Friday, June 28, 2013

Old School Heroes on the Stage Road

When you are on a road trip you come across all types of people and many irregular situations. This happened to me today.

A local Harley dealer asked me to do a dealer swap in North Tonawanda, NY. Now my truck has been hardly used and is falling apart slowly.  I knew it was a risky proposition, an 800 mile round trip in a rusty truck. The upside was I could show Max Niagara Falls for free.

We loaded up, hit American Harley around 6pm and they gave us the inside scoop on what to see at the falls.

It was impressive and we made it to Batavia, NY by 10 pm. It was raining like a hurricane, so a room was needed. $120 was a bit out of budget and left us with $30 for the trip home. Yankee HD had paid me before we left, but I couldn’t cash the check on the road.

I opted for an all back road ride, saving us $20 in tolls. It was going nicely until somewhere south of Rochester.

I was cresting a hill when the white whale began to sputter and progressively slow down.  It died at an intersection on US 20.

“OH, No! No! No! No!” Financial ruin and total despair overtook me. 300 miles from home, electronic nightmare truck, no cash, no credit card. My gamble had done me in. I pulled myself together and began checking fuses and relays. As I was under the hood, a travelling salesman pulled up in his company car. It was lettered up for building supplies or some shit. He was a fast talking hustler letting me know about his pal’s towing garage down the street. I told him I still had some diagnosis and hard decisions to make, but I took the phone number just in case. He gave Max a banana and said he would tell Saxby's garage I would be calling. Once again I reminded him that I had not decided what to do.

Next I crawled under the truck to see if any wires fell off the pump and survey the filter. The Titanic had less rust on it, no way to remove and replace without complete disaster. As I lie there, absorbing all the rain with my clothes, I see a push bumper on and dark blue SUV pull up to the rear. Fucking cops already. He was OK, and wasn’t pushy, I never even saw him from my relaxing position in the gutter.

Next was to be sure there was spark. One ruined plug wire later I knew the ignition was OK. As I tried to repair the wire, a large International flatbed rolls up and backs up to my dually.

The driver gets out and I tell him his salesman just left. “He ain’t our salesman, I don’t even like the guy.”

I laughed, I told him I had no green and would have to pay with a card over the phone for any type of service. He said the tow was free. The salesman had given him $40 and that would cover the move to his brother’s repair shop next door to his body shop.  “Seriously?”


It was for real. We loaded up the carcass and talked tow trucks for the 2 miles to his brother’s garage. It was a 1940’s cinderblock building with the apartment above, well  worn and neglected. The type of place that jammed when US20 was the only way between Albany and Buffalo. Before the Interstate.  JJ came out and listened to the tale. He wasn’t exactly excited about a crew cab with 40 gallons of gas needing a fuel pump. He brought out his scan tool and determined what we already assumed. Bad fuel pump.

Then his Duck Dynasty mechanic came out with a big hammer. I wanted to use it on the entire truck and joked that it should fix it. Bang. He hit the bottom of the tank and the shitbox started.

I was very relieved. They unloaded, I presidentially engineered the plug wire and started it or the last time of the day.

Both guys refused any sort of payment, and JJ offered  a  free guard cat to Max.

In this day and age, when someone on the road is vulnerable, this is the last ending anyone would expect to this story.

He said if I broke down on the NY Thruway, I would be negative $300 already. I thanked them both a with a hearty handshake and Max and I hit the road.

300 ulcer filled, back road miles later, Yankee HD had a new white Road King. I guess my Karma account is depleted. I better be nice to some strangers and build up my credit rating again.  

All is not lost in America with these guys around.



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