Well, it is the first day of the NaBloPoMo challenge, and I have been contemplating what to write about for the month. Needless to say, I have no dearth of subjects, and I have a couple of posts written and stashed for busy days. Tomorrow you will be treated to the first of a series of posts on my various experiences breaking up with people during college. This series was inspired by a friend’s experience receiving a “Dear Jill” letter, and my realization that there is really no “good” way to break up.
However, this morning I was reading the comments on yesterday’s post. Ed mentioned that I could save even more gas by driving 60 rather than 65. This is true, and I am aware of that. However, I have chosen 65 as a compromise position, largely in the name of my own safety. This was motivated by something that happened to me this July in Colorado when I was on the infamous road trip to hike and camp with my Dad, brother and brother’s wife.
I had just hit the road the morning after I visited the Monument Rocks in Kansas. I was enjoying the scenery as I entered the state of Colorado. At the state line, the speed limit on the interstate went from 70 to 75 mph. I did not change my cruise control setting. I was out in the middle of nowhere, there was no congestion, and I figured that anybody who wanted to get around my “slow moving” vehicle would have plenty of time and space to do so.
Imagine my shock and fear when a large semi truck came roaring up behind me and positioned himself about three feet behind my bumper. He was pulling two trailers behind him. There was nothing to prevent him from pulling out into the left hand lane and passing me, but he rode my bumper menacingly for about a mile. After he had done that for long enough to really scare me, he whipped his rig out into the passing lane. When the tractor portion of his truck had passed me, he immediately started to pull back into my lane.
I honked my horn, but his co-driver merely looked back at me out his window and laughed as they continued to pull over into my lane. I immediately hit the brakes and headed for the shoulder and ditch. I was being run off the road. Fortunately, I did not lose control of my vehicle and have a wreck.
After the truck and roared past, I shakingly pulled back into my lane. I had no difficulty ascertaining what company was responsible for hiring this maniac, as both his trailers were clearly labelled ”FedEx Ground”. “Hmm,” I thought to myself. “I’ll bet that FedEx has a policy about trying to kill potential customers.”
Actually, my thoughts were a bit more heated than that, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. I knew that if I was going to make a complaint, I was going to need a lot more information than just “It was one of your trucks at about 6 a.m. in Eastern Colorado.” So I burned a LOT of gas catching up with the truck so I could write down the identity number FedEx so kindly posts on every trailer. I didn’t have to make a note of the corporate number, it was quite easy to remember since it was 1-800-GO-FEDEX. I was frustrated for a moment since I was so far out in the boondocks that my cell phone had no service. But I left the freeway at the next exit and availed myself of the services of the land line at the gas station there. They were happy to allow me to use it for an 800 number call.
I called the company, and spent half an hour making a report of the incident. When I returned home a week later, I found that FedEx had taken my complaint quite seriously, and their safety division was looking into it. They had called and left a message to that effect. A couple of days later, they called and told me that this driver had “other incidents” on his record and my case was (apparently) the last straw and he had been terminated.
I’d like to think that possibly I have saved some other less adept driver’s life in the future. But my concern about this sort of road rage incident is one of the major reasons that I do not slow down even further when I am driving on the freeways.
Of course, I don’t understand why the freight companies of this country haven’t done their own mileage studies. Deisel fuel is not cheap. A semi truck has a huge “sail” it is forcing into the wind. I can’t believe that it is efficient, or safe, for these giant machines to tear along at 75 and 80 miles per hour. If I was running a freight company, I would be mandating a slower speed for my drivers, and arranging their pick-up and drop-off schedules so that they could do their jobs without speeding.
Of course, if I ran the country, there would be no trans-continental freight on the highways at all. It would all be shipped by rail, and the only trucks out there would be making local deliveries from the rail terminals. There would be enough rail lines to achieve this, and there would also be rail passenger service that would be convenient and cost effective so people would not feel the need to DRIVE everywhere. When they got to their destinations, there would be good transit service available so they would be able to get around easily while on their vacation or business. Heck, if you did it right, you could have “piggy back” rail cars available so their cars could get to where they were going right along with them, if they so desired.
But I don’t run the country. Too bad.