Truckers: earn while you learn.

"Here he comes again, boys. Call the Highway Patrol."

"Here he comes again, boys. Call the Highway Patrol."

Sweltering day on the Oklahoma Texas border, bridge job, late 1950's. Hot and humid, maybe 105 degrees, It was the kind of day where you could lose eight pounds, make it back up that night with a big steak and six beers. It would be 110 by afternoon. T'was ever thus, but now they've figured out a way to monetize it by calling it global.

Without getting into a long explanation of what well points are (boring) they suck water out of the ground around cofferdams (deep holes with pilings in them, that have to stay somewhat dry for awhile) and they require sand around them to remain functional. So, another guy and I were assigned the idiot work of walking from a large pile of sand with a shovelful of said sand, dump it into the well point hole, repeat. Once that hole was full, you'd go to the next one. There were many. I'd rather be at a rock fight.

About an hour into this government work I had resigned myself that my day was to be nothing but this, good lord. Then one of the foremen yelled,"Who can drive a truck?" My hand shot up. He handed me some keys. It was a right-to-work state, so though I was a laborer, I became a teamster. Booyah.

The only truck I'd ever driven was the pickup variety; this was a much larger truck. It was a large rig with a flatbed and an extension trailer for hauling steel. You had to climb over a 50-gallon saddle tank to get up in the thing. I was told to drive to a neighboring town and pick up some generators; off I went. I shifted up and up but it seemed to remain in low gears, and I couldn't get it to go more than about 20mph. I looked around for clues. There was a handle on the gearshift which I fiddled with but that just played havoc with what I figured must be the airbrakes--lots of whishing noises and a gauge needle fluttered. Then I spied a red pull button on the shifter, and pulled it--the truck leaped ahead, freed of its lower gear ranges. Another on the job discovery.

I was now hauling ass over a country road. It bounced me so badly I hit my head on the roof; luckily I was still wearing my hard hat. I slowed a bit. Once I got to the highway though, I punched it again, up to about 75.

A sign said Weigh Station Ahead. This meant nothing to me. I blew past them like the Wabash Cannonball making up time to Atlanta. Some in the glass enclosure waved, somewhat frantically it seemed, I waved back. On the return trip I was loaded with seven generators all chained down (another on the job educational session--they had these "boomer" chains with ratchet handles and you tightened them making sure the chains wouldn't crush parts of the generators--I was ignorant but not stupid, big difference).

Once again I waved at the friendly guys at the Weigh Station as I screamed past them, the rogue trucker who didn't just break the law, I shattered it and left it laying on the roadside. I mean they could see what I had on the bed, right? Why waste time stopping. Next time a Highway Patrolman would insert himself into my earn-while-you-learn trucking course. There are many more tales, and I'll tell 'em. Some other time. Have a nice day. (That trooper might have said that.)