Yesterday's Magazette

10 – The Name Of Green

All In The Name of Green

By William D. Canavan


Regardless of whether we are driving a truck or not, sooner or later we all stop at a truck stop. I always grow uneasy right before I enter one of these oases, because I know the minute I walk through the front door, all eyes will be on me and I will feel like I have little hearts on my underwear.  Not that having hearts on one’s underwear is bad, it is just not my thing. I have this feeling of low self-esteem because I drive a Smart automobile—better know in the States as the “smart” car.  The “smart” car is built in Hambach, France, by Daimler-Benz and Swatch, which goes almost without saying, just doesn’t have the street-muscle of yesterday’s wheels.

Years back, I defied even the big rigs on the interstate. I drove a Javelin AMX, which was put out by American Motors (Yes, they made the Rambler—and oh, the verbal abuse I put up with). My car was not high on the list of muscle cars—say as high as Ford’s Boss 302, or the Shelby; or the many other contenders: Dodge’s Charger or their Challenger, or Pontiac’s Trans Am 455 H.O., but, Holly made a nice high-rise manifold, so J.M. and I got our share of cruising fun in over the hot summer’s nights.  Ah, the windows down and the radio up.  It seems like I knew everybody back then, and I owned the highway.

YM:Canavan:green

What shocks me the most about traveling so economically on the interstate these days is how drastically things have changed since then.  Here I am, I have my “smart” car cruising along with the Beach Boys cranked up on my CD player, when I peer in the rearview mirror and all I can see is a radiator and a huge chrome grill. It looks like giant teeth behind me going 65 miles per hour. I am positive I just checked the mirror eight seconds ago, and there was not anything behind me for miles. It almost seems as if some huge predatorial bird of some sort, sporting these carnivorous sets of Smart car eating teeth, has swooped out of the sky and landed on my back bumper.

This is the point where I stop and think for a minute.  What are the first four instinctive reactions that most small prey have when confronted with a life threatening situation? Run. Go like hell. Do it immediately.  Don’t look back!

So, I feel my hand instinctively shifting to a lower gear, my engine’s revolutions per minute pole vault into the red line.  My foot insanely goes all the way to the floor mat and I wrap the engine out until it sounds like five thousand flies in a metal bucket. Then, I slam the gear shift into the highest position and as I arrogantly look into the mirror, I see the teeth are gone. However, before I can smile victory, I hear what sounds like fifty or sixty coyotes howling in my ear.

Frantically, I look through the driver’s side window and I see this monstrous spinning chrome wheel. Now all I can think of is what a carrot looks like when you drop it in a blender. Following that, I have major heart palpitations. I begin breathing in short, spastic little spurts and I start babbling about how the chain always used to fall off of my bicycle when I was a kid.

Then it happens! The giant, rolling building next to me surges forward even faster! I look down at my speedometer and the needle is gone!

I figure it has either melted to the base of the dash or flew off and is sticking somewhere in the passenger seat. My hands turn a ghastly bone-color and my face looks like it might after three days of diarrhea, so I hold on because I know it is not over just because the final set of humming duals has ripped by me. Oh no—I know “IT” is coming. “IT” is a part of the laws of nature, or of science, or of highway driving, or some law somewhere—I am sure it can be compared much to the opening of a two ton can of coffee. I think it is called air displacement, but in this case I call it the “Eighteen Wheel Handshake.”

Bracing my left elbow against the side of the door, I grit my teeth as the whole car is literally sucked straight sideways into the left lane.  It happens so instantaneously it feels like the rims on both axles have been bent, and if I remember the next time it happens, I am going to look for the smoke and black marks that my tires leave. Before I can recover from my current state of shock, my right foot feels the accelerator puncture the floorboard and I am pulled into some sort of hyper space travel where my lips are slapping against my cheek bones and my eyelids are dancing around.  The whole car seems to vibrate and bounce up and down off the cement surface before the whole event passes and I drift back into the right lane and black out for a second or two.

An hour or so later, I pull into another truck stop, the car strangely wobbling like a toy car that has been stepped on by a size sixteen shoe. The door groans as I swing it open and although all fender panels are in place, the paint has been forced back into one solid bubble dangling from my back bumper. I hear a sizzling sound coming from somewhere under the hood, and when I bend down closer to listen, all three engine cylinders sound like they are whimpering.

