My truck was in the shop from Thursday afternoon until Monday afternoon. I spent that extended weekend in a hotel.
I will always appreciate one night in a hotel. You get a shower and a comfortable bed, I’ll never turn that down.
Two nights is still ok. But by then it was the weekend, and nobody was going to work on my truck until Monday. Saturday morning, I was afraid I would start going stir crazy, but I was rescued by another road angel. This time, in the form of an old high school friend who had moved up from California to Oregon. She was not far from me, and with her husband and youngest kid, scooped me up and spent the afternoon showing me around downtown Portland. It was fantastic, and yet another example of the kindness I’ve been shown on this journey.
On the Sunday I went for a long walk, took a lot of really great pictures, and felt the stir crazy settling in.
Oregon is indeed beautiful, but I needed to get out by that Monday. Luckily, by the end of business the shop had replaced the bad fuel injector, patched everything back up and said I was free to go. You bet I put the pedal to the metal and flew out of there.
In trucking, if the wheels aren’t turning you aren’t making money. I’ve said multiple times that I didn’t go into this business solely for the money. But I didn’t do it to be a pauper, either. I got breakdown pay, Schneider has been good about that, but it’s a shadow of what I could have been making driving actual miles. I was grateful for the next load that got me out of Oregon.
Back to the daily grind.
Then there was the time a bee flew into my cab. Northern California, beautiful morning, and I see something swoosh quickly past the front of me as I’m driving.
I usually drive with the window down. I like the breeze, and it helps me with listening to the truck. I don’t like being shut in with all the windows up and the A/C on. It feels like I’m separate from the experience. The downside of an open window policy is that nature sometimes encroaches into your personal space.
Was that a bee? I though. No. Yes? I was looking around the cabin while trying to keep my eyes on the road. I didn’t see anything at first, must have just been a fly or something. That’s when I looked down and saw a bee resting right there on my steering wheel. Right at the top of the wheel, 12 o’clock with my hands squarely at 9 and 3.
I froze. I’m not allergic to bee stings, so I didn’t panic. But I almost panicked. Ok, I sort of panicked.
My immediate thought was to pull the truck over, stop safely on the side of the highway, then get out and run screaming down the road. Instead I just stared at the stationary bee as it rested on my steering wheel. It didn’t move for almost a solid minute.
Shit. I’ve got to do something. I reach over to the passenger seat, pick up some paperwork and try to shoo the bee back out the open window. I get as far as the shooing, but it immediately flies towards my face then lands on my leg. I legitimately panic at that point, and nearly lost control of the truck.
In hindsight, yes, I should have just pulled over. Trust me, lesson learned.
Now it’s on my leg. Shit Shit. I reach back over to grab an empty water bottle. I only drink water when I’m driving. Ironically, since I started driving a truck, I’ve almost totally giving up coffee. Weird, huh? Anyway. Open water bottle, and I manage to trap the bee inside the bottle. You’re probably hoping that when I had stopped for a break, I gladly released the innocent bee back into the wild. But, nope, left him in the bottle.
Speaking of death, I think I passed Death, today. He was driving a flatbed.
I was driving over the Grapevine, Interstate 5 in California, southbound, just north of Valencia.
Schneider trucks are governed, meaning they can’t go over a certain speed. And, normally, I stick close to the speed limit anyway, which means most of the day other trucks pass me. I always try to look over to see who’s passing me. Most of the time I get a friendly nod, or even a wave. Trucker to trucker, the kinship of the road.
Until Death passed me.
Have you ever seen the movie Christine? John Carpenter’s criminally underrated adaptation of the Stephen King novel about a demon possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury. The old man who sold the titular Plymouth to the unsuspecting kid, that what this driver looked like.
Only his eyes were even more hollowed out, and his face was even more gaunt. And he gave me the death stare.
Not the usual death stare, like, “What the hell you think you’re doing, idiot” stare. No, I am a frequent receiver of that look, I am familiar with it. This was something different, something…other. For a brief second, it was like he looked into my soul. In that instant, I felt cold, and placed outside of time.
He most certainly knew about the bee.
He then broke the stare, passed me and continued on driving down that highway. I’m positive it was Death. In a purple long nose Peterbilt, pulling an empty flatbed.
Cruising towards the City Of Angels.