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the death of a stop sign
heart-hurt
soopageek
Location: Salina, Kansas

The other night, Jason said: "I always thought all truckers knew each other."

He was making this statement as the result of his realization that we, in fact do not.  So we're making some progress.  Now if I can only get him to understand that I don't know everyone from Kentucky.  Apparently, he has this problem of extrapolating his experience in Harrisburg, Illinois to all other locales regardless of size or demographic.

Jason: "Isn't Muhammad Ali or George Foreman or somebdoy from Louisville?"
Me: "Yes, Muhammad Ali was from Louisville."
Jason: "Do you know Ryan Roaker?"
Me: "No."
Jason: "He sold some stuff to Muhammad Ali one time.  He was from Muncie, Indiana then moved to Louisville.  He sells air plane filters.  Do you know what air plane filters are?"
Me: "No. Should I?"
Jason: "They're filters that clean the air in your house, like, .01 microns of dust and they cost about four thousand dollars.  Ryan Roaker sells them and he comes to Harrisburg to sell them.  And they're about four thousand dollars.  I thought you might know him."

Why he calls them "air plane" filters might remain one of the great, unsolved mysteries of our time.  The only thing I can come-up with is that maybe it is a brand name called "Plain Air" or something.  I nearly lost control of the truck when he said "microns", not that I think he has the fogiest idea what it means, he's just parroting something he heard.  Hell, I couldn't tell you what a micron is. His reptition of the cost of these filters made me think of that scene in Rain Man when the doctor is asking Dustin Hoffman how much a candy bar and an automobile costs.  Jason is actually making some improvement, albeit miniscule, in his driving ability.  I have a glimmer of hope and will keep slugging away at it. It's become, like, a challenge or something; to make a driver out of this guy. 

He hit a stop sign today, though.  He didn't, like,  nudge the edge of it with the trailer, he flattened it.  I have been on him constantly about not paying enough attention to his trailer.  I've told him repeatedly, that, in addition to keeping an eye on it all the time, he needs to be particularly vigilant anytime his vehicles are not in a straight line.  Obviously, I didn't use the word "vigilant" when speaking to him, he'd probably think I was talking about a fancy salad dressing they have at Ponderosa.  He was turning right from a little side-street onto a four-lane city boulevard.  Immediately to our right, and crossing the boulevard just beyond our right-hand turn, were a set of railroad tracks.  The corner was really, really tight and as he began moving into the boulevard it was obvious he was turning entirely too soon. 

"You're not going to make it like that," I said, while watching the trailer tandems arc toward the curb in the spot mirror beside me.  He hesitated in the street for a second.  Apparently, I assumed too much; that he had stopped to actually look in his mirror.  I might've noticed he hadn't but I was still watching the corner in the mirror.  He then continued moving forward, which at first didn't concern me because it was still correctable if he would've turned outward for a while and let the trailer finish clearing the curb.  To my amazement he continued his current course and all I could do was watch in the mirror and say "Stop, stop, stop, stop...."  I'm not sure how many times I said it.  I kept saying it because he. wouldn't. stop.  As I watched the stop sign slap the ground like a fly-swatter beneath the wheels of the trailer, I said "You just hit the stop sign."  I think it was at this moment that he finally checked his mirror.  And stopped....

...in the middle of the railroad tracks.

"There's nothing you can do about it NOW, Jason.  You're stopped ON RAILROAD TRACKS!"  He put it back in gear and completed his turn onto the boulevard.  His explanation was that he thought I had meant something in front of him, an oncoming car or whatever.  Which that may be the case, but it's still no excuse for not watching your FIFTY THREE FOOT TRAILER as you're executing a turn in downtown Wichita.  I added that, for future reference, when I say "Stop", I don't mean any other moment, reality, or plane of existence than the present one.  Of course, not in those words, I didn't want the poor guy's head to explode.  Later, after navigating him back to the freeway toward Salina, I summed it up with the following.  "I hope your little incident back there will finally make you understand why you HAVE to watch your trailer in a turn.  You can never assume it's following you the way you're expecting it. Never!"

Hopefully this hard learned lesson will stay with him and it's something I won't have to worry about anymore.  I doubt it.  To his credit, though, he did do an awesome job backing just prior to the stop sign fatality.  The customer from where we had just come was a lumber yard.  Their receiving dock isn't impossible by any means, but it's not exactly a cake-walk either.  You have to back into it from a relatively small city street.  While he had some trouble visualizing the "setup" and I had to talk him through that part, once he began to execute the actual backing manuever, he did rather admirably.  Maybe there's hope for the boy, yet.

