Mark is transporting a load of high-end farm tractors to P.E.I. and has a major breakdown at the junction of Hwys. 400 and 401. He gets off the highway and pulls onto a side street, only to have Mother Load unable to move. A mobile mechanic can’t get him going and a tow’s not available until the next morning. He’s forced to spend the night in a rough part of the city.
In the evening Mark is contacted by a Toronto Police officer wanting him to move. The convenience store owner comes to Mark’s rescue, telling the officer Mark was making a delivery to his store. Later that night, a bunch of thugs try to steal what’s in Mark’s trailer, but go away when they realize they can’t get rid of his cargo in the city…
It was almost an hour before Mark was calm enough to get a few hours sleep. It was obvious he was in a bad neighborhood and a loaded truck was a prime target, but as the night moved along it seemed the worst had passed. But as sunlight broke through his windshield, there was another knock at the door. Mark hoped it was the tow truck driver but instead it was the owner of the variety store…and he had a cup of coffee in his hand.
“Morning,” Mark said, rolling down his window.
“Good morning. How was your night?”
“Interesting,” was all Mark could say.
“Did you get robbed?”
“Almost. But they didn’t want my cargo.”
“I knew that. Too hard to get rid of. If you had groceries on board you would be guarding an empty truck right now.” A pause. “Here!” He handed over the coffee. “Is someone coming to get you?”
“Sometime this morning. Yes.”
“Good! Because you’re blocking my store and I want you gone.”
Mark took a sip of his coffee and nodded. “I want to be gone.”
It wasn’t until nine that morning that the tow truck arrived. The tow driver looked haggard, as if he’d been up for days.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Mark said. “I don’t know how long it would be before the cops came back.”
“Sorry man, but there was a huge pile-up on the 401. It took all of our trucks to clear it up..”
“Worst I’ve seen.”
“Anyway,” Mark said. “You’re here now.” He went on to explain what was wrong with his truck so the driver could come up with a plan. Basically, Mother Load and the trailer needed to be towed to a nearby truck yard with a shop so the trailer could sit for a day or two while Mother Load underwent repairs.
Once they agreed on a destination, and a fee, the driver hooked up Mother Load and freed her from the trailer. He’d first take Mother Load to a yard that was just a few kilometers away, then come back for the trailer. Mark hopped in and was driven to the truck yard.
Mark was happy to see the place had a well-established repair shop with a well-kept lot and a decent waiting area for customers. The driver towed Mother Load directly into a service bay and unhooked her, then pointed out to Mark the corner of the yard he would set down the trailer.
After that, Mark was talking to a mechanic who already seemed to have an idea what Mother Load’s trouble was. “Give us a day,” he said. “We’ve got a clutch on order. Once it’s delivered it shouldn’t be more than a few hours.”
“Great,” Mark said. “Is there a place nearby where I can get some breakfast?”
“No, but you can take our shop truck for a while. As long as you’re back by noon and the tank’s full of fuel when you get here.”
Mark drove around for a while before finding an all-day breakfast place. “Two number twos to go,” he said to the young girl behind the counter.
He took the breakfasts out to the shop truck, then drove to where his truck had been broken down overnight to share his morning meal with the variety store owner who had helped him out the night before.
“My friend,” the man said, truly appreciating the gesture.
Later, feeling good about things, Mark arrived back at the truck yard. Things were just as they were when he’d left, but he still felt like there was something wrong. The trailer wasn’t there. He went to the garage and inquired. “Where’s the trailer?”
“Wrecker dropped it off an hour ago,” the mechanic said, not looking up from his work. “Then another driver showed up, said he was taking the load over.”
“Did you get his name?”
“You let it get stolen from your yard in broad daylight?”
“How do I know it’s stolen? The guy looked legit.”
Mark turned away, angry that after all he’d been through the previous night the load was just driven off the lot as if it was somebody’s load. But he really had no time to be angry, there was work to be done. He began by making a phone call to the police who took his information, then seemed to lose interest about everything else.
Undeterred, Mark then called the dealer who had sold the tractors, and then the farmer who had purchased the tractors, but neither of them seemed too concerned about the theft, as long as the police had been notified. All they really wanted was to be notified when the load was recovered. Not if, but when. Mark thought that interesting and figured that there must be a diamond-studded insurance policy covering these tractors. Back at the truck yard, Mark spoke to the mechanic working on his truck, just to see if there was any information he’d missed.
“So, you didn’t see anything?”
“I told you, I was working. The guy seemed like he knew what he was doing so we let him take the trailer.”
“Just like that?”
“Look, when tractors break down, other trucks are supposed to come by and get the trailer. That’s how our business works. “
“Fair enough, but what about the driver? Was it a man?”
“Long hair? Short hair? Tall? Short?”
The mechanic paused a moment and thought about it. “Man in his 40s, average height, maybe a little taller than you. Short dark hair.”
“No, but instead of asking more questions why don’t you just look at the video?”
“There’s video?” Mark said. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
Mark hurried into the security office and spoke to the security guard.