In which I Pit the American Trucker...

So, having to go to Ohio for business means a 6 hour drive for me. Not that I mind driving and all, in fact, I love driving, especially when I’m in an official vehicle, make GREAT time that way, but I digress. The trip starts for me, the way car trips usually do, with me over packing for every potential emergency I might encounter whilst on the road, up to and including the purchase and careful storage of the emergency alcohol (one never knows when one may end up sober and bored, though not while driving, of course).

I head out in a relentless, almost biblical kind of rainstorm that, having dutifully checked the weather channel, I discover covers, and will continue to cover every inch of interstate upon which I will be travelling. This is daunting, but such is the price of progress. Leaving the Greater Chicagoland Area, I make it to I-65 without incident. The remainder of the trip, is where this pitting begins.

On a two lane stretch of rain and oil soaked blacktop some seventy miles outside of Chicago, it starts. Almost like a b-movie script gone horribly wrong, the trucks and their drivers have seemingly conspired to erase me and my black 94 Impala SS from the nations roadways, ad aeternitas.

As I travelled a scant 65 MPH in the left lane with the rain barreling down in sheets, I was approached from behind by a behemoth truck, with his wild headlight eyes staring right through the limo tint rear window. Almost like a crooked CPA accidentally placed in general population at pelican bay, the pucker factor exponentialy increased to the point of actual pain.

Inches from my bumper, this rolling catastrophe continued to accelerate. Honking his horn and flashing his lights for me to move, only there was no place to move, so, like a fair and decent driver, I sped up to 70, which is faster than was reasonably safe for a car in those conditions, but i did it anyway. This did not sate the maniacal trucker though, he kept up his assault until I had to intervene. Reaching to my control panel, I activated my emergency lighting and let off the throttle. In an amazing display of driving skill and dexterity, the trucker backed off, and fell in line at a safe speed. I turned my lights off, and continued my safe trip, thinking that the word would spread (via the truckers/redneck internet, or CB) that there was a “smokey in a plain brown wrapper” about, and to watch your step.

I could not have been more wrong.

Like a tight knit herd of metallic cattle, these hell-bent-for-leather types circled their refrigerated wagons around the offending trucker and began to snipe at me from all sides.

One decided to slow down to a crawl. Another decided he would join in the antics, and held I-65 hostage for about 17 miles, until an Indiana State Trooper cleared the mess.

From that point on, it was clear. I had to defend myself. The truckers had delcared war, and I would answer the call to arms, with my right foot and index finger.

The new battle for roadway control began just outside of Indianapolis on I70. Usually a decent stretch of roadway, and fairly well maintained, except for this day, when things mysteriously began appearing from great grey wall of rain above, things like food wrappers, soda cans, coffee cups, and God help me, what appeared to be soiled men’s under pants.

In the next 150 or so miles I was swerved at, tailgated, forced to slam on my brakes, and rapidly accellerate to avoid being splintered to bits. I did so with the dexterity of a trained emergency vehicle operator (which I am) extricating myself from every type of sticky situation, to avoid having to be extricated from my mangled vehicle.

After my conference, and after the many wonderful things I learned about the future of law enforcement and public safety Information Technology, I began the trip home. Thinking, of course, incorrectly, that the wounds have been healed, and that I was going to have a nice, quiet, and speedy trip back home, since plans for the ark had been shelved, and the rain had stopped.

This was not the case.

Not one hour into my return trip, it began. I was travelling well above the posted speed limit, in an effort to make it home with some expediency. Back on I-70 just past 270 outside of Columbus, the first of many obstacles made itself known.

The first was Sleepy the trucker. I noticed a livestock truck, piloted by a heavy-eyed man in his early fifties, which was swerving from one lane to the other as I approached, sending neighboring cars filled with families and businessmen alike, scattering like flies. Once again, a friendly toot of the siren switch brought ol’ sleepy around, and at the next exit, he exited, giving me a nervous wave.

Next came what I call the gauntlet of overtakers, for the next 180 miles or so, except in the corridor that led through Indy, I watched a surreal game of behemoth leapfrog take place. Flat bed carriers, leapfrogged over reefers, which leapfrogged over dump trucks, which leapfrogged over moving vans. Keeping in mind that both I 70 and I 65 are two lane roads, the travel was harrowing at best for anyone with less than 5 wheels.

