I would like to impart a lesson in applied hydrodynamics, or perhaps, since there was no water involved in the actual operative incident, perhaps the lesson is in scatodynamics or maybe ecretodynamics.
The Pig Truck Incident
I keep thinking there is a reason I decided to make this trip on my bike...
I keep thinking there is a reason I decided to make this trip on my bike...
Normally traveling by motorcycle is pretty enjoyable, but this trip turned into something else.
Jax to Mobile was a walk in the park. No problems. The NBA preseason game in Mobile was a no-brainer (the only kind I'm suited for). The problems started when I was on the road heading for Charleston SC. I headed out of Columbus on GA-96... the road goes east across the state, perfect for my needs... the only problem is that 1) it goes through several small towns, and 2) it is 99% 2 lane blacktop.
I had been on this road for a little while, and I stopped for gas. When I got back on the road I wound up behind a... vehicle. I'm calling it a vehicle, but it wasn't a transportation system as much as it was a Travel Experience. I couldn't tell what kind of vehicle it was before it was customized, but it started as a late model pick up truck, and of course it was one of those crime-against-nature things with 2 rear axles, and dual wheels on both sides of each axle.
This 10-wheeled monstrosity was dripping in aftermarket chrome and accessories... Sideboards, wheel panels, lights, exhaust stacks, bed rails, horns, spoilers, ground effect skirting, and all manner of customization, including a paint job that looked like Peter Max had vomited all over the hood…. The sound system must have been Dolby-THX-SurroundSound system, and from the volume that it was cranking out, the occupants must have been enjoying it by feel, since they couldn’t have had any hearing left. We were traveling 70 MPH, and through my helmet and above the road noise I could clearly hear ZZ Top playing… I think this thing must have had some kind of auxiliary cold-fusion power system to run the music. No normal system could have cranked out the juice this thing needed. Between the cost of the base machine, and all the crap that had been welded, bolted, and superglued on, this bastard must have been twenty or thirty times the value of the owner’s doublewide trailer, including the dogs living under the front porch.
This thing was really traveling too… When the opportunity presented itself, we were traveling…fast. Now, I’m not one to condone the violation of traffic laws…and will not admit to traveling at unsafe speeds…but we were clipping right along, and due to the nature of the road, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to pass this…vehicle. As I said before, it was mostly two lanes through the Georgia backwoods.
About this time I began to notice that there was Something Bad somewhere down the road in front of us. One of the things about traveling on a motorcycle is that it is an environmental experience. If it rains, you get to enjoy the rain. If it is cold, you get the exquisite pleasure of having your eyeballs freeze open. If you drive past a nice restaurant, the smells from the kitchen hit you. This is exceptionally true in the South when you drive by a fried chicken joint or a barbecue restaurant. The same holds true with driving by a landfill… you have to take the bad with the good.
The Something Bad was just one of those experiences… It was like following behind a garbage truck… the smell lingers in the air. And this smell was truly horrific. It was almost a tangible fog of foulness in the air. Shortly we topped a rise and It came into view on the road in front of us…
It was a pig truck.
Now, this wasn’t your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill, you-seen-one-you-seen-‘em-all pig truck… this was God’s Own Pig Truck. A huge slat-sided monstrosity, loaded with enough pork on the left hoof to cover Iraq an inch deep in pigfat and still have enough over to serve a plate of pork chops and collard greens to every man, woman and child in Alabama. This truck could have been classified a nuclear accident hazard, since there was enough pigs stuffed into the truck to push it to critical mass. Apparently, it is only economically feasible to move the maximum number of angry swine each time the transportation is arranged. This thing was pushing maximum density… I’m a little surprised that it didn’t just collapse on itself and create a black hole.
And the pigs…Jesus H. Christ on a skateboard…you’ve never seen such pigs. Evil mutant Georgia pigs. Huge things with oversized ears that did double duty as sonic. Giant ears venting off the heat of these critters via some kind of heat exchange by perspiration, not unlike the tongue of a dog. The beasts were fighting their receptors and cooling systems way to the outside edges of the truck to hang their ears out into the hot Georgia breeze, in an attempt to keep from going into a complete meltdown. And between this perspiration and the cloud of pigshit and mud that the wind was blowing out the back of the truck, a toxic cloud was coating both the crime-against-man-and-nature in front of me, and to somewhat a lesser extent, me. Fortunately, Bubba and Skeeter’s Traveling Mountain of Chrome and Music was taking the brunt of the offending cloud, no doubt dissolving the paint off the machine in the process. I was in the blast shadow, and intended to stay there, at least until we had passed the Pig Truck…whenever that would be.
