Where the Rubber Meets the Road
A Memoirby Abraham Brennan
The truck, a ’95 GMC diesel Topkick, is a cargo vehicle, like a Ryder without the color scheme. It’s been modified somewhat from its original commercial purpose. Cargo, in our case, includes people, musical gear, a minifridge, five egos, clothing, blankets, various books, bottles filled with piss (human), a bench press, and weights. The truck is white, twenty-five feet long, and twelve-feet-ten inches tall. It has ten wheels, six bunks, two fuel tanks, a cargo area, one generator mounted beneath the bed in a welded metal frame, and one AC unit atop the bed box that supplies both hot and cold air to the sleeping compartment. The generator powers the AC. When the air conditioner malfunctions in the summer, you can’t sleep past 9:00 a.m. When it malfunctions in the winter, you have to sleep in your clothes. When the generator runs out of gas—which happens often, since refueling is necessary every eight to ten hours and laziness or circumstances can prevent this—either of the above conditions can occur. The generator runs on unleaded fuel, so we keep a twenty-five-gallon container of gas in back with the gear. The Hindenburgian possibilities are not lost on us. For months at a time, we call this rolling death trap home.
The truck is compartmentalized, like a submarine. You gain entry through the cab or the upward sliding cargo door that acts as the back end wall of the bed box. The cab seats two people. It’s high off the ground, you have to step onto the black metal fuel tanks to get in, so when you’re riding or driving, you’re looking down on the world, down into most vehicles, at the laps of the drivers. There’s an unspoken hierarchy on the highways, and in the city that has nothing to do with class—it’s about size. Unless you’re in a bus or a bigger truck, if we’re coming over, you’re getting out of the way. The onus is on you, because you care about your car and your life.