“Not much happens the first few days.” I said to my new student driver. “We’ll mostly just get to know each other.” Easing onto the freeway, floating the gears like an old timer, I drove as if I knew what he needed to learn.
I had just met Mike an hour earlier, in Joplin, Missouri, and we were now trucking up Interstate 44 headed for Canada. Fresh from six weeks at a Texas trucking school, Mike was assigned to me for the next six weeks. Then after this real world experience, he would be paired up with another driver of experience equal to his.
Most of my students during that era came from a wide variety of work experiences. I had a banker, once, and even a mechanical engineer. Mike was a Licensed Practical Nurse at a senior center in southern Missouri. Little did I know how prophetic that would soon be.
Passing a rest area near Springfield, Mike suddenly yelled “There’s a body over there!”
There are a few statements that stop me in my tracks. That’s one for sure. Pulling over and stopping directly in front of the rest area, I jumped from the truck with Mike right on my heels. Racing around to the right side of a cabover Peterbilt, we came upon a strange sight.
There lying on the ground was a middle aged woman, groaning in pain. Struggling to regain consciousness, she was laying on her side, propped up on one elbow. There was no injury immediately apparent.
Kneeling next to her was a younger woman, who turned out to be a daughter, doing what she could to comfort her mother. When I asked what happened, the younger woman was so distraught she couldn’t even speak. Oh great, I thought, what next?
Just as I finished checking the victim’s vital signs, I heard Mike yelling from the other side of the cabover. Jumping up and sprinting around it, I was surprised to find another victim, this one a male in his thirties.
He too was conscious, and not seriously injured.
The man on the ground, we quickly learned, was the driver of the cabover Peterbilt. The female victim was his mother-in-law. Neither had life-threatening injuries, according to my LPN partner, and the younger woman wasn’t hurt at all. Before we could learn exactly what had happened, the cavalry arrived, including a fire truck, an ambulance, a deputy sheriff, and the Missouri Highway Patrol.
The investigation took mere minutes. The fire truck and deputy sheriff were released from the scene. Both victims were loaded in the ambulance and transported to the nearest Personal Injury Attorney.
Shortly thereafter, the trooper approached Mike and me, a wry smile on his face. A smile? Really? Well, when he shared what happened, we were smiling too.
It seems the trio had just pulled into the rest area, minutes earlier, and they were all in a predictable hurry. Unfortunately, the mother-in-law didn’t know how to exit a cabover, and she fell several feet to the pavement. The driver quickly climbed on top of the Peterbilt’s doghouse (interior engine cover) and saw the lady lying on the ground.
This caused him to faint, and that in turn allowed him to fall backwards, which led to face planting on the pavement. Hitting the ground from that height is no joke, conscious or not, and both individuals were lucky they weren’t hurt worse.
But that’s not the end of the story. Mike and I decided to stop for lunch, after this chaotic experience, and get our wits back in place. As we sat down to eat, we noticed two truckers in a booth right across the aisle.
“It was a shootout!” the one exclaimed loudly, “and they killed each other, right there in the rest area!”
With that, my partner and I burst out laughing all over again, proof positive there’s no rest in the rest areas!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY. Life is all about how you handle Plan B.
You can reach Roger Clark at [email protected]