The Things One Sees From the Cab
I have driven a dump truck locally for over 20 years. Driving a truck is a strange vocation--one sees the darndest things. I've seen people get stupid at high speed and end up dead, sex happening in cars, high-speed bank robbery pursuits, etc. Driving a truck, one just hopes it all ends in a near miss.
The strangest thing I ever saw happened about 10 years ago, as my coworker Tom and I headed to a jobsite across town. It was about 6 am and each of us was driving our own truck and trailer rigs. Traffic was unusually heavy and we were only moving at about 25-30 mph in the right lane. As we came upon a busy onramp, a BMW was trying to merge onto the highway right next to Tom's Kenworth. There was plenty of room in front of and behind my friend's truck, but somehow the person in the BMW did not see it that way and just rammed right into the steering tire of the truck without looking.
I was following, and we were talking on the radio about traffic when it happened. Tom said, "*******...I think somebody just hit me!"
I answered, "Yeah Tom, a BMW just bounced off your front wheel."
By then, Tom could see the car, driver stunned and swerving, in his mirror. Since there was nowhere safe to pull over, Tom called to me, "Motion that guy to follow me up to the big turn out where it is safe."
"OK," I said, as I motioned to the driver of the car to follow. By then, we had slowed to a crawl, but could not stop since no one was dead and it was not a safe place.
Then the driver of the car completely lost his mind. I guess he thought that we were trying get away, but who tries to pull off a hit and run in a dump truck in broad daylight? He completely freaked out, gave me the bird, jumped out of his car, and ran maniacally after Tom's truck waving his hands in the air. My jaw dropped, and I just watched in perplexed amazement.
He wore a long, grey trench coat with slacks and wingtips; he looked completely ridiculous running down the freeway in heavy traffic. Then he did something that still makes me wonder. He reached out and grabbed one of the spreader chains that hangs off the tailgate and tried to dig in his heels. What the heck? I guess he actually thought that he could bring a dump truck to a dead stop with his wingtips. I radioed Tom, "Tom, that guy has a hold of your chains and is trying to stop you!"
Note that Tom is a great person and one of my best friends, but he does have a bit of the devil in him. In answer to my warning, black smoke just poured out of the stacks on Tom’s truck. Tom just kept picking up speed and this fool just kept a death grip on that chain. I'll never forget the vision of the trench coat flapping high as the man’s legs extended in 40 feet long strides.
Tom’s better sense returned and finally made him slow down; the exhausted man collapsed in a heap of disheveled clothes and hate as the truck came to a stop.
It was deeply satisfying a few minutes later, when a sheriff’s deputy arrived and wrote the man tickets for improper lane use and road rage as he just glared at us.
We were all lucky that day though; the man might have lost his fingers or worse.