I just got back from driving another 2,400 km trip across the Canadian prairies, and now I’m sad.
I always looked up to you as professional drivers. I admired your skill and courage as you pushed through summer storms and winter blizzards. I respected the personal sacrifices demanded by an exhausting job that kept you far from your friends and family.
I loved to watch a semi starting up from a dead stop: the cab of the tractor torquing with sheer brute power; the big diesel engine growling and snorting. I always enjoyed the sight of your big rigs gobbling up the miles. I liked the thought that in each of those cabs was someone who loved the open road as much as I do.
But my last couple of trips have ended all that.
Maybe some of you are still dedicated professionals, but too many of you are downright dangerous. I spent my drive in dread of having to pass you. Five different truck drivers nearly wiped me off the road; veering into my lane and weaving back and forth. One even drove down the centreline for several miles at a time. If I’d had any safe place to pull over, I’d have called 911 and reported that guy, but I didn’t dare stop in case he caught up and actually succeeded in killing me on his next try.
I always give you lots of space and make sure I’m driving consistently so you don’t get any surprises. I know cars can be hard to see from where you sit so I always make sure I’m visible in your mirrors, but that didn’t matter because these guys weren’t watching their mirrors. Or the road.
Years ago we rarely saw a wrecked semi unless the road conditions were truly fearsome, but I saw three fresh wrecks during this trip. There was bright sunshine and unlimited visibility. A long straight four-lane divided highway on flat prairie. Perfect driving conditions. I don’t know what you’re doing up there in that cab, but you’re not paying attention to driving. Maybe you’re texting or talking on the phone or, like one guy I saw, reading a book propped against the steering wheel.
Why would you do that?
You know you can’t stop an 80,000-pound vehicle on a dime. You know what happens if you run into a smaller vehicle.
When I was young, we called you Knights of the Road. You looked out for us little folk, and you were heroes to stranded motorists. In a blizzard, we knew if we could find a semi and follow its taillights we’d be okay. Now you’re just as likely to lead us over the edge of a cliff.
I’m so disappointed. I feel as though the big brother or sister I’ve idolized all my life has turned out to be a fraud.
I know the days of stopping to help other motorists are long gone, made impossible by your ridiculously tight schedules and the added dangers of armed nutcases and heavy traffic. But do you really care so little about your professional pride and the safety of other motorists that you won’t even bother to drive a straight line?
Come back, Knights of the Road. I miss you. I miss the joy of driving and the sense of safety you used to give me.
And I don’t want to become a grease spot under your wheels.
With sincere sadness,
* * *
Sorry it’s not my regular foolishness today. I usually love driving that trip, but those drivers really spoiled it for me. I guess I’m lucky they didn’t spoil it permanently.
Just to show I haven’t completely lost my sense of humour, though, I’d like to share a little personal revelation I had somewhere around the middle of Saskatchewan. I was singing along with my music as usual when I suddenly realized that I am incapable of screeching out high notes without simultaneously clenching the steering wheel in a white-knuckled grip and contorting my face in a horrible grimace.
Between my awful caterwauling and my scary expression, it’s no wonder the truckers try to run me off the road.
P.S. Something weird is going on with either WordPress or my domain today. I’m sorry if the blog won’t behave – I’m trying to figure out the problem. In the mean time, as they say: “Call me if you don’t get this message”.