The story so far
Mark gets a call asking if he’s willing to bail Bud out of jail. He agrees to do it for a few days, because on the 10th, Bud’s brother will be back in town and will take over from Mark as Mark has a sweet load to California beginning on that day. Bud explains to Mark how he ended up in jail. Basically, his new girlfriend had been checking his phone and accusing him of having an affair. She wouldn’t let up and when he grabbed the phone out of her hand, he also grabbed her arm. She called the cops and he was charged with assault…
They were three hours on their way to Montreal on Hwy. 401 when Bud got started. He had glanced over at the speedometer several times and was looking wistfully out the window in between looks. After a while, Mark couldn’t help but notice and he knew that Bud desperately wanted to say something but was holding his tongue.
“Alright,” Mark said. “What is it?”
“Your cruising speed,” Bud said.
“What about it?”
“It’s a little fast, isn’t it?”
Mark glanced down at the speedometer and saw that he was doing his usual 110 km/h, the speed he had been driving on the 401 and every major highway for the past 10 years. “No, that’s where I cruise at.”
“You’d save fuel if you kept it to 100 km/h.”
Mark sighed, wondering if Bud was paying for the fuel on this run. “You would think that, but I’ve looked closely at all the number for years and with a full-sized box trailer and the amount of weight inside, there’s such a small difference in fuel consumption for the two speeds that it doesn’t make much difference in fuel cost.” A pause. “You’ve heard of the saying ‘time is money,’ right?”
“Of course, I have.”
“Well, if I can drive five kilometers faster all the way to Montreal without it costing me more, then I can have all that extra amount of time at the end of the run to do whatever the hell I want.”
“Okay, okay,” Bud said. “You don’t have to get so worked up about it. I was just trying to help.”
Mark smiled. “Thanks, but really Bud. “I’ve been driving for more than 25 years now, and I’ve made money in each one of those years. I’ve got it figured out. All I need you to do is keep me company. Why don’t you tell me a driving story from back in the day?”
Bud laughed a little, then said, “Did I ever tell you the one where I drove all the way to Florida with an empty trailer.”
“Yeah, I picked up the right one and all the paperwork, but they’d loaded it onto a different truck.”
And with that Bud launched into a long, animated story about taking the wrong trailer, but one that he was able to use for a great load back into Canada, and six other loads before he returned it.
“When I got back to the yard after two weeks on the road, the original load was still there. I took it to Florida and the receiver didn’t say a word about it being a week late.”
“Well, that doesn’t happen any more,” Mark said.
“It sure doesn’t.”
Mark eased up on the accelerator and began the long slow down leading up to the next truck stop on the highway.
“You low on fuel?” Bud asked.
Mark sighed. “Not yet,” he said. “But if I don’t fuel up now, I’ll have to fuel up somewhere in and around Montreal and I don’t want to stop in the city anywhere besides the truck yard I’m going to.”
“When I was driving, I used to know every fuel stop in just about every city I went to. In Montreal, there were a good half-dozen truck stops or gas stations near the yard that sold diesel way cheaper than on the highway. A couple of fill-ups and I saved enough to treat myself to a good steak dinner.”
“Those fuel stops are gone, Bud. Land values got so high that it didn’t make sense to use up so much land for selling fuel to trucks. Condos, strip malls, business parks…all of them are way more profitable that a mom and pop truck stop.”
“If you say so,” Bud said. “But I bet if you looked hard enough you could find one or two still in business.”
Mark nodded. “Well, you’re welcome to look for one…when you’re driving your own truck.”
Bud threw up his hands as if someone just pointed a gun at him. “All I’m saying is I bet you could do better than whatever they’re charging here.”
“Okay,” Mark said, hoping that was the end of it. “Fine.”
After Mark had filled up, he climbed back up behind the wheel and tossed the fuel receipt into an envelope he kept in the visor.
“That’s your filing system?” Bud asked.
“No,” Mark said, having had enough of Bud’s scrutiny. “It’s my toilet paper storage locker for when I have to go on the side of the road and I don’t have anything else to wipe with.”
Bud held his tongue for a few moments, which was fine by Mark. But eventually, Bud had to say something. “I used to record every fuel purchase in a book so I knew exactly how much I was using and how much it cost.”
“Yeah, I have a similar system,” Mark said. “It’s called my credit card receipt.”
That shut Bud up for a while and Mark was able to drive along in peace. As the kilometers fell away under Mother Load’s wheels, Mark wondered why he’d ever agreed to this. The thing he liked best about driving a truck was that he was his own boss and he could run his business however he wanted. But with Bud on board it was like he was being audited by an accounting firm that had been hired by someone who thought Mark could do much better for himself, if only…
“Your hours good for the rest of the trip?” Bud asked out of the blue.
Mark was about to say something smart and sassy, but decided against it. Instead he said, “You know, you’re right. Why don’t you take over for a while?” Mark figured if he let Bud drive it would keep him quiet…and he was right.
With nothing to critique or complain about, Bud concentrated on driving and Mark was able to relax a bit, even dozing off in his seat for a while. But it was too good to last. Eventually, they came upon the outskirts of Montreal and it was time for Mark to take over since he’d delivered to this warehouse once before and had a pretty good idea of where he was going.
But Bud had delivered to the same warehouse years before and he was convinced he knew an easier way to get there.
“But I have written instructions,” Mark said. “These are from this year, yesterday in fact, not 25 years ago.”
“You don’t trust me?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Believe me,” Bud said. “I know what I’m talking about. Turn left here.”
