legalacidity's musings

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Truck Drivers: Scum of the Earth or Just Misunderstood?

You know, I’ve always tried to give the eighteen-wheeler drivers of this country the benefit of the doubt as they are often driving many miles for days at a time and as we all know, driving is not the easiest thing in the world to do for hours on end. Plus, there was that “Roll On” song by Alabama that described the truck driver as the family man, trying to make it home. Then again, there are oftentimes that I yell and scream at a truck driver (through my windshield, from the safety of my own vehicle—I’m not crazy) and wonder how he ever got a license after he does something that I perceive to be stupid, pigheaded, shortsighted, or today, just plain dangerous. It is during those times that I perceive the American truck driver to be an angel of Satan whose only purpose is to inflict doom upon us poor souls in passenger vehicles.

As I was driving back from my teaching gig at a high school in Birmingham—yes, in addition to being a law student, one of my jobs is to help shape the minds of tomorrow’s leaders (terrifying, isn’t it)—I almost got run off the road by not one, but TWO truck drivers. There I was, about five miles outside Tuscaloosa, minding my own business, when traffic slows to the speed of molasses. I thought that there might be a wreck, but we were moving, albeit slowly, and after a few minutes I passed by a “Left Lane Closed – One Mile” sign. Great, I thought: just a few more minutes and we’ll be past this. I was in the left lane, following a giant eighteen-wheeler. We moved a few hundred feet and he got over into the right lane thanks to one of his eighteen-wheeler buddies letting him in. I though to myself, “No problem. Surely truck driver guy will let me in.” I was wrong. After creeping along with my right turn signal on, and getting closer and closer to the end of the left lane, I decided to speed up a bit because I saw an opening two eighteen-wheelers ahead. As soon as I did, BOTH trucks swerved over into the left lane to prevent me from passing them.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all been stuck in traffic on some interstate somewhere and seen eighteen-wheelers slowly move onto the shoulder from the right-hand lane to keep people from zooming by on the shoulder. This I agree with, as speeding by on the shoulder can cause all sorts of problems, and the only vehicles that should travel on the shoulder in those situations are police cars, emergency vehicles, tow trucks, people that have to go to the bathroom, etc. I see no problem with that. Today, I guess that the two minions of the underworld thought that I shouldn’t be able to go by them in the soon-to-be-ending left lane; either that, or they were practicing their left-side blocking skills. I can almost see the method to their madness in today’s case, too, but it was kind of hard for me to fully understand since one of their own evil compatriots was the reason I was speeding up in the first place.

I was able to speed by Jackass #1 but I soon realized that if I kept up my current line and speed I would crash directly into the side of Jackass #2. So, using my superior “crazy driving” skills (ask some of my friends, or my fiancée—they’ll tell you), I turned the Taurus on a dime and split the jackasses and passed Jackass #2 in the right lane. Once I was past him, I did the obligatory “slow down to almost a stop to make a point that the jackass was being a jackass” move. I did said move until Jackass #2 laid on his horn, at which point I sped away.

My question is, are all truck drivers just brazen idiots with a Napoleon complex who enjoy scaring the bejesus out of the rest of us, or do a few of the crazy ones give truck drivers as a whole a bad name? To me, as much driving as I have done in my life, I tend to go with the former, but then I think to myself that they can’t all be lunatics. Or bad drivers. That’s all truck drivers do is drive, right? Shouldn’t they be the best drivers in the world? Or the universe? It’s like the kicker in football—you never know he’s there until he misses a gimme field goal or boots a kickoff out of bounds. The only time I notice eighteen-wheelers on the road is when they are either A) poking along in the left lane, stacking up traffic behind them; B) making abrupt lane changes that cause other vehicles to severely brake or swerve to miss them; or C) attempt to run me off the road. Today, on my trip to Birmingham and back, I noticed all three of these things happening.

So, whatever you may think of the American truck driver, whether he is the “Roll On” family man or a crazed lunatic, I’ve made up my mind. The eighteen-wheeler driver is like the football kicker (college or pro) who misses at least one field goal or shanks one kick per game. The only difference between the two is that the kicker would ultimately get cut, or fired, but the truck driver drives on into the sunset, blowing his horn and laughing it up. Jackass.

2:00 p.m. - 2005-11-17

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