Have you ever been on the road, minding your own business, trying to stay alive around the Watermelon 500 in Hotlanta, when traffic (which blows along at about a 90-mph clip on the loop) suddenly veers off in a dangerous and frightening manner into the breakdown lane? And the reason it veered off into the breakdown lane is because there was a guy in full clown makeup and a guy with a snake wrapped around his neck stopped, both out of their cars and arguing in the fast lane? No? Oh.
Well it happened to us. And it was so bizarre and terrifying, we never really talked about it until much later, kind of like people who are abducted by aliens. George was the consummate professional, he didn’t take his eyes from the road (mostly because he was too busy pooping his pants and trying to figure out why the lanes were veering off, out of control) and only caught the spectacle out of the corner of his eye. I, however, have the image burned firmly in my mind forever. And I will spend eternity trying to figure out why the hell either one of them didn’t realize they were in highway traffic, putting their lives and nine thousand other people’s lives at risk.
I see a lot of weird things on the highway. In my mind, every piece of debris needs a backstory. I have to either know for sure how six pair of thong underwear ended up in the zipper, or make up some reasonable justification for it in my own warped mind. I’m always sad when I see baby shoes on the side of the road, the Ernest Hemingway six-word story never fails to come to mind. I once saw an entire mailbox, post and all, in the breakdown lane. Mail was spilling out of it, and for some reason it was the most melancholy thing I’d ever seen. I also had a hard time imagining how in the heck a mailbox full of mail got ripped out of the ground and deposited into the breakdown lane of I-70. These are the things I occupy my mind with while we’re traveling across Indiana for the millionth time.
Not a lot of people on the CB to warn you about road debris anymore, but we’re thankful for those who do. George is always telling people about things ahead, Care Bears in the Coop, Full Growns shootin’ ya’ in the face Southbound, and gators in the zipper. Every once in a while he’ll get an answer back about a City Kitty at the 125, or Eyes in the Sky on the loop, but most of the time he’s talking to himself. I want more than anything to master CB-speak, but I inevitably fail every time I grab the mic.
“Breaker 1-9… got a full-grown gator in the zipper at the 142!”
George doesn’t let me have the mic much, for obvious reasons. “Babe, what’s a full-grown gator?”
“A tractor tire, of course.”
“Well that’s what I would think if someone told me there was a full-grown gator in the zipper.”
“You also cry when you see baby shoes on the side of the road.”
“I do not. And it’s sad to see tiny shoes, all alone, on the side of the highway, especially when there’s only one. That poor baby only had one leg.”
“Are you crying?”
“Yes. I’m crying for your soul, because you don’t think a one-legged baby is sad. Hey look! There’s a cooler! I saw the lid to it five miles back!”
South Carolina truck operator Arnold Williams has been sentenced to time ...