Hi Everyone, Its time for Hog #8…
Lets get into it!
So I had daydreamed about this specific purchase for years. My desire can be categorized into several different combinations of things. When I was little, I made forts. Many different styles with many different materials were executed over the years. Naturally, it started with pillows. My cousin Adam and I ransacked the abundance of pillows on their family’s large and long L-shaped couch to make elaborated tunnel systems connecting the two locations of most importance, the kitchen and the section of carpet in front of the TV.
In later years, forts were more formidable and used more for protection against the waging of imaginary war, or staving off the very real, frozen spherical projectiles of winter battles.
High school forts were usually reserved for shelter from the all-knowing and all-seeing Parental Eye. Hmmmm, nuff said.
I had originally planned to drive only to Lexington, North Carolina to get the fixer-upper pull behind camper of my dreams. At a mere 2 hours drive distance, I didn’t hesitate.
Ok, so this is when it gets a little weird.
The camper’s owner was named Wimpy. I took this as good omen for reasons I cant really discern. I called up Wimpy on Sunday morning to get the details of the trailer and to ask if I could take a look at it. He said that I could look at it that day, bit that there was a nicer version of the same camper in Burlington, NC. This one was a little more expensive, but I called anyway and told Mike, the owner, that I would be up that way and might be interested in looking at his camper too.
After literally hunting for my truck keys for an hour and fifteen minutes (I finally located them on top of my truck, where they had been all Saturday night….Dang it.), I was off. I had a couple of audio books with me (Super Freakonomics and Darwin: In a Nutshell) and I made the drive with no problem.
I arrived to a modest trailer park in Lexington. I followed Wimpy back through a yard of freshly cut yet startlingly dead yellow lawn to the “1960s Shasta” advertised on Craig’s list. I was looking for a fixer-upper, but this thing was ROUGH. All the appliances were ripped out and there were several points of compromised structural integrity. Wimpy, despite his moniker, would not budge on the price. He once again told me of the “other camper in Burlington that’s in much better shape.” I assumed these guys were buddies (camper buddies) and since I had already driven all the way out there, I might as well make the hour-plus hike to Burlington. Wimpy mentioned that he still had plans to fix up his trailer. I don’t think he really wanted to sell it. I assume that he was selling it due to an outside influence…I’m thinking it might be his “old lady.”
Any who, I was camper-psyched. I wanted it. It had been a dream too long. I needed this metal box. When the apocalypse came, I would be safely off the grid in my 10-foot mansion, feasting on beanie weenies and potted meat.
I drove to Burlington. I met up with Mike and his friend, conveniently named Mike. We looked through the camper and it was pretty sweet. I handed over the money and he asked me if I knew a notary that I could get to transfer the title. I do not have a Carolina notary connection yet. Mike mentioned that he had a buddy and if I wouldn’t mind waiting til 4pm (a half an hour away) to meet with him and transfer the title then and there. I sad yes, and we waited.
Mike and Mike got out some green plastic chairs that had all been spray-painted black on the seat. We sat outside the trailer and talked about things we thought of to talk about. They asked what I did and I told them I was an artist. They told me that I looked like I was in a band. I told them that I used to be, and I suppose I unintentionally still retain the look, mostly being the skinny jeans and a haggard visage. Then we talked about the most recent OzFest, dirt bike etiquette, and underpinnings for their trailers.
A little, yet large-noggined orange cat appeared from under the trailer. Mike #1 said, “You want a cat? Take it.” They explained that this cat’s name was Trouble. I am not a slave to superstition; I am genuinely not in the market, nor inhabiting the life-stability zone proper to feline ownership. Slightly disappointed, I declined. He seemed pretty cool (the Cat) and aptly named.
The notary arrived. I think he was on something. I think I deduced this from the fact that…. after his third try to correctly write my address on the title he said, “Sorry guys, I’m real messed up right now.”
Between large blasts of claw into the notary’s Hardee’s spit cup, the title was signed and notarized.
Both Mikes helped me hitch up the camper and I was off!
I felt and wonderful wave of pride and happiness wash over me as I realized that I owned my first home and that it was safely traveling behind me a 55 to 60 mph. I was halfway through the third track of “Darwin” thinking about how maybe I was part of a new beginning or a new species of man. A divergent sect of humans that developed large aluminum drafty shells on their backs….that’s when the speedometer dropped to 35mph and the distinct smell of burning rubber tickled by nose. You know you are in a bad spot when you pitifully whisper, “oh, no.” aloud to yourself. This was one of those times.
I pulled over on the narrow side of the road. Cars and semi trucks whizzed by and made the wounded vintage aluminum box dance and shimmy. I was screwed. Double screwed.
The remnants of the tire wrapping the rim looked and felt like a wasted and still warm hula skirt.
I just stared at it.
I looked to see if my truck tires were compatible with the trailer that was twenty years its senior. They were not compatible. I had no spare, and I had no lug wrench. Perfect. Questions such as, “what are you doing all the way out here by yourself?” and “Is all of this worth it?” and “why don’t you have a flashlight?” were all passing through my head.
I called the only person hat I could think of, Mike #1, the gent who sold me the trailer. There was no one else. Thankfully he answered. After some explanation, a dozen thank yous, and some confusion about my location, Mike #1 arrived on the scene. After easing the truck and trailer pair off the road so “we” could work, “we “ got down the business.
I have used quotes around the word “we” because that was what I thought was going to happen. I thought, “we” would fix it together. I am not completely inexperienced with tire replacement. I could have helped a little.
Mike #1 is missing his left arm at the elbow. Now is the time that I mention this, because it is not that important of a detail to the rest of the story. It does however make the fact that Mike #1 had the trailer up on the floor jack, unlaced the lugs, and had the spare on before I could ever attempt to assist him. I thanked him a thousand times. He sent me off, told me to “take it easy on that other tire,” and asked me to text him when I got home safe.
I was a nervous wreck driving home. I stopped only once to use the restroom. I walked through the gas station to the men’s room. When I flung open the door, there sat a man in his 60s seated on the toilet.
“I didn’t lock the door,” he said.
“Um, yes,” I said.
I eased the door closed and waited.
When he finally emerged he said, “I forgot to lock the door.”
“That’s ok,” I said.
Ok, restroom usage achieved!….and it was achieved with only a PG-13 amount of nudity.
I was back on the road.
I finished Darwin in a Nutshell (definitely very brief!) and tried to turn on the radio. I sing loudly to the radio usually. A little less volume is used when others on in the car with me, but not that much less. I half-heartedly sang to some classic rock songs, but kept stopping to listen to make sure the trailer was still behind me and riding on a healthy cushion of air.
In 2 hours, I was home, back at Hub-Bub!
Then Steve, Eric, and I got wings at Wild Wing. As usual, I woke up at 4am with “hot sauce nightmares.”
P.S. This story is dedicated to Mike #1. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. But, seriously, it’s nice to be reminded that there are still people and strangers out there that will help, Thanks Mike #1, I seriously don’t know what I would have done without you.
Also, Master and Commander (starring Russell Crowe a.k.a. “Crow-dog”) is not a good movie, but…..It has one of the most pleasing DVD menu soundtracks to wake up to in the middle of the night.
Also again, Eric and I had a great time at the Festival of Trees. Big ups to Dorothy, Tammy, and Dave. Thanks everybody…………that was fun.
This Hog was Ridden by Mark Rice.