Advanced technology. Satellite communications. Detailed technical manuals. Onboard computers.
And this was a truck.
A new, powerful, deisel pickup, to be exact, with two Navy veterans in the cab. All the modern world had to offer was at our fingertips. Our temperature was getting monitored. Our position was getting monitored. Our gages were getting monitored. And our gas tank was gettingâ€¦empty!
Before the tank went completely dry we found an exit and stopped outside a little town called Hammett. Then everything went quiet.
We were about to flip for who walked the mile into town when Earl drove by. Earl was a local farmer and veteran, about 70 years old. He wore dusty old suspenders and a dusty old hat.
“Need some help?” “Sure! Can you take me into town for some gas?”
“No problem. You got ether? It always worked on my tractor.”
Ether? We ainâ€™t got no ether. We donâ€™t need no stinkin’ ether.
This was a state-of-the-art deisel truck, old man. Plus, the manual told us never to use ether – it’s too dangerous. Plus, we had an onboard communications system. Plus, we had the dealerâ€™s number and two cellphones. Ether was for dinosaurs.
Earl just nodded, and said, â€œHop in.â€ When they returned, we poured in about a gallon of deisel, and we were ready to rock and roll.
The manual told us to push a button under the hood to prime the engine. We couldnâ€™t find it.
No problem. Call the onboard communications hotline. We were instantly in touch with a technician in Indonesia named something like Budi (translation: the wise one)). He called up the truck schematics and â€¦ couldnâ€™t find the button.
No problem. Call the dealer. The dealer explained where the button was, and I pushed it. Nothing. I pushed again. Nothing. The dealer said we needed more gas.
By now we had Indonesia on the onboard phone, the dealer on a cellphone, an operating manual on the seat, detailed schematics on a computer, and me standing by the button. NETWARCOM would be envious.
More gas. More pushing. Nothing.
Suggestions came fast and furious. More experts were called in. Signals were bouncing off satellites like balls at a Chinese ping pong tournament. My thumb was getting numb.
Earl suggested ether. It always worked on his tractor.
Enough of the ether, already! We’ve seen tractors. We know tractors. This, sir, is no tractor. With a defiant turn of the key, my buddy tried again, and … nothing.
“Keep pushing the #$&@! button!” My buddy turned the key, and suddenly, like a bolt of lightening, Earl appeared from out of nowhere and sprayed a burst of ether into the intake manifold.
It started right up.
Everything got quiet. The only sounds were the engine and Budi, asking if he could assist us with anything else. In the flick of an aerosol can, Earl had suddenly become Yoda in a ballcap. All we could do was stare at him in wonder and shame.
We learned some valuable lessons that day. Use technology, but trust experience. Listen when wise people speak.
But the most valuable lesson I learned was: Don’t run out of gas. And if you do, pray it’s not a deisel.