Sunday, February 04, 2007

El Jefe

El Jefe started his professional life working for the City of Austin, general motor pool, in 1991. He came to Austin for the job, along with many other trucks.

Back then, he was not El Jefe, but rather a white Dodge 250 among many others. It was a good, if hard, life. He hauled many things. The best part about it was that if anything went wrong, from little windshield wipers to to transmission trouble, the City mechanics pulled him out of the pool and fixed it right away. He had many friends, though the trash trucks were always surly.

In 2001 he was pulled out of the pool, and detailed. He had been busy training the new trucks in how to haul and pull trailers and in how to wait while the City guys were getting morning tacos. Waiting was an important part of City work. Thus, it was a matter of some stress when he realized that he was retiring. He was sent to a new section of the motor pool, and the trucks there filled him in on what was happening. He became depressed.

He was bought by a large man who ran a private company, and he even got to stay in Austin! Some of the trucks in the sale lot went North, where the roads were salty and it was cold all the time.

This job was different in that he had to get up earlier. He also got a set of toolboxes, a ladder rack and even a new hitch! He mostly pulled a power washer and a tank of water, and spent the early morning hours helping to clean graffiti off the walls and streets of the City. He got to see some of his old City buddies, though the trash trucks remained surly. His service plan was always covered. He became hopeful. Sure, sometimes he had to do odd jobs and haul sheetrock and heavy equipment, but he was still working.

Late in 2006, the old truck was rarely driven. Once again, he was detailed, and all the tools and gear he carried were removed. A For Sale sign adorned his window. The Graffiti business was no longer the man's focus, and he was downsizing. He didn't need another truck. He had some time to idle and think about getting old. When had that happened? He couldn't pull quite as hard as in the 90s, and his gas mileage was not what it once was. The man even stripped the company stickers off his doors, taking some paint off. That was a worry, since rust started almost at once. Trucks hate to rust, and they don't sell as well when they are rusty.

One weekend, he went home with a couple. They took him North, and he was afraid the roads were going salty, but they stopped short of that place. Instead, he was parked in a drive way, near a van much of his age, and a couple of sports cars. He had never spoken to sports cars much as they tended to be in a hurry and somewhat skittish. Some didn't speak any english. The van was another story. She told him how much she admired work trucks, and complimented his mileage. He was polite when he learned she had 160,000 miles. His count was only 60,000. She had been many places with the couple, but was tired now and wanted to do other things. She wanted to know especially how much he could pull.

Soon, his title was transferred to the couple, and they started calling him "El Jefe". This was flattering, but he was wary. They also fitted him with a camper shell in an awful gold color. He now thought he was going to haul carpet, as that was what trucks with camper shells did. The rust on his doors got worse.

One morning, he had a chance to talk to the blue sports car. The couple treated these cars so well that they warmed them up each morning before going to work, and were washed almost each weekend. The blue car told him that he was going to pull a trailer with him, the blue car, on it to and from the track. The race track.

El Jefe didn't believe it, but the yellow sports car confirmed it, and the blue van as well. He was going to tow a race car! The blue van was versatile, but didn't have the muscle to do this. He began to think about custom plates, like the sports cars had, and they agreed to tell the couple that he needed some. And to be sure and fix the rust.

Perhaps retirement would be OK after all.

"1991 Dodge 250 3/4 ton truck. 60K miles, 10000 pound hitch $3000 firm" was all the ad said. I like my version better.


Post a Comment

<< Home