Tom McLeod Slept Here
On the drive back from Sonoma county this past weekend--Juliette and I went to a friend's wedding--I noticed a bunch of roadside signs on I-5. The whole stretch of road between the East Bay and the Grapevine is pretty much a wasteland when it comes to anything that will attract your attention, so the odd signs really stand out. A bunch of them are little micro-political tracts, which gets extra interesting when you see a series of them on two sides of an issue. It's kind of like watching an old married couple engaging in a very passive-aggressive argument. The sign that really sparked my curiosity, though, was just south of the Highway 46 junction, and it proclaimed "Tom McLeod slept here."
I had no idea who this Tom McLeod was, but I figured there must be some story there so I had Juliette jot down a quick note so I could remember to look it up when I got home. As it turns out, this is one area where the Internet is unfortunately inadequate to the task--Googling the phrase just turns up a handful of blogs pondering the same question as me: "Who is Tom McLeod and why should I care that he slept there?"
It seems like anyone going to the trouble of putting up a sign for such an event must be showing a certain sense of pride. I mean, as far as I know, nobody goes around at the motels I've stopped at and put up a sign about my visit. And we're not even talking about the man's birthplace, or the site of his most famous accomplishment. No, this is just a place he slept once. So my first guess was that Mr. McLeod must have been some old celebrity, possibly an early Western film star like Gene Autry or Tom Mix. Of course, it would have had to have been someone a little less famous--a second-string star, if you will--as I've clearly heard of those men but am quite clueless about Mr. McLeod. Which sort of makes the sign pathetic, even a little tragic. Here's a place whose only claim to fame, what they've decided to proudly display to the world, is that some B-lister that we've all long since forgotten once decided that he couldn't make it all the way to San Francisco or Los Angeles that day and tucked in there instead.
Of course, if there were some famous Tom McLeod like that, that's surely a person that some site somewhere would have taken note of. As far as I can tell, that's not the case here. Oh, I turned up a few names, but a Texas museum curator and a New Zealand composer don't seem quite the types to inspire such a monument.
My best guess right now is this guy, the CEO of McLeod Software, which makes and distributes trucking logistics software. I-5 is, as most Californians know, one of the major trucking arteries in the state, so it's possible that the man behind these truckers' dispatching software is a big name in those circles. Maybe he's the Bill Gates of truckers, I don't know. Except, I don't know that Bill would rate a sign if he stayed in some motel out in the middle of nowhere, so either I just don't understand celebrity in the San Joaquin Valley, or this isn't the guy.
I'm left with a mystery. So, if anyone out there knows which Tom McLeod slept there, please do get in touch and let me know.