Let’s start with the story. It was in True‘s 2 June 2002 issue:
Fill ’Er Up!
Construction workers in Dublin, Calif., watched a man drive up in a new-looking Volvo to their cement truck. He “asked the concrete workers to fill him up for a job he was doing,” a police spokesman says. While the driver remained behind the wheel, the workers aimed the concrete chute through the window and did as he asked. He then drove away with wet concrete filling the inside of the car up to the steering wheel. Police say they are “at a loss to explain the case.” (Fremont Argus) …It’s not so odd. The man found the car in his driveway. It belongs to his wife’s boyfriend.
Readers wondered, is this story really true? Several insisted it was impossible: the concrete would weigh too much for a car. The lye would burn the man. He wouldn’t be able to operate the pedals.
Another group noted that it was an old urban legend/joke. I didn’t recall seeing such a joke until after the story was out and I found it on Snopes, but I have seen just about every joke that ever went around on the ‘net, so perhaps a subconscious memory is why my tagline and the joke’s punchline are extremely similar. But the entire argument is silly. By saying “it’s just an old urban legend,” these readers seem to be saying it’s therefore impossible for such a scenario to ever happen in real life. Yeah, right. Doesn’t it make more sense to suppose, when confronted with real evidence like this, that someone may have been inspired by a good joke — life imitating art? That sounds a lot more plausible!
Therefore, I’ve been keeping my eye out for updates on the story to help corroborate it, and the Oakland Tribune has made my wait pay off. In a 20 August 2002 story (no longer online, so link deleted), the Tribune notes “he’s been spotted again — this time on Thursday in Brentwood, across the street from a site he had already visited in May.”
Foreman Ruben Gaytan said Superintendent Bobby Garrigan spoke to the man, who asked for some asphalt. The man had previously been seen driving a maroon Volvo, but this time he was behind the wheel of an early ’70s, white Oldsmobile station wagon, Gaytan said. “They asked him if he was ‘the concrete guy’,” Gaytan said. “He said, ‘Yes’.”
Gaytan said he recognized the man — because he was on the job when “The Concrete Guy” visited a construction site in May. At that time, he tried to get construction workers to fill his car with asphalt — and Gayton said he looked inside the car and saw, he estimated, 800-900 pounds of concrete. He refused the request for asphalt, saying they didn’t want liability for burning him with the hot material. He said Concrete Guy was “filthy and had concrete smeared all over him.”
Another story I found mentioned he had concrete smeared on the steering wheel, all over the passenger seat and on his legs and hands. “There was concrete on the steering wheel and all over the passenger seat, forcing the man to sit awkwardly.” One foreman noted, “It didn’t look too comfortable, to say the least.” Concrete Guy is described as skinny, blond, white, and in his 30s.
As for the car, construction workers say “the car leaned to the right because of the weight the concrete put on the car.” He has been reported at construction sites all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including Dublin, Fremont, Santa Clara and Tracy. His last known address was a homeless shelter in Santa Cruz.
“Concrete Guy” says the police have already caught up with him for a chat, but the police say the man is not in trouble — he has committed no crime (which is apparently why newspapers are withholding his identity). So why is he doing this? Maybe Concrete Guy is in on the joke. He reportedly has told construction workers, “Well, I’m trying to get back at my ex-wife. She left me and took everything I have.”
Surely we haven’t heard the last of this guy. If nothing else, we want to hear from his ex-wife. At least, we hope she’s not a stiff….
But the bottom line is, the story is true. Hah!