by Dorothy Ainsworth
I'm a short, rather top-heavy brunette, building a stout vertical-log cabin, solo, on waitress earnings. Being an economically-challenged opportunist, I scrounge and recycle materials whenever I can.
Bessie, my ancient Ford pickup, is my best friend even though I've abused her unmercifully over the years. We've careened home down the mountain, front-end floating, with a total of 480 10-inch 8-foot logs, 12 at a time, for my various vertical-log structures. (In the 90's, you could get a USFS permit to cut and carry lodgepole pine for 3 cents a lineal foot.) We've been through a lot together, Bessie and I, without incident, until the incident.
A friend gave me fifty l6-foot pallets, just to take them away and clean out his shed. They were built with beautiful straight 2"x4"s I could use for my inner wall furring and roof grid (to hold rigid foam insulation on top of the exposed-beam ceiling). I was drooling with greed.
I proceeded to haul a couple of loads of pallets a day in the standard-bed pickup, sneaking by the troll (log truck weigh master) at the bottom of the road. He seemed too busy to notice the naturally camouflaged rust and oxidized-green truck. And of course my red flag was dancing in the breeze, well——dragging an inch off the road.
On my last load, almost home free, I was turning at the dreaded intersection, nervously humming "The Rock Island Line": "I fooled you, I fooled you, I've got pig iron, pig iron," when Billy Goat Gruff let out a bellow that made even half-ton Bessie tuck her exhaust pipe between her wheels!
He waved me over. I groaned to a stop and hopped out to meet him halfway, all smiley and bouncy...and guilty. It was a scorching summer day; I was casually underdressed in my work clothes...a tiny stretch top and faded blue jeans. He was short, rotund, and uniformed in bright orange like a giant pumpkin with a badge.
To avoid eye contact and remain professionally aloof, he ludicrously focused right on my chest and barked, "Ma'am, you have excessive overhang! I've never seen such excessive overhang!" I thought to myself, "Yeah, and your waistline looks like the equator," but I attempted levity: "Only at high noon, sir. It's an optical illusion!"
That did it! He wrote me up with the expressionless eyes of a coroner.
So much for saving a buck on lumber. And so much for using my feminine wiles to wheedle my way.