Every morning at school, the same group of selfish fellows manages to get into the trucks first, and sometimes are even taking a second turn before some other folks have their first. I’m often among the second group, though not because of any bashfulness. (I was a shop steward for ten years, after all, and once put the company president on the spot in front of the whole plant.) However, having grown more patient in my old age, I try not to stir things up anymore. Still, there are about six people who nearly always end up last. Even if the instructors try to go by a list of sorts, every day, the “list” starts over with the same pushy people at the top. As a result, they often get nearly double the driving practice in a week that the six other folks do. With a mix of young and old and male and female, you can be sure that there will always be some folks pushier than others. I spoke to the boss-man and asked if he’d consider going by a set list, starting each day where they left off the day before. His feeling was that anyone who wanted to drive badly enough would find a way to get their fair share of turns behind the wheel. I now know him well enough not to expect any change of attitude, so I figured that called for a different attitude on my own part.
Yesterday, while the pushy folks were still doing their pre-trip, I climbed in a truck and staked my claim. Then, when one of the other folks from the “second string” came by, I invited him in. I did the same thing at lunch by coming back a little earlier than them and climbing in before anyone else had a chance. My cohort arranged to join me. I hate to act like the pushy folks but, sometimes, you have to follow the old maxim “If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em!”
The day before yesterday, it was 21 degrees at dawn; and so it stayed for a while. Now, 21 degrees can seem comfortable on a calm sunny day, but that morning was neither calm nor sunny. The wind howled across the frozen dirt lot at “school” as if it was the Great Plains, instead of a valley in West Virginia. Interestingly enough, the trucks had created dust on the frozen lot—frozen dust, in fact. When the wind deposited that frozen dust on the still-warm vehicles that we students had just parked there, the dust melted, dried and stuck like glue. With gusts up to 30 miles an hour, there were times that there were near brown-outs on the lot. A couple times, as I sat in my truck and waited my second turn, all I could see was a huge cloud of dust with a Kenworth breaking through the wall of brown. It was particularly interesting when a short snow squall dropped beautiful white snowflakes into the swirling sea of brown. At 11, the sun came out and, within an hour, the dust had thawed and settled onto the frozen ground to stay. In the center of the lot during those brown hours had stood the instructor, directing traffic and giving advice to the drivers through the freezing brown storms, often disappearing from sight for several seconds at a time. He was dressed for the cold, but not for the miniature dust storms that surrounded him. He deserved combat pay for that morning!
This morning, I hurried my pre-trip and grabbed a truck again. Three other fellows joined me in the cab, none from the pushy bunch. After I finished my routine, I left and went to the DMV to take the test for tanker. It was exactly two hours from the time I arrived until the time that I walked out the door. During that time, I had to stand in two different lines, sit and wait three times and visit six different windows. The test had 20 questions and took me less than ten minutes. If I get my CDL, a tanker endorsement would let me haul water either for a regular water delivery company, or for the oil drillers we have in the area. I’d much rather do the former.
Not only was my knowledge of driving a tanker tested this morning, but also my patience. The greatest test was simply all that waiting. A lesser test was listening to some high school kid behind me go on and on to his nearly silent companion about how rough and tough a character he (the speaker) was. Later, when the kid was called to a window to get his driver’s license, I noticed that his companion was his father, and the kid was scrawny and didn’t appear that co-ordinated. Also, he wasn’t exactly handsome, had his underwear hanging out a hole in the back of his jeans and had the round shape of a snuff can worn into the pocket of the other “cheek.” I realized then that it was himself that he was trying to impress. I wondered, though, if the father didn’t encourage his behavior, in a way, by ignoring it. Who knows, maybe that’s what caused the kid to need validation in the first place. Guess we all have a few tests in life. © 2014