Channel 19

Todd Dills

On the Road

| July 26, 2007

In Chapter 3 of Jack Kerouac’s novel iOn the Road/i, Sal Paradise is hitchhiking outside Davenport, Iowa:blockquoteHere the big trucks roared, wham, and inside two minutes one of them cranked to a stop for me. I ran for it with my soul whoopeeing. And what a driver — a great big tough truckdriver with popping eyes and a hoarse raspy voice who just slammed and kicked at everything and got his rig under way and paid hardly any attention to me. So I could rest my tired soul a little, for one of the biggest troubles hitchhiking is having to talk to innumerable people, make them feel that they didn’t make a mistake picking you up, even entertain them almost, all of which is a great strain when you’re going all the way and don’t plan to sleep in hotels. The guy just yelled above the roar, and all I had to do was yell back, and we relaxed. And he balled that thing clear to Iowa City and yelled me the funniest stories about how he got around the law in every town that had an unfair speed limit, saying over and over again, “Them goddam cops can’t put no flies on my ass!” Just as we rolled into Iowa City he saw another truck coming behind us, and because he had to turn off at Iowa City he blinked his tail lights at the other guy and slowed down for me to jump out, which I did with my bag, and the other truck, acknowledging this exchange, stopped for me, and once again, in the twink of nothing, I was in another big high cab, all set to go hundreds of miles across the night, and was I happy! And the new truckdriver was as crazy as the other and yelled just as much, and all I had to do was lean back and roll on. Now I could see Denver looming ahead of me like the Promised Land, way out there beneath the stars, across the prairie of Iowa and the plains of Nebraska, and I could see the greater vision of San Francisco beyond, like jewels in the night./blockquotediv class=”blogger-post-footer”Channel 19 is the blog version of the column of the same name featured in Overdrive: The Voice of the American Trucker. Todd Dills (tdills@rrpub.com) is its author./div