Sunday, August 15, 2010

(Man) Truckin' II

4) Family Man and I drove to his home for a weekend which was about 5 hours away. The conversations I had with him still stick with me today. He had a thick Southern accent and once asked if his accent was as bad as our instructors. We didn't know what to say. We had no idea what he said for the first few days because it was so thick. We just nodded and smiled until we developed Family Man voice hearing. The man was so in love with his wife it shamed me. He took his kids fishing and was so incredibly patient with them. I spent most of that day playing Frisbee with his aunt who was a lesbian. Why do I mention she was a lesbian? I say "was" because she dropped dead that day from a heart attack. I'm kidding. I don't know. I'll have to do some thinking as to why I felt compelled to mention her sexual preference. Thank you for challenging my thinking.

5) Me? Well one of the highlights was the Walmart in town. I bought a toy semi and put a quarter on top as the steering wheel. It helped me learn how to back a truck from a variety of angles. I also am proud of the fact I talked to my wife for as long as I wanted. During our first meeting we were told we only had 15 minutes a night to make a long distance phone call. I asked them how they knew how long the calls were. She spent 2 seconds fumbling her words and came up with something. Too late. I already knew it was an empty threat. I needed the time to talk to Daisy anyway. We had only been married a few months.

On the last day we placed bets on who would wreck first. 70% of semi truck wrecks are in backing and most of those wrecks are in the first 6 months of driving. Canada wrecked the GEO and then I ran over a pizza delivery guy on some back streets. Not with my semi or else he would have died. It was in a pup trailer I was transporting to another station and blew a stop sign because I was thinking too hard about how to get unlost. I totalled a 50 thousand dollar vehicle, was demoted to transporting freight around the airplanes with a tug, and eventually found a job caring for the Developmentally Disabled. To be honest I would have stuck with the job for a long time. Including my drive to the airport I listened to books on tape for about 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for a year. I was up for a raise and had excellent benefits but fate ran its course as it always seems to do.

Maybe I'll drive a truck after retirement. But until I do I want all of you to know the "bail out" hills full of gravel that Semi's use to stop are not because they may blow a tire. It's because a trucker will use a high gear with the brake as the main stopping force instead of a lower gear when going down a mountain. The amount of weight the brake has to be applied to keep the load from pushing forward, in some cases, will literally burst the rubber into flames. If you smell burnt rubber and see a truck with steam on his tires then don't get in front of them. They may have also lost air pressure from using the brakes too much. It takes a while to build that air back up again. In fact, as a general rule, stay away from trucks going too fast down any mountain or hill.

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