I am often asked where my ideas come from for the articles and books that I do. Sometimes they are the end result of a much thinking and analysis. Other times they just spring fully formed into my small but perfectly formed brain. And still other times they are given to me as a gift, I just have to keep my eyes and my ears open. This was one of those times.
Several years ago I was driving through waste Texas from Austin to Tucson. This is a mind-numbingly dull part of the world and on this hot day my mind was particularly dead. Taking a break at a truck stop, I was sitting in an uncomfortable little booth in the café when a truck driver ambled over and sat with some friends in the booth next to mine. He was a very large man with long black hair and seemed to be of Native American heritage, the kind of man his friends probably nick-named ‘Tiny.” What made me pay attention to him though was the fact that when he sat down with his back to me I saw that his shoulders were twitching up and down and I heard an incessant ‘clickety-click’ coming from him.
Curious about this, I stood up as if to stretch my legs and in sitting down again back to back with him now, I saw that the movement and the noise were due to the fact that he was knitting! But he wasn’t just pearl one and tuck twoing, he was flying. Those knitting needles were a blur and he had a beautiful and rapidly growing knit square in his lap. Fascinated now with this vision of this huge truck driver delicately knitting away at a truck stop I began to eves drop to find out his story.
It turns out that he had a regular route between San Antonio and Tucson and to occupy his time he knit sweaters as he drove. He had boutiques that he supplied in both cities and he used the extra income to buy things for his family. This was too good to let pass by so I took out my little note pad and began taking notes figuring I would eventually weave this into an article or slideshow.
Well, it turns out that he was leaving just about the same time I was leaving and as he pulled his rig onto the highway I began to accelerate to pass him. Pulling up alongside him I saw in his large side mirror that, by God, ‘ol Tiny had his forearms through the steering wheel and while steering with his elbows he was knitting with his hands! I was so flabbergasted about this I lost my momentum and had to pull in behind his truck again. Just as I did this a state police car passed me and pulling up behind him I saw that the policeman was seeing exactly what I had seen. He, though, was not nearly as fascinated as I had been.
The policeman, with his lights now flashing, got on his loud speaker and called out to Tiny- “PULLOVER!” Tiny did not hear a thing because not only was he lost in his knitting he was also wearing a headset and happily bopping along as he knit. Again, the policeman blasted out to Tiny- “PULLOVER!” and again, Tiny didn’t hear or do a thing. All the while as I am watching this all unfold, I am thinking that this is as good as gold to me, this is great material.
For the third time the cop calls out “PULLOVER.” This time Tiny finally notices, takes off his headset and rolls down his window. With his patience now gone the cop issues his last “PULLOVER.” Tiny, now understanding what the policeman wants, finally responds and calls out to the cop: “NO, IT’S A CARDIGAN!”
What does this have to do with photography? Absolutely nothing. I just wanted to remind you that every so often in this terribly serious field of photography remember to have a good time and enjoy yourself. You can thank me later.