My grandfather was a trucker. Often, he’d be on the road for days at a time, sleeping in his truck for the sake of saving a penny. He traveled from coast to coast, in places that are well-known, and places that are completely unknown. From New York to the River Canto, sitting outside of Third City’s walls. My grandpa was a great trucker, and a well-versed traveler.
He took some notes about driving at night—doing long hauls. He wanted to make sure his family knew the dangers of driving at night, as well as the importance of a few—at the time—little-known tips and tricks.
Here are his notes:
Pulling over for a snooze:
If you’re feeling sleepy, pull into a rest stop or a gas station. Lock the door, park under a streetlight—in that order. Grab the gun from your compartment (always carry a gun) and sleep with the safety on. Focus on the muscles in your hands as you tire, imagine them holding something and never letting go. When you wake, you’ll be a-okay.
Never sleep with pepper spray or mace in your hand.
Never leave the dreamcatcher on the dash.
Don’t bother with what’s in the mirror, it’s never anywhere near your body, I swear. But if you look long enough, it might catch your mind.
Never pick up someone in a suit. They’re too busy to thank you, and too snooty to admit that they’re in need. Once they’re in the cab, they think of you as a taxi driver. Make all kinds of demands, the pricks.
Never pick up a hitchhiker that don’t wear socks. Your cab’ll stink so bad you’ll start to hallucinate (and that’s just what the hitchhiker wants).
If a hitchhiker is dirty, offer to take him to the next trucker stop with you, offer him/her a shower. If they decline, stop anyway—at the nearest gas station. Do this immediately. Tell the hiker you’re filling up and you’ll be back in a moment. Come back with the gas station worker to make sure the hiker is still there. If they are, then swell. If not, buy a rosary before you leave. You’ll need it.
If he ain’t foaming at the mouth, then he probably doesn’t have rabies. If he’s got a collar, odds are he belongs to someone who’d be glad to have him back. Make sure to visually check the dog out before you leave the cab though. If you don’t, it’ll be a disaster.
Oh, and if the dog’s eyes glow in the headlights, he’s fine.
If not, then don’t stop.
Don’t let him stop you.
Do not stop.
Make sure you pull over on whatever side of the road the flat’s on. That way you’re not dodging cars while you’re trying to lift the car off the ground. Never stick your legs under the vehicle while you’re changing the tire either, it could fall over and crush you if your jack fails for some reason. And don’t leave the hub cap behind. It makes it too easy for Them to sniff you out and tear another hole in your rubber.
Don’t turn on your brights. It just lights the fog up—doesn’t help you see through it. Too many of Them in there to get the brights past. Your normal lights are all They’ll let you use effectively.
If you see a—oh wait, does this go under the “hitchhikers” section, or here? Whatever, doesn’t matter—if you see a hitchhiker in the fog, check to see if they’re looking at you, specifically, or your headlights. If they’re looking at your headlights, then it’s okay to stop (see above rules for more details), but if not, then don’t make eye contact. Keep driving. Make sure your visor angel is still attached.
If you see Johnny Law’s lights, make sure you listen for the siren, too. Pull over to the right shoulder if you can. If you can’t, then pull over on the left
Don’t let them run you off the highway.
Especially if you can’t hear sirens.
These can be tricky. Sometimes youngsters like to move detour signs around and then, sure enough, you’ve got no idea where in the Lord’s good graces you’re going, and you’ve got no way to navigate by star. So. When taking a detour, have a pen and a pad ready. Take note of where you turn—note direction, street signs, nearby landmarkers, objects, and any spooky persons you see. Never know when those youngsters will get around to making the street signs disappear, and those aforementioned spooky persons are shit at directions.
Never follow a detour that’s marked with a glowing green sign.
Often times, the radio is the only thing keeping me awake. If you need to find a good station, don’t be afraid to pull over in a well-lit area to change the dial. Finding music that’s familiar is important, as singing along helps stimulate your body and brain into staying awake. If you happen to find a radio station manned by a guy named Asphodel Jones though, immediately change the dial. Or throw out your radio, because it’s probably already too late.
Never take a detour that you’ve only heard about via radio.
Always check your radio antennae when you stop. Anything can damage it—and I mean anything. If you find it bent (or missing) and realize you’ve been listening to the radio for a hot minute, then leave your immediate area. Do not, under any circumstances, use a payphone. Do not talk to anyone at your current stop. Do not speak at all—They might take your tongue. Go back the way you came, and don’t take your eyes off the road ’til sunrise.
Remember that the road is a dangerous place. You’re driving a several-ton steel machine at a high velocity. It isn’t a game. And the road at night? That’s an even more dangerous ball game. Even just taking your eyes off the road for two seconds can lead to a collision, or you might get lost for decades. So be aware, be safe, drive defensively. And never drive when you’re too tired. Those things you see might not always be in your mind.
Grandpa disappeared one night out of his truck. Left nothing but this notebook and his travel log behind. The last few pages were ripped out though, so we’ve never known what it was he was doing. What he saw that night, or where he was going.
It’s nice to hear him on the radio sometimes.