Mark was past the point of arguing with Bud about anything so Mark made the turn and left the rest to fate. But it didn’t take long for Bud’s direction to go wrong. Instead of a long open street leading up to the warehouse, there was now a strip mall in the way and even worse, there were ‘No Heavy Trucks’ signs all along the street.
“Now what?” Mark asked.
“Geez, I don’t know.” Bud said. “When did they build this?”
Mark ignored him, but checked the written directions he had. “Ha, would you look at that,” he said. “Where you told me to turn left, the instructions said to turn right.”
“You don’t say?”
“Yeah, I do. Now get out and help me turn this thing around.”
Eventually, they made the delivery, then went across town to pick up a return load to Toronto. But instead of the two of them spending the night in Mother Load, Mark offered to pay for a night in a motel.
“Thanks,” Bud said. But that wasn’t the end of it as Bud found things to complain about regarding the motel, their bed, noises outside in the hallway. “This isn’t that great a motel. I’ve been in a lot of bad ones…this one isn’t that bad, but for what you’re paying, I mean…free Wi-Fi is great, but who uses it?”
“Goodnight Bud,” Mark said, covering his ears with a pillow.
Bud’s bail buddy – Part 4
Mark and Bud were having breakfast early the next morning when Bud’s phone rang. It had been ringing off and on the entire trip but judging by Bud’s facial expression this call was different from all the rest.
“What’s up?” Mark asked when Bud was off the phone.
“That was my brother,” Bud said. “He says something came up and he won’t be back in town until the 11th.”
“But he was supposed to be back on the 10th.”
“I know. But something came up and he can’t be here until a day later.” Bud looked worried.
And he should.
Mark said nothing as he thought about it. He already had a terrific load that was to be picked up on the 10th and he’d already booked his stay in California so there was no way he was going to miss out. He really needed some time off.
Not another word was shared between the two until they were back in Mother Load and on the highway headed for Toronto.
“Is this change to the date my brother’s returning gonna be a problem?” There was concern in his voice.
“I don’t know,” Mark said. There were a couple of options. He could ask if he could pick up the load the next day, but he didn’t really want to do that. After all, he didn’t know if this was a just-in-time load, but even if it wasn’t, he wasn’t about to ask a shipper to change a load’s schedule to suit him. The shipper could easily just say no and give the load to someone else.
Then again, he could pick up the load on the 10th, hang around the city for an extra day to let Bud’s brother get to the courthouse. Then they could make the switch, and Mark would be on his way. Sounded all right, but that would require Mark to hustle his way across the U.S. to make up for the lost day and he was getting too old for that kind of driving.
Of course, Mark could take Bud with him to California. Driving as a team they would get there in plenty of time and they could have a few days of vacation out there before delivering the load. But that option would mean spending even more time with Bud and putting up with even more of his “Back in my day,” bull all the way across the country.
That just wasn’t an option.
Mark continued thinking about what to do, when his nose crinkled and he smelled something foul. He sniffed at the air to make sure he was smelling what he thought he was smelling.
One, two sniffs, then he turned to look at Bud.
“What?” Bud asked.
Mark glared at him, then said, “Open your damn window!”
Bud rolled down the passenger window. “I didn’t think it would smell that bad.”
“So, you think your farts don’t smell, is that it?”
“Oh, they smell,” Bud said. “They just don’t smell bad.”
Mark put a hand over his nose, then rolled down his own window, eventually sticking his head out the side to catch some fresh air. It wasn’t till a few minutes had passed that he rolled up the window again. “Don’t ever do that again!”
“So, what are we gonna do?” Bud asked as they neared the GTA.
“Do about what?” Mark said.
“About the one day my brother is going to be late. I know you’ve got a nice load to pick up the 10th and everything, but he’s not going to be here till the 11th.”
Mark nodded. “I’m still picking up the load,” he said.
Bud said nothing as he looked at Mark for several moments. Finally, he said, “And what?” A pause. “I gotta go to California with you?” Ironically, Bud said it like the trip west would be like a jail sentence to him, which is of course the way Mark looked at it for himself.
Mark took a deep breath, let out a sigh and said, “No, you’re staying here, and your brother is going to bail you out tomorrow.”
“Stay here?” Bud said, the confusion obvious on his face. “I don’t understand.”
Mark didn’t say anything to make it any clearer to Bud. Instead, he turned silently off the 401 and drove north on Hurontario Street. North of Derry Road, just south of Steeles, he turned off Hurontario and into the parking lot of Peel Regional Police’s 22 Division, which was situated directly across the street from the Davis Courthouse.
After he pulled Mother Load and the trailer to a stop at the far end of the parking lot where there was plenty of extra room, Mark turned to Bud and said, “I’m going to California, and you’re not.” He paused a moment to let it sink in, then continued. “I’m pulling the bail and you are going to spend the night at the station. Tomorrow, the police will pick you up and take you to court where your brother will bail you out.”
Bud looked speechless, but managed to say, “You can’t do this to me, Mark.”
Mark shook his head. “Yes, I can.”
Bud threw up his hands as if to ask, “What the hell?”
Mark shut down Mother Load and looked Bud in the eye. “Bud,” he said. “I love driving for you, just not with you. I agreed to be your surety until the 10th and I’ve fulfilled my part of the bargain. If you’re brother didn’t make it, that’s not on me. There’s no way I would take you to California and there’s no way I would miss out on this load. I’ve got a hotel on the beach booked for three days and you just don’t fit in with my plans.”
Bud’s face at first turned angry, then softened as if he knew there was no way he could argue with Mark’s reasoning. “Do me one favor, Mark.”
“Call me when you get back from California,” Bud said. “I should have a load ready for you by then.”
“I’ll do that.”
Mark and Bud climbed down from Mother load and together they went inside the police station.
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