OTR stands for Over-The-Road, as in Over-The-Road trucker, and that is what I wanted to be after the harvesting crew completely disbanded just before Thanksgiving in 1986. For I had always loved driving big rigs, but seeing such places as Montana in general (and Yellowstone in particular) compelled me to want to take that love to an entirely different level.
Oh yeah, I was dreaming big dreams of visiting all sorts of exotic places. For wanderlust had taken a firm grip on my heart.
The trouble was that I had no idea what I was about to subject myself to. For after making several inquiries around the Amarillo area, I quickly learned that all of my experience did not count for squat to the insurance carriers that underwrote the policies the trucking companies had to have in order to be in business.
Needless to say, I became somewhat disillusioned. For the only option that appeared to be available to me was to go to work for a company that offered on the job training.
Nonetheless, I was still determined, and since one of the largest companies that offered on the job training was headquartered not all that far from Cassville, it made sense to me that a return to the state of Misery might be in my best interest. For staying with my mom would be a lot less expensive than trying to maintain a place of my own, and I would be gone most of the time, anyway.
Despite all of my best efforts to convince her that it would be in her interest to wash her hands of me completely, my mom was absolutely thrilled with the idea. Well, at least the part about me coming back home.
Perhaps it is from her that I get my not-quite-right-in-the-head tendencies? For she was even delighted to see that I had brought Ooga Booga(?) with me on my return to her nest.
No, I had not replaced Terri with him. For he was just someone I had become really close friends with while working together on the harvest crew.
Sorry, I cannot remember his real name, but I can tell you that he was the epitome of a stereotypical deadhead (a devoted Grateful Dead fan). Not that I can remember if he even liked their music, but he certainly marched to the beat of a different drum than most.
Much to my mom’s disappointment, he only stayed about a week. For she had not spent as much time with him as I had.
Okay, I was also sorry to see him go so soon, but I understood that he wanted to spend some time at Graceland (Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee) before heading back to Amarillo, which was something I had no desire to do. Besides, the time for me to actually take my next big step was rapidly approaching.
It was on the 4th of January, in the year of our Lord, 1987, that I reported for orientation at the aforementioned trucking company. I would rather not disclose its name. For there are times when it is prudent to also protect the guilty, but I can say that the orientation was held at their headquarters in the northwestern part of Arkansas.
Anyway, I found myself in unfamiliar surroundings again. For all of my previous experiences with hauling livestock, grain, hay and heavy equipment did little to prepare me for such things as bill of ladings, log books, load distribution, weight scales, hazardous materials, DOT (Department Of Transportation) checks and full inspections, and a number of other things critical to the timely pick-ups and deliveries of commercial freight.
Therefore, I took it as a dark cloud with a silver lining when told that I would be teamed with a trainer for six weeks. For this meant that I would have someone around to teach me what I needed to know (I hoped) but it also meant that I would have someone around to keep me from having any good sleep on a regular basis.
No, it was not that I was required to stay awake and observe the trainer when it was his time to drive. For the trouble was over my inherent inability to go to sleep quickly and easily.
Added to that was all of the noise and motion involved in heading down a highway in a big rig, and some of this could be quite intense—be assured. For there were holes out there that could bounce a person off of the ceiling if they were not braced for the buck.
Alas, if only I was much more like Danny. For he could fall asleep while sitting in the jump-seat (passenger seat) of a truck without an air-ride suspension, with his head banging against the window on his side. Whereas, the only way I could go to sleep while the truck was in motion most of the time was to literally pass out from sheer exhaustion, which offers little true rest (if any at all). By the way, if the difference between us was the result of the ingestion of pharmaceuticals (illicit or otherwise) he never shared any with me.
No, I have never abused drugs. That is, except for ephedrine, but we will save the details of this little matter for a little later on.
On the other hand, that is not to say that there have never been times when I wanted to pop some pills to make my ride through life a little less bumpy, and such was the case with my 42-day sentence. For aside from sleep deprivation, my jailer seldom failed to deliver his daily reminder of the fact that he had a lot to say about whether I would be released on the scheduled date or held-over for more rehabilitation.
Yeah, my artistic license should probably be revoked, but in all fairness, being stuck in a truck with my trainer really did feel like being stuck in jail. For I was his to do with as he liked (no, not in THAT way!) and there was little that could be done about it.
Anyway, I suppose reprogramming would be a better word than rehabilitation. For the ultimate goal of the company was to make their drivers think of themselves as being an extension of their trucks.