At one point, two vehicles, myself being one of them, were passing a semi on the left. In his ferevent desire to keep up in the leapfrog statistics, the purple beast began to come over into our lane, time seemed to slow just a bit, but that didn’t deter the trucker from continuing his swerve. The vehicle behind me began to honk, this prompted me to again activate the siren, and at the same time accellerate. Unfortunately, as will some times happen while driving an emergency vehicle, the trucker, startled by the siren, overcorrected and nearly went into the opposing ditch. Fortunately he recovered, unlike my passing colleague, who got off at the next exit, undoubtedly shaken, and visibly worse for wear.

I end this story/rant with the following question.

What the hell is WITH Truckers? Do they all fit the stereotypical incompetent image, or are there some decent, well adjusted, workers out there, who don’t try and crush motorists for sport?

Back when my uncle did the job, they were courteous, trustworthy, decent, and extra safe. Yeah, they were rough-and-tumble, but still a decent lot. Today, they’ve gone from the citadels of the roadway, to cranked-up, nervous, performance driven meth-heads, with a blatant disregard for anyone, including their fellow trucker.

Certianly there must be someone who can enlighten me as to why this is, or even why I’m dead wrong, but until then, I pit thee, American trucker. I pit thee all to hell.

Have we, the American roadway driver

Curses! Preview! Damn It!
Administrators, please remove the very last line please. Thank you

Just a WAG, but drug testing… pot shows up for a month, meth for a day. Who keeps driving?

My wife hates truckers because they litter like bastards! Every damn mile of paved road in this great country of ours is festooned with bottles of thier piss!

Disgusting animals!


She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!

There are some assholes driving trucks. There are also a lot of assholes driving 4 wheelers (cars). The majority of truck drivers are good competent drivers. Better than most auto drivers because they have a lot more practice dodging the assholes. Most truck drivers just want to do their job and get home alive. That’s not an easy task since most auto drivers have no idea how to drive defensibly around trucks. They don’t know how big a trucks blind zone is or how far they need to be in front of a truck to turn back in.

I have spend the last 10 years taking my vacations riding in a big truck (semi) and have seen things that would turn your hair white. Of the wrecks in which trucks are involved 90% are caused by the auto drivers. That’s according to the insurance institute. My husbands boss fires every driver that he even thinks may be driving unsafely. His company has won the safe driving award from the state of Montana every year for at least 15 years.

My biggest fear is that someday my husband will be involved in one of those wrecks. Even if he survives the wreck, if someone else dies he will not be able to live with it, even if he isn’t at fault. He would sent his truck over a cliff to keep from hitting a car with kids in it. He has helped many people who’s cars have broken down never accepting money for doing so. He feels it’s just the right thing to do. He’s even helped put out two cars on fire.

The important thing to remember when driving around a truck is they weight about 70 thousand pounds loaded. They can stop fast. Also if you see drivers who are driving unsafely REPORT THEM. The rest of the truckers will thank you.

Of course their wives can’t code for shit.

A couple of questions:

– You said you were in an “official” car. What kind of “official” car would that be? If it was equipped with emergency lights and sirens, was it a police car? I’m guessing you didn’t have the powers of a police officer (otherwise, you would have pulled him over), but why were you in a vehicle that was like a police car and you were acting like a police officer (turning on the lights and sirens) if you weren’t a police officer?

– You said you were doing “a scant 65 MPH in the left lane.” Why were you not travelling in the right lane, so the truck could simply pass you on the left? And if he did come up behind with the intent to go faster, when you as you were in the left lane, why did you not slip into the right lane so he could?

– And when all the trucks gathered to snipe at you, why did you just not pull off the highway? Get off at the next exit, or something, go have a coffee, let them get thirty miles down the road before you get back on?

Understand, I’m not debating here, and I do believe you have some legitimate complaints. There are bad truckers out there, but in my experience, there are plenty more good ones. Still, as I said, there are bad ones and you might have experienced some of the worst, but your post did raise a few questions in my mind. We might all see your point-of-view a little better if we understood a little more.

Oh Shit! Make that they CANNOT stop fast. Damn I need some sleep.

I’ll be driving I-95 from Jacksonville to Baltimore for Thanksgiving weekend. We’ll be in a Beetle. Just the thought of some of those 18-wheeling idiots near me and my daughter in our little car makes me a nervous wreck. It makes a long drive that much longer.

I enjoyed the rant. Well-written.

I just about got ran off the road two days ago by a semi, so I can relate. Heh, I also drive I-70 through Indianapolis every day.

From what I read, Spoons, the OP was indeed in an unmarked '94 Impala police cruiser, going to a conference well outside of his(?) jurisdiction. Thus, unable to pull anyone over.

And the right lane was probably too packed with slower-moving traffic.

