Pickup Tales

Now then… a new escapade that, while vastly different than that of last week, came to the same wonderful ending. I left the county courthouse early yesterday afternoon following my discharge from the jury pool during the voir dire process. The case was for a defendant charged with DWI, commingled with three other misdemeanor offenses that we gather hinged upon the belief that the police should have kept the breathalyzer sample for retesting by the defense – good luck on that silly thought!  After the jury pool had been underway for 15 minutes, the line-leader (juror #1) announced that he remembered that he wasn’t a county resident hence he was ineligible to sit on the jury. So we started over after a 15 minute delay while a replacement was located. Eventually I was able to reply to the solicitor’s questions of me with the facts that I had lived in Fayette County for 16+ years, had military service as an infantryman, pilot and recruiter and that my wife was indeed Lana Carr, the personal chef and after a short pause – for effect – that I was sorry, I had no recollection of ever meeting him at a Kiwanis lunch with her. He then moved on to potential juror #5.

I later replied to the defense attorney’s follow-up questions indicating that I:  1) had performed military service, 2) had been a summary-court officer, and 3) had no hometown by virtue of a being an Army brat. To that last answer he seemed puzzled. Recall the puzzled expression on the young woman I mentioned last week? The lawyer’s expression was different; his puzzlement was tinged with irritation. “So you lived everywhere,” was his response to the hometown question and to which I said, yes, while ignoring his sarcasm. “Where else did you live?” was his next question. Realizing he might be testing my veracity, I began the litany of the 15 other locations in no particular order starting with Korea, Virginia, Germany…at which point he interrupted me. “Where else have you lived in your adult life (his emphasis)?” I looked at his tie and wondered where he got it and his snotty attitude (my emphasis). Was he still trying to nail down a mythical hometown or was he really interested in all my worldly travels – as an adult. Was he thinking it wasn’t possible that I had lived as an adult in the three places mentioned, or did he think I was too young to have actually traveled as an adult before taking up residence in Fayette County the aforementioned 16+ years ago? He must have telepathically picked up on my thought process and my irritation with his, ah, line of questioning. He might have seen a bit of Irish in my eyes or the twitch in my cheek as it fought to curl up in a snarl; whatever he saw, it caused him to leave my briefly enumerated travels so he could move on to the two additional, pressing questions that I was permitted to answer in full. “You said you were in Army Aviation?”  Yes. Although I noted to myself that wasn’t exactly how the information was provided to the solicitor – this lawyer knew something about the Army – notwithstanding his reaction to my no-hometown (you can play Bruce Springsteen here – his politics aside).  And his final question before moving on to potential juror #5 was “What rank did you obtain?” I answered that question with equal brevity and accuracy. [Lana later researched this guy online to learn he had been National Guard JAG which I could have assumed!]

Getting back to the escapade – as I indicated above, I was headed home from that exhilarating (enlightening?) exchange with the defense attorney when I elected to run thru the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lane and to grab my long past-due lunch. From there I headed home with a smile on my face thinking that I would have to share part of the chicken sandwich and fries with my beer buddies, Bud and Miller.  While on the homeward leg, I fell in behind a pickup truck that was traveling smartly down the road to Peachtree City with its load. Five miles farther down the road as I pondering who knows what I was snatched back to reality and into a desperate attempt to avoid the queen mattress that suddenly launched itself from the bed of the truck and was arching overhead looking for a place to land on the roadway – or atop my almost auction-perfect  ‘87 300ZX. My options were limited:  give up on the slammed-on-brakes solution as an SUV approached me from behind and ride over the mattress, try the uneven grass on the right side of the road or steer erratically into the woods and claim a total loss.  I opted for the grass and managed to rattle past the mattress on my left as it slid to a stop on the roadbed. I was safely off the road; but the vehicles behind me were having an interesting time with their fewer options!

After I snatched the mattress off the roadbed and behind the 300ZX, traffic began flowing normally again so I turned my attention to the mattress owner who had finally pulled off the road about 100-yards ahead and was examining the shortened load. Not wanting to assume anything and specifically that driver had noticed an item was missing, I gave a loud two-fingered-whistle. The driver looked back abruptly, saw me pointing to the mattress and gave me thumbs up! A welcome sign – I did have a lunch waiting and didn’t want to dally! Shortly thereafter the driver climbed back into the cab and conducted a nifty 3-point turn and soon was pulling in behind my 300ZX. From the cab a concerned, young, pretty woman dropped to the ground and asked if I was OK! My, I thought, that was an unexpected concern! What about that mattress? Bless her heart. I assured her I was fine. She admitted to be in less fine shape; her heart was pounding in her [ample] chest – although I did not verify same.

Together we placed the mattress back atop the box-springs that fortunately had remained in the truck and contemplated how to better secure the load than the mattress shop had done.  All the while we carried on a rambling conversation; she and her husband had recently moved to Peachtree City from Alabama which accounted for the non-Georgia license plate. She had purchased the mattress set at Haverty’s in Fayetteville, the manager of which sat two seats away from me on the jury panel. [I’ll see him again Thursday morning for another jury panel selection and discuss customer safety!] She wanted to know where the peach trees were in Peachtree City and I said there weren’t any – it was an Eastern pilot’s idea of a joke 50 years ago. I asked if she always threw things at her new neighbors and she paused – until she caught the twinkle in my eye – not the Irish. And she liked the local schools.

With the load finally secured I asked if she would like me to follow her home. Without hesitation she nodded her head in agreement, adding that she would drive slowly and carefully. Once we pulled our vehicles back onto southbound Redwine Road it didn’t take long to stack up (no pun intended) 19 cars and trucks behind us as she proceeded at 25 mph in a 45 mph zone. Fortunately for half of the vehicles behind us, she turned right a mile farther on.  That load didn’t budge an inch! At her home she easily backed the rig into the driveway and accepted my offer to help unload the bed from the truck at which point she observed  that Haverty’s had shorted her the rails necessary to put the bed together – a fitting end to a hectic morning for her. With my assistance complete, I turned to leave at which point she asked if she could compensate me.  (Don’t you readers get any wild ideas! Although – that does remind me of an in-bed-favor-offer by Vassar girls during their anti-Vietnam War protestations back in my Un-College days!) No, I replied, her smiling thank-you was quite enough. But it wasn’t good enough for her; just like last week I got a grateful hug from a young, pretty woman. Life is great!