8/1/99: Motel 6, Santa Nella

by Calendar Hacksaw

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Zanutto:

I'm sorry this is so late, what with your deadline and all, but ol' Calendar's had a lot on his mind around here lately, and frankly I don't think I'm going to be able to do a column this month.

By way of explanation, let me relate this little story:

A long, long time ago, when I was trying to grow up in San Bernardino, one of the first jobs I had was running a service station for a couple of weeks located on the southeast corner of 9th Street and Tippecanoe Avenue while the real "manager" was on vacation.

Managing a service station didn't amount to much back then. Junk food hadn't been invented, and since there was no Super Lotto, we were reduced to selling counterfeit Irish Sweepstakes tickets and cans of Bardahl additive.

Oh, sure, we had one of those long measuring sticks that we stuck down in the underground tank everyday, and we recorded the meter readings off the pumps before closing time, but that was about it, as I recall.

Anyway, here's how I found the job. I lived nearby, and gassed up my De Soto there as often as I needed it, so I got to know the old man who managed the place pretty well. Jake was an old Southern fella, and he was the only employee, so it didn't matter day of the week you stopped in, he was always there, from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

The guy who owned this fillin' station had a whole stable of 'em. He was a fat guy with a big cigar and drove a gas-guzzlin' Sonofabitch on wheels. He'd drop by for about five minutes every week, clean out the safe, then race off to the next station.

So, what happened was this: Jake decided he needed a vacation, since he'd never had one in his life. Mustering up all his courage one day, he asked the fat guy if he could take some time off. The big man huffed and puffed on his cigar, growled and swallowed hard, then responded by asking, "Okay, Jake, what weekend do you want?"

The manager shuffled his feet, scratched his head, looked back at him and replied, "Well, Boss, any weekend you think I can drive my family from here to Missouri and back!"

I guess the owner had a soft spot, cuz he gave the fella two weeks off, providing he could find someone to fill in while he was gone, and that's how I ended up bein' a "manager" in the gasoline business. In fact, I still list it on my resume, along with all my other jobs ranging from Fiat Test Driver to A&W Root Beer Mixer/lavatory cleaner.

Well, I sure got off the topic there, didn't I? I'm sorry. It's just that I haven't had a vacation since 1994, and now I have an opportunity to do a little travellin' during the month of August, and would like to skip this month's column in hopes that I'll come up with some subject matter by next month. To tell the truth, I'm still plum wore out from that Team Penning deal; the doc says I need more rest, fewer fluids, and meaner women.

So, in memory of Jake, and to make a long story short, I'd like to take a vacation for the "weekend" of August, and return sometime in September.

I hope that while I'm gone you won't be tempted to sell my space to some other columnist.

I don't want you to think that I'm leavin' you hangin' out to dry. On the contrary, if the Fence Post decides to publish a Special Edition while I'm on the road, you should be able to find me without too much trouble. There's a bordello up in Anderson that owes me a few credits, plus a refund of sorts, so I imagine I'll be hangin' out there for awhile. Betty's flyin' up to join me, and there won't be any hanky-panky this trip, if that's what you're worried about.

I imagine that if time permits, you might find me over at Rio Vista trying to catch a sturgeon, or maybe up at Whiskeytown Reservoir watching the eagles. Of course, it's highly likely that I could be camped at Patrick's Point north of Trinidad, enjoying fine dining at the Samoa Cookhouse. But I also hear the primal roar of the bears tearing up the dump at Happy Camp, and the artichoke harvest over at Castroville. On second thought, I might just chuck it all and board a boat taxi at Saddlebag Lake and then hike over to Lundy Canyon. The possibilities are endless, just as they should be.

Besides, I think my being gone for a month or so is a good idea. It'll give Supervisor Perez and his County gang ample time to fix the damned road, like they said they would.



Calendar Hacksaw vacations at http://www.calendarhacksaw.com, and he'd like to take a well-deserved nap in a certain peach orchard along the banks of the Merced River, if no one has any strenuous objections, thank you very much!

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