinning as I got used to the traction and lightly feathered the fuel pedal, finding the sweet spot that kept me moving forward without sliding. Locating the shipper was a challenge, but I persevered and eventually the fish plant came into view through the veil of snow. I told them to load it the way they would any other truck, which covered the fact that I had no clue how much to load where in the trailer. That would come with experience. There was no manual.
Closing and locking the trailer doors with my load of frozen fish safely stowed aboard, I signed the paperwork, climbed into the cab and set out down the highway. I had never hauled a load even close to this heavy before (having learned tractor-trailer hauling bread) and the experience was edging on overwhelming – the truck had a life of its own. I was used to being the boss over the truck – go now, stop now, turn now – that was not the case with a full heavy load. Grossing 45 tons (about 40 tons metric), the inertia was the biggest factor in handling – pressing hard on the fuel pedal resulted in a deep rumble felt in the bones and the high pitch whine of the turbo, just at the edge of hearing range, and very little change in speed; pressing on the brakes produced the sound of braking and no noticeable reduction in speed; turning the wheel just caused the front end to slide on the slippery road while the truck continued straight. This felt like riding the back of some out-of-control monster. It very, very quickly became apparent that this was going to be a steep learning curve – provided my fear could be conquered.
It had stopped snowing now, and as I turned onto a rural highway I realized it was late and I was the only vehicle in sight. There was about a foot of snow on the road, completely undisturbed by any plows or traffic. The weight of my load made traction excellent and waves of virgin snow rolled off my tires as they cut through the storm remains. This was starting to feel more comfortable – the deep rumble of the engine, good traction, straight road, no traffic and a sky full of stars above a landscape of pure white. I remembered the Conway Twitty cassettes and plugged his greatest hits into the deck. As Conway crooned about tight fitting jeans and roses, the miles of empty highway rolled past and I began to get a taste of what my next few years would hold –the new sights and experiences to come.
That’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation, and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you for tea and drinks here for the rest of the month of September.
Anyone See my Coffee?