In my late teens I drove a Chevy lift truck for an office machine company in Georgia.
I know of only one time when I didn’t know exactly what was going on at the back end of that truck—or at least I’m hoping that’s the case.
After delivering and helping to set up a copy machine with some of our techs, I hit the road for a short drive back to the office where I mostly rebuilt liquid toner tanks for old Savin copy machines. My hands stayed dirty most of the day, but I liked the work and I was good at it.
Driving the lift truck was one of my other duties and on this particular day life on the road got really interesting.
As I was making my way back to the office on a late, sunny afternoon some of the folks passing me would honk and wave. That’s when I knew I had been pranked. Duped. Punked. But I didn’t know exactly how.
The techs I worked with were practical jokers. We had one in particular who was a master prankster and it just so happens that he was among that group of techs that I had just left a few minutes before. And with every passing honk, giggle, thumbs up and weird stare I knew I had he had done something to the back of the truck. But what? That was the part that was killing me.
Few people that I knew had cell phones in the late 80s, so it wasn’t like I could call this guy to grill him over his latest masterpiece and threaten him with merciless payback. I was just poking along in rush hour traffic and now more eager than ever to get back to the shop.
I didn’t want to pull over because I was so close to work. Maybe two miles or so. But for those two miles I was putting on a pretty good show judging by the reactions.
As I pulled into the shop, any sanctuary I was hoping for was gone. More people smoked back then and it was that time of day when guys would gather around the loading dock for a final cigarette. I was a little chimney back then and I would have much rather been out there on that dock puffing away than sitting in that truck.
Anyway, I had already envisioned a plan for revenge and now I just had to see this guy’s handiwork.
I flew out of that truck and headed for the back where I was greeted by an arm sticking straight up between the lift gate and the rear door. It was a cleanly dressed arm—a white sleeve stopped at a hand that stuck straight up in the air as if hailing a cab or placing a bid. It was one of the most memorable pranks I’ve seen. Even the boss laughed. It was a good arm. Somewhere some mannequin was looking like Venus de Milo thanks to our top prankster. Carrot Top would’ve been proud.
So my revenge… It came later at the Christmas party. I gifted the master prankster with something I can’t mention. Something, again, that made the boss laugh and upped the ante for the next hand—er, uh, round.
What got me thinking about all this was a video I saw today. It was a kid hitching a ride on the back of a box truck in Fresno, Calif. that reached speeds of up to 50mph. A woman riding behind caught the action on video which, in turn, caught the attention of police.
Of course, this is no prank. This is just plain stupid. When the truck came to a stop at a busy intersection, the kid finally jumped off with his back pack in tow and apparently headed to a nearby school. It was like he was riding the trolley. No big deal.
What really caught my attention was the fact that I didn’t notice anyone honking or trying to wave down this driver to tell him about the hitchhiker on the back of his truck. Maybe they’re all used to this kid’s routine?
“Oh, it’s that kid again. Isn’t that somethin’? Who says you can’t get a free ride?”
Or maybe they’re too busy texting, talking on the phone and listening to the radio? It is the morning commute after all when most of us are still nursing a cup of coffee, mulling over plans for the day and—at least in my case—riding along with a car full of kids.
Still, I would’ve tried to flag this guy down. My kids would’ve been freaking out and insisting that I do something all the while recording the event on their phones.
Maybe people are just too immune to that kind of stuff? Maybe nothing really shocks anymore? Worse yet, maybe the truck driver knows the kid and is cool with it. I really doubt that though. Anyway, it’s good that at least the police are aware of this halfwit hitchhiker and will be stepping up patrols around the school in the hopes of catching him before he falls off and really makes some news.