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Tales of a Hay Hauler: ‘It’s all in the attitude’

Brad Nelson Published on 30 March 2012

“Just what are you guys up to?” were the words the officer of the law used to both introduce himself and state his business. Two loaded hay trucks were parked beside the road in a residential section of town, both aimed toward a cul-de-sac.

The third truck, also loaded and containing the owner of all three, had managed to turn around, leaving the other two where they were – directed to wait for a cell phone call with directions.

The driver asked the officer if he would prefer the truth or if he should lie to him. The officer commented that no situation is ever so bad that it cannot be made worse by lying about it.

With that, the driver stated that they were trying to avoid a state truck port of entry and did not really intend to end up where they were. The officer told them to get turned around, gave them the name of a road to drive to, turn right on it and stay on it for 10 miles. That would put them on the highway that crossed the state border without having to deal with the harassment of the station.

After a profound thank you was made, they got in the trucks and left. The only discussion they had was whether or not to call the boss and let him know what was going on. They realized it was not a good idea to leave the man that paid them lost.

Dealing with frustrations is a talent that sometimes improves with age and experience. The almost- 10-year-old grandson showed up with a remote-controlled helicopter the other day.

It was labeled “crash-proof” and what made it so was the two wire hoops that encircled it so that, unless a truck ran over it,

it would survive a novice learning to fly it. After several very short flights, he finally got it to fly up in the air. He parked it on the roof, upside down. It was on the edge of the roof, so I sent him to fetch the broom. I caught the safety cage in the bristles of the broom and got it down.

I coached him a bit, reminding him that just a tiny input on the controls made a huge change in the direction the helicopter moved. I talked him into realizing that, with practice, he would be able to make it mind.

I got him to finally crack a smile telling him of a fellow who got a radio-controlled airplane, whose oldest son thought that looked like so much fun that he went out and got himself a bigger, better, faster plane.

After a learning curve, he got good enough flying it so he could buzz his younger brothers. It was great fun. Until one brother ran beside a tree as he was moving away from the airplane that was attacking him. The tree did not move. The airplane disintegrated.

The little brothers told the owner to go get another airplane and “Do it again!” The neighbors, a mile away, heard his comment. “Ahhhhhhhhhh! That plane cost me over $200!”

In two days’ time the grandson is doing well with his helicopter. He was launching it from his sister’s hands this evening and controlling it nicely inside the house. This is good. I would hate to have to label flying a helicopter an “outside sport” such as whistling, playing football or being a dog.

One of the local officers of the law mentioned to me once that he will have made up his mind in the first 10 seconds of a traffic stop if he will be writing a ticket. “It’s all in the attitude of the individual.”

Years back, I had talked my way out of a ticket because my over-length permit had expired. This was at a small weigh station and truck inspection spot somewhere on the west side of Washington State. I also had a tiny air leak that only needed 10 seconds with a 9/16-inch wrench on a fitting to correct.

The boys in blue told me where the office was to renew the permit and that, if I left immediately, I could make it there before they closed for the day.

I was on the way to get in the truck and get out of there when the other fellow called out, “Wait a minute here! You can’t leave here because your truck is red-tagged for an air leak!”

In the time it took to fix the air leak, the office down the road had closed. With my truck now road-legal, I asked the boys in blue, “Okay, now what do we do?”

I had been pleasant with them through the whole inspection ordeal. They looked at each other and then back at me, an obviously low-dollar hay hauler 500 miles from home.

One of them finally said, “Since you did have the permit and it only expired two days ago, and since you did fix your air leak, and since you did it all without threatening us or profaning toward us, how about you go on your merry way and get that dang permit renewed tomorrow?” I told them that would work, thanked them and left immediately.

The choices of hay hauling equipment have improved over the years. Back in the 1970s, a fellow purchased a single-drop lowboy trailer. It was 42 feet long and he promptly added an extension over the rear. The tires on the rear were standard for the day, 12.00 x 15-inch lowboy tires.

This left a very small area for the brake drums. The original tractor that pulled this was a 1970 International with a 318 Detroit Diesel engine and no Jake-brake.

When this combination hauled to the coast from Idaho, the steep downgrades heated the brakes on the trailer so hot that it melted the rubber in the valve stems of the tires.

Then they took turns deflating, always at the most inconvenient times. The brake drums on this trailer were an item that most dealers did not stock.

One trip up I-5 from Portland, Oregon, north into Washington resulted in this lowboy trailer, loaded with hay being red-tagged (declared out-of-service) at the Washington scale. It would have to stay there until a cracked brake drum was replaced.

It was two days and many dollars in air freight to get the part. When the trailer owner got back on the scene to replace it, the hay bale conveyor that had been secured under the deck of the trailer was missing.

The personnel at the facility claimed no responsibility. The owner of the trailer miserably failed the good attitude test.  FG