Memorial Day weekend, 1990

2010-05-27 Leave a comment

1990-05-27 was a Sunday. It was Memorial Day weekend, so I only worked six hours that day. That was the way holiday weekends were conducted on the Commlink project at Martin Marietta. The rest of the team was almost certainly in there, too.

Despite having a million things to do, it’s hard to imagine that I minded the unpaid overtime much that particular weekend. In just twelve days, I would be heading out for a three month leave of absence and a road trip around the entire contiguous United States. Would the job, my first out of college, still be there when I got back? That was highly uncertain. Was I about to burst with excitement? That was unquestionable.

My imagination framed it as a cross between Kerouac’s “On the Road”, Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley”, and Least Heat Moon’s “Blue Highways”. In other words, the ideal American summer. Me, a road atlas, and my silver 1986 Dodge Charger.

One of the more exciting chores was the construction of a bed in the back of the Charger. The bed was a monstrous wooden contraption that would flip up over the folded-down rear and passenger seats in order to level up a sleeping space just long enough to accommodate 6′ 1″. It included a crudely crafted beehive of storage cubbyholes and shelves behind the driver’s side. Everything I would need for three months had to fit in that small space. That project had been ramping up for a few weeks in whatever hours our ridiculous work schedule left unfilled. It was starting to take shape by Memorial Day weekend, and I was doing a reasonable job of retaining all of my fingers despite a healthy dose of ineptitude with power tools.

Little did I know it at the time, but the wooden monstronsity and the Charger had only 25 days to live.

Not to spoil the suspense, but the ski pole hatch prop was destined to survive…

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