I'm no truck driver
By: Walter Little, Jr.
Over the weekend when my wife and I made a trip to Wal-Mart and I came across a truck driving simulator for my computer called “18 Wheels of Steel: American Long Haul” and I was eager to get home, install it and try my hand at driving a tractor-trailer. There was a problem: although they told me how to crank the truck, release the brake(s), etc. they left out one “minor” detail – how to put the truck in gear. So my first few attempts were an exercise in frustration until I found out that the left and right shift keys serve as your gear shift levers. Now we're cooking with diesel! The next big hurdle – since I was now able to get the truck moving – was to get out of the truck yard. Although not quite as daunting as trying to figure out how to get the semi moving, it still proved to be quite a hurdle. Several tractors later (walls are very unforgiving) I finally managed to roll out of the yard! I didn't do much though because it was late, so I just went around the block and pulled back into the truck yard.
Fast forward to last night (Monday) and my second real attempt at driving. This time I was smart and decided to originate from Atlanta since that's where my wife and I actually live. Memories of my first attempt still fresh in my mind, I actually managed to get out of the yard with only a minor scratch to the right-front tire from getting a little too close to the curb. Now we're truckin' (pardon the pun) and I'm on the game's version of Ponce de Leon Avenue headed to pick up my first load. Things we're moving right along and then, all of a sudden, traffic light! Using what I'd been taught when I first learned to drive, I tapped on the brakes and nothing happened! Don't get me wrong. . .the truck slowed down very slightly (maybe 1/1000nd of one mile per hour) but I'm doing 39.5 miles per hour and that traffic light is closing fast. Normally I wouldn't think of breaking the law, but the truck wasn't stopping so I made sure the intersection was clear and did a “California stop” meaning I cruised under the light without stopping. Of course, the simulator let me know in no uncertain terms that I had broken the law and that if it happened again I could expect an Atlanta Police cruiser at my “back door.” (Trucker lingo for coming up from behind you rig.) I was lucky so I decided I needed to be observant and give myself plenty of time and distance to stop. I drive about a block and here comes the next stop light. This time I started gently braking and coming to a stop not realizing that a small car had changed lanes and crossed into my blind spot at the front of the truck. Can you say C-R-U-N-C-H?
Until next time,