It was somewhere in the neighborhood of noon, and I was following Paul’s lead in the painfully lethargic truck. We did not want to run the risk of being separated again, you know, with the truck being such an incredibly reliable source of transportation and all. Thanks Dad for the oldest truck on your lot!
We trickled our way back down through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, and as we neared the Florida State line, I was overcome with a deep sense of accomplishment and perseverance. Even with the knowledge that there was still an incredibly long way to go once you actually arrived in Florida, we both started waving out the windows to each other in relief and excitement when we saw that beautiful sign with the oranges on it:
“Welcome to Florida, The Sunshine State.”
I was still following Paul in the truck, and as we joyously drove across the state line, honking and waving like idiots, I saw the red and blue lights closing in behind me.
In a moment of paranoia and clarity that only a stoner can understand, I started trying to inconspicuously hide all of my pot and paraphernalia. But the sirens whizzed directly past me, along side Paul in the truck and started demanding him off of the highway.
What the fuck? He certainly wasn’t speeding, that was mechanically impossible in that big boxy refrigerated piece of shit.
I proceeded to pull over behind Paul and the cops. In order to do this, I had to battle every single cell in my pot smoking anti establishment head that told me to flee.
They told Paul to step out of the truck, license and registration, the whole 9. He asked why he was being pulled over?
The cop told him he was being pulled over because not only did he drive a commercial vehicle past the required weigh station, but he also then proceeded to drive his refrigerated truck right past the mandatory Agricultural Inspection Station.
He asked Paul where he came from and what he was hauling. Paul being Paul tried to be a comedian, making light of the situation and sharing some key points of our adventure. The cop was not very receptive to Paul’s stories, and asked him, why if it was a moving truck, did it have a refrigeration system?
He then asked Paul to open the truck for inspection.
We all walked around to the back of the truck, unlocked the doors and swung them wide open. We had nothing to hide!
But surprise! The very first thing that the cop saw, sitting right there, was our bong. A nice big 21” TM. I nearly shit my pants and I threw up a little in my mouth.
I had forgotten that when we had originally left the truck and say goodbye to Paul The Stepfather, that I had crawled in and unpacked the bong (necessity) and planned on bringing it in the car. Paul told me that was a stupid idea and to put it back in the truck. I had set it right there, easily accessible, because I had every intention of going back and getting it anyway when he wasn’t looking. But I was too stoned and forgot.
Well look where my smarts got me now. Paul and I just looked at each other, stunned. The cop continued to peer deeper into the truck with his flashlight. When he was finished his inspection, he just looked at the bong, looked at us, shut the doors, shook his head and told us that we were free to go.
Fortunately we weren’t worth the hassle. My best guess was that upon weighing his options, two broke hippies and a bong didn’t trump the possibility of missing a bust on a real live citrus plant smuggler. Thank God, that was the only bit of good luck we’ve had on this trip, besides the $60 I made at Albertsons. What a buzz kill.
Now we had another fish to fry, which was to find a Shell Station because we were dangerously low on gas. We made it to the only one we knew of, back in good old Ocala. I filled up my car, but much to our dismay they did not sell the diesel fuel that the demanding piece of shit truck required, and there was not another Shell for about 100 miles.
This was a major fucking problem. We asked where we could find any gas station that sold diesel, and he directed us to a large truck stop that was fortunately only 5 miles away. We seriously coasted in there on fumes.
It was about 9pm, and we had a single twenty-dollar bill to our names. With any luck that would be enough fuel to get us the rest of the way home. Paul was to pump exactly $20 into the truck and we would be on our way and could still make it in tonight.
I got a key from the attendant behind the glass and went to use the bathroom. The key had half of a broomstick attached to it, in case I had the mind to steal it.
I splashed some water on my face, returned the broomstick, and headed back to the truck. As soon as I saw Paul, even from a distance, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.
I saw him move in and out from under the beam of flickering fluorescent light, as if he were an actor on stage. Pacing back and forth like a wild animal, he would pause occasionally to squat, grab at his hair and curse loudly, then return to pacing, then repeat.
I apprehensively approached him, as not to provoke this already agitated creature. I looked around trying to determine the source of his current angst. And I found it.
“Are you fucking KIDDING ME??!!!” What the FUCK PAUL!!!
Whilst I was in the bathroom, Einstein decided he would run inside real quick to ask how much farther is was to Sarasota. Then, like a child who gets easily distracted when he sees something shiny, he spaced the fact altogether that he was responsible for pumping the gas, along with the fact that we only had $20 to our names.
By the time he remembered and raced back to the pump, the damage had been done. I was staring at the big glowing digitized orange numbers that read “$68.00”
It was nervous breakdown city and I was the Mayor. Paul was now the honorary Commissioner. This was a fucking nightmare.
I’m screaming at him, he’s screaming at me, and we are cursing like truck drivers (which is ironically appropriate) and people are starting to gather and stare. It’s quite the little show we’re putting on.
In a rage of profanity, I stormed off to smoke a cigarette and try to figure out what the fuck we were going to do. Paul went inside and was trying to negotiate god-knows-what with the attendant. To no avail, his bottom line was this; The truck doesn’t leave the lot until he gets paid, otherwise he calls the cops.
I scrounged a few quarters from under the seat of my car and desperately tried to call my Father. It was 10pm on a Thursday night, there was no answer and I used all of my change leaving desperate messages and leaving the phone number of the pay phone.
I sat in my fury, which was punctuated by the fact that I was now out of cigarettes, and waited.
About an hour and a half later, it rang.
I blurted out the whole entire story and swore this was not a ploy to get pot money. He took pity on me, perhaps because the truck he’d given us was such a fucking nightmare to begin with, and called the attendant and paid for our gas on his credit card.
So now it’s midnight, we are pissed off at each other and exhausted, and we still have close to 3 hours of driving left. Did I mention that I was having a nervous breakdown? I took our $20 and bought a pack of smokes, we got into our respective vehicles and got back on the highway.
After an hour on the road I simply could not drive anymore, my eyes were playing tricks on me and I was dangerously sleepy. I drove up alongside the truck and yelled to Paul to pull over.
I told him we had to stop, there was no way I could drive anymore.
He told me we only had about an hour and a half left to go.
I told him I didn’t care if we had 10 minutes to go, I couldn’t keep my eyes open.
He told me we could sleep in the truck or the car.
I told him he could sleep in the truck or the car but that I was finding a motel.
He reminded me that we didn’t have any money.
I reminded him that we had $17.
With that we drove a few miles and located a super creepy cheap motel. It cost $30 a night. We had no money, but fortunately I still had my checkbook.
I wrote a check for the room, and as I drifted off to sleep, I wondered if the fact that I had closed out that bank account really mattered.