No, that doesn’t sound bad at all. In fact, the thought of man and machine working as one to properly complete a task is actually a rather beautiful idea.
What this is actually about is not that, however. For what the company wanted to accomplish was an acceptance of a reality where any accommodations made especially for the driver would be the exception—certainly not the rule.
Cutting to the chase, what we are talking about here are some of the steps that were taken to cut operating expenses, which is another thing that does not sound all that bad. For it is just good business to do such things, but some steps go way too far.
Please allow me to give you some examples of what I am talking about, and I would like to start with a load out of a plant near the home base headed for Brookhaven, Mississippi. After unloading, the driver is to call into dispatch and report that they are empty. It is at this time when dispatch will instruct the driver to either head someplace to wait on another load or head to where the next load is to be picked up.
Since the trucking company is also not making any money while the truck is empty, it makes sense that they would want to obtain a load as soon as possible—right? In fact, some outfits will have you deadhead (run empty) several hundred miles in order to pick up a load just to keep a truck and its driver moving.
The trouble with that is, however, that every mile a truck goes without a load costs the company money. For unless they have a special contract with a shipper or a load broker, trucking companies are not paid for going after a load, and when driving for an outfit like I started out with, a driver might have to wait several days before a close enough load becomes available, which is a period time that they are not usually being paid for.
Adding all the more to the misery of having to wait on a close enough load with an outfit like I started out with is that their drivers are expected to keep their trucks turned off while they wait. For an idling truck is burning fuel, which means roasting in the heat of the summer and freezing in the cold of winter.
Yes, there is an exception to that rule. For #2 diesel will start to jell at around ten degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the truck running when it becomes that cold.
No, the comfort of the driver is not taken into account, and that is just plain stupid to me. For an uncomfortable driver is a distracted driver, and a distracted driver is an accident waiting to happen.
Back to our example, a load has been found in Jackson, Mississippi headed for Bayonne, New Jersey, and after that has been delivered, another load is picked-up in Edison, New Jersey headed for Cleveland, Ohio. When the Cleveland load has been delivered, a reload at the same place is waiting to go back to Edison, and then a load out of the same place in Edison is waiting to go to Worchester, Massachusetts. After unloading in Worchester, there is a load waiting to be picked up in Springfield, Massachusetts headed for Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and after that is done, a load in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania needs to be delivered in Charleston, South Carolina.
Yes, around and around you are going, and if you had no desire to see home base for months at a time, you would keep going. For the truck does not need to go back to the home base to be serviced. Of course, it can be argued that the same applies to far too many truck drivers—regardless of being married or not, but I am trying to keep this family-friendly.
No, I am not prepared to accuse them of doing it on purpose. For it would cost them money to keep a driver away from home when freight headed that way would be available, but it sure seems like they go out of their way to make sure that you will be where you don’t want to be most of the time—especially in the beginning.
Yes, there are dues to be paid wherever you start, and in all fairness, the company I was working for treated almost all of their drivers with the same amount of disrespect. It was, after all, just business, and with them booking many a load at 50-75 cents per mile when a dollar a mile was generally considered to be a fair rate for dry (unrefrigerated) freight, I suppose they figured that they could not afford to do otherwise.
Oh, but they paid their drivers well—very well, in fact. For after completion of my training period, I started receiving 22 cents per mile when the starting rate at many other outfits was only 14 cents, but with all things considered, it was easy to see why so many left their employ as soon as they gained enough recognizable experience to go to work for someone else.
Suffice to say, the company was hated by their competitors, and this was often visited upon their drivers. So, I never wore the uniform they wanted their drivers to wear while I was away from a company terminal, and there were even times when I would try to park where I could not be seen getting in and out of my truck while I was at a truck stop.
Even as bad as that was, what was worse was the almost constant harassment over the C.B. radio. For when one bucket-mouth would finally go silent, another was more than ready to chime-in with something or another about clearing the road because of one of our trucks being in the area.
In all fairness, there were plenty of good reasons to be cautious around our trucks. For it was not at all unusual for 25% of the fleet being out of service at a given time because of being wrecked (as the result of distracted drivers?) while I was there.
Yes, I could have just turned off the squawk-box, but it did help to ease certain fears. For the C.B. served as a source of news about traffic problems, weather conditions, and other things that can reach out and bite a driver on the buttocks at some very inopportune times. Besides, some of the stuff that was said was actually pretty funny.
