Studying the Basics
I lived in a small Eskimo village years ago, the name of which will remain unmentioned for obvious reasons. They are a delightful people, possessing a phenomenal ability to live comfortably on practically nothing while raising the word ‘ingenuity’ a few notches in meaning. But it was their wit and spirit that attracted me the most.
This village was the administrative and commercial hub of a very large area, containing an airport, hospital, bank, and weather station, so representatives of government, big business, and other such high muckity- muks were constantly flying in and out.
But there was a problem here. There was no place to stay overnight, except an old dilapidated place where the few guests were kept awake most of the night by drunks and women desirous of providing them with “services”.
Eventually it was decided to do something about this. A small piece of land was acquired and readied and when spring rolled around and the river ice broke up, a barge brought in numerous mobile units. They were unloaded with difficulty, then moved to the property and fit together in the shape of a gigantic capital “E”. This was to be the city’s new inn.
But the new inn had the same problem the rest of the town did: it was sitting on top of more than 300 feet of permafrost. That meant that underground utilities were impractical if not impossible, for anything buried would quickly freeze. Therefore it was decided to subscribe to the same services everyone else did. A water truck would deliver the water needed, and a “honey truck” took care of sewage.
Due to this necessity then, none of the rooms had a toilet. All of the “toilets” were located in one room in the main unit and each consisted of a five-gallon bucket inside a special box that was about chair height. It had a toilet seat on top and was accessible by a trap door to the outside. That way when the “honey truck” came, they could reach in through the trap door to get the bucket instead of having to pack it through the interior, grossing out the guests in the process. One just hoped he wasn’t sitting on the pot when they reached in to get it.
This arrangement seemed to work well, indeed, for all I know, it still is. Most of the guests were important officials and didn’t mix much with the locals..
There was something they didn’t count on, though. There were numerous Eskimo kids around. One couldn’t help but grin when spying one of them, for they always had a smile that covered their entire face and framed two of the most mischievous, twinkling eyes you ever saw. They were the living definition of the word “imps”.
And those kids had discovered these trapdoors. In the evenings when the light wasn’t too strong, they would gather around and silently open them. Then, using both hands in a desperate effort to stifle their nearly irrepressible gales of giggles, they would watch as these high potentates took care of business.
Now, I knew full well that what these kids were doing wasn’t exactly couth, but I couldn’t bring myself to squeal on them, for what they were doing seemed in a strange sort of way to be almost—well—apropos. You see, these people they were spying on were the forgers of the world in which they were growing up and would live as adults. It seemed almost fair that they should have a chance to study them from all angles.
Plus, as you have to admit, it’s not unusual to have the same substance emanate from both ends of these officials, and it wouldn’t hurt anything for the kids to know that.
About here, I imagine you are asking what this tale has to do with trucking. The answer, to be honest, is Nothing—and yet—Everything. I’ll explain in due time.
A second story comes to mind. I got it straight from one of the young men involved (no, it was not me), and occurred at least 40 years ago. He and his friends were country boys with all of the mischievous desire for adventure that this implies.
There was a grumpy old farmer living nearby that they dearly loved to pester, so I feel we can safely assume that the old fellow had reason for his grumpiness. He was augmenting his income by renting rooms to the city slickers so they could enjoy the country atmosphere. The boys knew this, and got an idea.
They had been studying about radios and electricity in school and had learned how to construct crude devices of this type, so having acquired the few pieces of equipment they needed, they crept down upon the place very early in the morning before the sun was up. It only took a few minutes to rig a loud speaker under the seat of the outhouse and run a few wires up the hill through the weeds and behind the brush where they had stashed a battery and microphone. Then, hidden, they waited for daylight.
Eventually it came, and the people in the house began to stir. Smoke eased up out of the chimney and the smells of breakfast became discernable. Finally, the door opened.
Their luck held. It was one of the guests, a big heavy fat woman with the regal air and movement of a battleship. And she was sailing straight for the outhouse. Though they were ready to burst with glee, they waited.
She entered and they still waited—15 seconds, 30 seconds. Finally, figuring she had enough time to get comfortably ensconced on the throne, the one with the deepest male voice reached for the microphone and yelled in wild indignation:
“Hey, lady!!! Whaddaya think yer doin’!! I’m trin’ ta work down here!”
Ah, yes. These scamps had been hoping for a reaction, and they got one, yes indeed. There was a piercing scream, then the door fairly exploded off the side of the outhouse as she came flying out with her clothes at half-mast and emitting noises that seemed to range anywhere between an air-raid siren and a whole herd of enraged banshees.
The boys? They were lying on the ground, utterly helpless with laughter. They didn’t dare stay too long though and they knew it. So pretty quick and with great effort, one of them managed to poke an eyeball far enough above the brush to see what was happening. What he saw sobered them all, for that old farmer, face red with rage and packing a double barreled shotgun, was starting up that hill with all the speed and determination of a freight train.
They figured it was time to ease on down the line.
Now, what has this to do with trucking? Again, Nothing—and yet— Everything.