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Lorry, Lorry, Hallelujah!

Claim:   A diner who is picked on by some bikers at a coffee shop drives over their motorcycles on his way out.

LEGEND

Examples:

[Smith, 1986]

A long-distance lorry driver went into an all-night cafe and ordered a meal of sausages, chips and tea. He had just started his meal when three leather-jacketed youths came in and began to make fun of him.

One picked up his mug of tea and drank it. Another ate one of his sausages. The third grabbed a handful his chips. The driver said nothing; he ate what they left him, paid his bill, and went out.

One of the youths said to the cafe proprietor: "He wasn't much of a man, was he?"

"No," said the proprietor, who was looking out of the window, "and he isn't much of a driver either. He's just backed his lorry into three motor-cycles and wrecked them."
 

[Cerf, 1970]

What strikes me as an appropriate finale is the story of a cheerful truckdriver who pulled up at a roadside tavern in the middle of the night for a spot of refreshment. Halfway through his dinner, three wild-looking motorcyclists roared up — bearded, leather-jacketed filthy — with swastikas adorning their chests and helmets.

For no reason at all they selected the truckdriver as a target. One poured pepper over his head, another stole his apple pie, the third deliberately upset his cup of coffee. The trucker never said one word — just arose, paid his check, and exited.

"That palooka sure ain't much of a fighter," sneered one of the invaders. The man behind the counter, peering out into the night, added, "He doesn't seem to be much of a driver either. He just ran his truck right over three motorcycles."
 

[Collected on the Internet, 1997]

I think the war between the smokers and non-smokers is heating up a bit. I went into a restaurant for lunch the other day and, as is my practice, requested a table in the "no smoking" section. They seated me, and I went about the business of ordering and eating my food.

Somewhere between the clam chowder and a club sandwich, I caught the smell of nearby burning tobacco. Upon looking around, I noticed the man in the booth next to me smoking a freshly lit cigarette.

Overcoming my natural reticence regarding confrontation, I spoke to the man. "Excuse me, sir, but, when you came in, did you ask to be seated in the no-smoking section?"

"Yes, I don't like the smell of smoke when I am eating any more than anyone else."

I asked, "Then why are you smoking that cigarette?"

"I've finished eating."

Silly me, it was obvious to the most casual observer.

I called the server over and made her aware of the situation. She pointed out to the man that he was smoking in a No Smoking section (I suspect this was not a
startling revelation) and went away with his assurance that he was just leaving.

Of course he didn't leave until he had finished that cigarette and lit another. But at least he did finally go.

Apparently he had noticed the motorcycle helmet and jacket I was wearing when I came in, because in a minute or so, I noticed him eyeing the Harley parked by the front door. He took out a small notebook, wrote something on a leaf from it, tore off the note, and placed it between the seat and gas tank.

His next action took me completely off guard. He looked straight in the window at me, then put his foot against the gas tank and shoved the motorcycle over on its side. He then spun around and ran smack into a very large, bearded fellow who apparently owned the Harley.

That which ensued netted him at least one broken bone and hopefully a little jail time. After the police had come and gone, I helped the bearded gentleman right his bike, and noticed the note the man had left. I unfolded it and read: "This will teach you to mess with smoker's rights."

I laughed and handed the note to the cigar-chewing biker. I then went around to the other side of the building, got on my BMW, and went back to work.
 

Variations:  
  • Sometimes (as in the last example given above) the usual story is turned around into a tale of revenge gone wrong.
  • This legend has been set in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
Origins:   Our earliest sighting of this tale of vehicular revenge was recorded in Indiana in the mid-1960s. In that version of the legend, a long-suffering trucker, outnumbered by his tormentors, finds an innovative way to get even for mistreatment Cartoon of the legend suffered at their hands: he turns the instrument of how he makes his living into the instrument of his revenge. Though he might be out of his league on his own, once in his truck he becomes a force to be reckoned with. Who says bigger isn't better?

In the related tale about smokers' rights, the desire to take revenge on another is again acted out on his property, not his person. Because in this story there is only one antagonist and thus a direct confrontation was not ruled out by an imbalance of power, we view the bike-kicker's behaviour as cowardly. We cheer from the sidelines as he gets his from the behemoth the motorcycle actually belongs to.

The victim shies away from physical confrontation, choosing to attack his tormentors' most prized possessions instead of them. Contained within this action is the bit of advice this legend attempts to get across: Back away when outnumbered (discretion before valor), but get some of your own back once you have the upper hand. Rather than preach the Christian message of "turn the other cheek," this legend suggests adopting a temporary posture of meekness only to later strike back in a telling fashion once the advantage has shifted.

Barbara "immanuel transmission" Mikkelson

Sightings:   This legend turns up in the plots of both the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit and the 1978 film Every Which Way But Loose.

Last updated:   12 March 2011

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Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   The Baby Train.
    New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.   ISBN 0-393-31208-9   (pp. 213-214).

    Cerf, Bennett.   The Sound of Laughter.
    New York: Doubleday, 1970   (p. 461).

    de Vos, Gail.   Tales, Rumors and Gossip.
    Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996.   ISBN 1-56308-190-3   (p. 113).

    Smith, Paul.   The Book of Nastier Legends.
    London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986.   ISBN 0-7102-0573-2   (p. 39).

Also told in:

    Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill.   Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths.
    London: Virgin Books, 1996.   ISBN 0-86369-969-3   (p. 50).

    Holt, David and Bill Mooney.   Spiders in the Hairdo.
    Little Rock: August House, 1999.   ISBN 0-87483-525-9   (p. 100).

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.
    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 150).