One of my favorites was about a rumor going around that the company was planning on starting a tanker division, and that one of the requirements for drivers was that they must be able to hold their breath for at least five minutes. When someone would ask why they had to be able to hold their breath for that long, the punch-line was that the company experts figured that it would take that long for a driver to place their load-locks inside of the tank.
Of course, if you have no experience with any of that, you are probably wondering, “What?” Well, load-locks are what are often used inside of box trailers (both dry and refrigerated) to help keep a load from shifting around during transport. Since tankers carry liquid stuff, there is no use for load-locks.
Another one of my favorites had to do with another rumor going around about the company hauling refrigerated freight, and that the trailers they had ordered were going to be 96 inches wide by 48 feet long by 36 inches tall (inside box height). When someone would ask what in the world would they haul in a trailer so short (with the normal being around 110 inches tall), the punch-line would be, “Swingin’ chickens!”
A popular variation of that joke had the inside box height of the trailers being 12 inches, with a punch-line of, “Swingin’ shrimp!” Yeah, I suppose you would have had to have been there.
Again, there were plenty of good reasons for such ridicule, and what happened just six months after I signed on serves as a good example. For that was when they made me a trainer.
No, it is not that I was a poor choice. For I could certainly drive a truck before I came into their employ, and by that time, I knew enough about how to get the job done in a timely and legal manner to be of help to someone who did not know much about such things.
Nonetheless, doing something like that certainly begs for their judgment to be called into question (naturally-speaking, of course). For if they did not consider me to be qualified to drive one of their trucks without going through driver-training just six months before, how could I possibly be qualified to train someone else in their eyes at this time?
Of course, I didn’t let it bother me much. For being made a trainer meant receiving a raise, and it also meant accumulating 24.5 cents per mile on even the miles that my student drove!
By the end of December, 1987, I had grossed well over $50,000.00 for around 243,000 total miles, with most of those miles being with me behind the wheel. For I couldn’t stand riding in the jump-seat, but I did let my students behind the wheel every once in a while. After all, they did have a driving test to pass at the end of their sentence.
Alas, my first student was something. For he could back up better than he could drive going forward, which is actually a compliment. For backing up a 48-foot trailer in tight confines is a skill that usually takes years to master.
When it came to following road signs and reading a map, however, I must be somewhat less than complimentary. For the boy just didn’t have it in him.
Put it this way, on one of the rare occasions when I was able to stay passed out in the sleeper for longer than an hour or so, I was awakened by the sound of him going through the gears and then stopping after only going a little bit. When I stuck my head out of the sleeper curtain, I could see traffic lights ahead of us, which just could not be. For there are no traffic lights on I-40 through Flagstaff, Arizona. Oh, but there are a bunch of them on BUSINESS I-40!
On another occasion, he awakened me to help him make it around a corner in a residential neighborhood on the south-side of Kansas City, Missouri. After I had calmed down enough to ask him what he was doing there in the first place, he explained that he was just taking the shortest route through Kansas City on the way to Omaha, Nebraska, which meant staying on US 71 instead of taking the I-435 bypass around the east-side to take I-70 west to I-29 north. When I asked him how he managed to drive into a neighborhood that was a couple of blocks off of US 71, which had turned into Prospect Avenue by then, he said that he was trying to turn around so that he could follow my instructions on how to get through Kansas City after he remembered what I had told him to do, which was to take the I-435 bypass to take I-70 west to I-29 north.
I can laugh about it now, but there is not a doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Father saved his physical life that night. For I was far beyond reason.
Now, if I had of been a more understanding person back then, I could have comforted him with the story about when I awoke my trainer early one evening after the road I was on turned to dirt. Of course, that was under entirely different circumstances as far as I am concerned. For despite the fact that I had failed to recognize that the road I had chosen to cut across to US 78 east (southeast, actually) off of I-55 south was clearly marked on the map as turning into unimproved after a few miles, the necessity for having to cut across from I-55 south was all on my trainer to start with. For he had told me to stay on I-55 through Memphis, Tennessee until I could get on US 78 east (we were headed for Birmingham, Alabama) and he did not like me looking at the map at all. So, I had to wait until he was good and asleep before looking at the map to see why my gut was telling me that we were headed in the wrong direction. Lo and behold, it turned out that I had needed to keep heading east for around four more miles on I-240 (after I-55 split-off and headed south toward Jackson, Mississippi) in order to get on US 78 east, and by then, we were a good 50 miles south of I-240.
Since I was trying to help him stay out of trouble by seeking to cut across to make up for wasted time and miles instead of just turning around and heading back to Memphis on I-55, my trainer didn’t say much. Of course, me being rather physically imposing and quite upset at the time might have also had something to do with him acting like it was just one of those things that happen.