Stories like this kinda make me think of “Crazy Jack” from the old Dennis Weaver movie “Dual”.

Tinkertoy, thank you for writing that.

Yes, some truckers are assholes, but most of them aren’t. A lot of them are good drivers, concerned with safety. My husband did a forensic animation for one of the types of wrecks Tinkertoy described. A passenger car did something stupid, and sped on. The car-hauler truck behind it couldn’t maneuver in the way that car’s irresponsible actions required, and there was a huge wreck with some deaths. Awful.

Truckers and their rigs, incidentally, also are a HUGE part of this nation’s distribution system. It’s not like they are out there for shits and giggles.

My personal favorite is the trucker doing 25 MPH up a hill in the right lane of a 70 MPH stretch of interstate being passed in the left lane by an asshole in another truck doing 25.01 MPH. While I realize that the load of recycled cardboard you are carrying is probably vital to the war effort, do you REALLY need to back up traffic for 13 miles while you get around yer good buddy?

Bring back the fucking railroads for interstate transportation of goods.

Oh, and gatopescado…you and your missus should start saving them bottles of truckerpiss. You could probably distill enough speed from 'em to make a small fortune.

I think it should be a requirement for all truck drivers to pass a mandatory test on elementary physics. Specifically on an understanding of how much force is generated by that much weight going at that speed, and how much force the little strips of glorified leather they call brakes are designed to safely stop.

I know that most truck drivers (at least the couple hundred I have met) are decent people just trying to make a living, but come now, is it really necessary to push several (dozen) tons over the 65mph mark EVER? And why is it necessary to run up right on the ass of everyone that isn’t going 95 freaking miles per hour? (this is probably only 10% of truckers out there, if that, but they’re pretty big and mighty noticible in your rear view mirror, and much more dangerous than the same idiot in a two seat civic)

Yeah because everybody knows all truckers are druggies.

As should all drivers. Trucks cannot stop on a dime truckers know this. But auto drivers just don’t seem to get it. I’ve seen hundreds of drivers pull back into lane right in front of a truck causing the trucker to have to brake suddenly.

If your sitting there in your chair typing on your computer wearing clothes eating a snack in your home or office, thank a trucker. Because unless you have e train depot in your back yard it was all delivered by a trucker. Everything you do everyday from waking up to an alarm clock to the condom you use at night is thanks to a trucker, and it was done nights, weekends and holidays. While they would have rather been at home with their families. But they have bills to pay just like you.

If you want less trucks on the road then buy less stuff.

Yeah because everybody knows all truckers are druggies.

As should all drivers. Trucks cannot stop on a dime truckers know this. But auto drivers just don’t seem to get it. I’ve seen hundreds of drivers pull back into lane right in front of a truck causing the trucker to have to brake suddenly.

If your sitting there in your chair typing on your computer wearing clothes eating a snack in your home or office, thank a trucker. Because unless you have e train depot in your back yard it was all delivered by a trucker. Everything you do everyday from waking up to an alarm clock to the condom you use at night is thanks to a trucker, and it was done nights, weekends and holidays. While they would have rather been at home with their families. But they have bills to pay just like you.

If you want less trucks on the road then buy less stuff.

Here in Cheeseland, truckers seem to enjoy travelling neck and neck at EXACTLY the same speed across all THREE lanes of the friggin interstate. What the hell are they doing, having a conversation between trucks about where the best hookers are, or how many cars they’ve run off the road this week? These are people that drive for a living, they’re supposed to be professionals. Why the hell can’t they figure out that YOU BELONG IN THE G-DAM RIGHT LANE WITH YOUR TRUCK TRAVELING 60MPH THAT HAS BEEN PELTING MY WINDSHIELD WITH ROCKS FOR THE LAST 15 MILES BECAUSE YOU’RE EITHER TOO LAZY OR STUPID TO PUT A TARP OVER YOUR LOAD OF FRIGGIN GRAVEL FOR CHRISSAKES!!! You see me flashing my brights, honking my horn, and gesturing madly for you to move the goddam right lane, even the center lane please, don’t you? Then when I finally have had enough and blast past you in the emergency lane and pull in front of you and slam on my brakes, you wonder why??? Hell, they even have signs on the highway that say “Slower Traffic Keep Right”!!! So do what the goddam sign says, you redneck idiot! But I guess the signs don’t help the illiterate ones… This happens almost EVERY FREAKING DAY that I’m on the highway and I’m sick of it!

AdmiralQ

I was going to point out that not all truckers are redneck fools like you see in seventies movies, but I’m tired so I’ll just fuck off!