After Grumpy retired from teaching he was looking for something to do. He thought a part-time job would fit the bill, keep him away from opening the refrigerator door every ten minutes and supplement his pension income. He was fortunate that his Good Wife’s Uncle Butch was the Plant Manager of a greenhouse operation that just happened to be within walking distance of Grumpy’s front door.
For five years, Grumpy delivered Green House Components all over Ontario. His refrain then was, “I’ve been everywhere, man” because he visited just about every nook and cranny in Southern Ontario. This back road’s driving gave the Grumps a true appreciation for the ingenuity of entrepreneurs and the stunning beauty of rural Ontario.
For the most part, Grumpy drove a five ton stake truck hauling a 20 foot trailer that was rated for a maximum load of 22 000 pounds. That’s over ten tons of steel and 50 feet of vehicle, my friends.
The last time Grumpy drove anything of that size was back in his University days when he had a job with the city of Cambridge. On occasion he was asked to drive dump trucks because he had the proverbial “CHAUFFERS LISCENSE”, meaning he could practically drive, buses, transport trucks and army tanks with no training at all.
He remembers hauling a load of gravel to a worksite in an ancient dump truck that looked as if it was purchased at a World War II surplus store. That old truck seemed to go up on two wheels every time you turned a corner. With the heavy gravel on board, Grumpy felt as if he were one of the “Hell Drivers” doing tricks. That old beast chugged along like a sedated dinosaur. Grumpy nearly soiled himself when he had to dump that load. The hydraulic lift on the “old girl” was as rusted and leaky as an old boat.
Anyway, Grumpy thought he’d tell a few tall tales regarding his adventures as a truck driving delivery man. Believe me, because of his inexperience, there were many “learning on-the-run” opportunities.
We’ll begin with Grumpys experience with those, “Doggone Dogs”.
The Doggone Dogs of Point Pelee
Grumpy had been driving truck for a few months when Uncle Butch called and said, “I got a load for you to take to Leamington”.
Now Leamington is known as the “Sun Capital” of Canada, seeing as it has the most hours of sunshine of any location in the country. You also need to know that a load to Leamington meant a load to anywhere in the vicinity of Leamington. In this case, the load was to be hauled out to the boonies, which were just at the beginning of Point Pelee itself.
“Outback Ontario”, well you guessed it! This is a three hour drive from Grumpy Villa in Pinegrove.
Now Grumpy never knew what to expect when he arrived at a delivery site. Some greenhouses were tiny mom and pop operations while others were huge complexes. In Leamington an incredible 2,014 acres are under glass.
Upon arriving at his destination, Grumpy noticed that the operation was mid-sized and that the site itself appeared to be quiet, with no one in sight – working. This is not unusual because most of the work is done within the greenhouses.
Grumpy followed his standard procedure by parking the truck, disembarking and heading to the complex’s main door. Half way there, his peripheral vision picked up flashes of black and brown, each of which came with a snarling, barking commotion that suggested it was time to walk with a purpose. The purpose Grumpy determined to be, “Not to be eaten alive by two ferocious and humongous freaking DOGS!”
Grumpy prayed that the door was not locked. This “Old School” security system employed by farmers suggested that he would be OK. Who needs locked doors when you have Cujo and his brother on watch?
With a quick twist of his wrist, the door flew open just as two sets of canines were about to rip a butt flap in his jeans. He slammed the door and threw the deadbolt into position. The rabid dogs were jumping at the door. Grumpy could see their fangs through the small rectangular window.
No matter, all Grumpy had to do was find the owner-manager and all would be well with the world.
“Hello,” he called. “Hello, is anybody here?”
The only response Grumpy got was his own words echoing back at him. The Greenhouse was as quiet as a mausoleum. The rows and rows of tomato plants appeared as dense as a tropical jungle. All he could think about was that vine like man-eating plant in, “Little Shop of Horrors”.
“Hell – ooooooooo!”
Call as he might, it soon became obvious that no one was present to assist him.
All the while, the dogs continued their frontal assault on the door.
No matter, Grumpy would use his cell phone to call the manager. Reaching into his pocket he startled and stood at attention. He had left the phone on the front seat of the truck. He also placed the dog spray his brother-in-law had given him in that exact location. The truck was about thirty feet from the door.
This is why they say, HINDSITE IS 50/50, he supposes.
Meanwhile, the vicious guard dogs continued their howling and snarling, knowing well that a pleasantly plump old guy was within reach – suitably aged, he might add, for a midday snack.
Grumpy had to reach his truck if he was to escape. Who knew how long the farmer would be gone?
Grumpy paced up and down the outer wall inside the complex, thinking. That’s when he noticed that the canines followed his every move, now jumping off the steel walls that separated them.
An ideal bloomed in his mind.
Standing at the door Grumpy calculated how long it would take him to scramble to the truck, given his restricted gait and his propensity for tripping over his own feet. (You’ve read about these pratfalls here.)
He also calculated how far along the wall the dogs would have to be for him to make his mad dash to the truck. These calculations had to be precise, you now, because we’re talking life and death.
For a test, Grumpy picked up a discarded tomato and tossed it as far as he could and hit that wall. With a smack the wall vibrated and those dogs took off like Greyhounds, seeking the source of that sound. But, not to be deterred, they soon ambled back toward the door.
At this point Grumpy felt a pumpkin-like lump welling in the pit of his stomach. Had he locked the truck doors?
And, how much farther could he throw a tomato?
Grumpy gathered himself, trying to build his courage but not at all in leaps and bounds. He thought of the worst case scenario. The headlines would read, “Elderly Truck Driver Eaten by Dogs at Glass House in Point Pelee.” No, this was not the time to get his personal 15 minutes of fame.
He had to initiate his plan.
Grabbing a particularly stout tomato he took aim on a spot far along the wall. His assailants were quiet now, sitting on their haunches, licking their chops and staring at the door. Grumpy realized that his timing needed to be impeccable!
Placing one hand on the doorknob, he launched that tomato with all his might, watching it arc through the air until it smacked against the wall.
Off went the dogs!
Off went Grumpy!
Fortunately, the direction each took was opposite to one another.
Grumpy’s legs churned like pistons but he felt as if he was moving in slow motion. Just as he reached the front of the truck the dogs turned and, knowing that they had been duped, came on the run with teeth bared and foam spewing from their mouths.
He leapt to the running board and pulled the door open just as those man eaters made a turn toward the truck.
As he slammed the door shut, Cujo and Cujo Junior jumped right up to the window, leaving messy streaks of slobber, indicating that their digestive systems were in full bore.
Nonetheless, Grumpy had made it to the truck cab, by no means by the skin of his teeth, but rather by a close encountered bite of the bulge of his butt!
Grumpy called the greenhouse manager, of course, but didn’t mention his adventure with his guard dogs. Grumpy is a sensitive guy and doesn’t need to hear his customers guffawing into the phone.
When Grumpy said, “Ya, I went into the greenhouse and realized you weren’t there, so I thought I’d better call you.”
The stunned farmer paused, and then grunted these words, “How the hell did you get past my dogs?”
Well, now he’ll know “the rest of the story” if he chooses to read this blog. Those doggone dogs nearly had Grumpy for breakfast!