No, my student was not at all physically imposing. In fact, he was the perfect size to be an ammo loader on a U.S. Army tank crew, which had been his last job, but when the time came, I went ahead and cleared him to take his final driving test, with one of the assistant safety directors doing the evaluating.
Yeah, that was probably very irresponsible of me, but the boy could drive. Proof of that became evident when he made a 100% on his test. No, map reading was not part of it.
After all was said and done with him, I was asked to take on another student right away, but I declined. For I was in desperate need of some me-time (quite a lot of it, actually).
No, that did not include taking a lot of time off from the truck. For I had this dream of falling off of my own horses (quite honestly, I was never all that good of a horseman) while chasing my own cattle over my own land, and I knew that sitting around drinking beer was not going to move me any closer to achieving my goals.
Yes, someone with a firm grasp of calculus and a good slide-rule could probably come to the conclusion that I could be paid for a lot more miles with a student on board, but I valued my sanity to a certain extent. Besides, I had already figured out how to cheat on my log book enough to go almost as many miles driving single as I could as part of a team. Furthermore, dispatchers, whose job is to schedule the freight picked ups and deliveries, are never on the same page as the people in the safety department, whose job is to make sure that all drivers are in compliance with all of the rules and regulations.
Nonetheless, I did take some time off from the truck on occasion. For there was only so much sobriety I could stand at the time.
It was on one of those breaks that my mom introduced me to Debbie, and it was Sam all over again. Well, almost. For there was a difference or two here and there, but it was still an all too familiar tale to me.
Oh yeah, she was really something. For Debbie was incredibly attractive in every way, shape and form.
Okay, maybe not so much in regards to intelligence. For she later confessed that she had been as instantly attracted to me as I was to her.
Yeah, I could not believe it myself, but after hearing more of her story, it started to make a little sense. For she was in the process of divorcing an idiot taking her for granted, and there I was following her around like a puppy dog with slobbers running down my chin.
Oh my, did we ever have some good times when we could get together, which was not nearly as often as I would have liked. For I could only stay off of the truck for a few days at a time without landing in serious trouble with the trucking company, and she actually lived a couple of hundred miles west of the Cassville area—with a daughter to care for, to boot.
There was one time that was not such a good one, however. For on the way to meet her at where she stayed while she was in the Cassville area, I lost control of a really nice Ford pick-up truck I had just bought, and when it finally came to rest in a dry creek-bed around 200 feet below the road, the roof of the cab was touching the seat (and not the back of it, neither).
The wreck didn’t seem real to me while it was happening, and I wasn’t sloppy drunk at the time. For I could feel the truck rolling over and over again, but it was not until I felt shattered glass around where I lay on the roof (with the truck being upside down) that I began to realize that the wreck had really happened.
Be assured that it took me a little while to make it out of the mangled wreckage. For I had landed in of what could be described as being a pocket that had formed in front of the passenger side of the bench seat, between the floorboard and the roof, and I crawled out of where the front windshield used to be. A couple of weeks later, I saw that the steering wheel had been bent down to where it was touching the floorboard on the driver’s side.
Thankfully, the only injury I sustained was tearing an inch or so of my lower lip away from where it attaches to the front part of my lower gum inside of my mouth. In fact, the emergency room visit was the most painful part about it. For I was really not in any pain until they started to fix me up, but after being on the receiving end of some of Debbie’s tender loving care, I was ready to rip-snort like never before.
Staying true to the script, it was soon after that when I really messed up. For I wanted more than what we had, and the last thing she wanted me to do was to fall in love with her.
Alas, she tried to let me down easy, but it would have been completely out of character for me to have any part in that. After all, I had made up my mind that she was the one for me, and I was bound and determined to do whatever it took to make her see things my way.
As was said before, there is much about my past that I am deeply ashamed of, and my courtship of Debbie is certainly included in that category. For I even went as far as to insist that it was God's will for us to be together, and when that did not get me very far, I fell back on my own familiar ways of groveling like there would be no tomorrow for me without her.
Quite honestly, it was not just a line. For visions of suicide were dancing in my head once again.
A good example of how far gone I was at the time would be a load I picked up in Highland Park, Illinois (north-side of Chicago) early one Friday morning and delivered in Tulsa, Oklahoma the next Monday. For the load did not merely flirt with disaster—it gave it an engraved invitation!
