Sunday, July 10, 2011
What I Need is a Cowcatcher Mounted to the Front of My Truck
Coming home Friday I had to fight some pretty heavy traffic. I say fight because that is what it is - you have to fight and scramble for a spot in the traffic, and if one needs to change lanes, ya gotta fight to do that.
No wonder I hate big cities.
West of St. Louis on I70 just after the speed limit opens back up to seventy mph, the road narrows to a four lane (two each way). It's not enough. I went through there way before evening rush hour, but it was Friday traffic, so it was already heavy.
I try to be courteous and think of how a professional trucker should behave. Really, I do. My truck isn't speed limited to 62 or so mph, so I'm right with most cars when it comes to catching the average fleet truck. I run faster than they do. I do not, however, run ten to fifteen over. I can't afford that habit. The revenuers out there will pull me over in a heartbeat for those velocities while yawning at Joe Sixpack in his Z71 or Mandy Soccer Mom in the Odyssey. Plus, I'm well aware that the average driver isn't paying enough attention to realize that I am running fairly fast - but not breaking the sound barrier as they are. I'm just another truck in the slow lane they gotta get around, often saving at least three seconds before their exit that is coming up immediately.
I try to get out in the fast lane and get the business done, then get over to let faster traffic go. Part of this compact is that by not hogging the left lane, I oughta have access to it when I need it, just like y'all do. So, how's that working for ya, Jeffro?
Not very f#$%ing good.
I'll get caught behind a slow vehicle (it isn't always a truck) with traffic beside me, so I'll turn on my signal to show my intentions - giving everybody notice that I need the lane. I can even see the gaps in the traffic coming that I'd fit. However, that simple act of honesty usually gets me trapped even further, because every one of those sonsabitches coming up will hammer on it to close the gaps.
WTF did I ever do to them? Not a damn thing. However, after about fifteen or thirty "four wheelers" go by, I start to lose patience. This time, I even cut over and started to put some of the self absorbed @$$holes in the median, but even they never lifted, and I didn't really want to see Officer Friendly that badly.
Every once in a while, someone will hold up and flash their headlights to let me in. I figure they are either a trucker who happens to be driving a car, or are related to one. I'm always grateful - blinking my marker lights and waving to them as they go by me on down the road.
Then, there are the traffic tie ups. Say there is a sign telling everyone that the far right or left lane is closing ahead - often in construction zones, but some are permanent fixtures. Specifically, I435 Westbound just past Antioch Road - the far right lane ends. I've gotta be in the next far right lane to get off at the I35 exit coming up - and since we all know how generous people are vis-a-vis trucks and traffic, I'll already be in the lane that remains.
Of course, the time was five thirty, right in the thick of evening rush hour. I was in that lane, patiently awaiting traffic to move - stop, move ten feet, stop, rinse and repeat. Ninety nine percent of the drivers had lined up in the correct lanes, leaving that closing right lane wide open.
Well, you know there is gonna be some self absorbed @$$hole who cannot wait and will drive down that right lane with their left turn signal on looking to force their way in and save themselves three seconds from their day. And no one will let him in if they can help it, including me. He could have gotten in back where everyone else who was merging got in, but nooooooo. He had to jump the line.
So who does he pick on to try to force his way into the line? Not Suzy Soccer Mom. She ain't budgin' one little bit. She won't dilly dally when traffic speeds up - keeping about two feet off the bumper of the car ahead of her. Same for Joe Sixpack.
Trucks, on the other hand, don't accelerate as quickly. So Mr. Self Absorbed @$$hole parks himself just ahead of my bumper, hoping I'll not be able to keep the gap closed and he can force his way in. Notice he didn't pick Mr. Cross Town Express - the guy in the beat up fleet chicken hauler who's truck shows the many scars from many minor scrapes and bruises. Obviously, he's been in a few scrapes already and just doesn't care if you in your Beemer want in or not. He drives in this crap all day long and frankly doesn't give a rat's ass if you both end up on the side of the road waiting for a cop to arrive.
I'm a different story. My truck is clean and shiny, and my bumper and fenders are straight. I've never hit anyone. This is actually a mark against me, because it makes me the target for these buttwipes. Sooner or later, after I've shown I can keep the gaps closed, he'll just start coming over and dare me to run him over. Since it's not my truck and I have some pride in keeping it up, I'll be forced to let him in. He's already an @$$hole, so he can stand me laying on the air horn to let him know he's what he is. That won't bother him a bit.
Should I win the lottery and become King of the World, well, look out. I'm puttin' a cow catcher on the front of my truck, and I'm gonna be looking for some payback. Try forcing your way in front of me? Hammer down, baybee, and your slick import will be a gouged and dented wreck in a split second. So much for saving that whole three seconds out of your day. So you don't want to let me over? In the ditch for you, sucker. Y'all know who you are and you've been warned.