Drivers' Corner - Knight of the Highway

"Give a man a fish, you feed him once. Teach the man to fish, you feed him for life." I remember that quote from the ever–present lectures my dad gave me in my days of rebellious abandonment. At the time I didn't appreciate the lectures, but as they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." And as I get older, I find myself finally learning the lessons that my dad had meant for me to learn years back when they were first given.

I was no exception to the rule of a teenager knowing everything, yet knowing nothing. My mother always reminded me that I was as bull headed as my dad. My dad would always say I was as bull headed as my mom. So, which was it? Surely it was a trait from human nature rather than an inherited trait from either my father or mother. Some just develop it better than others.

"Teach a man to fish." It never occurred to me how satisfying it was to share knowledge and experience with another. It seems not only the learner but the teacher is rewarded. Perhaps that's the mission here on earth, to pass on to others the things we learn.

The newbie that my driver supervisor sent to take the truck home and me was a lady driver. It pleased me when I sensed jealousy creeping from underneath Alice's skin as if this lady was trespassing upon her territory. Alice jealous? Wow. I liked the feeling of her wanting me and poising to fight for what she had. What she didn't know was that she already had me wrapped around her pretty little finger.

The newbie girl, named Terry, seemed full of questions. I had met many newbie drivers who already considered themselves members of the million–mile club. They seemed to have all the answers for everything, and you could tell by the annoyed and frustrated look upon their trainer's face. Terry was one who seemed to have all the questions instead of all the answers. She seemed like a child with a ferocious appetite, always chasing you with a hungry mouth crying out, "I'm hungry. I want something to eat." Well, I wasn't going to just give her a meal. I was going to teach her to fish.

I knew I wasn't a trainer, but I figured her hardest area would be backing since most time is spent on the road going forward. So, every time we stopped I made her back into a space instead of pulling through a convenient spot. Terry didn't mind, but the drivers coming in seemed to get irritated at the length of time it took for her to find the spot. I turned off the two-way so it wouldn't distract her and make things worse. I could only imagine what was being said over the airwaves. Perhaps I should have left the two way on, which would have taught her the greatest lesson she needed in trucking. Patience. I've seen how the lack of patience has wrought havoc upon a person's life, making one miserable and ready to quit. It was firsthand experience for me!

The other great virtue required would be a sense of humor. All she needed was to imagine the thoughts of those watching as I struggled painfully out of the cab. A cast on one leg and a neck collar, and obviously walking in a world of hurt. At one place I added to the drivers' imaginations by saying Terry was my wife and, as they could tell, I had lost the fight! It did feel like I had lost a fight. Each time the truck bounced, the jarring brought sharp pains that made me wince. Answering Terry's questions and telling tales kept my mind somewhat off the pain at hand. The doctor had said to get bed rest and I was sure he hadn't meant a bed that was bouncing down a highway. When I did lie down in the sleeper to sleep, I found myself wincing every time the jake brake came on or the truck slowed down.

It was hard learning to trust another behind the wheel. I found myself secretly peeking through the curtain more than lying down. I was hoping Terry wouldn't catch me peeking through the curtains, making sure she was between the lines and not riding up someone's tail. The distrust really wasn't aimed at her, but was an instinct of survival. The mind says, "If the truck is going to crash, I would like to be the one behind the wheel for then I'd know I did what I could to prevent it." I didn't think I was so obvious until she jokingly asked if there really was a brake pedal mounted on my side of the truck and if my knuckles ached from grabbing the dash so much. I assured her that it wasn't her driving, but that the painkillers were playing tricks on my head.

When we reached the Rockies, the feeling of not being in control worsened. A fear that had been with me from my rookie days, and somehow I couldn't shake, was losing the brakes. I wasn't so much worried for myself since I had the mountain experience. It was a newbie behind the wheel descending a grade with a crippled driver helpless in the passenger seat. Too slow didn't seem slow enough and a helpless feeling flooded my mind though Terry was doing fine. "What if? What if?" the question kept coming to my mind as if we were on a gut–wrenching roller coaster ride. I wished I were behind the wheel so that I could be in control. I knew Terry was in control, but my mind was saying that it would only be safe if I had control.

That brought my mind to Alice. Why was I willing to take a chance at something I didn't have total control over? Not that I wanted control over Alice for I knew already that would never happen. I wouldn't want it to happen for I had no respect for robots. The fear was not of the building relationship, but of it busting up later on. Should I really take a chance like that? It would be so much easier just to take care of myself and not have to worry about daily interaction with another, would it not? Did I really need a soul mate as they say?

With my mind being overwhelmed with all these thoughts and fears, I doubled the dose of the painkillers and soon wondered why I hadn't doubled the dose before. Sleep became unavoidable. Thankfully, the world, the mountain pass and the fears became hazy and I soon fell fast asleep.