Back to Work: A Stranger in a Strange Land

Editors Note: Ok so this work thing sucks. Not the job itself mind you, that’s been great. Great people, great environment, great schedule. The greatness of it is great. No, it’s my inability to sit down and write stuff.  I have stuff, a lot of stuff. I’m still trying to get myself on a good schedule here at home so I can post that stuff on a regular basis. Hang with me gang, I’m working on it. Speaking of work, enjoy my tale of travel to a far off land called West Texas.


Back to Work: A Stranger in a Strange Land

West Texas man. You gotta want it. You gotta want it real bad. As a friend who lives out yonder way said to me, “It’s West Texas my brother, home of the rugged, get yourself a gun and go hunt something.”

He’s not kidding. These folks are rugged. How rugged? Well I got there on Sunday and it was 80 degrees. Monday the hail was so thick you couldn’t see. By Monday night a mile wide tornado, that’s 1 mile across people, passed us in Amarillo and hit a small town called Pampa.

How you doin?

How you doin?

The tornado, an F4 I think,  sent several houses on the edge of Pampa into the stratosphere and it leveled the entire Haliburton plant. Human casualties – 0. As in zero, none, nada, zilch. No deaths at all. These people know how to do tornadoes. The next day it was 34 degrees and snowing. Not kidding. It snowed all day. No one batted an eye. By Wednesday the sun reappeared but we had straight line winds in excess of 40 miles an hour. Still no one flinched. Except me. I left at 5am the next day, it was calm and warming. What in the actual hell?

Are the people of West Texas rugged? I’d say so. Crazy? Probably. I mean they’re crazy by default right? Why would you willingly live in a place that limits your ability to golf unless you were “a little touched in the head?” But the weather is only part of the fun in West Texas. Driving in the Panhandle is a life experience all it’s own.

Somewhere over the rainbow on old RT66.

Somewhere over the rainbow on old RT66.

The phrase you can see for miles and miles and miles is not just a catchy song lyric. In the Panhandle it’s the God’s honest truth. In the day time it’s pretty cool. The pic on the left is me unwisely and probably illegally taking a picture as I drive down old RT 66 back to my hotel. My speed here is moderately fast. Which is to say I was haulin the mail. Hey when in Rome…

But the fun really starts when it’s dark. My trips to the work destination were early morning, like 5am. That’s actually 4am for you eastern standard time kids. So it’s freaking dark. Look at that picture again. Imagine it with no visible horizon, no lighting, no landmarks to separate the ground from the sky. Now, pretend for a second you can see the dash in the that pic. It would read about 75mph.

That would be about 15mph slower than every other freaking car on that road at 5 o’clock in the AM. How do I know that? Well, on the first day driving in they all passed me, that’s how. It took me two days of driving into that void to get my bearing. On the third day I felt comfortable enough to let the smoke out of the engine of that Mazda 3 rental they gave me. Aside from being a little rocket on wheels, the M3 was like a smart car. As it turns out it was smarter than me. And thank god for that.

Tiring of spending $11.50 American on an egg & cheese croissant from the hotel lobby I decide on the third day I would stop at one of the numerous truck stops on I-40. Apparently I was getting too cocky. This little smart car came with a giant key and key fob. But it was a push button start, so other than unlocking it, the keys were useless. I got in the bad habit of dropping them in the console after engine start.

As I’m walking back to my little rocket on four wheels with about 3800 calories of morning goodness, (that’s a #3 with a diet coke and extra hash brown from the golden arches), I realize the friggen keys are snug as a bug in the console of the rental car I just locked. For reasons I can’t go into, I was not able to carry my cell phone for most of the trip. So guess what the keys were resting on?

Yeah so I’m in the middle of no where, I know no one, and that wouldn’t matter cause I have no way to contact anyone. I have sustenance and shelter in the form of the McDonald’s, but if I want help I’ll need to engage a stranger. Not exactly my strong suit. In desperation I keep walking toward the car. It did make a strange beep when I shut the door on my way into heart attack alley, so maybe, just maybe…

HA HAH! VICTORY! The smart car is smarter than the driver. It won’t lock with the keys in it and no one in the seat. Must be a weight sensor or some such thing in the driver seat. I don’t care because I’m eating, I’m mobile again, I won’t be late, and more importantly I need not the help of strange people. That’s just a straight up win for everybody involved. I mean there is a good chance I’d still be wandering around out there in the middle of God’s country, having long exhausted my #3 with diet coke if not for the smartness of the key fob.

Of course, it’s West Texas. I could have just picked up one of the random guns lying about and hunted something.



This entry was posted in Diaries.

4 comments on “Back to Work: A Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. Mike Heenan says:

    Yeh, no thanks. I’m better off not messing with Tejas. Funny stuff, man!

  2. Francis- another gem! I have traveled in West Texas too; the land of the hearty. You have a gift my friend and share it with us as the new job and life allow. Stay strong!

  3. That is a cool feature for the car!
    That weather sounds awful! Uggh – how do they handle that?

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