Monday, November 12, 2007

Second Hand Smoke

Autumn is full of smells and sounds that spark the memories of a geezer, and any one of them can come up and be gone in less time than it takes to describe the recollection.

This was exactly the case when that truck locked up its brakes stopping at Preston and the Beltway feeder the other morning. Sitting at the light, I was enveloped in the white smoke that came off his tires. A familiar, frightening smell. But I like it. But it scares me. Mostly. Partly.

Perhaps it's just coupled with the crescendo of the squall that indicates lost traction on dry pavement multiplied by eight giant tires. The fenders acted as megaphones projecting the sound forward to the intersection where I sat perpendicular to the direction of the truck.

The volume and particular frequency elicit a fear response that is likely hard-wired in people. Like the sound of a great beast bellowing its disapproval for some puny human activity such as breathing.

This particular truck was bearing down on the light that I was waiting for to turn green. He finally decided (thankfully) that he couldn’t make the stale yellow light. The inconsequential car in next lane was stopping too, but didn’t have the inertia of 100,000 pounds behind him.

I became aware of all the action when I heard the brakes first lock. Faint and then building to the panic-inducing volume quick enough to let you know that you could be in trouble. By the time I actually turned my head, the smoke was beginning to pour off of the tires and I watched as he slid for about fifty feet to a stop. JUST behind the line. As the smoke swirled past the cab, the other cars and eventually my vehicle, the driver wore an expression of mild boredom. Happens every day. For all I know, it may happen at every intersection with this driver.

The acrid smoke filled my car (I had been driving with the windows down to enjoy the cool fall air) and reminded me all at once of every dump truck and tanker in Texas City when I worked during the summers of my college years. Looking back, there were a LOT of trucks locking up their brakes in that town in the late 1970s! And while I cannot count or remember specific incidents, I do know that I relived them all in just a few moments.

So don’t ever let anyone tell you that second hand smoke can’t kill you. It all depends on what is smoking, I guess. A small shot of adrenaline is always better than a cup of coffee to wake you up at the start of the day.


AggieDes said...

Nice. I was wondering when you were gonna post a new one. hahaha :)

the photoSmith said...

"A small shot of adrenaline is always better than a cup of coffee to wake you up at the start of the day." surely you're not referring to Dunn Bros Coffee...

I love nostalgic smells, whether it's a good or bad recollection it always amazes me that a simple smell can spark such a vivid recollection. Speaking of second hand smoke, now that all the bars/restaurants in Houston are smoke free I just want to go and sit at a bar and see what it's like to not be hacking up a lung the whole time I'm there!!

Stepsistah said...

After that I think I would want a shot of something in my coffee to go with the adrenaline (sp ?). Reminds me of explaining to someone just today...what a hot toddy was...I think that she was on her way home to try it out.

Roy W said...

But did you inhale - that's the real question Mr. President.

la femme geezzette said...

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Takes me back to the day I looked out the window of the district office and couldn't see across the parking lot for the smoke from the industries. I thought it was Apocalypse Now!

Amie said...

Can't smell as good as gunsmoke in the morning ... that's the only kind of second hand smoke I want to smell. :p