Mike's trucking: Trail's end

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It's the end of the road for our dynamic duo of truckers as Mike O'Neill takes the wheel just in time to turn into the driveway of the new World Headquarters of O'Neill Public Relations. Yes, that's turn into-- not back into.

It has been my pleasure to turn this space over for a few days to the PR man par excellence and his patient-as-a-saint "lead driver," my esteemed editorial collegue David A. Kolman-- whom I might add is always sure to "make it special!"

Day Five – The Finale

Clip 1: "Always do your pre-check!"

Following our pre-trip inspection, we’re now on the final leg of our Philly to Vegas trip. I did my driving this morning, briefly taking the wheel in Grand Junction, CO, to give David some rest. He’s back in the driver’s seat now as we travel west on I-70. Entering into Utah, we have now traveled 2,506 miles and still haven’t seen any rain other than an occasional drizzle – nothing really even worth mentioning.

While I have attempted so far with this blog to maintain a humorous tone, I feel it is important at this point to note that the relationship between David and myself has become somewhat strained. Getting along with someone for four-and-a-half days in the same truck is no easy chore. With David, it’s damn near impossible. I never thought I would feel this way about someone, but David is … well … overly courteous. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very courteous person myself, but David takes politeness to a whole new level.

He’s changed lanes something like 5,000 times and he has used his turn signal every time. EVERY TIME. David has flashed his lights to let every truck that has passed us know it’s okay to come back into the right-hand lane. EVERY TRUCK. I’m sorry, but this is eating away at me. Just once, David, let it go. No one can be that nice. And get this – he remains this way even though only three or four of the trucks that have passed us have acknowledged his gesture with a return flash.

David also always wanted to stop at some ridiculous tourist trap. Can you believe he actually wanted to stop at the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah? I’m not sure who massacred who there, but I’m absolutely sure who would have been the latest victim had we stopped.

In the interest of fair play, I will now allow David an opportunity to share his thoughts with our readers...

Clip 2: "Lights on for safety..."

Thanks for the opportunity, Mike.

We’re in Vegas now. The plan is to unwind, get a good night’s sleep (me on the couch), then unpack the Penske truck, clean it up and return it.

I’m sitting here in the new world headquarters of O’Neill Public Relations, with three generations of O’Neills running around: Mike, his son Tommy and Tommy’s newborn son, Peyton. The family resemblance is striking! But I digress . . .

The truck trip has been a great adventure and a wonderful experience, and it has been a delight getting to know Mike O’Neill better. He’s quite a guy - and I mean that in only the best way.

To be honest, Mike and I got off to a rocky start. Like any new driving team, it takes time and effort to get into a groove and rhythm. But once I came to realize that Mike had no intention of doing much driving, and understood that the rules of the road were governed by anarchist Mike "Don’t make me make you get out" O’Neill, it became tolerable.

Among his key road rules:

• No radio/CD playing - at any time.

• We stop when and where Mike directs.

• If we can’t see it (gas station, restaurant, etc.) from the road, we don’t get off.

• No fueling at truck stops (mandated after Mike’s first experience with this).

• One stop is for everything (restroom, fuel, food, etc.), period.

• No talking when Mike is working, which was always (I had a hard time with this).

And I thought my wife - who drives as much as Mike - was a difficult co-driver.

I should also mention that Mike has a tendency to bark driving instructions, especially when we were trucking through the Rockies. It was his first time traveling through there and the steep ups and downs, numerous winding curves and strategically located truck runaway ramps made him nervous.

But be all that as it may, it was a great time, and a real treat to see so much of our great country (although it would have been nice to visit at least one historical site or take advantage of one of the many scenic overlooks).

I know I’m going to regret saying this, but should Mike decide to relocate again, I am ready and willing to go.

Back to you Mike. (Wonder how long he’s been standing over my shoulder?)

And I will be sure to have David along for the next trip.

Now it’s time to thank everyone who has made all of this possible:

Thank you David Cullen for helping us out and sharing your blog with us.

Thank you Fleet Owner and Jim Mele for the opportunity to appear on your outstanding website.

Thank you Penske for the great deal and a great truck. You can find one for yourself at www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

Thank you neighbor Bill Soujue for the voiceover on the last day.

Thank you Tyrus O’Neill for accompanying me on the first leg – Philly to Battle Creek.

Thank you Bob Busse (my brother-in-law), Patrick O’Neill (my nephew), another Patrick O’Neill (my brother) and Shirley O’Neill (my mother) for helping me pack; and thank you Tommy O’Neill for helping me unpack.

And, of course, thank you David Kolman. All kidding aside, you will never meet a finer human being.

Bye.

--Mike O’Neill 

Clip Last: "What goes on in Vegas..."

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