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September 02, 2008

   Greetings all. Thanks 4 tolerating my venting on my first blog. So now, Blog #2. I've been driving trucks for the last 10 years of my life, so I'll go w/that 4 a topic. I can hear u asking, "SB7, why in God's name drive a truck at all? They're big, hard to handle, sometimes filthy- Yick! Isn't that a man's job?" Well, my dad was a trucker his whole life. He learned to drive one in the Army, then got hired on in Chicago (Where I'm from) by Pepsi Cola. This was back in the day, when they still sold more wooden cases of bottled Pepsi than canned (Mid 60s). Anyone from Chicago can tell you that there's some of the best (& worse, I'm sure) restaurants on the planet there. Chicago is a huge chain of neighborhoods, fanning out larger & wider, the further away from Lake Michigan you get. So Chicago itself has some of the oldest buildings, surrounded by newer subdivisions. I miss going downtown & seeing the incredible architecture & the Lake! Anyway, there's more family owned restaurants there than "chain". Every nationality u can think of, & several you didn't know existed. In the older neighborhoods, the deli, restaurant or grocery store is on the first floor, housing behind or above it, & storage is in the basement. Most of the Mom & Pop places he went to had their storage in their basement. We're talking the one bare light bulb lighting the wooden staircase that creaked & bowed as you walked down it, variety. I can't imagine the weight of those cases, but his calves would cramp up unexpectedly, for the last 20 years of his life... I know that some of the stairways were so narrow & decrepit, he couldn't use a two wheel hand cart to carry them down. He told me one time, he was delivering to one of those basements, & spied a small grouping of empty Pepsi bottles in a corner. Nothing else around them, just bare concrete. So he made his multiple trips up & down those rickety stairs (Sweatin' his ass off, as he would say) & as he was walking across the basement floor, first heard, then saw a Pepsi bottle clang against the others. So he got a little closer to see what in God's name bumped it - it was a cockroach! A cockroach with a lift kit! This thing was so huge, he didn't even consider stepping on it! It would've been too messy! My dad was no wimp, he had 3 daughters, so if we saw a spider or centipede, he'd come running. He'd ask us for a shoe, but if one wasn't handy & it looked like it was gonna get away, he'd smash it with his bare hand! Then sometimes chased us til we screamed, which didn't take long. But this roach unnerved even HIM! It also moved a little too fast - hard to time impact, & angle was a factor. It was wider than the width of his foot (Steel toed boot), so if he could time it right, he'd have to have the angle & speed just right. He swore it was about 10" long. After serious consideration, he concluded that THIS cockroach was a Godfather roach. If he did manage to kill it, his thugs & relatives would surely network & ambush him at a future date. He decided to back away slowly for the stairs. When he shot a last look down there from near the top of the stairs, it was already gone! He said a new can of raid wouldn't have phased him. Would've been a waste of money. When my dad told the store owner of this Godfather roach, the owner said, "Oh, you saw him? I haven't seen him for about 5 years now. Little bastard is still kickin', eh? Yeah, we just leave him be. He's too smart to eat the bait & too big for the traps. I'll be damned!"

   My father was a great bullshitter, one of the very best, in fact. So if you don't believe that story,  I don't blame you. His stories were so detailed, he was so graphic: it was really hard to tell if he was telling the truth or not. But the look in his blue eyes when he'd tell people some stories like these...The difference was, he didn't erupt in laughter like he did when he got someone to believe one of his BS stories. He also told great jokes. He'd embellish those, use silly voices, make faces & ofcourse sound effects. When he said the punchline, he'd laugh heartily as well. It was pretty cool, because whether he was BSing or telling a great joke, he'd laugh this loud boisterous laughter - he wasn't laughing at the person, more with the person & his fine BSing ability. Plenty of back slapping if he knew you well enough. He was so approachable, his customers took to him immediately! I inherited his hard work ethic. So there wasn't much he wouldn't do for his customers. He made friends for life. They are all like family. We all miss his laughter, but can still hear it. Probably because he laughed so often. But don't piss him off...