I’m driving a 26-foot truck from Colorado to New Hampshire this week with my friend Allison. I’ve never driven a truck this big before.
At first I approached it as an exploration of a new world. We stopped at truck stops and tried to figure out how things worked in the world of professional driving. It was confusing; at every truck stop there were different rules for the pumps. Sometimes you could pay at the pump but mostly you couldn’t. Sometimes you had to pre-pay and sometimes they wouldn’t let you. There were also some issues with what side you pulled through from and whether it was rude to go the opposite way.
The professional drivers were all very friendly but they didn’t offer advice and we didn’t ask for any. We just kept talking about how we were “truckers” now. When pulling off the highway we yelled “there’s the truck entrance!” at each other, as if this made us something special. One time Allison even told a lady behind the counter at a truck stop that we were truckers. (The lady did not seem impressed.)
Then this morning, while trying to figure out the incomprehensible rules of yet another set of gas pumps in Joliet, Illinois, a driver at the pump next door came over to help us and gave us some advice.
“You know, you should really use the diesel pumps over on the auto side,” he said. “Sometimes the diesel at the truck pumps is more expensive because of the road taxes we pay.”
Allison and I looked at each other in dismay. “But we’re a truck!” Allison protested.
“Well, those other pumps are for the smaller trucks,” he said. “The private ones.”
Smaller trucks. That stung. We thanked him and went on our way, but the trip was not the same after that. Were we really a truck, or not? It seemed we were only a truck when it came time to pay the higher fees at the toll booths.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. Inclusiveness is a great thing but you can take it too far. Don’t try to include people in groups they don’t really belong to, especially if it will cost them dearly. And don’t assume you’re a member of the club just because you wear the jacket.
2. The world of professional driving is worthy of great respect. Truckers are courteous, friendly, helpful, and very skilled at what they do. Sometimes we just sat and watched them back their enormous vehicles into tight spaces, admiring the confidence with which they maneuvered.
3. Next time I need to move, I’ll hire movers.