Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How to Ruin Your Truck and Your Back at the Same Time

I’m no stranger to near misses with the use of my truck, and if you were reading Kara’s post recently she made a reference to Natalie remembering the time that I broke my watch, so I’ll start with that story. It was a warm winter day, and I was taking Natalie to daycare, a time when we used a private service instead of the mainstream institute we house them in today. Natalie was nearly five months old, so I don’t see how she remembers anything about what happened, but I think she may have picked up the story during one of my retellings and made it part of her memory. It’s the day I nearly crashed my truck into two other cars, and the funny thing is that I owned all three cars involved in the near miss.

Natalie is in her car seat in the back of the truck (no, not in the back of the truck, the backseat of the truck…it’s a four-door), and I pull the truck out of the driveway to head out to daycare and then to work (back when I was an office schlep). Suddenly, for no reason I could understand, Natalie starts to cry, scream really, and it took me by such surprise, as if ghosts had her by the soul, that I pulled the truck back into the driveway to see what was the matter. I throw open the door, jump out and slam the door shut, headed for the back door and Natalie, who had stopped screaming by then. Well, in my haste, I neglected to put the truck in park. The driveway of our old house slopes slightly downward toward the garage, where parked inside were my two Volkswagens, one freshly restored at the time and lacking any dents of any kind, and the other well on its way to being finished. Since the backdoor of the truck was coming closer to me than it should have, I knew something was amiss. The truck was rolling, driving actually, toward eminent doom and peril for all involved.

In one of my few moments in my life where I possessed the speed of Superman and the agility of Batman, I sprung into action, nearly tearing the door off of its hinges to jump in and stomp on the brake pedal. And in doing so, my watchband caught the latch of the door and tore it off of my wrist. I never did find all of the pieces. It was close, so the price of a watch far outweighed the cost of a new garage door, the front of my truck and the two cars inside of the garage. There’s in the nick of time and then there’s a fraction of a nick of time. The truck stopped with a screech not inches from the garage door, not millimeters, but just gently kissing the handle of the garage door. Phew! It was really close. Needless to say, I spent the day wondering where my luck would take me (nowhere as it turned out).

So, I did the same thing yesterday when I noticed that I left my clippers on the brick wall in front of the house. This time it was in reverse and headed for a trailer parked across the street. It wouldn’t have ended well for my insurance company (and my premiums), but I executed a perfect pirouette which landed me back in the seat and my foot right on the pedal. Lucked out again.

I have been particularly hard on that truck, and it has taken it all with that “Ford Tough” attitude you see on the commercials… you know the one where the truck bursts through a snow bank that would tear the front end off of any truck in reality or it shows them doing doughnuts in a mud bog, something I’m always on the lookout for as I want to pack so much mud on my rotors that the front end is thrown completely out of alignment on the drive home.

Today, it was Phase Two of the backyard landscaping plans I developed (there’s five or six phases until completion), and this phase had me laying down a week-blocking tarp in Elsa’s side yard and adding to it a thick layer of gravel. Seems simple enough. A trip to the a local nursery that sells material such as what I wanted, and they filled up the bed of the truck with one yard of pea gravel. Now, what’s a yard of gravel, you ask? According to, a yard of gravel weights about 2500 pounds. Wow! I had no idea. It didn’t seem that much until I watched the skip loader pour the scoop of gravel into the back of my truck, and I as more and more poured in, the truck sank further and further down on its wheels until the leaf springs were nearly flat. It doesn't look like much from this angle, but there isn't much room between the bumper and the ground.

The drive home was squirrelly, like the back tires were on skis, and when I drove out of the nursery, the trailer hitch dragged on the ground. I had to adjust the mirror to see any cars behind me. The weight limit for the bed of a Ford F150 is 800 pounds, so I guess I exceeded it three-fold.

The stupid part is that I did it twice. After shoveling out the first load, I needed another. It took me nearly five hours of solid work, aside from the frequent breaks, the bottles of water and Gatorade (four each)… and, of course, Mother Nature would think it wise to make today a 94-degree day. Thanks!

I have one old shovel, one old wheel barrel with a flat tire and a not-as-young-as-I-think-I-am worker, who committed himself to the project by filling is primary conveyance with over a ton of gravel… all for a dog.

It took 26 wheel barrel trips to get all of that gravel into the back yard, and after unloaded five thousand pounds, as it turns out, I was fairly tired (and I think if I had known that it was two-and-a-half tons of gravel, I wouldn’t have done it). Each wheel barrel, according to the numbers, weighed 192 pounds each, and each of the shovel fulls—it takes 15, on average, to fill the wheel barrel, I counted a few to get an estimate—weighed 12 pounds each. I’m tired just writing it, but it wasn't the weight of each load so much as it was the repitition of it all. I had to dig the shovel into the pile, turn it around and dump it into the wheel barrel...only 390 times.

As well, it never occurred to me to stop for lunch, and I was so focused on getting it done that I didn’t know how hungry I was (and I didn’t remember that I didn’t eat dinner the night before either) so I was also starving so much that I felt sick to my stomach and my head, and the rest of my body was just plain sore. After it was done, after I swept out the truck, hosed off the rubber mat and the bed, swept up the hundreds of little gravel pieces that fell onto the street and driveway, hosed down the street, spread all of the gravel around in the yard and smoothed it out, laid down the stepping stones, tried to clean up a spilled load in the grass (and then gave up), I laid down on the grass myself.

It was at this time that Natalie wanted to play, as she always wants to do after dinner, and before.

“Daddy, let’s go fishing.”

Okay, I’m going to fish laying down.

“Daddy, let’s take a trip to the market!” Okay, I can relocate to the concrete near the trash cans (conveniently near the “market”) and lay down.

“Daddy, let’s play chase me around the yard!”

Uh, no. Daddy’s tired. I’m going to take off my boots and see if my feet are still there.

“Daddy, let’s look at the rock zoo!” Okay, I’ll lay over there and look at a collection of rocks we found scattered on the hill.

“Daddy, I’m going to jump on you!”

Oooppphhhffff, too late. Okay, let’s play one of Grandpa’s favorite games we played after he worked in the yard all day. Let’s play check for cracks in our eyelids. It’s fun.

“What’s a eyelid?” [lately, she’s been asking what something is when she well knows what it is]

Luckily I was rescued by Kara, so I could take a shower (which I did sitting down), lay down in bed, lay down on the couch, and it wasn’t until after I regrettably ate three bean burritos—which took me so long that they were stone cold again by the time I made it to the last one, and it doesn’t help that eating those burritos cold is like eating the rear end of a rhinoceros (yeah, I cleaned that up a little)—that I started to feel better. Now I just feel a little hung over, but the three burritos will do that to you.

Now my back hurts, and guess what I found when I went outside tonight to drag the trashcans to the curb? Elsa pooped! That’s right… on the grass. She hasn’t gone near the gravel since I finished with it. Damn dog…doesn’t appreciate nothing from nobody [that’s to be said with a Brooklyn accent, of course. I don’t know why, it just should]

Next time, I plan to hire out the work… wait, there won’t be a next time. I’m done with that project, which means I’m off to another. What’s next, you ask with bated breath (does a fish have baited breath?). The next project is to add a railings and banisters to the porch. It has always looked naked to me…the porch I mean.

No comments:


web site tracking
Sierra Trading Post