FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND

Okay, time for a funny trucking story from the old days with my good friend, Brian Halford as the boss. Brian had started a company called, Roadline Transport. We hauled freight, mainly to the eastern seaboard of the United States, but we also went west as far as Nebraska. The dispatcher was a guy named Peter Westhouse. Brad Hardy and I were the first two drivers in the company, and we took pride in making it a success. The only thing that Brian did with the logo made it too big. The letters were 10 feet high. You could be in Niagra Falls, Ontario, and read the company name from Buffalo, New York.

Marketing genius?

“What do you think,” Brian asked.

“It’s way too big,” I said.

“Too big? Why?”

“Makes it hard to flee the scene of a crime,” I said.

Brian was quiet.

Now I’ll tell you my story. New Jersey is one of the crummiest places on the face of the earth for a trucker. Lots of truckers wouldn’t go to New York City. I liked NYC because I understood how and when to navigate it. The only bitch I had was driving through Jersey to get there. Delivering in Jersey was riskier than in NYC. At least four people approached my truck trying to wave me down while driving in bad parts of the many industrial areas we delivered to. Stopping meant getting hijacked. If there was an accident or it was 5 O’clock the backups would pile up for miles and miles and onto intersecting highways. This chaotic mess usually resuted in more fender benders caused by anger and impatience.

I was on my way out of Jersey up into Pennsylvania and by luck the traffic was light. I delivered to a place that ran smooth for a change and escaped before rush hour. I honestly can’t remember the PA city, but it was a burg whose main industry was pulp and paper. I was going in to this place to pick up giant paper rolls destined for Canada. It wasn’t hard to get to there, I turned off the interstate, and caught a state route. I had directions. A brand new Freightliner and trailer. Turn right, go under the bridge turn left your at the gate. I ask how high is the bridge. A lot of these burgs go right back to horse and buggy. Some have very low bridges, below the 13′ 6″ minimum for a standard 53 ft trailer.

He tells me it’s 13′ 6″.

I turn, see the bridge. It’s marked 13″ 6″. I proceed under the bridge and I hear sound. A double tap of tearing Aluminum. Ponk! Ponk! I got my head the window, and slow crawled out the other side. Now, I’m pissed. Because I know something on that bridge damaged the roof of the trailer. I’m seething. Now I was going to have to call dispatch. Look Brian in the eye, after damaging one of his brand new trailers. “Fuck me and the horse I rode in on!”

I get to the plant, line up on a door and go back and open the barn doors. I climbed up inside and walk to the nose. I looked up to see two pen sized holes side by side. Not a tear, but punctures. Definitely a bolt or two from the bridge undercarriage. I taped it up and sighed, and called dispatch. They loaded me and I grabbed my paperwork and got out of there. I took a picture of the bridge sign when I rolled out, the extra 43000 lbs of paper had lowered my trailer significantly so I passed under it safely. Then I came to a light, which was a T-Junction off to the right. Now keep in mind that I’m still brooding. “Fucking bridge!” I stop at the light ready to turn right, and my advance turn green lights up but the opposing traffic keeps turning left blocking my turn. “What the fuck?” I wave my hands. “What are you doing?” One car goes by, Jersey plate, they finger me. “Huh? Fuck you too!” So, I pulled out both six shooters gave a double fuck you right back at them. The next car has his finger up, right out the window. Jersey Plate. And me, not shy to express my feelings give them the double pump, and a big helping of, “Fuck you too! And you and you and…”

Then I saw the Hearst, and the funeral tags, and I melted into a puddle of shame on that air ride seat. I holstered my guns and my anger. When the last car passed, I turned north toward Scranton. When I felt far enough from the scene of the crime, that the ghost would not haunt me for my disrespect, I let out a short laugh. Then, I got on my Mic phone and called my buddy, Brad.

“Hey, Mark, what you up to,” Brad answered.

“I just hit a bridge and fingered a funeral procession.”

Then I told him the story.

They would never know who that double pumping foul mouthed lunatic trucker was. Except that he was behind the wheel of a brand new Freightliner pulling a brand new trailer emblazoned with the 10 foot high letters: Roadline Transport.

Thanks for listening

HEY, DON”T GO AWAY JUST YET.

Check out the Highwayman series.

Book One Highwayman Book Two: Four

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