Jul 10 2012
Excessive yard work creates excessive yard waste, and excessive yard waste creates the pile. Most houses have the pile both inside and out. On the inside, the pile consists of bills, magazines, and junk mail. On the outside, the pile consists of leaves, sticks, and vines. After I spend a day pruning, raking, bagging, and dragging, I am too tired to get rid of all the yard waste. Therefore, the pile starts and then it grows and grows and grows. Our pile location is on the side of the garage on top of what would be a very nice parking spot for a boat. Unfortunately, there is no Manry Clan boat, so the pile grows there instead.
The pile had been growing since last fall and by early summer, nearly blocked the entrance to the back gate. People with foresight keep an old junk pickup truck around or have a hill out back for getting rid of things. Some Melochs find it handy to toss things over the hill. Regrettably, the Manry Clan has no old truck nor a hill out back. We must borrow our friend Mike’s old truck for a trip to the dump. Mike is ever hospitable, always willing to help someone out. He is a machinist by trade and a mechanic by necessity. Most of his vehicles run on a wing and a prayer and a clutch.
My meager ability to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission is well documented. I was forced to teach myself to drive a stick when I bought a car sight unseen in Germany. I met the guy at the provost marshal’s office, handed over the money, and he handed over the key. I then walked over to the car to discover it had a manual transmission. I would not recommend anyone learn to drive a stick through trial and error.
Although I am most thankful to Mike for the use of his truck, I know it will not be a smooth ride for me or my sons. The seat does slide quite a bit forward, and if I stretch my leg as for as it will go, I can get the clutch to the floor. As I’m driving along, I shout warnings to the tailgaters that if they insist on pulling up close behind me at a red light on an incline, they will regret it.
Not wanting to use up all Mike’s fuel, I stopped at the gas station to top it off. After two attempts, I finally had the truck lined up the correct way. Then, I opened the gas tank, started filling it up and gas poured all down the side of the truck and onto the ground. I looked towards the back of the truck and thought, “Oh yeah, two tanks.”
Gabe accompanied me for the first dump load: composting bags of leaves, old shrubs Josiah wrestled out of the ground, and grapevine. He walked out to the truck with a bag of beef jerky in his hand which he felt was appropriate for the occasion. The trip went fairly well in my opinion. I didn’t hit anyone when the truck rolled back towards them, and I only stalled out 4 times trying to get the truck into reverse. However, Gabe did not view our trip to the dump quite so successfully, and he refused to accompany me for the next load.
The task then fell to Josiah.
The second dump load consisted of more yard waste, the old porch railing, the new railing’s metal packing material, and a giant antenna which had tormented Gabe. Initially, when the antenna was knocked down by the wind, it scraped back and forth across the siding next to Gabe’s room making a scary screeching noise. The noise kept Gabe up at night, but I thought it was just a tree branch. Finally, I climbed out his window with a pair of pruners to look and discovered the antenna swinging from a cable.
I needed more than a pair of pruners.
Getting the antenna onto the truck bed proved difficult. It stuck out of both sides and the back. Realizing I couldn’t drive with it that way, I dumped it back off the truck and told Gabe to try to bend it smaller. His measly attempt proved fruitless.
“Don’t we have a sledge hammer somewhere?” I asked from the top of the pile on the back of the pickup.
“I don’t know,” he replied in a disinterested voice. He then walked over to the garage, grabbed a shovel and began swinging it at the antenna. The only thing this accomplished was making me mad.
Fearing we would not make it to the dump before it closed and hot and sweaty from the 90+ degree heat, I jumped off the pick up truck and began bending and smashing the antenna with all my might. I might have yelled ‘Hulk Smash’ at one point, but I can’t remember for sure. Afterward, we loaded the antenna back on top of the pile and secured it down with a net. Not being able to find a flag to attach to the pole sticking out of the back of the bed, I grabbed a parachute man from the garage and tied him on. It took me awhile to get the truck started again. The whole foot on the brake thing had slipped my mind. Even with the pole and parachute man sticking out the back of the bed, people still tailgated me. I stopped at one light and thought, “If this pole goes through your window, maybe you’ll finally learn to back off.”
(I saw a funny bumper sticker once, it said, “Keep honking, I’m reloading.”)
I made it through the light without rolling the pole through their window and then things got very noisy under the hood. I pulled over at the Wawa and called Mike. Not wanting to have to back out of a parking space, I just pulled straight across five spaces near the air pump. Josiah was unhappy with this blocking maneuver, but he wasn’t the one who had to put the engine in reverse.
“Mike, your engine is making a noise,” I said. I held up my phone to the hood.
“Open the hood,” Mike replied.
I was unable to do this. I could not get the latch to release. Finally, Josiah was able to trigger the release. I held up the phone again and looked to see the fan belt partly shredded.
“It’s the belt, Mike,” I said.
“OK, I’ll go get a new one and bring it to you,” he replied.
I turned off the truck, bought two slushies for Josiah and I, and we sat in the shade and waited. After awhile my phone rang.
“How much belt is left,” Mike asked.
“Somewhere between a half and three quarters,” I answered.
“The dump”s about to close. You should have enough belt to make it there. Just cut the flapping bits off. I’ll meet you at the dump with the new belt,” Mike told me.
“Really, just cut the flapping bits off?” I asked.
Conveniently, Mike had a pair of scissors on the dashboard that I used to cut the flapping bits off. When I had picked up the truck, Mike warned me not to slam the hood completely closed, because if I did, he would have to use a crow bar to reopen it. I closed the hood and thought I had latched it just enough. I started the truck with much trepidation.
Then, I pulled out onto highway 1, started driving towards the dump and the hood flew completely open, blocking my vision. I slowed to a stop, got out on the passenger side and attempted to close the hood. It had completely jammed. I could not get it to budge. With cars flying past on 1 and me standing on the bumper, I decided I needed to move father off onto the shoulder. I inched the truck forward with Josiah walking slowly in front of me. I could just see his legs. He and I took turns trying to close the hood to no avail. I thought about smashing the jammed hinge with the lug wrench that was behind the seat, but called Mike instead.
“I’m not going to make it to the dump,” I said. “I’m on the side of road with the truck’s hood completely jammed open.”
While we sat and waited for Mike, no one stopped to render aid. I figure they all thought, “If you drive a junky old truck like that, you deserve to be broken down on the side of the road.”
Mike arrived with his grandson, beat the hinge with the lug wrench, and had his grandson jump down on the hood while he worked to get it closed. When it finally closed, he drove off with a load for the dump, a dented hood and a fan belt with the flapping bits cut off. “You had enough belt to make it there,” he told me as he drove away.
Josiah and I got into the van with our empty slushy cups and drove home. Thankfully, the engine knew me well and was smart enough to do all the shifting itself.