Saturday, October 8, 2011

Please Fool Me

I was driving through the flats when I saw a hand made sign saying Vote Here, so I turned around and went back.

I don't think they call it the flats here, but that's what it's called in many places, or the bottoms. It's the built-up low land along a river that in times past would have flooded during the rainy season, which left it perfectly flat. It's the flood plain of the Rio Grande and here it encompasses the downtown and the older neighborhoods surrounding downtown, and north and south along the river, and it will all be swept away when climate change brings the big rains and the river swells and pours over the little levees that keep it from flooding now, when Mother Nature horrifically levels of the playing field in her final rebuke of the hypocritical human God.

Jail, Fort Stockton, Texas

The voting place, which a sign said was the city of Albuquerque's record storage facility, was a complex of old, big, tin-sided garages that reminded me of a place in Texarkana, Texas, way out on New Boston Road, where I bought a well-used 1968 Oldsmobile. That Olds would run and it was that classic GM A body of the late 60s, and it was a two door, but I bought it because on each front fender well, behind the tire, was a big decal of a leaping black panther. That's what I did in those days. The car ran great for about three days until the transmission went out during a trip to Little Rock, rather, the fluid all drained out and I realized I had a transmission with a bad front seal. People used to put saw dust in them so they wouldn't leak for a few days.

I went in to vote, thinking it was the primary election, my long-awaited chance to vote against the incumbents who have gone along with President Obama, excitedly, stealthily selling us down the river to big finance, going behind our backs to hand the big Social Security Trust Fund over to their masters on Wall Street and to privatize that program and Medicare, in keeping with the Neoliberal economic philosophy that is the consensus in Washington.

But it was not the primaries. It was a local city election for lots of bond issues, held now, presumably, because no one would show up to vote except people who approve of them, least not the tea baggers who will be out in force when it's a real election and who will be locked and loaded and looking for bond issues to destroy.

I will not vote for any incumbent who has gone along with Barak Obama's destruction of the American working class, and as for his recent populist sounding rhetoric, that's election year talk, only, and Michael Hudson, a frequent contributor to the influential online newsletter Counterpunch, lays out pretty well, I think, what the president is up to with this newly rediscovered Populist, campaign mode voice.

And as I say, you can be sure that this fake populism will disappear as soon as the ballots are all counted in November of next year, just like it did last time.


As I parked, the knocking sound my engine has been making drew the attention of two campaign workers who were outside getting a breath of cool, rain cleansed air, and when I was finished voting I checked the oil. It wasn't showing on the cip stick.

Damn! I thought, and the image of the Jiffy Lube where I had had it changed several Saturdays ago came to mind.

I normally avoid those quick lube places and do my own lube jobs, but have on occasion resorted to them when time was short and because of the importance of an oil change. I'm putting in at least 70 hours every week now and have not been able to do much outside of work, eat and sleep.

I've had oil covered mechanics at these places get into my pristine, like new 1990 Chevy pickup with it's like new velour interior, and of course you have to endure their sales pitch, the predictable attempt to sell you a new serpentine belt and all kinds of other expensive extra things. This is a relatively recent Capitalist idea called upselling, in which they try to get every penny they can possibly get from you while you're there, return sales be damned.

That 90 Chevy now sits in a storage shed, and I've been driving this 1993 Ford pickup that I bought from Federico Garcia in Laredo, Texas, in the summer of 2007 when I quit an over the road truck driving job and turned my semi tractor in there at the terminal the company had in Laredo. Turning your truck in at a terminal when you quit, and not abandoning it somewhere, is something you always want to do because a company called DAC, which the big trucking companies all subscribe to, keeps a record on you now and keeps track track of things like abandoning a truck, quitting while under a load, failed drug tests and so forth, and other companies will not hire you because of it.

Flatonia, Texas - Flatonia is my all time favorite place name

When you live on the road in the truck it usually gets filled up with all kinds of road living stuff, electronic paraphernalia like your last three CB radios, radar detectors, 12 volt coolers and microwave ovens, TVs and VCRs and DVDs and so on, and in my case a six week supply of clothes, and sometimes a driver will drive home and abandoned the truck there.

Officers quarters, Fort Stockton
But when you quit on the road, you are faced with the dilemma of all that stuff. You can abandon most of it, which I have done, or you can box it all up and pay to ship it home, which I have not done, or you can rent a U-Haul, which I have not done but which would take care of the stuff and also get you home; you have to buy yourself a bus or plane ticket anyway, or try to hitchhike.

You can also work out the time and place of your quitting so that the stuff is not a problem, which I usually do, but this time, I came up with a scheme to buy an old pickup truck, which I needed anyway, and just drive myself and my stuff home, stopping along the way at places I'd always wanted to see but could not for one or another reason, either because of the semi or time constraints, like the old frontier fort said to have been manned by newly freed slaves, those so-called Buffalo Soldiers, at Fort Stockton, Texas, where, by the way, a truck stop called Commanche Springs has a restaurant that makes the best huevos rancheros I know of, and which I was looking forward to enjoying one more time.

1993 Ford F-150 and stuff

On my way to the terminal at Laredo I checked into a motel, put all my stuff in the room, turned the truck in and started looking for a pickup. As it happened, just down the corner was one sitting for sale.

I called the number on the sign and Federico Garcia walked over from his house nearby. He turned out to be one those characters you remember. He never worked, or rather never had a real job, but had a nice big two-story brick house on a cul de sac and a big family, and just knew how to make money. Buying and selling cars, he said, doing some importing and exporting, as Laredo is a big port of entry and people who know customs law and the ways of things in Mexico are always in demand. At times, he said, he had even sold tacos from a cooler out of his car.

So I had a good time getting to know Federico Garcia, who almost rode to Houston with me the next day, and gave him what he wanted for his pickup, $2,500, and have had dependable, useful and economic transportation, considering the total I have expended, ever since, until now.

 I remembered the guy at Jiffy Lube rattling off a list of things they had done for my Basic Oil Change price, and I think he said they had put recycled oil in it, and I remember thinking at the time that as long as it was SAE oil it might be OK. But they should have asked before doing something like that, or if that was part of the Basic Oil Change deal they should have said so.

Apparently, whatever they put in there, and it could have been Canola oil they got on sale at Sam's Club, had evaporated out. I carry a couple gallons of Rotella with me and filled it up and it has been OK since, but now it's using oil whereas before it did not, although if I can rouse myself some weekend and go out in the desert and change the oil and filter, perhaps it will not, but I'm not counting on it. The Capitalist bastards at Jiffy Lube corporate headquarters just got me on that one. Fool me once, fool me twice.

And I'll probably vote for Barak Obama again, too.

Buffalo soldiers spent free time in their barracks looking at a picture of Lincoln


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