No, the load itself was not the problem. For it consisted of a single pallet of computer parts that weighed around 450 pounds (I think).
Neither were the logistics involved. For I had over 72 hours to go a little more than 700 miles, which was an easy run for even someone in a rig that was governed down to 58 MPH.
The problem was the weather. For up to a foot of snow covered a couple of inches of solid ice in places protected from the thirty MPH winds coming out of the west.
No, it was not just up near Chicago that it was so bad. For aside from a few miles here and there, the entire trip to the Cassville area was a thrill ride only a madman would undertake.
Yes, I was well aware of the horrid weather conditions before heading out. For while I was waiting to back into the dock and pick up my load, a gust of wind hit my trailer broadside and pushed it a good twenty feet (even with the brakes locked) sideways, which left it at a 45-degree angle in relation to the direction my truck was parked.
Nonetheless, I just had to see her that night, and it was all for naught. For Debbie had enough sense to see that the weather was way too bad to get out in barring an emergency, with seeing me not qualifying.
What happened after I called in empty from Tulsa on that load serves as another example of there being something seriously wrong with the outfit I was driving for. For my dispatcher instructed me to deadhead back to the terminal in the northwestern part of Arkansas to pick up a student from Detroit, Michigan, who was to drive out of the Houston, Texas terminal upon graduation from training.
In all fairness, she might have been trying to help. For she was well aware of the troubles I was going through, and out of sight/out of mind does work for some. It never has for me, however, and she informed me that her offer was one I could not refuse.
Oh yeah, I’m sure he had a blast. For when I wasn’t crying like a baby over my broken heart, I would be screaming at him for making errors I often made myself.
It is written in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible that some have entertained angels unawares [Hebrews 13:2] and looking back upon those six weeks with him, I wonder. For he endured it all with a smile on his face most of the time, and I have no doubt that he played a huge role in keeping me from doing something really stupid.
On the other hand, he did contribute to the madness somewhat. For he had to listen to Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell album while it was his turn to drive, and Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad tore me up every time it came back around.
Anyway, I again declined to take on another student after he graduated in February, 1988. For I wanted some time to myself to obsess about Debbie without being disturbed.
Well, not really. For the plan was to fly solo for as long as it took to clear my head, but after three months of self-inflicted therapy, the only thing that was clear to me was that I was still obsessed with her.
Then disaster struck for real in May, 1988. For while deadheading to a town to pick up a load, I was involved in an accident that killed a man.
No, I did not believe that my obsession over Debbie had anything to really do with it. For it is true that she was on my mind when I rounded a blind curve and saw two cars in my lane stopped around 150 feet in front of me, but having her on my mind had not had any adverse effects upon my driving before. In fact, I had been awarded a One Year Safe Driver Award for 1987 by the American Trucking Association (ATA) and a great deal of that time was spent with Debbie most definitely on my mind.
On the other hand, I did have a great fear of the truth being that I was being punished for claiming that it was God's will for us to be together, and the unfolding events of the day did little to convince me otherwise. For after locking eyes with the victim mere seconds before they became lifeless, the officer in charge of the scene informed me that they were compelled by state law to take me into custody because of crossing the center-line of the two-lane highway, and things went from bad to much, much worse from there.
No, I did not believe that it was my fault. That is, other than giving the Lord God Almighty a good reason to dump a bucketful of brimstone upon my head. For nothing happened when I applied the brakes, and that same result repeated itself every time I stomped on the brakes before swerving into what appeared to be an empty on-coming traffic lane in order to avoid running over the two cars stopped in front of me.
Needlessly to say, there was someone coming, and that little fact made my decision to swerve left all the more agonizing. For if I had of swerved right, I would have taken out an electric pole and probably a house or two, but there might not have been anybody home in those houses.
At first, I did not think that I had all that much to worry about. For all of the police at the scene were quite clearly on my side, and things appeared to be really looking good for me after the accident investigator hired by my company told me (at the scene) that the braking system of my rig had indeed malfunctioned.
It was not long before the view changed dramatically, however. For all of the goodwill I was receiving from the police abruptly ended after my trucking company announced that I had been placed on suspension (subject to termination) and that by being on suspension, all ties to them were also suspended until further notice.
No, I cannot really blame the police. For common sense would dictate that there must have been something seriously wrong about me for the company I had been driving for the last 17 months to make such drastic moves to distance themselves from me so quickly.
