Tuesday, May 23, 2006
That's the rule when driving a truck; check your mirrors every eight to twelve seconds.
It was my turn to drive and my instructor said, "Are you ready for Central Pike?"; one of the local roads that I'm very familiar with, I said "Sure. I know that road. I've driven it often."
So me, my instructor and two of my classmates head out on this winding, skinny, little country road. Gorgeous scenery, but a slow trip in an 18-wheeler. I'm trying to pay close attention to the road, keeping my speed under the limit by about five miles and doing very well.
Watching the road ahead of me to assess any potential hazards, I see a pickup truck that I think is backing out of his driveway, so I slow down. I then determined that the pickup truck was actually parked in a driveway with a lot of other cars, him being the last one in line, and had the ass end of the truck sticking out into the road.
I maneuvered around him when at the same time a huge dumptruck comes flying over the hill and comes this close to me. After we passed him, I turned to my instructor and said, "I just want you to know that I am not easily flustered and don't get nervous, so don't worry." I didn't want him to think because I am a new driver and a girl, that I was going to get freaked out by something like a close call; seriously people, I'm from New York, I've driven in the city. Hellooo??
I was just about to say to him, "Besides, the worst thing that happens is you lose a mirror," when a second dumptruck comes hauling ass over the hill and BAM!! smacks right into me, shearing the side view mirror right off the truck.
The first thing I thought was, Shit. and then immediately following that thought, I can't wait to blog this.
My instructor Jim looked over at me and said, "Did he stop??" and I said, "Uh, I don't know. I don't have a mirror. I can't see him."
There was no shoulder to speak of on the road, so when he told me to pull over, I'm thinking Where?? I pulled the truck as far over as I could, put on my four way flashers, and stopped. The guys in the back, my classmates, were looking out of the other mirror to see if the guy stopped and when we determined he didn't, my instructor switched places with me and took the truck back to the yard. Shit, I was never going to live this down.
On the ride back, I asked Jim if he were watching me drive back there. He said "Yes." So I said, "Well, I feel like I was in my lane and going slow enough. What do you think - was I in my lane?" He said I was, that it was the dump trucks fault because he was over the yellow line, too close to my truck. With that, Terry (one of my favorite classmates and apparently, a big fan of my driving skills I later found out) says "Oh no, he was totally in your lane. Over the yellow line. I knew he was going to hit you."
Jim said, "I do have to say that you impressed me. Both times. With that first truck, you slowed down, you controlled your vehicle, you assessed the situation. I thought for sure he was going to hit you and I couldn't believe what a close call it was. Then with the second truck; man, you didn't even flinch. No scream. No swerve. Nothing. Very impressive."
Back at the yard, the word spread like wildfire among the other students, instructors and then the program director. Terry was telling everyone, "You should have seen her. She didn't even flinch. She just kept on driving like nothing happened." I guess they were surprised that I didn't act like a girl. As if.
In the meantime, Jim went to get a replacement mirror so we could go back out and finish our practicing. Here's a closer look at the missing mirror, after the "incident" and before the repair:
I guess now, I will not only check my mirrors every eight to twelve seconds to make sure the area surrounding my truck is safe, but I'm also going to have to make sure they are still there.