The Shaggy Dog Tale; dog drives truck
The running boards were rusted away to the point of collapsibility with a single hard step. Aside from the basic black, the exterior finish had faded to obscurity.
On the other hand, this beast had a motor tighter than yo’ mama’s girdle, and with a decent set of tires, it was a bad motor scooter. We called something lacking such visual appeal a “traffic light sleeper”; race your motor on that hot sports car, and you might get jumped. The headlights both worked and pointed in the right direction, the muffler was proper, and the age of the vehicle precluded seatbelts, airbags, or parachutes. It was a farmhand who worked reliably, never complained, and never went on strike.
At the same time, I also had an Alsatian named Rommel. Alsatians are better known as German Shepherds, and I thought a noble dog deserved a noble name. (Don’t give me any Nazi crap, either! The name Guderian was in the mix. I just happen to admire tank commanders who do their duty, especially the brilliant ones.) Look it up, kids.
On a brilliant spring day, I’m suddenly Mr. Homemaker, dealing with a frozen, burst toilet in the back bedroom. I am not the best household tool under any occasion. This one required segments of PVC pipe, and glue, neither immediately at hand. ACE is the place, and I shouted my intentions to visit the helpful hardware man. My loving bride didn’t respond, as she was probably hiding from the nightmare of severed, spurting arteries from the hapless homemaker. Extraordinary clumsiness comes no extra charge with not being the sharpest pencil in the jar.
I get to the driveway, there’s my shot-out old Chevy, ready to go. A check of the jeans reveals a small wad of cash, but certainly enough for glue and pipe. Cool! Let’s boogie!
At the last second, Rommel walks up and gives me The Look. This is a dog who rode in a wooden orange crate on my motorcycle. I know The Look.
And I always stand aside for ladies boarding the train.
We get to town, a small place named Kennesaw, best known for the start of what came to be known as The Great Locomotive Chase during the War of Northern Aggression. They also became newsworthy for passing a controversial firearms ordinance in the 1980s. (Look it up, kids!)
There used to be an ACE hardware store in the small block of businesses directly downtown. I whipped into a parking spot directly across the street. I hopped out, and looked back. Rommel had already taken her customary position on the floor. The windows are all down in the cab.
“You okay, kiddo?” Tongue wag says yes. “Back in two.”
Three minutes later, I’m walking out of the hardware store with my PVC junk and some glue, and the truck’s gone!
Uncle Possum ain’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. I’m told I have good emergency response skills, but walking out of ACE hardware with a tube of glue and miscellaneous pipe junk is not a 9/11 response. Bag drops, and long-haired redneck stands staring with dropped jaw at where his old beater truck was parked.
The tension broke when a fellow passed moments later. Seeing my shock, he was cool. “You own a black pickup?”
“Uh huh. Did you see who stole it? My dog was inside.”
“It ain’t stole. It’s right over there [the other side of the town square], but I think it hit somebody.”
Indeed, the sheer rampaging ferocity of the truck had affected the back end of a newly minted Ford sedan, with very bad results.
The police department was so close they didn’t bother cranking a car. They walked. Corporal Ray gets there, he takes one look at my fine self and asks “Oh, what now?”
After ascertaining that there is no one in the sedan, I’m prying the door off the truck, shouting Rommel’s name. We have this very bizarre rear-end collision, but she’s laying on the floor communicating “It’s okay, dad.”
Actually, we had wrecked a ’78 Ford sedan. The truck has done havoc with the back end of a car, and the elderly owner has come racing out out of the neighborhood pharmacy. This is not cool, but a block and a half from the cop shop, the policeman comes walking up. It’s Corporal Ray, who knows me from the Kennesaw Business Association, where I defend my stable and mouth off at people.
“What’d you do, Bob?”
I’m standing there pointing at this poor woman’s car like a moron, and then say something incredibly stupid, as is my wont.
“The dog was driving.”
Rommel had leapt from the floor onto the seat. Along the way, she had banged that stick shift on the steering column. The truck jumped into neutral, and as it rolled backwards across the town square, witnesses swore Rommel was sitting behind the wheel steering the ancient Chevy.
While Ray wrote the tickets, we figured out the logistics of the doggie. I’m doubly humiliated, because I don’t have my wallet handy, with all the things cops like to see, like license, registration, and proof of insurance. Ray knows me, but this one doesn’t get a pass. It’s massive “fix-it-tickets”, and I’m advised to bring the offending pooch to court, as well as proof of insurance.
On the appointed day, chastened dog and embarrassed owner showed up. The judge kept his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Rommel was instructed to not drive again, and after license, insurance, etc. and gladly paying for the lady’s car, I got to walk on that one.
I beat these modern guys out. I may be dumber than my dogs, but my dog was driving in the 1970s.