The next bucketful of brimstone with my name evidently on it crushed me. For when I asked the accident investigator to get me a copy of his report, detailing the fact that the braking system had malfunctioned, he told me that I must be mistaken. Then he swore up and down that he had never said anything even remotely like that to me while we were still at the scene of the tragedy.
Since the company would not send $500 of my paycheck to the jail so that I could bail myself out, my last resort was to call my mom and ask her if she would come to my rescue, and indeed she did. For instead of just taking $500 of my money out of the bank, she borrowed $5,000 in order to avoid losing the $500 to a bail-bond agency.
Oh no, that was not the end of it. For the jail would not accept wire transfers. Therefore, I had to stay in jail until she, my brother and his wife arrived the next day.
Now, to a real manly man, a night in jail is no big deal, and if played right, it can greatly add to their reputation. For who in their right mind would want to mess with someone the man could not break?
Not so for a poser like myself, though. For with over sixty monstrous brutes in a 20-foot by 20-foot cell fighting over who would be my first, I was absolutely terrified.
Yeah, I was embellishing a bit for dramatic effect. For the truth is that there were over sixty of us criminal-types packed into a 20x20 cell, but no one messed with me.
In fact, just the opposite was true. For I found some sympathetic ears eager to hear my very sad story of betrayal and abandonment.
It was around 10 a.m. local time when my mom arrived at the jail with a certified check for $5,000 in her hand, and it was at this time that she was informed of their policy against accepting anything other than cash. So, she headed to a bank to cash the check, and after going to three or four, she finally found a banker, who took pity on her plight. Evidently, a certified check is not all that it is cracked up to be.
Of course, being where we were may have had more to do with it than anything else. For we were down in the deep south, and there are an awful lot down there of the opinion that anyone in jail should stay there. In all fairness, however, they are not the only ones who feel that way.
With my release finally secured, we headed back to the state of Misery, and I tried my best to keep my mind off of my troubles. Be assured, I failed miserably.
Some of my efforts involved helping my mom with her herd of Nubian milk goats, which was certainly a new experience for me. Do you know that a milk goat is actually one of the pickiest eaters in the animal kingdom? I didn’t. For I had it in mind that a goat would eat tin cans and stuff like that, but that sure was not the case with the goats my mom had. For they would not eat even grain coated in molasses if it had touched the ground!
I learned later on that it is a brush goat that will eat just about anything. They are the ones you can smell long before you ever catch sight of them. Well, at least that was the way it was with the ones I was around.
Speaking of stinking, my mom also had a jet-black pygmy buck that had a fine set of horns. Why did she have him? I do not have a clue. For he was meaner than a snake and no good for breeding purposes, which may have contributed to his demeanor. By the way, she named him Satan.
Aside from acquiring an education on the dietary preferences of different types of goats, I learned that even what my dad considered to be a proper fence was no match for my mom’s goats. For I watched over a hundred of them dive under the bottom wire, which I thought was right on the ground, at full-speed one day, and I could swear that none of them touched it.
Dive under? Hence, another thing that I did not know about the kind of goats my mom had. For I had always thought that all goats were inclined to climb on stuff, which involves jumping.
No, I was not drinking more than usual that day, but I sure tried to put Cooter Brown to shame when mom’s goats had it in their heads that the grass was surely greener on the other side of the mountain one particular day. For that required crossing M Highway, and one of them was hit by a car.
The car was being driven by a very nice lady, who went to the trouble of walking about a half-mile down to mom’s house to inform us that she had hit one of the goats. I would not have blamed her a bit for just going on. For it was rather on the hot side that day, and the gate being locked prevented her from driving down the lane that led to the house.
The lady was in tears when she knocked on the door, and I walked back up the hill with her to see if anything could be done for the poor goat. For she was convinced that it was not hurt all that badly, but it was easy to see that its back had been broken. So, without giving it a second thought, I picked up a good-sized stick and whacked it on the back of the head to put it out of its misery.
Hearing the lady let out a shriek as I started my downswing was bad enough, but seeing the look of absolute horror on the faces of her three small children in the car send me over the edge. For I could have just gently picked up the goat and finished it off after I carried it back down the hill, and I would have certainly done so if I had of realized that the lady was not alone.
Oh yeah, I have no doubt that I was the monster in many a nightmare for quite some time. I still may be.
Making it even worse on me was that I was going to take the goat down the hill—regardless of what condition it was in. For even if none of the meat could have been salvaged for eating (sorry, Pricilla) just leaving it up there by the road would have been inviting all sorts of varmints to come and get it, and many of them have a bad habit of sticking around long after they are no longer welcome.