Drivers' Corner - Lookin' Back

Well, drivers, here I am back again to tell you some more of my adventures of when I first started driving tractor trailers. As I told you in my story, "The beginning," the first tractor and trailer I drove was an old G-model Mack with two gear levers and 15 forward gears. It had the widest cab I had ever saw and my co-driver owned the truck.

We left our home in Mabelton, Georgia, and bobtailed to Dalton, Georgia, where we picked up our trailer loaded with carpet going to North Hollywood, California. My co-driver was driving first and showing me how to shift both of those gear levers. We were pulling a 40-foot trailer and when I looked in the mirrors, I thought that was the longest, biggest thing I had ever seen. As I sat on the right side of that big wide cab, it looked like I was sitting way off the road, like we were taking up the whole road and then some.

When we left Dalton, Georgia, we went north on old Highway 41 and, boy, was it narrow. It looked like we were sitting off the road on my side of the truck and, let me tell you, it was scary. We went into Tennessee and picked up US-72 west to Jackson, Mississippi (that was before Interstate 59 was built in Jackson). We picked up old Highway US-80 (that was also before I-20 was built) and it was also very narrow.

We went across Louisiana and into Texas. There we broke down in a small town I believe it was called Sweetwater. The blower on the truck had went out on the previous trip and the owner of the truck had blocked it off with a piece of flat steel and a bolt, but the heat from the exhaust had burned the bolt and the exhaust was coming into the truck real bad. We had to stick our heads out the window to breathe until we got to a small truck stop. The people at the truck stop told us about a guy that had a small truck with a portable shop on it. So we got him to fix our exhaust leak.

It was very cold and we would have to stop working on the truck at times to go into the truck stop to get warmed up. My co-driver told the guy to please roll up the left window and put a bolt through the door so I could not get the left window down since I was about to freeze him to death while he was in the sleeper berth. Since I was younger than him I guess I was just warmer natured than he was, but he changed his mind about putting a bolt through the door after I promised him I would leave the window rolled up.

As we left that truck stop and headed west across Texas, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant. The waitress brought us our drinks and a small bowl of some green stuff we thought was some kind of salad to have before our meal, but we soon found out it was ground up peppers to put on our food after we took a bite of it. It set us on fire and we were about to burn each other's eyebrows off because that pepper was so hot. After that we learned not to eat the pepper by itself at Mexican restaurants.

We headed west again and since it was my first trip across Texas and the desert, it was very exciting to me. I would sit up in the passenger seat to look at the desert and the cacti instead of getting in the sleeper like I should have done, but it was something new and exciting to me. So, we had to take shorter turns under the wheel. I am sure some of you newer drivers have done the same thing on your first trips with your trainer.

Drivers, I will continue with this story next month. So, in the meantime drive safely out there and be courteous to each other and other drivers.