Do Not Stop On Roadway! Do Not Pick up Hitchhikers! These and other warning signs decorated the side of a secluded stretch of highway that I used to drive regularly. The road passed within a few hundred yards of a maximum-security prison.
In the past, inmates had been known to escape and then con, or force, some poor unsuspecting motorist out of their car. In many cases, the fugitives are desperate men with no qualms about carjacking or killing someone if it means a way of escape. I drove a semi truck through the area, which came with an added risk. Not only would the truck provide transportation, there also exists the potential of a huge payoff - depending on what load was being hauled in the trailer. While a lot of goods can be quickly turned into cash, other items are not so easily gotten rid of. For example: a load of cereal is worth $100,000 or so, but it’s no simple chore to liquidate 18,000 boxes of Cap’n Crunch. On the other hand, a load of electronics would be considered hitting the jackpot. The good news is, they have no way of knowing what a truck is hauling - or they aren’t supposed to anyway. It’s all a gamble, the luck of the draw. But I didn’t like the prospect of a highway robbery at the hands of escaped convicts who were hoping to strike it rich.
Back to my story. The numerous signs were erected to warn travelers of the dangers of stopping. Danger Zone - Keep Moving! Caution - No Parking at any time! And there were many more. Clearly, officials were quite convinced that portion of road was not at all safe. And so, it made the perfect place to break down. (Typed with the most sarcasm my fingers could muster).
And break down I did. It wasn’t anything major. I just needed to reconnect a couple of loose wires. All in all, I spent no more than five minutes on the side of the road and probably could have cut that time in half - if I hadn’t been keeping a wary eye on each and every approaching vehicle while listening and watching; constantly checking the surrounding terrain of tall grass to make sure no orange-clad bodies materialized.
Obviously, I made it back on my way with no ill effects. And I bet you’re wondering just what I was hauling. Okay, you probably weren’t - but you are now! So, what was the load? Well, not much really. Just six small pallets in fact. Except these particular six pallets held 45,000 lbs. of pure silver!
I think that load would have been considered striking the mother lode!