By Mel McConaghy
Have you ever been driving down the highway on one of those bright moonlit nights?
When the highway is quiet, there is not too much traffic, and the last trucker you talked to on the 2-way radio, wasn’t too talkative. When the AM-FM radio has some tunes on it, but nothing that really grabs your attention. You know, one of ‘those’ nights.
Well I have, and more than I care to mention. Nights when my eyes start getting a little heavy, and I had to mentally kick myself in the butt to keep awake. All because some jerk had his truck running all day in the parking lot, so I never really got a decent sleep. Then I hear it. It’s a strange noise, not very loud, but I can hear it over the sound of my outfit. I come out of my semi-comatose state and listen more intensely. I strongly dislike strange noises.
Although I’m a little hard of hearing, or so my wife tells me as she turns the volume down on the TV, I can still hear strange noises over the engine and the road noise from my truck. I’m wide awake now, as I listen more intensely, trying to isolate and identify the sound. ‘Where is it coming from? It sound like it’s coming from the engine – no – I think it’s the transmission’. ‘Don’t tell me another injector is going!’ ‘No, it’s pulling too good, I’m getting too much turbo-boost.’ These questions and answers begin running through my head at a mile a minute, mentally making me alert to my surroundings. I check all my gauges. ‘Is the oil pressure a little lower than normal?’ ‘Is it dropping when I put some power on, indicating a worn crankshaft bearing?’ ‘No, that’s all right.’ ‘What could it be?’ Now I hate strange noises.
Then the sun starts to rise, it’s a beautiful morning and I’m getting closer to home. I start meeting traffic as the two-way radio comes alive with other truck drivers greeting me. “Hey McConaghy, haven’t you retired yet?” or, “Beautiful morning for a drive, isn’t it Mel?” I look around and think, ‘Yes, it is a beautiful morning!’ But, just hold on a minute. That sound that I’ve been trying to identify all morning is gone. Was it really? Was it my imagination? Or, just maybe it was the old truck talking to me, saying, “Hey look, if you don’t get your act together and pay a little more attention to what is going on here, we will both end up in the ditch on our collective lids.” Does the truck really know you are getting tired? I think it might. When you’re tired, your driving becomes more erratic, you don’t shift as smooth as you would, and you over-compensate when you steer. All these deviations can cause the truck to generate strange noises, or feelings, you would not normally feel or hear. But, being somewhat of a romantic though, I still like to think that the strange noises were ‘the truck talking to me’.
My Life Through a Broken Windshield by Mel McConaghy
Mel McConaghy is a retired trucker and author from Prince George, British Columbia. Mel’s tales are his views of life “through a broken windshield”. They are entertaining and humorous in a folksy style.
Visit Mel’s website at www.melmcconaghy.com