Black Dog, Naked Russian
by Connie Graham
I was on my way to Moultrie, Georgia, with a load of frozen food and was planning on stopping for the night in a place called Cherokee Nation Truck Stop. In Roland, OK, it’s pretty much a mini mart next to a casino off Interstate 40. I don’t gamble, but I did need to do some laundry. And this place has a couple of secret parking spots I KNOW will be available, no matter how late it would be when I got there. Yes.
As expected, it was late when I pulled into the lot. But there were only two other trucks. How incredibly odd. I expected the usual 25 to 30. I backed into a spot next to a red Kenworth, said hello to the driver (he had a heavy Russian accent) and headed off toward the mini mart. Then I saw the sign on the store door.
CLOSED BECAUSE OF COVID.
I can handle the camping in the truck thing, but I needed to fill my water jugs to be able to spiffy up before bed. Ptooey!
It was around midnight by the time I’d finished my paperwork, feeding the cat and dog and walking said dog up the road and back again. It was dark and creepy on that road. No street lights. But the Cherokee place had the parking area lit up. I was, thankfully, parked next to one of the light poles.
After resigning my surly ass to having to wash my face with drinking water, I noticed a rubber hose on the ground next to one of the fuel pumps. It was attached to a spigot.
I filled two jugs and headed back to the truck. But something was moving behind the light pole between my truck and the red KW. Oh boy.
It was the Russian dude, totally naked, peeing on the ground on the other side of the light pole. What to do. What to do.
I ignored him and proceeded to get into my truck. Which, now that I think about it, must have seemed odd to him (not much odder than lurking around a light pole naked, I guess).
I used to drive a truck with no passenger seat. It was so much easier to get in and out on that side because there isn’t a steering wheel to stab you in the side when you are sliding in. So I was entering the truck on the side with the naked Russian situation going on when I didn’t have to. Ha! At any rate, we were successful in ignoring each other.
The next morning, after feeding dog and cat, and walking back up and down the hill (not so creepy with the sun out), we were on our way south toward Georgia. I stopped at a Love’s along the way for some sort of food-like substance and caffeine.
Hell. None of the usual hot-dog-shaped goodies were on the grill. Why? Plague, of course. And drivers are no longer allowed to fill their own containers. At Love’s, there is now an employee to get your coffee for you so that you don’t infect the whole place with your trucker cooties.
This is a challenge in several respects. The person who is wearing the mask that prevents you from hearing anything they say, really doesn’t want to be there waiting on your sorry ass, and really really doesn’t want to be wearing a mask in the first place. You, the driver, have to yell over the top of tables and displays which are stacked up around the coffee area to protect the Love’s employee from your Covid spittle. You also have to order two or three times before the message is properly received, and what you get is in the wrong sized cup with the wrong amount of cream, etc. It’s a wonderful experience for all involved.
I was already irritable enough, but the Love’s chick pushed it to a new level. When she filled the medium-instead-of-large cup with Colombian instead of House Mild, I let it slide. All I wanted was to put the correct amount of cream in myself. Is that too much to ask?? She refused to give me the creamers and instead poured about half a cup of cream from a dispenser into a second coffee cup. What was she doing for Pete’s sake? Then she walked over to me, around the fortress of protection tables and began pouring the cream into the coffee kind of up in my face. I tried to grab the cream from her before the tsunami ruined my coffee, to no avail.
Didn’t I see this on an episode of Seinfeld? Surely I did.
I made it to an out-of-the-way place that night. Another one of my go-to truck stops that most drivers don’t or won’t frequent. It’s all about parking these days. And I can usually find parking in one of these hole in the walls.
Yes, electronic log devices suck. Hours-of-service rules suck as well. But the absolute worst change in the entire trucking industry is the fact that with the implementation of those two things is a free-for-all every single day around 4 and 5 PM. We are all, at the same time, LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO PARK!!
IT REALLY SUCKS!!
The town we stayed at that night is called Hickory Flat. In Mississippi.
Not to be confused with Pollard Flats, the really cool cabin-looking place near Mount Shasta, California, with the naked lady mannequin in a bathtub that scares unsuspecting patrons using the bathroom for the first time.
But I digress.
I always think of Elvis when driving through the area. Tupelo isn’t too far away.
Anyway, off we go, still south, toward this town I’ve never heard of in Georgia.
