Lee Pitts: An offal idea
November 4, 2013
What in the world was a truck hauling plastic shower stalls doing driving up the dirt road to a rich and eccentric neighbor of mine? Was my slovenly neighbor all of a sudden interested in good hygiene? I was curious so I followed the beautiful rig up the dirt road where I was promptly asked if I'd help unload a piece of art that my neighbor just purchased. Of course I would. I mean, how heavy could a frame or a bronze be?
Very heavy as it turned out. You see, my crazy neighbor didn't buy a Russell or a Van Gogh, although he's certainly rich enough to do so, but rather an art "installation" that looked like what might be the result if a yellow Edsel clobbered a purple Yugo head on and then a flock of sea birds with loose bowels bombed it from above.
It was explained to me that thanks to a Brit named Damien Hirst the big money in art is found in installations these days, an example being the dead calf that Hirst preserved in formaldehyde after having painted its horns and hooves with gold. He sold that installment for 20 million! And to think that I just buried such carcasses. Imagine all the money I could have made the year a terrible strain of scours about wiped me out. Not me, mind you, my calves. Since installations pay so much better I will no longer be writing a column, but you can look forward to my next installment!
My neighbor's art installation required four men, a full socket set and a tractor to install and when we were finished it was uglier than a wild hog after a mud bath. But that still didn't explain why the truck was one big mobile advertisement for shower stalls. The driver, who had his cute young son with him on one last road trip together before school started, explained to me that the ad was a diversion, a deterrent to thieves. You see, the man and his son occasionally liked to stay in a motel so the boy could swim in the motel pool, but how long do you think a truck would last in a motel parking lot if it announced on its sides that it hauled expensive art? It would be gone quicker than a box of donuts at a cop's convention. So he sold advertisements on the sides of his truck, made a little money and didn't have to worry about crooks stealing his plastic shower enclosures. Wink, wink.
We do the same thing in the beef business. Have you ever stopped to wonder why you don't see many big rigs proudly proclaiming that they're hauling a load of beef? It would be stolen in the flash of an eye. An exception being Tyson who wraps their trucks with the name of their company, but most people equate Tyson with chicken and no one in their right mind is going to steal a load of poultry. How would the crooks fence that? It's the same reason why you see signs on trucks that say, "Driver carries no cash." Or, in the case of one smart New Jersey driver who had painted on the side of his door, "Driver carries no cash… but has lots of ammunition."
I've wondered about such security issues as I passed rodeo cowboys on the road with their names emblazoned on their live-in horse trailers. Great cowboys like Trevor Brazile, Tuff Cooper and Luke Branquinho have turned their rigs into mobile billboards. I suppose advertisements like this help build their brand but talk about an open invitation to crooks to steal $100,00 worth of fine horse flesh, or a trophy saddle or two. I'm sure the cowboys have to be ever-vigilent.
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Rodeo contestants might sleep better at night if they followed the example of the art delivery man. Instead of promoting themselves, they ought to wrap their rigs with ads that say Elmer's Glue, or BLM adoptees, to fool would-be crooks into thinking the horses inside are worthless. Or even better, how about Buzzard Bob's Hide and Tallow, or Fresno Fred's Offal? Who wants a horse headed for a Canadian glue factory? On the other hand, smart crooks might see right through the ruse. After all, how many offal truck drivers do you know who have living quarters in their tallow trucks?