California Truck at,,, jim steele, trucking

Heading Down To Salinas

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In the meantime ~ Enjoy! I got up early the next morning and doctored my log book and my lip, and then went inside the fuel mart for some coffee and cigarettes. They had a real nice display of Zippo lighters over next to the pop cooler, and on my way over there, I passed by a very large selection of all of these fucking cowboy hats, all perched up on one of those circular display stands… the kind that are made out of wire and spin around? Anyway, I didn’t really want anything to do with those, and besides, they were the fake hats. I’ll bet if I was wearing one of those chicken shit looking hats last night, I would’ve been dead for sure, just for wearing a fake hat. Real cowboys hate people who wear fake hats, probably worse than they do if you’re trying to fuck their wife.

But the Zippo’s were alright, and for whatever reason, I felt like I needed one. A lot of guys buy the kind with deer on them, or the camouflage models, but not me. My grandpa always carried a Zippo, and it was just nice and chrome colored, all polished up. Plus, the great thing about those lighters, other than the fact that they lasted forever and would even light in a windstorm, was that smell that they gave off. Right after the wheel would hit the flint, and spark the fluid, a Zippo always smelled like a Zippo, and you couldn’t replicate it. Except- with another Zippo.

I peeled off an extra $50 and laid down $75 dollars. The lighter was $49.99, and with the cigarettes and coffee, that came to around $65. I walked out of the store, set my thermos on the railing, and lit a smoke up with my new Zippo, and just relished the whole thing. I mean, worse comes to worse, and I’m still motoring down the highway, going down to Watsonville today and then Salinas tonight.

Salinas was a fucking wild place, there was no doubt about that. The only other place that was just flat out in the open raunchy and nasty other than Salinas, was maybe Amarillo… or Okie City. But Salinas was fucking crazy. So, I went ahead and did my normal walk around and kicked the tires. On my way back around the front of the truck I went over to the reefer unit at the driver’s side of the trailer, and turned it on, setting the controls to temp at 38 degrees. I was a few hours away from the shipper, and they always wanted the trailer to be pre-cooled.

I stopped just for a minute at the driver’s door, and looked around. The sun was just starting to peak over the tops of the hills in the east, and it was maybe 40 degrees, and kind of hazy looking. Weather in California, especially northern California was always hit and miss. But there was one thing, at least in Corning and up towards Redding that you could always rely on, and that was that the air would be saturated, 24/7, with the thick odor of cow-shit. So, I drew in a deep breath, and kind of dislodged a bit of blood in my busted mouth as I exhaled, and then spit a mix of bloody coffee and snot into the dirt. Fucking cowboys and cow-shit. Motherfuckers.

The gas station was maybe 50 feet from I-5, and I climbed up into the cab, lit another cigarette, and set my coffee in the dashboard cup holder, and then supplied air to my brakes and started rolling. I had right at 200 miles to go, and here in a little while, a lot of it would be going around Sacramento on the 505 and then onto 80 westbound down to 680 south and that would take me down to San Jose, and I’d pick up U.S. 101 there, and that would bring me to 129 and into Watsonville. The place I was supposed to pick up was right there in town. If you’ve never been out there, then you don’t know- but nearly everything is right on, or maybe a block or two off of, the main drag. A real one horse- one stop kind of town. It’s like that all up and down the coast.”