On the way to work on Friday I’m stopped at a traffic light behind a Ford pickup. The truck had been modified to rise high off the ground like the Tower of Babel. It could have just been the footpad commercial on the radio, but I thought I heard God smiting the driver for his hubris. The tires were so large that a family of Dominican immigrants was living in the wheel wells selling fruit to the drivers in the next lane. The side mirrors hung out so wide they clipped pedestrians in the back of the head as he drove down the road.
Everything was fine though, until the light turned green and the truck accelerated. At this point his two exhaust pipes, one on each side, belched out a cloud of smoke so black and so thick I saw demons in the center of it beckoning me with their blood-red claws. At that moment everything I had believed in was a lie and the music of Dan Fogelberg danced in my head like a malevolent, terpsichorean nymph. I wanted to race forward to clear my head of these awful illusions but I had to hesitate before accelerating because I literally could not see the road.
Following Old Pitch down the street was like being behind grandpa going through the buffet line. Every 20 or 30 yards the truck farted out a burst of black exhaust forcing me to drive through a toxic cloud of carbon monoxide mixed with gas particles where the laws of physics didn’t apply and the song of a gentle thrush was evil incarnate. For over a mile my poor, innocent vehicle was excreted on. I could hear it mewing softly as if asking what she had done wrong to be trapped behind this gassy behemoth. Flecks of paint peeled off striking the windshield in anger. The engine roared and the back end shimmied as my car demanded retribution. Finally, I turned right and the truck kept going straight. As we passed him, she spit a stream of wiper fluid at the truck and let loose with a string of anti-truck slurs.
I would like to speak to the driver for a moment. I don’t know your name but from the look of your truck I’m guessing Clem or Earl. I’ll go with Earl.
Earl, as a favor to mankind and Mother Earth, will you please stop spending your money on tires that belong on industrial rock quarry machinery and mirrors that can see back in time, and fix your exhaust problem instead. Your fellow travelers on the nation’s by-ways do not deserve to be regurgitated upon by your motorized dragon whose pilot light has gone out. Fix it, Earl. Do the right thing.