The fourth and final part of my trek from coast to coast was anything but all downhill. I left the village in Oklahoma, and after a brief drive through the top of Texas, I had to get across New Mexico and Arizona. Easier said than done in the Ice Cream truck, because it had a governor on the engine. It could not even get up to 70mph. And the speed limit on Interstate 40 was 75mph, so I had a lot of drivers very pissed off at me. All I wanted to do was get out to my destination.
Soon after I had crossed over the California state line, my boss Riff called on my cell phone. “Hey cream puff, why have you not delivered in San Diego yet?”
“Good morning to you, Riff.”
“Answer the damn question!”
“This truck doesn’t move very fast. I am making the best time possible.”
“Well guess what, that’s not good enough for me. Now hurry up and get there so you can get the truck weighed, certified, smog check, inspection, and then registered and tagged.”
“Wait just a second, you never told me any of this.”
“Oh, didn’t I? Well I’m telling you now, little princess. You get all that done and get it delivered.”
“Where do I go to do all of that?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out. You’re a semi-resourceful guy, you figure it out.”
I spent the next few hours on my cell phone finding all the different places I’d have to go to accomplish this. It began to sound like all that extra stuff was going to take me an extra day, and I was anxious to get to Los Angeles and meet with the Producers who are interested in making A DRIVING FOOL into a TV series. But before I could go to L.A., I had to get this truck delivered. The sound system kicked in, and I began to sing at the top of my lungs “London Bridges falling down, falling down, falling down. London Bridges falling down, my fair lady!”
I also made some calls and found that after I dropped off the Ice Cream truck at a warehouse, I would have to walk a mile, then take 3 buses to get to a train that would take me to L.A. The total trip would be about 6 hours, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’d start the process first thing the next morning.
The inspections and certifications were time consuming, as expected. Yet the real nightmare was at the DMV, where I waited for 5 hours in line, then had some serious hassles getting the truck registered. I had to ask for the man in charge, and luckily he walked me through it. When I was done, I knew that I had 22 miles to drive to the warehouse that would end the trip. And it was then, in the middle of the hot afternoon, that the truck started pulling hard to the left. I pulled off the road and got out, just as LONDON BRIDGES began to play again. I examined the tires, and saw that there was a huge screw/bolt of some type sticking out of the front left tire. Great, just great. Another delay. So I called Riff to tell him.
“What did you do? What the hell did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything, the tire ran over it.”
“Oh, you think so? Couldn’t you have driven around it, Susie Q?”
“I didn’t see it.”
“You need to keep your eyes open when you’re driving. Find a Firestone or some place and get it fixed. But do it quick, dammit, and get that truck delivered!”
I found a tire store in short order, and the man who waited on me was very nice and a bit on the hefty side. He asked me questions about my job, and seemed genuinely interested. I explained that I was on a tight schedule, and about how I had to take multiple buses to get to the train. He kindly offered to pick me up at the warehouse and take me directly to the train station. Then the good news came that they wouldn’t have to replace the tire, but could actually repair the damage. This would save me time, and doubtless make Riff happy. If that’s even possible.
Once the tire was fixed, I drove to the warehouse and signed off on the paperwork. I grabbed my bags, and as I walked off LONDON BRIDGES began to play once again. It was as if the Ice Cream truck was saying goodbye to me, and all I could think was Good Riddance.
The man from the tire store soon pulled into the lot to fetch me. His name was Paul, and I was surprised when I got into the car because he was fully decked out as Elvis Presley. Older, fatter Elvis in fact. “Hop on in,” he told me. “I’m gonna take you to the train, then I’ve got an Elvis convention to get to. So I’m kinda in a hurry.” And boy, was he, for I hadn’t even closed my car door before he stomped on the gas and we were flying. He began to sing VIVA LAS VEGAS, and someone cut us off in traffic. “Ooo, did you see that? Payback, baby, payback!” Paul began chasing the offender, and I was holding tight to the Oh My God bar just above the door. Paul cut in front of the guy and slammed on his brakes.
“I guess that taught him,” I said.
“Woo! Woo!” yelled Paul, sounding like a choo choo train blowing its whistle. “The Elvis Express is on the move, and ain’t nothin’ gonna stop us now. I got a hunka hunka burning rubber! Woo! Woo!” And the ride just got wilder from there. Paul turned onto a street and the traffic was stopped, so he quickly turned right into an alleyway, and we were flying along this narrow alley at top speeds. My heart was beating about a million miles per hour, and I hoped that I’d make it to L.A. alive. Then Paul turned on his car stereo, and JAILHOUSE ROCK came on. He sang along with Elvis, and I kept on trying to hit the non-existent passenger side brakes to avoid hitting other cars. We came to another traffic backup, and he turned into a residential driveway and cut across a few yards. Even with the air conditioner pumping ice cold air into the car, I was sweating like a condemned man sitting in the electric chair. I could see the train station one block over, and then Paul came up fast on a car that slammed on the brakes. Paul hit his brakes, and we skidded to a stop one inch from the car in front of us.
“I’ll get out here, the train is over there.”
“No, we’re almost there,” he said.
“This is close enough, I appreciate the ride, hope you enjoy your Elvis party, thanks so much for everything, goodbye.” I was grabbing my bag and hopping out as I said all this, and slammed the door quickly before he could protest further. I walked one block over to the train station, and got there 2 minutes before the train arrived. I rode to L.A., and fell fast asleep on the train.
Once I arrived in the City of Angels, my friend Tim Harrigan picked me up and took me to his house to take a shower. I put on my best outfit, and then Tim drove me over to the office of the Producers. We had a very nice meeting, and they were extremely encouraging. These are true professionals, and they know their stuff. I won’t mention their names for the sake of discretion, but I can tell you that I think the world of them. Not only are they shrewd and savvy business people, but I’m proud to call them my new friends. They told me that had recruited two ladies who are experts at selling projects. And they wanted me to go meet with them that very day.
I got back into the car with Tim and asked if he could drive me over to Culver City, where these two ladies work. I told Tim all about it on the drive over, and he was fascinated. I began to get very excited, but tried to keep from getting my hopes up too high. I found that I was getting nervous about meeting them. This trip had been challenging, but it was turning into a productive and happy ending.
When I arrived at their office, I had to wait in the reception area for a bit until they were ready to see me. Then I was called into their office, and was greeted by two of the prettiest smiles I have ever seen. One look into their eyes, and I could see that these are true pros, determined women who get things done, who make things happen. They believed in me and my project. And suddenly I knew that I could not be in any better hands.