As I had mentioned several times before, there wasn’t much opportunity to pass… the rolling hills made it a little tough, and when there was enough room and the conditions were right, then there would be someone coming the other way… Normally, in extreme conditions I’d do a kamikaze move, passing two vehicles in one fell swoop, even in a minimum of open road, but I had a feeling if I did, Bubba and Skeeter would nudge me off the shoulder for having the impudence to make such a move. Also, I was loaded down with an extra 60 or so extra pounds of gear on my bike, so I’m a little leery of performing any circus stunts in this condition.
So… here we are, enjoying a shower of pigshit and pigsweat at 60 miles per hour, in 85 degree heat on a backwoods Georgia road… It retrospect, it wasn’t too bad, considering the alternative.
The alternative was, of course, passing the pig truck …and Bubba and Skeeter had had enough of said truck raining excreta all over their Travel Experience and kept an eye out for an opportunity to pass. I was hot on their rear fender, also waiting to make a move.
Finally, a straight bit of road opened up with no oncoming traffic. Hallelujah! Bubba and Skeeter's Traveling Roadshow and Rock and Roll Experience pulled out to pass, and I followed along with them…at least for a second. As far as I can tell they wanted to alert the pilot of the pig truck that they was a-comin’ so they triggered the horn on their vehicle. Since they really wanted to get the point across, they triggered not only the primary “Hey Lola Jean, come git in the truck” horn, but also the secondary, tertiary and quaternary honking systems, an array of chrome horns bolted to the top of the truck that would be the envy of any philharmonic…. The resulting auditory assault felled trees and flattened miles of Georgia croplands in a cone-shaped swath almost 180 miles long, stretching across Georgia to Savannah and offshore several miles, causing a number ocean-going freighters to have to have their navigation systems re-calibrated. Dead whales and dolphins washed ashore on the Atlantic seaboard for several weeks afterward, and several US Navy sonarmen aboard submarines off the east coast were relieved from duty, blood streaming from their ears. The military base at Ft. Stewart was put on a heightened alert, thinking they were under some form of sonic assault.
A more personal result of this auditory blast was the effect it had upon the evil mutant pigs ensconced in the truck. The pigs were so startled by the sound that every gland, follicle, bladder and orifice immediately expelled all of its contents, resulting in and even more torrential rain of pigshit, pigpuke, pigblood, pigsweat, pigpiss, pigsemen, pigearwax and several other fluids that were unidentifiable. The cloudburst caught me full-on as I swerved out into the oncoming lane, and had the consistency of a mixture of petroleum jelly and oatmeal, and stuck to every exposed surface, including my helmet visor, (which, thank God, was closed at the time), blinding me. I was, for all intents and purposes, a shit and slime encrusted meteor, blindly flying 70 miles per hour down the Georgia countryside, with a stench that would knock a buzzard off a shitwagon.
I braked and swerved back into the right lane, and off the right side of the highway. I flipped up my visor to make sure I didn’t hit anything, and finally stopped the bike to take inventory. I was still alive, mostly … but the front of the bike, and the front of my body was totally covered in excreta and the smell was killing all the grass in a 10 foot radius, and eating the chrome off my bike. I took off my helmet and carefully get back on the road, traveling slowly so that the wind didn’t splatter the ooze into my now-unprotected face. I got off the highway at the first driveway, pulling up to some poor bastard’s home, a Georgia dirt farmer who was raising a crop of goiters and yaws to sell at the Farmer’s Market in Bugtussle Georgia on Sunday afternoons.
I rolled to a stop in his driveway and from a respectful and courteous distance asked the old man sitting on the porch if I could borrow a hose. He said yes, asking if I could stay downwind, and quit killing his lawn.
I took his hose and stripped off my sweatshirt and my jeans, throwing them into the trash, and stood there in a t-shirt and boxers hosing off my bike in this old guy’s driveway. Modesty be damned, I could have been standing in front of Mother Teresa and the Pope, I’d have asked them to scrub my back… Once I had most of the slime removed, the old guy disappeared into the house and came back with a cake of soap the size of a cigar box.
“Use this…it’ll take some of the stank off’n ya.” he said.
It was almost pure lye soap, and it stung like getting dipped in a vat of kerosene…but true to the old man’s word, it brought the stink down to a tolerable level… I sacrificed another t-shirt, using it to towel off, then got another pair of jeans out of my bag and got dressed.
The old man just stood there shaking his head…
“Young feller,” he said “If’n I was you, I wouldn’t be messin’ 'round with no more pig trucks.”
With God as my witness, if I ever see a truck filled with large-eared Georgia mutant pigs, I will ride hard and fast the other direction, even if it leads directly into the gates of Hell or an N'sync concert.
All rights reserved, Copyright 2001, Jay Young