All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.
Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!
3 Ribbons and a Ride
Traffic was heavy and the start of road construction season wasn't making getting on the interstate any easier. It had been a long day of driving, followed by a long day of sit and waiting. Now if the traffic wasn't too bad, a couple of hours of more driving and our road warrior could kick his feet up at home.
It was one of those days when you get up too early because that's when one specialist can see you. You get up because that's the only time slot they have open. It doesn't matter that you haven't finished sleeping off the drugs they give you for the pain. You get up and going with your mind muddled in fog.
Yes you drive yourself, hangover and all. You do the therapy, get back in the truck and go to another specialist in another town. It's a grand beautiful day but that does little for the mood.
The next doctors were less than helpful. Now its time to head home, bad mood and all. The traffic is horrible. Big cities are like that. The on ramp heading out of town looks like the pearly gates themselves.
Turning the wheel left, you push in the clutch and shift for second, then gassing the old girl hard to get up to speed you go for third. That's when the old man appears. He was there all along but you just noticed. Old man, white long beard, fat, wearing rough looking cloths a small wheeled carry on bag in tow. Traffic is too heavy and the truck is going too fast to stop.
That's when "He" starts in; "You know that man looked kinda tired". "Probably just the sun and wind" you think. "Yeah maybe" He says. "Didn't look like he had much of a coat". "Might have had an extra in the bag", you reply. "Yeah maybe". "He" is a constant companion these days, although not always the most agreeable conversationalist.
The heavy construction zone traffic needs your attention but the conversation continues. "Sun will go down in a couple of hours". He never stops. "Likely the wind will pick up". Then He asks, "You did notice his hat, right"?
You know you noticed it. You saw that just as soon as you let in the clutch and hit the gas going into third. A plain black baseball style hat with two words and three ribbons on it. "How do I know you want me to give him a ride?" you ask. There is no answer. You are out of the construction zone, traffic is clearing and its a clear run for home.
Except you know what you are going to do. With a quick prayer to the effect of "if the old guy is still there I'll take it as a sign you want me to help him out, I will", you take the next exit. Then you fight back down through the construction zone traffic the other direction. Get off at the same congested interchange you did at first. Except this time when you make that left back on the ramp you hit the turn single and pull over.
"Hey buddy, need a lift?" You ask that question all ready knowing the answer. "Stow your gear in the bed and hop in". He opens the door and offers his hand. "I'm Dave Johnson" he said. "Dave I've got one question for you, 'Did you earn the right to wear that hat'?". "YES" is all he said, and the way he said it you know its true.
The conversation is standard hitchhiker fair. How far ya going? Has it been easy getting rides? etc. Dave's headed to Idaho. As he tells his story, he was driving truck OTR for Swift Transport and had a heart attack down in Texas. They came and got the truck from him while he was in the hospital. Then they fired him and left him stranded with no way to get home.
Dave wants to know where the truck is headed. He's been over this road before and knows that the turn off to home is in the middle of nowhere. The look in his eye says more than he knows. That's when you say it. "I can't take you to Idaho, but I'll get you to the state line". Dave's eyes light up a bit, "there is a truck stop just short of there".
The truck stop it is you agree. Dave puts his chin down on his chest and sleeps the rest of the way. He's warm. He's dry and he's heading towards home.
Half a tank of gas latter Dave wakes up as the truck pulls off the interstate. "That's the place", Dave points to the gas station on the right. It's been a long ride. Both of you get out and stretch. Walking around the back of the truck to the passenger side you know what you are going to do.
Dave Johnson mentioned kinda casual like that he could use a couple of bucks for a cup of coffee when he got in. Walking around the truck provides a chance to dig down and fish out all the change out of the pockets. Opening up the wallet you pull every green back you have out and give him all the change out of your pocket.
He sees the empty billfold and hears "Sorry man this is all the cash money I got" at the same time. Without thinking he tries to give the money back. "No Dave, you keep it" you say. He cuts in, "why don't you keep some? I just need some coffee". The "No SIR" comes out of your mouth a little too harsh, "I owe you that much and more, thank you for your service".
"There is no need to thank me son." he says. "I was glad to do what I did." "I did it for folks like you and I'd do it all over again". Hands are shaken and good lucks said.
Too choked up to buy gas right then you drive off. By the next exit the gas low light is on and stopping isn't an option. That's when the contents of the cup holder are reveled, 2 quarters, a nickel and a couple of pennies. "Damn it, he should have gotten that too".
In a couple of hours time our road warrior will be back home. He will eat dinner at his own table, with his own wife and kids. His own dog will curl up at his feet. He will sleep in his own bed. He will have a list of his own problems and concerns, but he will be in his own home, in his own town, in his own country. A country defended by Dave Johnson.
In a couple of hours, best case scenario, Dave Johnson will have had his cup of coffee and maybe a bite to eat. With any luck he'll manage a ride with another trucker and be bouncing his way across Montana on his way to an empty house. Dave's daughter been gone some time now and his wife passed a couple of years back. Nobody is waiting for him at home, not even a dog.
That 57 cents is still in the cup holder.
Posted by Res Ipsa at 4/27/2016 02:00:00 AM