Following our lunch stop debacle (well ok..my debacle) Tommy and I motored on across southern Alabama & the top Florida to Orlando. We arrived around midmorning and got unloaded.
Once empty, I called dispatch and was told to head over towards Tampa and get a room for the night. Now this sounded like a deal 'cause we could park the truck, rent a car, go to Tampa Bay , and eat fresh seafood on the waterfront. Tommy had never seen an ocean and by the time we found a motel with truck parking, he was in a dither & I was tasting that Salt Water Trout from behind the steering wheel.
But such was not to be. We got a room and while he was taking a shower, I was burning up the phone lines to find a cheap rental car. Now this was late spring. Football season was over, baseball hadn't started yet, and spring break had come & gone. But honest to goodness there was not a rental car to be found in the Tampa area, cheap or otherwise. We considered a cab until we priced that and found that to be way too cost prohibitive.
Heartbroken and halfstarved, we settled for dining in the motel restaurant/lounge and spent a miserable evening watching and listening to a bunch of Florida crackers drink swill beer, throw darts, and lie to each other. After about an hour and half of that, we gave up, went to our room and watched Gunsmoke reruns till we dozed off.
The next morning I bounded out of bed and called dispatch. He told me we had a load of lumber coming back to Louisville to pick up in south Georgia either late that afternoon or first thing next morning depending on our travel time. I threw a glass of cold water on Tommy and told him to get dressed, we had to go!
Go where he asked?
To Tampa Bay! I still want that seafood!
In a semi? he quired?
Well I damned sure ain't gonna walk ! says I.
So soaking wet, half awake & the other half livid, he finally got himself together and stumbled out to the truck.
As we neared the Bay, Tommy got a increasingly worried look on his face. What's the matter T? See something that scares you?
It's just those signs about the bridge.
What signs? I don't see any signs!
The ones like that on right there that says "No Semis Allowed on Bridge"
Oh that! Those are just if you're going thru! You can cross the bridge to make a local delivery.
But we're empty already! Tommy offered with his face looking chalky.
I don't care, I responded. I drove all the way down here to see the Bay and eat fresh fish and I'm gonna do just that!
By this time, we were indeed on the bridge and one look at that green water was all it took to calm him down.
Once on the other side, our luck held true to form. None of the good restaurants opened before 11 AM and we dared not stay that long for fear of really aggravating the local authoritys so we ended up finding a wide spot on the shoulder next to, of all things, a Waffle House! Oh well, at least we are on the shoreline.
Which reminds me why I started this story in the first place. about halfway across the Bay Bridge, Tommy caught sight of a nice looking motoryacht and snapped a picture of it. So if you look real close out over the steering wheel and past my profile, you'll see that yacht!
Now that (three posts) was a long way around the mulberry bush to make a point even for me!
Anyway, we got fed (no fish, but the eggs were good) and I let Tommy drive back across the bridge while I looked a boats.
We proceeded on to Georgia, got our lumber on and rolled back into the yard at Sellersburg the next evening.
Tommy got to go on his own after that and althought he didn't set any land speed record with delivery times, he did ok!
After about four months of being away from home, he decided that although Grandpa must indeed been a hell of a man, Tommy, wanted to be with wife & kids every night. So they agreed to the transfer with the lunch meat plant, and he hung up his spurs. By the way, he never so much as scratched another piece of sheetmetal after the chrome pipe incident.
We kept in touch for several months, but that finally slipped away into memories where it probably belongs. Funny thing though. Everytime I eat a lunchmeat sandwich, I get a vision in my head of Tommy standing at a payphone in Birmingham explaining the why & how of that bent chrome exhaust stack!