A Clean Sweep

Another raucous Friday night. Was good to catch up with the old high school posse, the Yorktown Crazies having been apart for a year at college.  While late, the night was young for us. We decided to walk over to Kenny’s, who had a pool and whose parents always had a stocked liquor cabinet. Besides, no one was in any shape to drive… a car.

We had at least another mile to walk as we came upon numerous pieces of construction equipment in an empty lot at the intersection. “Let’s take the steamroller!” someone yelled.  We climbed on the various pieces of equipment, but the idea seemed to fizzle when it became obvious that these machines (shocker) required ignition keys just like cars.  Sitting in an excavator, I served up the idea of hot wiring it. Helen loved the idea and came back with the dip stick when I said I need something metal to cross the ignition terminals. Too dark, too much work, and this vehicle would be way to slow.

Ahhhh! I noticed the ignition key on the street sweeper was mangled like someone had been regularly starting it with a screw driver. I put my Toyota pickup truck key in and turned it. Everyone converged as the machine roared to life… the little flapper clanging on top of the smoke stack. Kenny was standing behind the seat as I found a gear and dumped the clutch, making our way out onto Military Road.

With all the throttle I could give ‘er, we weren’t making but 10 MPH. We had to do better. I’m not going to jail at 10 MPH!  We found a mystery gear lever and suddenly we were ROLLING! I could hear Arthur running behind us – his shoes hitting the street as he finally gave up.

Kenny and I rolled on, familiarizing ourselves with the lights and rotating brushes. “Git ‘em, Mike!” Kenny said in my ear as we encountered a string of 5-7 metal trash cans. The machine all but consumed them, spewing sparks, flattened metal cans and trash out the back.  “Sh*t! That was noisy!” I said to Kenny.  We hung a left onto a residential street to make our way back.  One yard had a nice neat row of about a dozen boxwood bushes along the curb. I steered the Sweeper up, straddling the curb and took ‘em out – a clean sweep! Whump, whump, whump, whump one by one the machine clipped them off and consumed them… branches and debris spreading out back.

We passed the Crazies making our way back. Kenny jumped off and Suess jumped on. I showed him to the controls and insisted we put the machine back where we found it before we go to jail.  Almost back to the intersection, Suess turned down the entrance ramp for the 4 lane. “Oh sh*t!” I thought about jumping off but it was going way to fast.  I rationalized to myself that I wasn’t driving so therefore I was innocent.

Suess worked the sticks and steered the vehicle onto a grassy tree lined median and attempted a very steep grade. The machine stalled and ground to a halt. On the second attempt, he threw the mystery gear lever and was back in business. Suess pushed over a few sapling and a consumed a several large bushes. Whoa… Suess was making this rig do things I had no idea it could do!

We made our way back up the ramp and parked the tired Sweeper where we found it, in disbelief that we weren’t already in the back of a squad car.

Helen reported seeing several construction guys pulling branches out of the Sweeper while driving by the following day.

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