“Taking The Wheel”

Roger Clark
June 2022

The driver sitting across from me at an Oklahoma truck stop claimed to have never had an accident, or received a citation, failed an inspection, or been reprimanded by his employers. I’m sure it was true. Or could be true. 

It wasn’t a fairy tale, I suppose, because his recollections didn’t start with ‘Once Upon A Time.’ He did, however, start it with ‘You ain’t gonna believe this, but…’ so there had to be a foundation of truth to his stories. Or could be.

He said he had a fast truck. Real fast. So fast, no one could keep up with him. Just then, a 747 came in for a landing at the nearby airport. Slamming his coffee cup down on the counter and rushing out the door, he hollered, “See? Every time I stop, he catches up with me!”

As for me, I’m pretty good at what I do. But it wasn’t always this way. What was, for years, included crashes, tickets, service failures, and logbook violations. You ain’t gonna believe this, but….some days I was wishing for the chance to use ELD’s.

 I don’t know how I got through those days. Well, okay, yes, I do. It was with the grace of God. No way was I able on my own to survive so many calamities. To this day I don’t know why I’m so blessed with bad luck, or cursed with the good fortune, so it’s probably okay to share a few stories.

But if you want to be known as the driver who can back up triples, while shifting doubles, and picking up beautiful hitchhikers, then you might be better off in a comedy club. Unless you’re not funny. Then you’re stuck with appearing on Saturday Night Live. Jay Leno put it best when he said, “If you’re not funny, don’t try!” Unfortunately, SNL never got the memo.

As a member of the Commemorative Air Force, OOIDA, and NRA, I’ve heard the best stories ever to come from outside a hanger, inside the truck stop, or up front at our local shooting range. Pilots, drivers, and shooters all have stories, and some need to be told, but others maybe shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, some of us didn’t get the memo either.

A while back, at a Commemorative Air Force breakfast, I asked if anyone had read a brilliant article in our national organization’s monthly magazine. When several people at the table rolled their eyes, I quickly found the author was sitting right next to me.

I once worked for Missouri’s most dynamic carrier, during a period of unrivaled growth and expansion. One of our drivers pulled a flatbed from Kansas City to Joplin in two hours flat, and still had time to get a speeding ticket. I know. I was with him on the trip.

While employed by a Minnesota funeral home, I took my sister to her chiropractor on a mortuary cot. Most people don’t know the difference between that, and an ambulance stretcher. But doctors do, and he was horrified to see it in his hallway. I thought it was useful. Sis thought it was funny. The doc thought it was neither, but the look on his ashen-white face was both.

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘When they outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns’ but I’m not sure that’s all bad. Every time I’ve been to the ER lately, some gangbanger on the other side of the curtain is being treated for a gunshot wound. Or better still, being rolled out the door on my sister’s mortuary cot.