About 40 miles into the trip, I saw an animal on the right side of the road, running north toward the traffic. It was a black dog. And it was really booking it. My first thought was that the dog was lost. Then I realized, we were not near a town. Someone had dumped this poor creature and driven off. You see it all out here.
I pulled off to the right on an exit ramp that appeared as if by magic. I had traveled about 150 feet from the place where I had seen the dog. Could I catch up to him? Do I have time for this? No. But I don’t care. I told Silver and Monster that I would be right back (yes I did) and began trotting back towards the area of the dog sighting.
After less than five minutes of “running” with lead in my ass, I realized that with the dog running in front and away from me, my chances of catching up with the beast were zero. Drat. I stopped at the top of a hill. Traffic was zooming by blowing my hair all over the place. Drat. What do I do? I am spent. Track star I am not. Not. Not. Not.
The highway curved around to the left and out of sight. I didn’t see a dog anywhere. My heart sank. Poor little black doggie. I can’t save you.
As a last resort I cupped my hands around my mouth (does that do anything?) and yelled as loudly as I could, “Puppy!! Come here puppy!! Here puppy!!!” over and over. Which was dumb. I could hardly even hear myself over the traffic noise.
Nothing. Of course. So I started walking back to the truck. Wondering if I would ever get a stray dog to come to me. It’s only happened a few times. They usually run away when you call them or get too close. Sigh.
I had walked back down the hill toward my truck about 40 feet when I saw something to my left. Something black and low to the ground.
It was black dog!!! He was a she, and she came back all that way! How did she hear me over the traffic noise?
It took a bit of coaxing to get her close to me at all. She kept running to me and then running away. Several times she ran out onto the highway and scared the hell out of me. It was hard to get her to come back. I told her as matter-of-factly as I could, that she needed to come with me and I began walking back down the hill again. She followed! And when we got to the truck (passenger side, of course) I climbed in and said “come on!” and she jumped in! Wow.
I can’t have two dogs and a cat in a truck. And Silver is not impressed with this interloper. This sweet as pie little black doggie had ticks on her ear and neck, which I removed post haste. Eeewww.
I called several numbers. No humane society or shelters of any kind were answering their phones. Why? Because of the damn virus. Shit!
I resigned myself to having two dogs and a cat at least for the day. I was now running waaaay behind schedule. Time to proceed down the big road, as they say.
When I got to Birmingham I needed to get fuel. A Pilot was a designated stop on this trip. And it was a real dive. Old. Hard to get into. Small. More like a gas station really.
I turned on the AC for the animals and jumped out to fill my tanks. When I was done, I got back in to pull the truck forward, out of the way, for the next driver. But there was shit on my seat. And shit on the floor. And on the bed. What the hell? This new black doggie must be sick. She might have Parvo!!
Oh, what have I gotten myself into?!
I tried calling the humane society again. Again no answer. This can’t be happening. Then I realized that it was Silver who let loose all over the truck. It was all over her and she was on the bed… oh my.
It gets worse. The refrigeration unit on the trailer was not running and the temperature of the load was too high. This was not happening.
Not. Not. Not.
Now we are on our way to the Thermo King dealer in Birmingham. Extra dog, upset dog, dog poo and all. Oh boy!
(Monster the cat was chill this entire time. What a good sport she is/was.)
When I arrived at the Service Dept. of the Thermo King facility I made sure to ask if anyone was aware of an animal rescue group anywhere. Or anyone who might be able to help with little black dog. Nope.
I walked out to the truck with one of the mechanics (Mario) to show him the dead cooling unit. He asked about the black dog as she was looking out of the driver’s side window near where we were standing. I explained the situation and I’ll be dipped if he didn’t volunteer to take her. His German Shepherd had died 2 years ago and it was time for his broken heart to mend.
There is a God. This man actually took the rest of the day off to take black dog home with him. And he lived on a ranch.
It has been a month since black dog was found running along the interstate and I think about her all the time. Is she OK? Did she like her new dad? Did she get scared and run away? I had to know…so I called the Thermo King place today. The Service Advisor lady who was friends with Mario answered the phone. At first she didn’t know what I was talking about. I then mentioned that a mechanic took a black dog home. Didn’t she remember? Oh yes! She did. And black dog “has fixed herself to Mario’s six-year-old and they are inseparable! She is very happy at her new home. You can be sure of that!”
So another chapter closes.
Life is good. Covid and all.
And with that, I say goodnight.