His company has an annual " truck rodeo." (He drives an 18-wheeler.) They have two competitions, one for truckers and one for forklift operators. There are (IIRC) 63 different sites around the US that all compete on the same day. The prize is an all-expense paid trip to Denver for the driver (or forklift operator) and another person of his choosing. Like his wife! They then compete in the regionals there. If the driver wins in Denver, 3 weeks later he and his wife go to Atlanta for the finals. Winning that involves some cash. Not too clear here, but maybe around $1000. Woo-hoo!
They furnished breakfast at a nice buffet down the street. Very nice! So we get there, and they had a blow-up slide/moon walk thing for the kids, as well as clowns that do face-painting, balloon animals and magic! Fun for them. (I have no little ones, thank Og.)
So anyway, only two other drivers show up to compete on Saturday. There were about seven forklift guys. The forklift guys go first. They have certain tasks to perform in a certain time limit. It was exciting, believe it or not! One of the tasks was to pick up a pallet of plywood. (This company is a building materials distributor.) It had a cone with a tennis ball balanced on it. So pick it up without losing the ball, drop the load almost to the ground, turn around, lift it up and set it on a stack of two just like it. And be accurate. They measured how far out of square it was, and it was timed. Pretty cool.
The very first thing the truckers had to do was a “pre-trip” inspection of the truck and trailer in under 4 minutes. The more things they found wrong, the more points they got.
On to the trucker’s course. First they had to turn a corner represented by a tire. See how close they can come to the tire without hitting it. There were graduated chalk marks outside of the tire, with more points the closer to the tire. Tom maxed at 50! It was perfect. (One of the other guys missed points completely, and the other ran over the tire.)
Second task. Place your front right tire over a white mark about the size of a piece of paper. Nobody hit this, the problem being you can’t see it. You have to estimate where your front tire is. Oh, and did I mention this is in a truck and trailer unfamiliar to all contestants?
Third task. Snake thru a tight s-curve without hitting some wooden blocks. Both other drivers hit at least one, Tom didn’t.
Fourth task. Turn an extremely tight turn without hitting some poles. Tom hit one, the others hit many.
Fifth task. Drive through a narrowing lane marked by cones and tennis balls. I believe they only had 4 inches of clearance on either side at the end! Tom knocked over none! The other guys didn’t fare so well.
Final task. Park your truck such that the end of the trailer is within a certain (small!) distance from a line on the ground marked by a cone. Tom got 45 out of 50 points on that one!
He kicked ass. 268 points. Next was 142 for second, followed by 107 for last.
I’m very proud, can you tell? My brother lives in Denver, and I’ve never visited him there! Woo-hoo!