Greg Note: "Tales From the Road" are some short stories that my father wrote, that I found on his computer when he passed away in 2012. I found them quite interesting and entertaining and wanted to share them here.
Tales From the Road - Tight Ass
By Bud Amy
Now, I heard this tale at the same truck stop west of Houston where I heard the story about Whitey and the dock lock. This one was about a old time trucker that was so tight with a penny that they called him Tight Wad, which was soon changed to Tight Ass. It was said that he was so tight that he kept his money up his...(you know the drill). Anyway from the story, it seems that the description was pretty close. Enough...the story...
Old TA had been a trucker for all of his life and had gone through the depression where each penny was precious...hard to come by. Money wasn't a convenience, it was life or death. There was so little of it, that it was used only when desperate measures dictated it's use. TA was known to stop on the road and check every old tire to see is it had a couple of miles left in it. Every truck stop and garage was searched for used tires that could go a few more miles. From the description of the story teller, any tire with air would be more than he had on the truck. All of the tires on the truck were not only treadless, most of them had the cords showing. So, any tire that would hold air and didn't show any cords was better than TA had on that truck and flat bed. Since this was before the days of DOT (hisssss!) he could get away with it. So he always carried at least four tires and tubes. The tubes had so many patches on 'em, that they were more patch than tubes, it was told.
When TA went on a trip, he checked every wreck and junk pile for parts for the truck. The gear box on his truck had only six gears out of ten that worked. The splitter wouldn't work on two of the gears so he made do with six and was always on the lookout for a gear box that he could put in and other parts that he could use.
When TA would stop at truck stops, drivers would walk around the truck and shake their heads. The chains he had were all sizes. Not different size chains, but each chain was several different sizes. TA could see a piece of chain on the road and in junk piles from a mile away. He'd take pieces of chain and put them together with links or a gas welder he kept and end up with 30' of chains of three or four different size links.
The hooks were home made, cut out of steel plate and the binders were throw-aways that had been repaired and welded back together. TA didn't spend a penny if he could help it, and the dimes stayed at home.
Well, the local truck stop was an old time truck stop run by a guy named Lil Buddy. His daddy, Big Buddy, had started it and when his son took over, they called him Lil Buddy. The story teller didn't know if Buddy was the family name or a nickname and didn't think many people knew. It had always been Big Buddy and Little Buddy so it didn't matter.
Well, Lil Buddy decided that he needed to make a few more dimes. Those old truck stops always worked on the ragged edge. They didn't have a line of truckers waiting to take on 200 gals of fuel, with overworked scales and big plastic restuarants with salad bars going 24 hours a day, with stores filled with shelves full of goodies, TV sets, radios, belt buckles, hats and boots. Lil Buddy carried a few light bulbs, some fuses, tire patches, radiator leak additives, oil, and a cooler box with water in it to cool soft drinks or soda pop as they were called. Anyway, he decided to put some coin boxes on the two toilet stalls so the drivers had to put in a dime to use the commode. There were a few gripes, but, like most changes in our lives soon became part of the world around us and we get use to it. But, not TA...
TA would carry a mason jar with his coffee into the truck stop and pour himself a cup out of the jar. He kept that jar somewhere under the hood or next to the exhaust to keep it warm and instead of buying a cup of coffee, he'd bring his own. TA had done that when Big Buddy ran the place and everyone was used to it. It would sometimes chap Lil Buddy to see it, but like the changes, he got use to it and lived with it.
The first time TA came in after the coin boxed on the toilet doors went in, Lil Buddy waited for TA to hit the john. When TA went into the john, Lil Buddy sat behind the counter and waited for the explosion. TA came out without a word of protest and went out the door to the gravel parking lot. In a minute or so, he came back in with a little crow bar sticking out of his back pocket and went back into the bathroom. In a while TA came back out and sat talking with a couple drivers, with the little crow bar still in his back pocket. He hadn't said a word. Lil Buddy went into the bathroom and saw that the door in one of the stalls had been pried open. He went out and raised hell with TA and TA only said, "Your daddy didn't need to do that."
