Sunday, January 9, 2005

Typing Without A License

I was surfing the Web Saturday and stopped at the Barking Moonbat Early Warning System. One of the posts told about a story of a fellow that got a ticket in Florida, even though he had helped stop a drunk driver. I guess it shows that no good deed goes unpunished.

But it reminded me of the time I got a ticket while sitting at a typewriter.

It was about 20 years ago, maybe a little less. It was a Saturday, I think. The restaurant at the truckstop where I worked was trying to prepare its menu. One wasn't done from the previous day, or what was scheduled as the special was not available, or something had gone wrong. Anyway, they needed a menu typed up and copies made.

Again, this was the '80s, and while I had a personal computer (a Tandy 1000), they were still scarce items then. So, I had to sit at a typewriter (an IBM Selectric; take that, Dan Rather) and type up the menu. If you ever took typing, or were otherwise familiar with typing, you know what all has to be done to fully justify a line of text. Or a menu. So, it took me a while.

Meanwhile, this morning was trash morning. That is to say, the outside cleanup crew drove the garbage truck around and picked up trash from the barrels that were placed all around the parking lot. This happened on a regular schedule.

Like any business, the truckstop wanted to save money wherever possible. One way was insurance. There was no insurance on the garbage truck. You see, it was never driven on the road. How did we dispose of the garbage, you ask? Easy. If a wrecker is pulling a vehicle, the insurance on the wrecker covers the vehicle being towed. So, when the garbage truck was full, we hooked up the wrecker and towed it to the dump, dumped the garbage, then towed the garbage truck back to the truckstop, and the cycle began again.

Another way is to hire convicts. They always show up on time and they never ask for a raise. The State of Florida was looking out for their every need, and they enjoyed getting out long enough to breathe fresh air and dress like regular folk.

Another way is to hire old drunks. Now, you do have to keep them sober long enough for them to do their jobs, but other than that, they pretty much are no trouble. All they want to do is to earn enough money to buy liquor, but stay out of trouble enough so they can keep their job to earn enough money to buy liquor. So, one of the outside cleanup people was an old drunk. He was basically a good fellow and worked hard. He should have been paid more than he was, except that he'd just buy more liquor.

So anyway, this particular morning was trash pickup day. The old drunk was driving the garbage truck and the convict helping him was emptying the cans into the back of the garbage truck. Everyone knew what they were doing and all was well. Or so I thought.

The phone rang. It was the fuel desk informing me that there had been an accident. So I rushed out front. I saw the garbage truck outside with a large truck way too close to the side of the vehicle. I told the desk to call the police department. Turns out that the police under whose jurisdiction we were didn't always want to drive all the way out to where we were, so they in turn called the Florida Highway Patrol.

Anyway, I went outside to see what had happened and to see what needed to be done. Turns out that a driver had started his truck and it was in gear or something. It had jumped forward and hit the side of the garbage truck, just missing the convict carrying a trash can. Now, the State of Florida is real nice about letting you work their convicts. But they are insistent that they come back in one piece. Fortunately, everyone was safe. The truck driver didn't want the police called, but the call had already been placed.

FHP had a vehicle nearby, so he showed up in minutes. He found out the driver had an outstanding warrant or outstanding traffic violations or something. Anyway, the driver got in trouble and the company had to send another driver. Then he asked for our old drunk's driver's license. Of course, he didn't have one. So, the trooper took his ticket book back out. I asked him what the problem was.

Turns out that, since the garbage truck was in the public parking on a state highway, any driving around must be done by someone with a license. So the old drunk said he hadn't ever had a license. Besides, he was just doing like he was told. This sparked the trooper's interest. Who had told him to drive the truck? Why, Uncle Bobby (that's what everyone called him). "Where is this 'Uncle Bobby?'" the trooper wanted to know. Well, he had left. Who would then be in charge of him? Willie. Where was Willie? He had gone to change the diesel prices on the signs on the Interstate. Well, then, who was in charge?

Guess who? Me. So, I had to pull out my driver's license and offer it over to the trooper. He calmly wrote me a ticket for driving without a license, and put my valid Florida driver's license number down in the appropriate box. The following Monday, I told the office manager about the incident. When he quit laughing, he asked me for the ticket. I handed it over and he said the truckstop would pay it. I assume they did. I never heard any more about it.

And, if I do, I'll know one of you told.

Visit the Beltway Traffic Jam


  1. You got any more of these stories? They're great!

  2. Dude, you're not thinking that I'm making this stuff up, are you? See the "About this blog" link on the right.

    However, if something happens, or if I remember something that happened, I'll pass it along.

  3. No, I don't think you're making it up, I just like the way you write. It's realistic, educated, and interesting.

  4. Well, I certainly appreciate the kind words. And if you like the way I write, you ought to hear me talk. I'll have to share the story some time about me translating for some Yankees I used to work with. Some of them don't speak Southern very well.

  5. Big Sis (who's only 5'4")January 11, 2005 at 4:16 PM

    This story is lots funnier than Dave Barry's stuff. You ought to share this story with him.

  6. I never told you about that ticket?

  7. Big Sis (who's only 5'4January 12, 2005 at 1:01 AM

    Not that I recall. I am finding out a LOT about you these days. Keep it up! I am enjoying getting to know you after all these years!

  8. I'm actually quite shocked. I'm the same person I've always been. Maybe you're just gaining a better understanding of why I am like I am.

  9. Big Sis (who's only 5'4January 12, 2005 at 11:39 AM

    Actually, I have always understood WHY you are like you are. (I have, too!) I have just not always known WHO you are.

  10. Well, I'm the fellow that showed up one day when you were about 2 1/2, and hung around for the next several years.


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