Adventures of Trucker Joe #2 - Heading Onto The Public Roadways
When last we saw Trucker Joe, he had finally managed to back up in a straight line without running over any traffic cones. With a further two days of practice Joe even managed to intentionally change directions while backing. He even managed to back up to an imaginary loading dock without running into any imaginary trucks or pedestrians. As we join him now, Joe is about to take his first trip onto a public roadway!
Heading Onto the Road
It will be a big test for Joe, it will no longer be traffic cones that get run over when he makes a mistake. The stakes are much higher as the people are real and the damages would have to be paid for. Still, going forward certainly must be easier than going in reverse.
Joe made a left turn onto the highway and began to work his way up through the gears. On the test track he never exceeded 35 miles per hour, but he was now cruising down the highway at a blistering 48 miles per hour. It was at that moment Joe began wondering if the instructor was going to tell him when to begin slowing down for the traffic light ahead.
Maybe he will get lucky and the light will be green, Joe thought, which would allow him to proceed without stopping. Then it happened, the light changed to yellow and the car ahead hit the brakes. Joe's heart was racing as he struggled to remember how to downshift for a stop. Press clutch, disengage transmission, oh, not enough time. He put his foot on the brake and pressed the clutch, slowing down the truck.
Just as Joe was beginning to feel good about himself, the instructor began to yell. "You can't leave the truck in nuetral and brake!", he shouted, "You have to downshift and let the gears assist". Otherwise, it is not safe, he explained. the truck could lose traction on wet pavement.
Now he was coasting in nuetral and the traffic was beginning to proceed through the intersection. The instructor is already yelling and Joe needs to figure out what gear he should be in. It is easy to start off in first gear, but when moving, it is important to locate the proper gear to match his speed. Think Joe, think!
Grrrrrrr, the sound coming out of the gearbox was absolutely horrible. Wrong gear, Joe thought, frantically searching for the right gear. The instructor is yelling in his ear and now there is a line of impatient drivers behind him. Concentrate Joe, concentrate.
Right Turn Joe
Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Joe managed to find the correct gear and began driving down the road. With his heart racing and sweat running down his face, Joe was gripping the wheel so tight that his fingers were turning white. As the minutes passed, he began to settle in on what he was doing. Until...
"Now make a right hand turn at the next light", the instructor said. A new twist to the whole thing. Joe knew this meant he would have to slow down, find the right gear and go around the corner without running over anything. Keep cool Joe, keep cool.
As he approached the intersection, Joe began to downshift. Once, twice, three times, this may not be so bad, Joe thought. He successfully downshifted to third gear and began to set up for the turn. Swing wide and remember to watch the rear of the trailer in the mirror, Joe reminded himself.
Joe managed to watch the road in front, while occassionally checking the mirror. Smooth turn, with no horns honking in the vicinity. High five in his head as he straightened out the wheel and began to accelerate. You have done it, Joe! You are now a real truck driver and ready to head out on America's highways.
This concludes the episode of trucker Joe heading onto the road. Be sure to watch for episode three, where Joe drops his first trailer. Until then, this is Trucker Joe signing out!
© 2012 Christopher J Wood
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