Rollin’ Heavy with the Dub
“Alright,” I rattled as Danny W. and I strode enthusiastically out of the IDEA Center Saturday morning. “Main Grain goodies, truck filters, coffee, cigs… Anything else?”
“Ha! That should do it!” he laughed. We reached the door and burst out into the sunlight, ready and eager to meet our days-long venture head-on.
See, Danny W. and I have long dreamed of setting out in our glorious white farm truck with nothing between us but the open road and a pack of cigs. Our time had come, and our task was to roll heavy back to my family’s shop in Dorchester, where we would do some truck maintenance, pick up my dad’s 20-foot trailer, and roll back heavy to move our deconstructed hoophouses to our new property. No big deal for guys like me and Danny Dub. Piece of cake.
We made it as far as “Main Grain goodies,” however, when we ran into our first snag. Parked conspicuously in the back row of the strip lot, the passing VW and Prius owners eyed our huge wood-bedded duelly with some skepticism as we bobbed and crouched ridiculously in front of the massive hood — grasping blindly and grumbling idiotically. “Jesus, I see how it’s supposed to work; it’s just stuck… That right there looks like it should just pop up! I hope it actually says the engine size under there; I doubt if the goddamn filters are even different.”
Finally, and reluctantly, we called Oren. “Yeah, the latch is just below; sticking out from under the grill… No, like right in front. And it’s a 7.5 L.”
“Alright man; well that’s all we need!”
We popped the hood just for good measure, slammed it again, and roared across town to pick up oil and air filters for the 1990 7.5L F-350 XL. No big deal. With that, we hit the highway and fired up some cigs, grateful to finally be on the move. By the bottom of the entrance ramp, however, our conversation was overtaken by the roar of the 4-speed beast, approaching 55 mph with great difficulty. “YEAH DUDE…” I called over the roar. “I’M ACTUALLY THINKING WE DON’T REALLY WANNA SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON THE HIGHWAY IN THIS MONSTER.” Danny agreed, and we took the next exit and roared once more through the city; hitting the backroads gloriously on our sunshine trek back to my homeland.
We made it as far as Junction City before meeting our second snag. Having just finished our first round of cigs and rolled up the windows, we exchanged apprehensive glances and sniffed suspiciously. “Dude, you smell that?”
“Yeah, it smells kind of like… burning rubber… or gas.”
“Yeah… I’m gonna pull into this station and we’ll take a look quick.”
We popped the hood flawlessly and started poking around. No big deal. “This doesn’t look too promising…” Danny remarked, fingering a crumply sheet of aluminum foil covering something mysterious.
“Yeah, well I don’t see anything leaking or smoking. I guess we’ll keep rollin’ heavy. Maybe she just doesn’t like going over 45.”
So we hit the road once more, settled in comfortably below the threshold of smell, and cued up some country classics.
I lay my head on the wheel
And the horns begin honking
The whole neighborhood knows
That I’m home drunk again…
George Jones’ sorrowful, angelic drawl crackled through the old speakers, offering the perfect soundtrack to our country road cruise.
And if drinkin’ don’t kill me
Her memory will…
We picked our way through the handful of tiny towns and quaint graveyards; swollen rivers and crumbling barns — finally turning onto a dirt road near my folks’ place. My dad met us at the door, twinkling eyes and twitching gray fu-man betraying his amusement as we approached. “You guys actually drove that thing here?” he asked with a chuckle. “Well, I guess… Let’s take ‘er to the shop and have a look.” So we hooked up the trailer and rolled to “the shop” – my childhood home, where my eldest brother now lives and runs Bartnik Trucking Incorporated (BTI).
Arriving at the shop, we were met by BL the shop guy and a driver I hadn’t yet met. Danny checked the tires on the trailer while I got to changing filters and checking fluids. My Dad, BL, and the other dude hung around and casually shot the shit, offering their consultation when necessary. “Yeah, it looks like you just loosen this here and it pivots… Should come right out.” Danny took in the scene with a watchful reverence; respectful of these men who occupy the smell of grease, and live at the level where real problems find real solutions.
We learned, through our consultation with the shop guys, that we needed a new power steering and alternator belt. No big deal, but Dad and I decided we’d take care of it on Monday when I returned the trailer, so he or BL could be around to help. With that we pulled out, trailer in tow, leaving nothing but a puddle of oil behind. We stopped by Mom’s place for some Pizza Casserole and a homemade waffle before rolling heavy once more towards the farm.
Back on the dirt roads, we fired up some cigs and made large talk — covering everything from song-writing to the complexity of relationships. We never, however, breached the cute little logic puzzle of loading forty-foot hoops onto a twenty-foot trailer. And that was okay. In that moment — wafting in the sweet smell of grease, pushing a 4-speed Ford as old as we were, pulling a heavy trailer and sharing space and time with as good a friend as a man could wish to have — it seemed we had it all figured out pretty well.