I apologize for any misspellings, but K.C. seems to be in a good mood, which for a cat appears to mean that she sticks her claws in my skin and hangs from my neck. This makes typing problematic.
And speaking of personal problems, I shamefully admit to having always loved truck stops. The real ones, with 50 different big rigs lined up perfectly out back and friendly waitresses older than your mother who call you “Honey”. That kind. My favorite until this week was the one outside of Winters on the way to Redding…what is the name of that? I of course can’t remember, but for years I had their coffee cup, featuring a buxomy old gal pouring coffee while bowing from the waist…I’m sure you get the mental picture. I remember clearly many greasy, juicy french-dip sandwiches and the smoke-filled exit lined with game machines and pay phones and exhausted looking guys dragging beer bellies and chains of keys like metallic bunches of bananas…all very cool.
However….all other truck stops, including that one, are now in second place, having been easily surpassed by the TTT in Southern Tucson.
The TTT is a truck-stop’s truck stop. It sits across a broken-glass-and-scrub-cactus lot from the SRRVP (Skid Row RV Park) where we sometimes stay and I always see at least three, maybe four rows of big rigs, each row at least 30 machines long. Plus the parking lot out front is filled with locals’ cars as everyone seems to be eating there, sometimes several times a day from what we can tell.
Being in love sometimes means you lose objectivity, but there are a few things about the TTT that are so obviously hot that I’m sure you’ll be emailing me your envious remarks about how I get to enjoy them and you don’t. And who, I might ask, will blame you? Anyway, in no particular order, some favorite TTT experiences are:
1. You’re standing at the urinal when you realize that the machine above your head is selling fluorescent condoms, three for a dollar.
2. You’re washing your hands when the two guys that were standing on either side of you at the urinals leave the room without washing theirs.
3. The short, broad-shouldered trucker twosome walking by holding hands are each wearing T-shirts that say “Go Fast on Route 69”. One of them also has on her front the additional words “And I’ll drive.” She is, by far, the tougher looking of the two.
4. The ragged-looking heavy-set woman screaming at her kid at the top of her large lungs immediately follows by asking the head cashier if the TTT is taking applications…and gets one, bless her heart.
5. Salads, entrees, desserts, whatever…they appear almost instantly, are the size of snowshovels, and taste delicious. Your meal will probably be interrupted, however, by the paging system announcing that there is “no waiting in the barber shop.”
6. When asked her favorite dessert on the menu, our waitress recommends the Brownie Bomber, which she says gives her a sugar rush “like when I was a kid and ate every stick of my Halloween candy and puked all over the kitchen.”
7. I don’t like fat-shaming yet you can’t escape that there’s a fair bit of fatness here. You could pick any 3 of the ten guys sitting around the horseshoe-shaped counter and those three would push 800 pounds. Across from us six folks (four men and two women) have somehow squeezed into one booth and the booth is sagging towards the center aisle. They’ll be lucky if they make it through dinner without a disaster. Even when we finish our own Brownie Bomber, we’ll both still feel skinny in comparison.
8. Two of these guys in the booth have every square inch of visible skin tattooed, including the backs of their hands and their ankles as far up as I can see. My fav so far is the tat depicting a large swarm of bats spraying out of a cave; they start somewhere below his collar and fly up his neck towards his ears. (Much as I love tats, you have to ask yourself two questions about that guy. One is “what in hell was he thinking?”, and the other is “how did he sit still that long?”) The other guy also has elaborate silver and turquoise bracelets as big as Idaho potatoes on both wrists. I’m way amazed he can even lift a fork with all that on his wrists but he sure can, by gosh.
9. The retail offerings could occupy me longer than a Costco. The truck accessories section of the service store alone includes “bull balls key rings” in six different un-bull-like shades of molded lucite, just $2.99 each. Like the condoms, these are all flourescent.
It sells 12 different CB radio setups. It sells racks of CB accessories. One of the setups is guaranteed to reach Iceland.
This isn’t a Brownie Bomber. That would be six times this size.
It sells 28 different styles of truck lug nuts, from simple chrome to flashing lights. I’m considering which of these lug nuts to put on our coach. I’m leaning to something simple yet elegant, but I’m not sure if the wiring to the chrome rims will support intermittent flashing lights. (I’ll make some calls and report back on this one.) Of course Irene might have something to say about what we stick on the new rig and HER TTT favorite is the chrome triple air horns that would surely give other drivers around you a thrill as you blast those babies! There are three choices of horns, each bigger and more expensive than the last. Hard to make a decision between flashing-light lug nuts and horns that would blow the chrome off a trailer hitch. Maybe we’ll buy both.
10. The large gift shop only sells racks of Valentine-oriented cards and gifts interspersed with racks of cigarettes and shelves of chewing tobacco. Whatever room is left is seemingly devoted to bizarre little ceramic figurines of deer and princesses, items supporting the troops and misc. American flag paraphenalia. I don’t like the figurines much but the troop stuff is awesome and both of us hang there too long.
11. There’s a sign indicating the massage clinic, (whatever that really is), is upstairs about the entrance reception desk.
12. You can send a FedEx, buy stamps for postcards, receive money via Western Union, make a call from a charge-card pay phone at every other booth in the restaurant, access the internet for a dollar a minute, play video games and buy decals that say “born to raise hell” in eight languages, wash your clothes, take a shower and sleep.
The message board can easily occupy an hour. A couple of years back we learned that you could even sign up to drive your rig in a movie to be made that summer about truckers convoying on Washington to protest rising diesel taxes. We didn’t see it this time on the notice board but we did spot a flier with little tear-off phone numbers offering to give away a matched pair of Great Danes to any trucker who would give them a worthy home. They both liked to travel and provided excellent protection against break-ins. I’ll bet that’s true but can’t verify details as all ten of the phone-number tags had been taken.
Excepting the washing clothes, showering and sleeping parts, all these services are offered in a space about 10′ X 20′.
At the TTT, all of these wonders co-exist with service bays to wash and wax your 18-wheeler and with acres of diesel pumps…you know, all the other stuff you might normally expect to find at a truck stop. I don’t know…maybe if God sends me back for a little further refining, He’ll let me be a trucker with a route that includes South Tucson and the TTT.