Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Productive Cough

Marilyn was driving as we went hammer down through Kansas City and on to Omaha. Our home was just about 3 hours ahead. We decided to stop for a late lunch at a truck stop 45 minutes out of K.C. We had found what seemed like the last parking spot and settled into a booth. I ordered the special of sloppy joes with fries and cole slaw while Marilyn opted for a salad. We visited about whether it was smart to have stopped or if we should have kept going. Getting us home earlier would have been nice and the incessant coughing of a trucker in the booth behind Marilyn cemented our thinking that we should have kept pounding the pavement. The man alternated sucking on a cigarette with bites of food and talk with another trucker. They were both loud, opinionated, and like some drivers I've known, (yes I've done that for a living for a while) not terribly well spoken.
A waitress came to their table mid way through lunch with a full pot of fresh coffee. She had the look of a tough old bird who had been serving truckers all of her life. She was about to ask the man with the 'shipping fever' if he would like his cup topped off when he began to cough. The first few coughs expelled some smoke and part of his lunch. He then continued to cough. This was no ordinary cough. It made all the patrons in the whole area freeze. We all wanted to watch the outcome of this spell. It's the same instinct that makes one look at the bad accident on the other side of the Interstate. It really doesn't concern you but you must look. I'm also sure everyone was thinking like Marilyn and I, 'can this man survive this or will his life be snuffed out right before our eyes.' We should watch just in case they need to take testimony from eye witnesses.
I looked at Marilyn. She had her napkin over her mouth and kept it there. The look on her face told me we should probably make a run for the pickup before we also came down with the plague.
I looked at the waitress who had her head cocked to one side. She stared at the side of the mans head as he fought for his life. She was motionless for a full thirty seconds. There was nary a ripple in her coffee pot. She was obviously even more interested in the outcome than most of us in that eatery.
The man finally stopped coughing. I leaned to my left a bit so as to see around Marilyn. I could see the man had a napkin held over his mouth with his right hand, tears running down his face and a cigarette still burning in his left hand. He wiped his mouth and eyes and then noticed the expressionless, motionless waitress at his side and turned to look at her. With a firm authoritative voice she announced, "Well...Damitalltohell...winter's gone, springs on the way, and now you're gonna die!"
What goes around comes around. It was our turn to fight for air.


Lucy Stern said...

Cliff, at least you and Marilyn are home and in one piece. One of the consequences of smoking is a "smokers cough". It is so hazardeous to your health, but many people just can't give up smoking. You are right, "What goes around comes around."

I am always a little leary about stopping at truck stops for food, but I have heard that some truck stops serve really good food. When we were younger and the kids were smaller, we would stop at a certain truck stop in Santa Rosa, NM on our way to Colorado. We would fill up with gas and go in for lunch. It was a fun place to be. Now my oldest daughter has stopped there a couple of times as she has traveled to Colorado and Utah. It must have made an impression on the kids for her to do that.

Well, I am glad that you did not have to witness the demise of that trucker. Glad you are home.

Gette said...

I wanna be her when I grow up.

JunieRose2005 said...

Oh, my goodness!

For one thing- I couldn't have sat that close to someone smoking- even BEFORE he started the cough!

...and I thought smoking was not permitted in restaurants anymore- anywhere!

:) - you can tell I don't do much traveling...


Jim said...

Hey Cliff, welcome back to the Good Life!

I'll bet there wasn't any smoking in the Houston restaurants (did you get as far north as Conroe to eat) nor in the Tekamah ones (there still are TWO aren't there?).

Your post reminded me of one of my Monday night church visits. [You knew Southern Baptists are out and knocking on doors Monday nights didn't you?]
Anyway this guy invited us in. He had cancer of the mouth. We watched him smoke about six cigarettes while we were there.
HE EXALED OUT THE BIG CANCER HOLE BELOW HIS LOWER LIP, he didn't even have to open his mouth or exhale through his nose!
BTW, you didn't say Marilyn's relatives took her to our Herman Park.
Pleas blog about your trip and visits.

And, "damitalltohell...winter's gone, springs on the way, and you're not gonna die!" (for now)

Miki said...

Wow! Scary.....Cannot imagine how you got thru that lunch. But.....what a slice of Americana. You witnessed real everyday road life. You didn't say though, was the lunch good or yucky? I too have heard that many of the truck stops are great food wise, for everyday stuff. My kids would have been so happy to have sloppy joe's for lunch, it is one of their favorites, and we don't have it often, hubby isn' at all fond of it! glad that you guys are home in one piece.

Ralph said...

I might be in love with that waitress. Smart, patient, and looking forward to spring.

Rachel said...

Oh my goodness Cliff!!! That was so funny!!

I'm so glad the man didn't die, but after what the waitress said...well I'm still laughing!!

1 plus twins said...

well i wonder how long till you and marilyn come down with it. i surly hope you don't but that seems to always happen. a guy at work has been coughing for 4 weeks, last week it sounded like his whole insides were coming up. my one son came home coughing and throwing up. so who do you think has phelm and cough. yep me!!! good luck to you and marilyn not catching it!

Jamie Dawn said...

If someone would cough around me like that guy did, I'd be a skinny woman. My appetite went away just reading about it.
Just cough hitoniously and serve me mayonnaise, and I will whither away into nothing.
I'm glad you and Marilyn made it home safe and sound.
If by chance you caught some dreadful infection from that spewing trucker, please see that you are disease free by the time Blogstock '08 comes around. I want to enjoy eating at our gathering.
I do most of the driving when we are on road trips. Keith hates to drive, plus-in addition-as well, he tends to fall asleep at the wheel.

Flip Flop Momma said...

thats what ya get for stopping at a truck stop;)

smoking isnt allowed in restraunts or bars here..its nice, we dont have to hear any smokers coughs or get the lingering effects of such;)

Jerry said...

I'm always amazed that someone can cough like that, and as soon as they get a clear passageway, take another puff on a cigarette. It's like they don't see the connection.

Made for a pretty funny story though!