Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Driving Mr. Barkley - A Brigid Guest Post

For those of you who have read The Book of Barkley, you are familiar with a rift on this story.  Barkley was my best friend for many years, until he introduced me to my husband, soon to be my new best friend, and then Partner in Grime for life. But much of the story of Barkley was in the many drives we had between Indianapolis and Chicago where Partner had a home which I visited until we were wed and I moved there.

For you see, for about 4 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night between Indianapolis and Chicago. I worked four 10 hour shifts a week so it made for some LONG days.  I wanted to move to Chicago permanently to join my fiance, soon to be husband, but  I had a career and a townhome in Indiana.  My large home had sold and I was just renting the townhome, but transferring up to Chicago job-wise wasn't an option as there were no openings at my pay grade (I'm sort of like "Director" if we were NCIS) and I was too close to retirement to take a pay cut to be closer to home.  With people retiring, I knew there'd be an opening if I was just patient.

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby when we rescued her, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely, in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the truck was full of gas and the road ahead clear and then I'd get Barkley in his harness and ready to go.
Madam - I'll just wait here on my dog bed until you bring the car around

Uh, Barkley, the LITTLE grey bed is your dog bed.

Soon, the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened.  The traffic and my pulse would quicken, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

It's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all. If we were moving I'd just hold up the little point and shoot camera while I kept a hand and eyes on the road and snap back at Barkley.  Some of those were hilarious.  And if we were slowed or stopped in traffic sometimes we could get a shot of an interesting vehicle.

Diary of a Drive with Mom
I'm in the truck with Mom!  I'm in the truck with Mom! I'm in the truck with Mom!
Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats on the Wall, Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats. . .
Can't you change the channel?  It's the "Corn and Cow Show" again and I've seen this episode.
Does she even notice I'm back here, It's been like a YEAR since I got a treat.
Where did he go?
I am SOOOO bored. 
Mom - I think I'm getting car sick.  Can we stop again.  Perhaps at a burger place? 

Wake up Barkley -there's an interesting vehicle!~

The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant dayglo orange name across the back window.   At first, I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

I actually did see on a stretch of the road further south of here the real Batmobile, or at least a reproduction thereof.   When I arrived in Indy and met Tam and Roberta X for a meal I tried to tell them about that experience.

Me.  "I waved, he waved.  But he didn't signal when he was changing lanes." (Seriously, I about ZAP! POW! BAM!'d his back bumper when he suddenly cut in front of  me.)

Friend #1: "The Bat Signal is only for use in emergencies."

Friend #2: "People signal Batman; Batman doesn't signal people.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was too heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy fakey looking souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all.

So glad we've arrived at the townhouse so I can do something more exciting while you go to work!

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over Abby Lab and me while we made that last year of drives without you. We miss you every day.  When I get on a plane going to the UK and see someone in First Class reading your book, I just smile.  Your story continues to warm people the world over, and for that I am glad.


Skip said...

I've had his book on my sidebar since it came out. Hope it helps. Miss Sir Barkley.

Home on the Range said...

Thank you, Skip-he'd have been 15 this July. Miss him too.

Old NFO said...

Great stories, and yes it IS amazing what one sees on the roads these days.

Rick C said...

Tazeen? That's about as serious as Taserface.