“My uncles, who are farmers in Minooka, Illinois – I grew up with them and their pickup trucks and mustaches, and to me that was masculinity: big hairy sweaty guys who could pick up a bus.”
– Nick Offerman
Iowa is an icy and cold place. Contrary to popular belief it’s terrain is also very dynamic. Bluffs, cliffs, and massive hills dot the countryside. Without spoiling where I’m from, I live pretty close to the Minnesota border.
While the countryside is very scenic and draws tons of foreign and coastal tourists, it’s also incredibly dangerous. Once the snow falls it becomes easy to slide out of control. Every year at least a few people plummet to their deaths, drive into rivers, or fall down massive embankments. The massive cliffs also make cell reception near impossible, more than a few people have wrecked their cars and been forced to walk for miles in the snow. Growing up, my dad and I once got caught in a blizzard during the dead of night and ended up walking for three miles until some drunken snowmobilers gave us a ride back to our house.
Taking a third word bus through mountainous terrain scares me less than driving in my own zip code. Every road is surrounded by cliffs and hills and a lot of roads aren’t even paved. One wrong move and you’ll flip off the road, crash into a tree, and explode into a fireball.
While driving on Thursday I hit a patch of ice as the road curved. I tried to compensate but over estimated my turn. Seconds later I was flying off the shoulder and down a gully. After a mile and a half hike, I was able to call for a tow truck. The driver arrived, hooked a cable to my car, and had it pulled out in under ten minutes. He then gave me the bill. His base fee, which didn’t include mileage or the job itself, was over $100. I immediately learned something.
The tow truck driver could charge whatever he wanted thanks to supply and demand. Since I don’t own a crane, I wouldn’t have been able to get my car back without him. He could have charged $1,000 and I would have had to still pay him. Because his service is actually essential, he can charge whatever he wants.
The second thing that I realized was that a guy who’s living revolves around pulling cars out of ditches can make more money than most “educated” people. While he, I assume, might not have know as much about the history of the Sudan as an African Studies major might have, he had a far more practical skill set. Woman’s Studies majors and art students are a dime a dozen. They can also be replaced with Wikipedia, or a basic Google search. No matter how advanced technology gets, there will always be a need for someone to pull cars out of ditches.
Rather than being mad at the bill, I thought it was cool that I learned a few things. A man with a practical service is able to make far more than most college majors could ever hope to.