Sunday, February 6, 2011

SUNDAY RERUN: Bob & The Logging Truck

Peterbilt, by Haystack Studio

It's time for a Sunday Favorite! Do you have one? Join the party over at Chari's! Just click on the button in my left sidebar, and you'll be taken to her blog, and the instructions for joining in.

I wrote this entry in March of 2003:

This happened in October of 1999, and for some inexplicable I reason didn't write about it at the time, in my handwritten journal. I wrote all around it. I have drafts of letters I wrote to editors, and questions I wrote to myself that I needed answers to, but never wrote down what actually happened. About time I did it, I think.

RC spent nearly three months working to fix up his mom's two houses after she'd moved into a retirement center, scraping and painting, re-roofing the older house and garage, putting everything in order so they'd be good rentals for her.

Her houses were on the corner of a T-shaped intersection leading, sort of, to a big warehouse. At each corner leading to that intersection were signs stating in eight different ways and locations that trucks were not to use the street, and telling truck drivers what route they should us. It was, and is, a residential street where you would often see children playing. We weren't aware until RC's stay out there how frequently the signs were just ignored, and huge semi's would lumber through the little neighborhood.

After a few weeks, and mounting frustration with the noise, and the danger of having these behemoths roar through, RC began making some noise of his own. To the police. To the city. To the business they almost all went to. Everybody talked a good line. Nobody, absolutely nobody, did anything about it.

Finally, as RC worked in the kitchen of the littler house, he heard yet another truck turn down the block. Frustrated beyond measure, he did the only thing he could think of: He ran out into the street and stood there. Just stood, as a fully loaded logging truck advanced, looming above him. He told me later he didn't even stand as high as the top of its radiator.

The truck driver leaned out the window and yelled at him. What was he doing?

"You aren't supposed to be on this street!" RC yelled back.

"I know," said the driver.

"Then why are you here?" asked RC.

"I didn't see the sign until after I'd turned."

"Well, I'm not letting you by."

RC had figured the trucker would use his radio or cell phone to call the police, and they'd come out, but he thought they'd ticket the driver when they got there. Nope. The cop had a friendly conversation with the trucker and sent him on his way, but hand-cuffed RC, arrested him, and put him in the patrol car and hauled him off to jail. Here's a sixty-five-year-old man who has never been in trouble with the law in his life, and who is acting to protect his mother's neighborhood, and he gets arrested!

At the cop shop they made him take off his shoes and socks and put him in a holding cell. He told me the toilet in it was stopped up and full of shit, and the place reeked so bad he nearly vomited, but he refused to be cowed. After a while, when it seemed he was going to be there a while, he just started singing! "She was in the flowery garden when first I saw my dear...." He said he sang at the top of his lungs, and when an officer finally came to let him out, he didn't stop singing until he'd finished the verse. Still makes me chuckle to think of it.

He was arraigned on charges of Disorderly Conduct, a Class something-or-other misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

We fought it. Oh, we fought it. There were letters to the editor. Two TV stations came out and actually filmed trucks coming down the street, and interviewed RC. We retained a lawyer, naturally, and he cost us over $1,000. All because several truckers a day broke the law, (at least three city ordinances were violated each time), and no one would do anything about it.

In the end, the judge said he wasn't going to fine or imprison RC, but he found him guilty. Guilty. What a farce. Guilty of creating a disturbance, and interfering with traffic!

With all that publicity, the City Council finally agreed to put up another sign! Like the ninth one was going to do any more good than the first eight! And it hasn't. Four years later the trucks are still looming over the little children playing on the sidewalks, and occasionally riding their bikes or running in the street. They can't even be seen over the hoods of the monster vehicles.

We did get one laugh. The Oregonian, in their big issue summing up the year of 1999, listed RC's stance in front of the logging truck as "Best Tiananmen Square Re-enactment"!


Steve Finnell said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Chari at Happy To Design said...

Mornin' my friend...

So happy to see you for the Sunday Favorite repost party this week! Wow...what a story! I just can't believe that they took your husband to jail and filed charges against him instead of ticketing the truck driver! That's just crazy! I'm still wondering why the law refuses to enforce their ordinance of "no trucks" on that street??? Just crazy! Thanks for sharing Bob's story with us today for the repost party, my friend! I hope that my note is finding you well!

Have a wonderful week...
Chari @Happy To Design

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