Tag Archives: trucker

On The Road #26 – An Iowa Night

The trucker who invited me into the warm cab of his long-haul truck on a cold November night of 1970 was looking for conversation. So was I. He was an interesting man and he seemed interested enough in my endless prattle. At least he didn’t pull over and tell me to get out.

The conversation did touch on the trucking life and he assured me that, yea, there have been times he got tired of it and tried something else. But punching a clock and getting into a daily routine soon sent him back to the road. 

And then there was the time he and his wife decided it would be good for him to be home. The kids were getting through grade school and he didn’t want to miss all of their growing up. Besides, it would do them good to have their dad around the house and his wife could use some help getting them through their teen years. So he talked with the company he was driving for and took on the dispatching job. 

Things went well for five months or so before he and his wife started driving each other crazy. Neither of them wanted to get to hating each other so they both agreed it would be best for him to get back on the road. He added, “Now I sure am glad to get home to my beautiful wife every two to six weeks. And she sure seems to be glad to see me, that’s for sure! Heck, even the kids seem to enjoy my being around for several days.” After those several days, he assured me, the whole family knew it was time for him to go haul something around the USA.

Around midnight the driver pulled us off the freeway and into a truck stop. Was this my cue to say thanks and get myself out of the truck? I sure didn’t want to jump out of that warm truck but this was my first ride with a long-haul driver and I didn’t know what was expected. Before I could ask, he described an adjustable metal stick that he could use to hold the accelerator peddle in one position while he got in his berth for the night. He then gave me a couple of dollars and asked if I’d go in the shop and get him one. When I got back with it he did not ask me to leave as he got in the back of the cab for a good night’s sleep. 

Folks, if you are looking for a comfortable night’s snooze I do not necessarily recommend the passenger’s side seat in the cab of an idling semi truck in the middle of a brightly lit parking lot cocooned in the fumes of fifty other idling diesel engines. But should you find yourself cashless on a windy November midnight in Iowa it is a comforting thing to do. 

On The Road #25 – Freeway Ramp

It was getting late in the afternoon when I walked away from the amorous plant salesman at a roadside tavern somewhere in the Illinois countryside. By the time I got rides back to Interstate 80 it was getting dark.

Always aware of flying under the radar, I knew to keep my thumb on the ramp of a freeway rather than hitchhike on the highway itself. But alas, just as I approached an entrance to I-80 a brown car had a blue flashing light put on its dashboard. Although the police were not in uniform there were the uniform questions: what was I doing? where was I going? have any ID? I had a sense these Chicago-suburb police were looking for something to fill up a quota. Perhaps drugs? No problem there. If I made a point of only hitchhiking on the ramp of a freeway can you image me being stupid or ballsy enough to be carrying any sort of drug? Ha! That’s a good one! 

Still, it was getting dark and having police rummaging through my pack and perhaps taking me in for a more personal search would leave me abandoned on a suburban street in the dead of a cold November night. 

Just as I was overthinking these things there was a crackling from their police radio. It sounded like static to me but they seemed to understand the language, handed me back my driver’s license, and left without a word.

That was not the only time I have been rescued from an awkward situation by the Gods of Good Timing – and I thank them profusely.

As soon as that brown unmarked car had driven off I walked a few yards down the onramp to Interstate 80 heading west. My intention was to get a third of the way down the ramp so folks would have a chance to check me out and pull over before the freeway. I didn’t make it. Instead, a long semi truck pulled in front of me. I scurried to the cab, climbed up to the handle, opened the door, and was invited in. 

I got out in Utah.