Trucks with Ladders and Other Things

Life is full of things that feed our paranoia. Not the least of which is being stranded behind trucks with ladders and other dangling things.

They’re everywhere, these trucks, their loose ladders bouncing about, projectiles of deadly potential, threatening with every bump to pierce your windshield and sever head from body. Oh, the paranoia.

It comes on suddenly when driving down narrow highways where the road slopes precipitously off into the marshy swamps. Alligators live there. No room for mistakes. Nerves can get neurotic.

Recently I find myself sandwiched in behind a beer truck and a long line of kamikaze bumper-huggers. Boxed in again. My sweaty palms grip the steering wheel. Paranoia strikes deep.

Flashbacks of the horror of being hung-up in the dark crawl space underneath my house resurface. Backing out takes hours and demonstrates another design flaw in the human anatomy: no rear-view eyes.

An enticing photo of a frosty beer mug is painted on the truck’s rear panel. It temporarily distracts me from the frightening crawl space dilemma. Its momentary reprieve transfers the fear factor over to the taste buds, then back again. The fear is real, the beer only an illusion.

A large hand truck sways violently in the truck’s slipstream. It dangles from the rear door, hanging tentatively by a rubber bungee cord like a condemned man wearing a noose, waiting for the gallows door to drop. Stenciled beneath it is a warning: “Watch for flying objects.” Trapped again, caught in the vortex where all options are bad ones.

The mind does visual take-offs on all that can happen. None is good. Thoughts of disaster run wild.  I visualize the hand truck flying off, hitting the highway, bouncing and sending a mass of twisted steel hurdling directly at me. I pray.

A still small voice answers, whispers in my ear, “Your morning repentance was weak, my son.” Paranoia covers all bases.

Miraculously, luck prevails. The bungee holds and the truck turns off. Catastrophe averted. But wait, all’s not well that ends well. The day has just begun.

Ahead is a painter in his pickup. “The Lucky 13 Painting Company” is written on the tailgate. Since when is there a common connection between the number 13, ‘lucky’ and ladders? Yes, there are 13 ladders, ladders that slide, bounce and levitate from overhead racks. Paranoia wakes up.

My luck is no better on the interstate. Lumbering along is a mammoth Caterpillar, twenty tons of yellow steel and rubber tires the size of buildings. It teeters on the edge of a lowboy trailer. The truck straddles the two outside lanes. Options are limited again.

The mass of disaster is anchored on the trailer by tiny chains like those found on yard swings. I attempt to pass. The road narrows, a lane is closed ahead. The grassy right of way is the only option. I take it. My past rushes by in a flash. I beg out loud for forgiveness.

There’s more. Ahead I get stuck behind a logging truck. Pine logs the length of football fields protrude. They wave a red flag and declare, “Watch for Flying Debris.” They’re perfectly positioned to give new meaning to the cliché, ‘a sharp stick in the eye.’

Life is perilous on its own and it’s not all just trucks. Hazards lurk everywhere, from chewing-gum sidewalks to random overhead bird droppings. We must watch every step always, including verbal slips of the lips and Facebook posts. Some things can follow one to the grave.

Vertigo and fear of heights make stairwells a snare.  Escalators are shoe-eating monsters to the non-observant as my mother would have attested. They’re capable of chewing off foot and leg of the less-than-nimble rider.

Home ladders, while essential, should be avoided by all persons over 30.  These entrapment devices have lured unsuspecting fools into early hospice.

Home elevators, oh, heaven forbid. Like Smart cars, they resemble coffins. If trapped inside you can say goodbye to sanity and a toilet. Paranoia is everywhere.

Paranoia breeds on wet bathroom stone floors and rolled-up corners of kitchen rugs. One fall ends it all.

But look, why carry on with this soliloquy? We all have our own neuroses to nurture. Let’s just leave it at that for now.

Time distills the essence out of everything. In retrospect, the beer truck episode was not all that bad. I’ll follow it again. Hey, beer is what’s real…paranoia is only an illusion.


Bud Hearn

November 12, 2020