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