That NAPA truck sure got around in Ayden

Published 12:11 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Several years ago while passing through Ayden on my way back to Washington, I noticed a National Automotive Parts Association delivery truck (a small pickup truck) headed toward the south end of that Pitt County town.

I noticed the truck because it has a big, plastic, blue-and-yellow baseball cap on the roof of the truck’s cab. Apparently, some NAPA stores distinguish their delivery trucks with such caps. It’s hard not to notice a small pickup truck with a giant, blue-and-yellow baseball cap on the roof of its cab.

My mother and I were headed east on N.C. Highway 102 when we noticed the delivery truck headed south toward the Skylight Inn, where some great barbecue can be found. Ayden has two great barbecue places, the other being Bum’s in the downtown area. Well, as we got at the eastern end of Ayden, the delivery truck stopped at a stop sign where a street intersects with N.C. 102.

I wondered aloud about how that delivery truck could have been headed south only to catch up with us on the east side of Ayden. I surmised that, perhaps, the driver knew a shortcut. I didn’t think too much of it after leaving Ayden that day.

Several weeks later while making another voyage through Ayden, I saw that delivery truck driving through Ayden, making a turn that would take it out of town to the north. After several blocks of heading west on N.C. 102, the delivery trucks turned onto N.C. 102, but the truck had come from the southern end of the town.

Wait just a minute — the delivery truck had turned off N.C. 102 to the north just a few blocks back.

Perhaps my medications were causing side effects, but my mother confirmed what I saw because she saw it, too.

The next time we passed through Ayden and saw the delivery truck in the downtown area, we followed it. We were determined to find out what was going on with that delivery truck. After several blocks, the delivery truck returned to the NAPA store in downtown Ayden. It pulled into a parking area next to the store. There, in that parking area, we found the answer to the puzzlement.

The delivery truck was parking next to two identical delivery trucks — large, plastic, blue-and-yellow baseball caps on the roofs of their cabs. Turns out that NAPA delivery truck was not magical. Turns out there were three NAPA delivery trucks driving all around Ayden.

In this case of the unexplainable, the explanation was simple.

Coming through Ayden on Tuesday, I looked for those three delivery trucks. They weren’t in their parking spaces. I didn’t see any of them on the streets of Ayden.

Perhaps they were getting fitted with new, giant, blue-and-yellow baseball caps for the upcoming new year. Then again, maybe they were parked at the Skylight Inn as their drivers ate barbecue, cornbread and slaw.

Mike Voss covers the city of Washington for the Washington Daily News. As for whether the Skylight Inn or Bum’s serves the best barbecue in Ayden, he’s determined it will take him at least 10 more years to make that call. It could take even longer.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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