Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Yawning Chasm of Death

Each time we go through Joplin, Missouri we are asked to take our truck and trailer through the "INSPECTION BAY'.  I could say that we had never sailed through Joplin on I-44 waving merrily at the Glass House (that's what we call our HQ . . . cuz its a big building with alot of glass), but that would be a lie.  Sometimes we are just too tight on time to be able to stop.
In addition to taking the rig through the Inspection Bay, we also take on fuel and if we really have time to waste/spare, we get the truck washed.

When you pull up to the INSPECTION BAY, the doors are shut and you have no idea what lies behind them.  I can tell you this, because my trainer (Chris) deliberately did NOT mention what was behind those doors.  The first time he and I made it back through Joplin, I pulled up and stopped at the little stop sign outside the bay.  Then the door opened and I saw this:

Luckily, one of the guys saw the look of stark terror on my face and walked to the top of that yawning chasm waiting to swallow my truck and started waving to guide me in.
I have to tell you that I almost passed out with fright.  Seriously.  I know I turned white (Chris regaled me with these details later) and had such a death grip on the steering wheel that my hands hurt for days.  I had to go on manual override of my flight or fight response and take over control of breathing in order to stay conscious.
So . . . I start inching forward - left foot jamming the clutch into the floorboard, right foot not wanting to come off the brake, right hand sweating on the gear shift trying to find the safest gear (there isn't one) and left hand steering into the Valley of Certain Death and Mayhem (at the very least the end of my trucking career).  Here I go . . .

Yes, they really do expect a professional driver to be able to do this.  You can't see it, but there is about a 1" curb on the inside of each of the lanes.  That is all.  In some shops, there isn't any curb.  NONE.  The outside curb is about 2".  I think there is about 2-3" of wiggle room on this whole maneuver.  I'm sure some GUY (Tony) would tell you there is lots more, but on that first time, there wasn't . . . I swear . . . they made them larger with more room to move after I went through  . . . yeah, that's the way it was!!!!!

This is what we look like after we are all the way in.  It is nice to take a break while they inspect and / or repair the truck and trailer.  Our shop does a really good job.  It takes 10 - 15 minutes and then . . . you have to drive on out.   Over the yawning chasm of death.  Surprisingly, it is much easier to do if you aren't looking at it.  On the way out, there are just yellow lines painted on the cement that you need to stay inside of.  That is really easy if you remember to breath and stuff.
I do it easily now.
Leo even likes to watch now as we go in.