Time's a-wasting. Forty-five minutes to make it down to the Central Maui Landfill with a load of pulp, and, it turned out, a chance to play hero. Stacks of The Maui News on the collect-everything kitchen counter were finally bundled and taken out into the garage. It took another week to move the 20-inch-high bundles to the back of the pickup truck.
That was some time ago.
The bundles cover the floor of the truck bed and make perfect weights for flattened cardboard boxes. The latest stacks of papers aren't bundled. They're plopped into the bed and weighted by a couple of bundles. Beats stretching a tarp over the bed to keep in fly-aways.
Days of sunbathing and nights of light moisture have turned the bundles into yellow lumps. Leaving them much longer will turn them into solid blocks. Don't ask how I know.
Check the load one last time. Climb into the cab. Begin sweating from captured heat. Check for cats that might be in the way. Slowly back up and turn around.
Drive under a branch of jacaranda growing over the driveway entrance. The leaves and a stray, very late season blossom or two brush the top of the truck cab. Got to cut 'em. Another chore that has been ignored even after the UPS and FedEx truck drivers refused to risk their mirrors by driving into the yard.
An open window and the ventilation system do little to lower the interior temperature. The air conditioner is reserved for afternoon creeping through traffic in town. You can take the boy off the motorcycle but you can't take a desire for wind up his nose out of the boy. Once on the highway, forward motion is enough to let nature lower the temperature.
The truck, with a modified suspension, swivels down Pulehu Road. The load in the back helps keep truck on track. Keep checking the rearview mirror to see if any of the newspapers have come unbundled. Bend the speed limit a bit on the section of road through the cane fields while checking my watch.
The crosswind on the lower, straight section of Pulehu is muscular. Check the rearview mirror more often. Got to the dump with 15 minutes to spare. Slow for the turn. A late-model Ford truck is in the process of turning around.
Whoops. The gate is closed. It's Sunday and the landfill is now closed on Sundays.
The Ford is piloted by a freckled woman who looks vaguely familiar. Her truck is loaded with what appears to be a table, an assortment scrap lumber and "stuff."
We stop, driver window to driver window. There's an expression of dismay on the woman's face.
"Can I leave this stuff here?"
"Nope. It's not legal."
"What can I do?"
"I have no idea."
"Leave it in a Dumpster?"
"Could, I guess, although most Dumpsters have locked tops to prevent just that sort of thing."
"Why don't you just leave the stuff in the truck and come down tomorrow? That's what I'm going to do."
"The truck belongs to a friend."
Despite her disappointment, she flashes a charming smile and wheels the Ford out on the road and turns right. I turn my truck around and turn left, thinking about her problem. Damn, I thought, I should have volunteered to transfer her stuff to my truck. There's plenty of room.
Briefly consider turning around and trying to chase her down. The fact she's cute has nothing to do with the impulse. Yeah, sure. What male can resist rescuing a damsel of any description? Nah, she has too much of a head start.
The ride home is filled with pangs of regret and trying to remember if I had seen her before. A good bet: Years ago, Matt Thayer asked me to take a cousin scuba diving. I was delighted to find out the cousin was female, lookin' good and so young she brought out all of my protective "uncle" instincts.
It was a good shore dive, the best she'd been on, she said. The highlight was spotting the honu kupuna that hung out in a shallow cave. I was hoping the green sea turtle would be around. It usually was.
I later ran into her at a Maui Chamber of Commerce luncheon that featured a speech by then-Gov. Linda Lingle.
The regret comes from being little slow on the draw at the entrance to the landfill. I should have thought of transferring the load. She would have been happy and I could have enjoyed thinking of myself as a hero.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.