So it came to be one of those things that Lil Buddy learned to live with. His daddy had put up with TA for years and, I guess, he figured he had to do the same. However, he got tired of having to repair the doors to the commodes and one day, when TA came in tand headed for the bathroom, he called him over and handed him a dime and said, "Don't fuck up my doors. I'll give you a dime to use." TA looked at the dime and went into the bathroom. When he had come out and went to his truck, Lil Buddy went into the bathroom and there was one of the doors that had been jimmied open. His reaction was, "God Dammit to hell!!" He went out the door and saw that TA had drove up to one of his pumps. He was shocked. TA had never bought a gallon of fuel in all the years he had been there and he had been there since he was a little boy. There was a truck stop down the road a few miles that sold diesel a penny a gallon cheaper than Lil Buddy did and TA bought his fuel there.
He stood there and watched TA take the hose off the pump, stick it into his tank and start to put in fuel. He called a couple of the drivers over to see this and they all watched this strange thing happening right there a the fuel pump. TA watched the pump and stopped the pump, replaced the hose and came in to pay for the fuel. He took out some money and put it on the counter and said, "Ten gallons even", and walked out to his truck. Lil Buddy picked up the money and put it in the register, then walked out to the pump after TA drove off and, sure enough, ten gallons, right on the money. Lil Buddy looked down the road, watching TA drive away, shook his head and went back inside.
So, a new change was added: TA would come in, get his dime, go into the bathroom, jimmie a door, use it, come out, walk to his truck, pull it up to the pump and put in ten gallons of fuel. Pretty soon, nobody noticed it anymore...'cept Lil Buddy. One day he stopped TA going into the bathroom with the dime and told him, "God Dammit, TA, I'm giving you a dime for the stall and you still jimmieing my God Damned doors. I'm gonna quit doing that if you keep it up!"
TA looked at him and said, "I'm gonna quit buying gas here if you do."
Lil Buddy finally realized what was happening. TA was using that dime to even out the price of the fuel. He just shook his head and walked away. Some things in this world just are, and there ain't nothing anybody can do to change it
Well, Lil Buddy decided to have a promotion to get drivers in to his truck stop. So he decided to give away a brand new tire to one of his customers that put their names in a cigar box. He had cut up some slips of paper and cut a hole in the top of a cardboard box so they could drop their names in the box. After two weeks, he put up a sign that told the drivers that there would be free coffee the next Friday and the drawing for the tire would be held. TA and the other regulars came in and the box was shook up and Darleen, the waitress pulled the lucky winner's name out the box and it was TA!
Everyone was amazed. It got kinda quiet while everyone looked out the window at TA's truck while they tried to imagine what a NEW tire on that truck would look like. It was one of those things that's kinda hard to picture and we kinda gave up trying. TA and Lil Buddy walked out to the front of the station and Lil Buddy took the chain and padlock off the shiney, black, new tire and pushed it to TA.
TA rolled the tire to his truck and leaned it up against the side of his truck and walked around his truck a couple times and just stood there. After a bit of a pause, he rolled the tire back to the station and stood it up against the wall. He looked at Lil Buddy and said, "I'll trade you this new tire for a couple used ones."
Buddy kinda looked at him with his mouth open and asked, "Why? God Dammit, Tight Ass, that tire is worth ten used ones and that truck sure does God Damn need new tires."
"Dammit, Lil Buddy, I don't need ONE tire, I need TWO. One tire won't be no good...NOW D' YOU WANNNA TRADE OR DON'T CHA?"
Well, the trade was made, TA went to the used tire rack , chose a couple, rolled them to his truck and tied them to his cab with rope and drove off. Lil Buddy just kinda stood out there with us watching through the windows. Then he came back into the place, rolled that new tire inside and set it by the door. He shut down the free coffee since the drawing was over and went behind the register shaking his head. He looked out the window and back at us and said, "Ain't that sum'pin?".
We shook our heads and said, "Yep, that's sum'pin, alright."