I love watching little kids around big trucks — those priceless looks on their faces when they get really close and realize just how honkin’ big the trucks are. We attend Touch-A-Truck events whenever we can. We both think it’s important to educate little kids about where their entire lives come from. I also feel like it should be mandatory for all new drivers to do a ridealong in a commercial vehicle, just to scare some sense into them. Our 16-year-old son is a defensive driver almost unto paranoia because he’s grown up in the big truck, and he knows about 90 percent of the drivers out there are polishing their toenails, talking on the phone and eating Thai food with chopsticks while operating vehicles at high rates of speed.
The last event we attended was at our home base — Enon, Ohio. Enon is a tiny farm community, with a lot of tractors and huge equipment. It’s kind of hard to impress farm kids. Most of them have been on a tractor since they were able to walk, so even the little ones are old hands and unimpressed with the size of the vehicles. Our truck was the only sleeper in the display, so we had a good little group in and out. They were pretty well fascinated with the bunks and the fact that we had a TV. Of course, one kid hopped in and promptly told us his Dad’s combine not only had a TV but a fridge and hotplate and our truck wasn’t all that great. (I was sad when he fell out of the truck. Kidding!! He didn’t fall, I pushed him. Totally kidding! I wasn’t sad at all.)
We answer a lot of questions about where the bathroom is, where we eat, and if we have a PlayStation. One little boy asked me if the top bunk was for our Mom to sleep in. The kids are delighted to pull the air horn, and then scared to death by how loud it actually is. Many a child has gone from elation at the thought of being able to pull the cord, to instant terror and tears at the sound of it.
I always tell them about how the people who drive trucks bring them everything they need to survive. At the last event, we had a precious little girl climb up into the truck and immediately use the air seat as a trampoline. Her joy was uncontainable. She clambered down from the seat, touched all the knobs (a child after my own heart), and jumped up on to the bunk.
“This truck is so BIG!! What do you DO with a truck so BIG?”
I pointed to George.
“This guy hooks it up to a big container, called a dry van, and it’s full of stuff your family needs, and he takes it to the store so your Mommy can buy it.”
“Everything. Things like food and your shoes.”
She stuck a glittery sandal out for me to admire.
“I like my shoes. They’re jelly shoes.”
“They’re awesome. And they probably came to the store where your Mommy got them on a truck.”
She bounced off, tugged the air horn, scared herself to death, and was handed down to her Mom.
She turned around and pointed at George.
“That man is going to bring you a baby, Mom!”
Her mother and I both lost eyebrows to the stratosphere, and immediately looked at George, who was as horrified as we were. Thank God the child continued to talk, because I think poor George lost half his body weight in the sweat that had broken out on his forehead, and was headed for a full swoon.
“That lady said he brings everything in a truck, he brought my shoes and he’s going to bring our baby when it comes!”
I realized then that her mother was pregnant.
“We didn’t tell her babies come on trucks, I swear.”
Her mom laughed and shook her head. “She’s four, there’s no telling what’s going to come out of her mouth next.”
George had finally regained consciousness enough to speak. “I know the feeling. Believe me, I know it well.”
An owner-operator has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in ...