Some more recent JasonismsTM:

[here is a perfect example of what it must be like to be inside Jason's head when it receives information and he tries to process it into useful knowledge]
Jason: "The super highways and interstates...  they have satellites telling them where to go.  You ever watch the Discovery Channel?"
Me: "Yes, I've watched it a time or two."
Jason: "They did this show about the satellites pointing at the earth and... they have things, like, so far apart all along the highways that make them run straight."
[I'm assuming he saw a show about how GPS works and got REALLY confused.]

[travelling westward in the right lane]
Me: "When we exit at Seneca Boulevard, we need to go south."
Jason [pointing left]: "That way?"
Me: "Yes."
Jason: "Does that mean I need to be in the left lane?"
Me: "No."
[I should add that evey exit so far had been right exits and there were no signs indicating our upcoming exit was to be a left exit.]

I've explained numerous times to Jason how exit numbers on most interstates correspond to mile markers; except for those weird fuckers in the northeast with their sequential exits and the dipshits in California whose mellow would be harshed to number their interstate exits at all, dude.  But, he still hasn't seemed to be able to grasp this concept yet.  His total lack of comprehension of this has been the source of these beauts today:

[I had told Jason we were taking I-135 north to I-70.  After driving for a while and apparently brain-storming on this for some time.]
Jason: "Will I-70 be at Exit 70?"
Me: "Probably not.  If it is, it's just a conicidence."

[earlier, on I-35]
Me: "When we get to Wichita, we'll be looking for U.S Highway 54 and U.S. Highway 400.  They run together through the city."
Jason: "It'll be an exit ramp?"
Me: "Yes."
[later, coming into Wichita]
Jason: "So, like, how that sign says "57" I'll be looking for a sign that says "54" "?
Me: "That sign's exit 57, Jason, we're looking for highway 54 and highway 400.  I'm not sure what exit number it is."

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you gotta fail this guy, yo.

this is dipshit stuff that every 7 year old can figure out.

i have a question. uh. when you flatten a stop sign, do you call soemone and tell them? and who pays for it?

Usually the protocol is hope someone didn't notice and let the municipality figure it out. :) The taxpayers of course pay for it... of course, one of the biggest contributors to general city, state, and federal highway taxes are commercial motor carriers.


are you going to be in kc?

I was in KC this morning :) but obviously that wasn't an opportune time for socializing. I'll see how/where my backhaul takes me. Maybe I'll come through before you take-off for Boston

If he is EVER in 300 miles of my house.. Let me know.. I want to be in the basement.. surrounded by mattresses and other soft things...

now i know why my amazon stuff never shows up when i expect it.

the dipshits in California whose mellow would be harshed to number their interstate exits at all

Well, we're able to read words, so we didn't really bother. ;)

Anyway, we are numbering them now. The first numbered exit I saw is near SFO, exit number 420 on US 101. Until I saw the next numbered exit, I thought some stoners had gotten really creative and ambitious.

Yeah they've started numbering them on I-5 as well, sporadically. It'll be nice when the state gets the chaneover completed.

I have no clue what my exit number back home is anymore, still.
My first year of college GA started changing all the exits to correspond with the mile markers. That was 1999/2000.

"The super highways and interstates... they have satellites telling them where to go. You ever watch the Discovery Channel?"

OK, the utter randomness of this whole statement had me in stitches for a full five minutes.

You, my friend, are a brave, BRAVE man.

Yeah, I was hoping to capture the way his thoughts are jumbled because he can't process a lot of information into a coherent thought... I'm glad I conveyed that adequately. :)

That you did.

I'm torn between wanting to meet him out of sheer morbid curiousity and wonder at how long it would take me to want to maim him.

I want to see what this boy looks like.. he could be cute, dumb, and trainable..

"Yeah.. I need to drop you off in Minneapolis for acouple of days of special training.. I'll spend time with this girl in Minneapolis.. Mark will help you one-on-one."

you konw I ain't jokin either ;)

I was actually thinking along the same lines. If he's really hot he could quit the trucking thing and become a himbo.

(Deleted comment)
I couldn't help but laugh non-stop when Aaron was reading this to me. May the stop sign rest in peace.

"I'm not sure how many times I said it. I kept saying it because he. wouldn't. stop. As I watched the stop sign slap the ground like a fly-swatter beneath the wheels of the trailer, I said "You just hit the stop sign." I think it was at this moment that he finally checked his mirror. And stopped....

...in the middle of the railroad tracks."

This is not funny but I sure did laugh.

I'm going to have to go back and read all of your entries. I like the way you write.

Heh, in the case of Jason... most of it is direct quotes.

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