Trina Machacek: Pants in the middle of the road

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

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At some point in my lifetime, a movement was started to stop littering. I could look up when it started and who started it, but it really is just about learning not to litter.
You remember the saying, “Every litter bit hurts.” Genius. Maybe not as good as, “Where’s the beef!” But! Yes, a beefy “but.” When you grow up hearing someone saying “Ouch” in your head every time you go to throw something out your window, it sticks with you. That’s a good thing. Then…
I have seen many interesting and some disturbing things that have been deposited along the roads I have traveled. We have all, I imagine, seen the odd clear plastic bottle with some unknown yellow liquid in it. Who does that? And pieces and parts that have somehow flown off vehicles. Air conditioner covers from RVs and the odd cooler that has taken its kamikaze leap out of a pickup. Yes, some poor kid didn’t get hot dogs around the campfire that night.
Then the other day on a drive along highway 50, yes, the “Loneliest Road in America,” I saw a pair of pants, jeans, Levi’s, or Wranglers, not sure, but definitely denim. Just lying there in the opposite lane of travel. In a wad, well a half wad, one leg was kinda askew and pointing toward the yellow line. And since I was on the loneliest road in America, my brain started its own funny journey. Come on, it was me.
This is not the first piece of clothing that I have passed along the road. Once when I was going to town on the road from my house to town, next to the road that veers off toward the rodeo ground, someone had slipped a girl’s T-shirt over the post that marks the road. It was after a rousing night that a few teenagers had had at the rodeo grounds. We found it interesting that within just a few months of seeing that T-shirt, one of the girls was reportedly “in a family way.” So, clothing found along some roads leads to some interesting stories. Like the story I imagined of the pants I saw.
Recently, I remembered saying of a show on “Cops” that a guy was caught with something illegal in the pants he was wearing, and he reported to the officer that even though he was wearing the pants, they were not his pants. So, I got to wondering. Who loses their pants on a stretch of open road about 50 miles from anywhere on the loneliest road of America? They were not kid-sized pants. So, it wasn’t some little tyke playing and throwing them out the window, squeaking “Wheeee mommy lookie!” And the next thing the mommy knows, there goes a pair of pants. No, they were full grown-up pants. Pretty sure the guy who lost them wasn’t happily weeing about losing his pants.
I was traveling over a mountain pass, so my speed gave me a few extra ticks of time, so they didn’t seem to be too worn or trashed. It was early in the morning. Was there some nighttime antics that went awry at some point? Things do happen, you know. Was there a cowboy out there looking for his pants, so he could ride the range again? Can’t imagine riding pant-less. There have been times when I have seen a shirt hanging out a window, drying while the car was moving. But the angle of these pants, wadded up and all, did not seem to fit that scenario. I’m going with shenanigans.
Before highway 50 became the loneliest road in America, we would travel for miles and miles and never see another car. Back then, I was driving to meet someone halfway to Reno to pick up some parts. Going over a summit, I hit a rock chuck. A little critter that is bigger than a squirrel but smaller than a porcupine. Tough little thing that didn’t get squished. Just rolled around and then got up and scampered up the hill. When my car and rock chuck met, some part came off from underneath my car. I saw the part and the little rodent in my rear-view mirror. I tell you all, to get this. About three hours later, on my drive back home, the part for my car was still in the middle of the road. I stopped, picked up the plastic, looked around for what I presumed was the still befuddled rock chuck, which I did not see, got back in my car, and scampered on home myself.
As for the pants, I came back through later that day and the pants were gone. Maybe the rock chuck took them. Hey, it could happen!
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book, “They Call Me Weener,” is available online or email her at for a signed copy.


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