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Stories From the Road: Pleasant Memories

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Tobin S. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 04:34 PM
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Stories From the Road: Pleasant Memories
I guess memories are what these stories are all about, and some of them are not very pleasant. But I do have a lot of good memories in my time as a trucker and some of them aren't really enough to make a story out of, so I thought I'd write about them here in a sort of story collage.

One of the first ones that popped into my head was when I was out in Wyoming not long after buying my first truck. It had snowed and covered the ground, but I was making good time because the roads were clear. There was a full moon out on a clear night, and it was so bright that the reflection of it off of the snow made it bright enough to cast a shadow. I had never seen anything like it and found it to be beautiful.

You can shift a truck without using the clutch, other than for stopping and starting. That's called float shifting. Many drivers are taught how to do that in training, and it's easier to do in practice once you learn it, but my trainers were double clutchers. One day, about three months after I started driving on my own, I was coming out of a rest area and building up speed and I accidentally shifted into a gear without using the clutch. I started experimenting out on the road and it wasn't long before I could go through the entire progression, both up and down, without using the clutch. It made me proud that I had learned that on my own.

I was playing blackjack one time out in a truck stop casino in Las Vegas. There was a side bet on each hand that you could play for a dollar. You put a dollar chip there on a special place on the table. I was told that it was a house bet, but I played it anyway. I think they were playing with six decks. If both of your cards were suited you won $2.50; if your cards were a suited king and queen, you won $25; if you had a suited kind and queen and the dealer had the same thing of the same suit, you won $1000. I hit that $1000 on a king and queen of diamonds. Every player at that table hated me.

When I landed that first trucking gig it was a life changing experience. I was having a really tough time in life. My head was messed up, I didn't have any money, and I didn't think anyone cared about me. I needed to get out of town in the worst way and trucking was my ticket. I was laying in bed one night, not long before I was to hit the road, fantasizing about seeing the country and trucking in general and starting a new life. I became so happy that I actually cried. It was like a religious experience. I was leaving a nightmare behind and trucking was my personal savior.

Catching the Art Bell radio show "Coast to Coast AM." For those of you not familiar with Art Bell, he had a radio show that aired in the middle of the night on AM radio. It was a big time show that aired on many stations across the country. At one point, I think he was ranked up there close to Limbaugh in popularity. The show was basically about things that go bump in the night, aliens, pseudoscience, weird science, life forms from other dimensions, conspiracy theories, and just about anything else you can think of that spooked people out. The show is still a reality, although it's hosted by a guy named George Noory now and I don't think the show is as popular as it used to be. Anyway, I would schedule my driving time so that I could catch that show. I absolutely loved it, and I think Bell's charming and friendly personality was almost as much a part of that as the content of the show. Also, for those of you who don't know it, AM radio is a real powerhouse at night. Some of those stations can be heard from as far as seven hundred miles away. I remember being in Montana and catching the big Omaha AM station out that way. I was down in Louisiana one time on I-10 and I could hear Cincinnati Reds Baseball as clear as a bell being broadcast on 700 WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ephedrine. Advertised as a bronchial dilator, it would also get you high as a kite if you took enough of it. Legal speed, basically. It was widely sold in truck stops and health food stores. It's no accident that the stuff was banned and it was not because a few people kicked the bucket while on it. I was driving as a part of a team with a driver who was an ex-crack addict. I had a bottle of ephedrine in the truck and he asked me what it was. I told him that it helped you stay awake at night. He took some of it the next time he had to drive all night and told me the next morning, "Toby, that stuff is dope." And he didn't mean that in a good way.

Coming down El Cajon pass at night for the first time and seeing San Bernardino at the eastern edge of what truckers call L.A. all lit up. Ditto for coming out of the mountains east of Salt Lake City at night. And San Francisco is beautiful at night, as well.

And now new pleasant memories are being created, and a big part of the pleasantness is having you guys along for the ride. A lot of you say that you enjoy these stories, and I thank you. But I bet I'm having more fun creating them than you guys are reading them and for that I owe you all.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 04:51 PM
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1. THANKS for this, Toby!
I have one, not a truck story, but leaving Denver for Chicago after serving as Vista Volunteer Attorney, rented station wagon (remember those?), watching Rockies fade in background, a real moment!

Stopped by Nebraska State trooper for speed, had all my worldly possessions in wagon rented by my father, I said, 'sorry,' told him what I was doing, and he let me go with a warning.

AND THIS on the radio, NEVER forget it!
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Tobin S. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 05:48 PM
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2. You're welcome, and thanks for sharing your story
I've always liked that song. :thumbsup:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-28-11 08:42 PM
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3. i know those shadows
and they are beautiful.

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Apr-30-11 01:20 AM
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4. Thanks, Tobin!
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