That is when I have “yesteryear flashbacks.”  Ah, the days when I could have outrun that beast.  When I would have down shifted and it would have actually accomplished something.  I would have heard that four-barreled carburetor open up, listened to that wonderful “Orrrrrh” declaring war in the making, and then pierced through the air leaving that huge piece of rolling metal to suffer the sonic boom. True, I would have run out of gas within minutes of the conflict, but I’d be going so fast I could have just coasted the remainder of the way to next gas station. An hour later, I would have been standing in the parking lot polishing the hood, with my engine growling like a hungry dog.

So, now when reality sets in, I can’t even brag about squeezing into a tight spot, because the truck stop’s parking lot is the size of an airport.  Yes, I have to accept it. I need to remind myself that I had my day, and then start my dejected walk toward the entrance. All of this for the future generations—all of this in the name of green. I think I will go shop for some underwear with hearts on it.

What shocks me the most about traveling so economically on the interstate these days is how drastically things have changed since then.  Here I am, I have my “smart” car cruising along with the Beach Boys cranked up on my CD player, when I peer in the rearview mirror and all I can see is a radiator and a huge chrome grill. It looks like giant teeth behind me going 65 miles per hour. I am positive I just checked the mirror eight seconds ago, and there was not anything behind me for miles. It almost seems as if some huge predatorial bird of some sort, sporting these carnivorous sets of Smart car eating teeth, has swooped out of the sky and landed on my back bumper.

This is the point where I stop and think for a minute.  What are the first four instinctive reactions that most small prey have when confronted with a life threatening situation? Run. Go like hell. Do it immediately.  Don’t look back!

So, I feel my hand instinctively shifting to a lower gear, my engine’s revolutions per minute pole vault into the red line.  My foot insanely goes all the way to the floor mat and I wrap the engine out until it sounds like five thousand flies in a metal bucket. Then, I slam the gear shift into the highest position and as I arrogantly look into the mirror, I see the teeth are gone. However, before I can smile victory, I hear what sounds like fifty or sixty coyotes howling in my ear.

Frantically, I look through the driver’s side window and I see this monstrous spinning chrome wheel. Now all I can think of is what a carrot looks like when you drop it in a blender. Following that, I have major heart palpitations. I begin breathing in short, spastic little spurts and I start babbling about how the chain always used to fall off of my bicycle when I was a kid.

Then it happens! The giant, rolling building next to me surges forward even faster! I look down at my speedometer and the needle is gone!

I figure it has either melted to the base of the dash or flew off and is sticking somewhere in the passenger seat. My hands turn a ghastly bone-color and my face looks like it might after three days of diarrhea, so I hold on because I know it is not over just because the final set of humming duals has ripped by me. Oh no—I know “IT” is coming. “IT” is a part of the laws of nature, or of science, or of highway driving, or some law somewhere—I am sure it can be compared much to the opening of a two ton can of coffee. I think it is called air displacement, but in this case I call it the “Eighteen Wheel Handshake.”

Bracing my left elbow against the side of the door, I grit my teeth as the whole car is literally sucked straight sideways into the left lane.  It happens so instantaneously it feels like the rims on both axles have been bent, and if I remember the next time it happens, I am going to look for the smoke and black marks that my tires leave. Before I can recover from my current state of shock, my right foot feels the accelerator puncture the floorboard and I am pulled into some sort of hyper space travel where my lips are slapping against my cheek bones and my eyelids are dancing around.  The whole car seems to vibrate and bounce up and down off the cement surface before the whole event passes and I drift back into the right lane and black out for a second or two.

An hour or so later, I pull into another truck stop, the car strangely wobbling like a toy car that has been stepped on by a size sixteen shoe. The door groans as I swing it open and although all fender panels are in place, the paint has been forced back into one solid bubble dangling from my back bumper. I hear a sizzling sound coming from somewhere under the hood, and when I bend down closer to listen, all three engine cylinders sound like they are whimpering.

That is when I have “yesteryear flashbacks.”  Ah, the days when I could have outrun that beast.  When I would have down shifted and it would have actually accomplished something.  I would have heard that four-barreled carburetor open up, listened to that wonderful “Orrrrrh” declaring war in the making, and then pierced through the air leaving that huge piece of rolling metal to suffer the sonic boom. True, I would have run out of gas within minutes of the conflict, but I’d be going so fast I could have just coasted the remainder of the way to next gas station. An hour later, I would have been standing in the parking lot polishing the hood, with my engine growling like a hungry dog.

So, now when reality sets in, I can’t even brag about squeezing into a tight spot, because the truck stop’s parking lot is the size of an airport.  Yes, I have to accept it. I need to remind myself that I had my day, and then start my dejected walk toward the entrance. All of this for the future generations—all of this in the name of green. I think I will go shop for some underwear with hearts on it.

Vol. 37 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Summer- 2010
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