Bus-ted 2: Popcorny

We shimmied and shuddered to a slow halt.

After I was sure that the brakes that didn’t seem to be slowing fast enough for my liking, actually proved to work (weakly but did the trick,) I wide-eyed eyeballed Jeff who was inexplicably grinning like a proud papa who’d found a cherry life-saver at the end of the roll.

I might have screeched a little in frustration before indelicately inquiring, “What the hell is wrong with your bus?!”

“What?” he regarded me quizzically.

“What?!” my voice rose a notch.

“Huh?” Jeff countered, completely puzzled.

I threw out my arms, explosively. “How could you NOT NOTICE I was practically POPCORN?”

Jeff guffawed, took a look at my expression, and quieted quickly. “I thought you were just having fun, being funny…” he replied cautiously.

Then, he kinda threw caution to the wind when he p-shaw-ed his right hand in my direction.

“It’ll get better,” he advised.

“What will get better?” I asked.

“The tires…” he answered, drawing his brows further together than they naturally were. “They’re just  flat… from sitting too long.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We’re driving around on flat tires?” Then this knowledge from my father’s vault of advice that actually stuck with me jumped out of my mouth. “You’re not supposed to drive around on flat tires!”

“Nooo,” Jeff shook his head, and flapped his hands. “The tires aren’t flat. They’re just flat on the bottom… from sitting too long. They’ll round-out once they warm up, though….”

I just stared at him while my non-race-bus brain was sorting it all out. He was very much suppressing a smile I knew wanted to break loose. The height of my eyebrows must have discouraged him. To his immense credit, Jeff pulled himself together and didn’t laugh at me.

Annunciating like an elementary school teacher who just realized the entire class didn’t speak his language, he emphasized with exaggerated patience. “That’s… what… we’re doing… out here….making… the tires… go … round…”

I remained silent, so, he, continued, dramatically. Drawing circles in the air with his index finger, Jeff pointedly punctuated his next words: “Rounding. The. Tires.”

“You could have told me,” I pouted.

“I DID tell you!” Jeff defended.

“Well, that didn’t explain, anything.” I harrumphed. “I thought you meant ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round.'”

He couldn’t help it then, he reared back his head and roared with laughter. “Just wait ‘til I tell the guys…”

Jeff slapped his knee a few times, and swiveled fully back into the driver’s seat.  He punched the gas, and popped the clutch.

As we began to roll, Jeff shifted his chin in my direction, and shouted, “Hold on, Popcorn!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 31 anything you say in jest jakorte

Bus-ted

I didn’t fully understand the situation. I knew we’d be ‘camping’ on a bus and grilling and watching races.

I didn’t know the bus would “go-in” on a Wednesday or Thursday. I didn’t know the bus would require a pre-race day running to see if it would start and stay started.

I didn’t know a test drive was required to determine if the bus would continue to run once out on the road. To see if it would keep running while driven, and if not, to fix whatever seemed to be wrong. And lastly, as Jeff put it, “to make sure the wheels on the bus go round.”

The first two were accomplished without me, which was fine. The last one, made me laugh thinking of that old school bus song. Historically, Jeff had been a great tour guide, so I was looking forward to getting a first ride around the local back streets.

We climbed in the remarkably less stinky bus. Jeff cranked the key hard to started the engine. It coughed a little, but then chugged to life with a roar. I didn’t remember school busses ever being that loud, but, then again, a lot of the usual interior was missing. Plus, as it turned out, it was a bit of muffler, too.

I sat on the side bench, next to the door, in view of Jeff, and happily settled in. It took a while to get out of the driveway, which seemed a little more rutty to me than usual.  Seatbelt-less, I slid off my seat little when Jeff turned the corner onto Roger’s Highway. I grabbed hold of the bench, slightly embarrassed and sat myself back into the seat.

He didn’t seem to notice my floundering, but I watching him wrangle the shifting and the wheel and the spring-loaded driver’s seat.  I grew concerned. Driving that thing was taking tremendous effort and a good deal of his strength. I was remembering a skinny, hippie bus driver I had once, and didn’t recall him having that much trouble controlling the bus.

Having crested atop a slight hill, the stuttering beast picked-up speed on the flat-away. I was launched into jumping bean mode. Catapulted; repetitively airborne. Landing with ungraceful “oomph”s.

Honestly, I was flopping around, bounced off of and back into my seat with no chance of steadying. There was no point in trying to speak. Having ridden up many long rises on wooden roller coasters where it was fashionable to create warbled screams for fun, I intuitively knew I’d be incoherent.

It’d be like shouting into a fan, while riding a bike downhill on a dirt road. I would have had to catch my breath, first, anyway. The way this experience was going didn’t seem like it’d lend itself to that likelihood, anytime soon.  

About three minutes into our excursion, I finally got the chance, when Jeff necessarily downshifted at stop sign.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 07 24 the wheels on the bus jakorte

 

Racing Heart

Before Jeff, my knowledge of stock car racing could fit in the palm of my hand.  And, that’s only because I’d had my first NASCAR experience at Michigan International Speedway, two weeks prior. Before that, my race knowledge would have fit on my pinky nail – with room to spare.

I was working for a company with a Pepsi connection who’d come up with tickets and pit passes for a Saturday race. I went with a coworker who was super excited, and went on and on about not ever having been in the pits.

Skeptical me wasn’t sure I’d enjoy wandering around garages or watching cars go in circles. It was actually pretty exciting to be so close to the pit boxes and watch the cars squeal in for service. I was blown away. First by the size of the crowd, second by the heat, third by the cars in the pit and lastly by the sheer volume of media present.

After a few hours, I came away with a dusting of sunburn, fine dirt dust everywhere, the smell of hot tar in my nose, hot feet, a little bit of a hearing issue, a lanyard and a hat. The lanyard and the hat went to Jeff on our second weekend. He was my first exposure to the rabidity (in a good way) of die-hard, racing- hearted NASCAR fans.

In Jeff’s case, any potentially obtainable or even absolutely unobtainable NASCAR thing, warranted a wide-eyed, lip-pouting, hand splayed, verbal ooo-intake-of-air exclamation of …. something undefinable, truly. He’d look like a puppy eyeing a brand new ball. , and it always made me laugh. As goofy as he looked each time, I’m sure I looked even goofier always grinning like I’d never seen anything so adorable on a grown man.

Unfortunately, months later, my gifted lanyard resulted in an additional, tacked-on violation, along with a no-belt violation and a reckless driving ticket. All on the same  traffic stop for ‘cutting off’ a state trooper, being unbelted and having my NASCAR lanyard ‘obstruction’ hanging from his rear-view mirror.

When Jeff matter-of-factly informed me I hadn’t “seen nothin’, yet,” he also pretty positively asserted I’d be going with him to the next set of races.

Since he was also nodding at me emphatically, as if it was already a done deal, I shrugged and said, “Sure, I’ll go.”

Quote for the Week:

 

2018 07 03 Speaking from experience sports dont make sense jakorte