Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Every Eight To Twelve Seconds

The rule when driving a truck is to check your mirrors every eight to twelve seconds.  At least that's what we were being taught in truck driver training school.

It was my turn to drive and my instructor said, "Are you ready for Central Pike?"  It's one of the local roads in the Nashville area that I'm very familiar with so I said, "Sure. I know that road. I've driven it often."  So me, my instructor, and two of my classmates headed out on this winding, skinny, little country road. Gorgeous scenery, but a slow trip in an 18-wheeler.

I was 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 saw a pickup truck that I thought was backing out of his driveway, so I slowed 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 his truck sticking out into the road.  He wasn't backing out, he just looked like it.

I maneuvered around him when at the same time a huge dumptruck came flying over the hill coming 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 that because I'm 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 can happen is you lose a mirror..." when a second dumptruck came hauling ass over the hill and BAM!! smacked 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??"

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 was 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 hadn'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 was watching me drive back there. He said, "Yes."

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, and that it was the dump truck's 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) said, "Oh no, he was totally in your lane. Over the yellow line. I knew he was going to hit you."

As we got closer to the school, my instructor Jim said, "I do have to say, you impressed me. Both times. With that first truck, you slowed down, you controlled your vehicle, and 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 even 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 practicing. Here's a closer look at the missing mirror - after the "incident" and before the repair:

I guess now, not only will I check my mirrors every eight to twelve seconds to make sure the area surrounding my truck is safe, but I'm also going to check to make sure they're still there.


Anonymous said...

You sound like you have truck driving aced! I can't believe you didn't say, "That f**cker just took off my mirror!"

Belledog said...

Cool head, Salena. That's wonderful.

I think I would have squeaked, the second time, but who knows ...

Did not realize you trained in Nashville area, but that makes sense.