I whipped around as the sound of screeching tires filled the country air. The rain fell in sheets as two bright headlights cut through the watery mist. “Wanna ride?” A man about my age was hanging out of a semi truck’s driver window. Cars whizzed by impatiently as the man stared down at me, waiting for my answer. I had just a few more miles to go until I reached the town ahead. I normally decline hitchhiking and have only taken rides when I felt I really needed them. The few times I have taken a ride I made sure to keep track of the few miles they take me so I can make them up later, by walking around towns on my days off. If it were any other vehicle I’d would have definitely said No, but the urge to finally ride in a semi truck overtook me.
I gave a nod and crossed the street, waiting for a few cars to pass first. I ran around to the passenger side door and looked up. The door loomed high above me and the rain made the steps and hand railing slippery. I managed to wrench open the door and began to climb up the semi’s stairs. The moment the door was open the semi’s driver put it into drive and the semi lurched forward. My feet slipped and I hung on for dear life as the truck gained speed, the pavement moving quickly beneath me. I gave a feeble yelp as I continued to climb into the truck’s cab. The forty pound pack strapped to my back made all of this incredibly harder than it needed to be. The driver gave a yell of delight when I finally climbed into the bouncing passenger seat and slammed the door shut.
“The names Big Bob!” he yelled over the semi’s groaning engine. “Jordan.” I responded, taking his hand and giving it a shake. I told him I was walking across America and that I only needed a ride to the next town. He nodded as he punched a few buttons on the truck’s dashboard and the semi hissed and a great cloud of smoke issued from the front exhausts. This was my first time in a semi and it was exactly how I thought it would be. High above everyone else we streaked past forests of pine trees and fields of grass as cars moved out of our way and into our wake. The seat that I sat on had rusty old shocks and I bounced up and down, back and forth. I get motion sickness pretty easy and it was already taking over all of my sense, creating a queasy fog in my brain. I glanced behind the seats and saw a dirty matress covered in worn and ripped jeans and western style shirts. I noticed a few bullet shells sprinkled among the truck’s floor as well as a bumper sticker stuck near the stick shift that read “This truck is fully loaded with $2,000 worth of ammo”. I gave a small frown, but the driver didn’t seem to notice.
“Hey there Quick 76, this is Busy Big Bob. You’re looking clear from here to Macon.” Big Bob was on his CB Radio. A few moments of static then Quick 76 replied. “Copy that Big Bob. Its good seeing you again. You’re headed for some stormy weather.” Big Bob gave a nod and clipped his radio microphone to the dash as we bounced past the oncoming semi, who gave a long horn blast greeting.
“Thats a clever handle you have, Big Bob.” I said, eyeing the bumper sticker again.
“Well thank you!” he replied smiling. After a few minutes of silence, he asked, “What would your handle be, bud?”
“Hmmm…” I thought. “I would be called… Semisaurus Rex.” I smiled but knew how stupid I just sounded. Big Bob didn’t look over at me, but I saw that his gears were a workin’. Finally he let out a loud laugh and slapped his knee.
“Like a dinosaur!” He laughed. “My boys love dinosaurs!” and he pointed to a picture just above his bumper sticker. The photo was ripped and battered but I could still make out three young boys. Bob gave a nod and smile when I gave him the thumbs up of approval and we continued down the road in silence. A minute later we entered the town where I was to stay for the night and he pulled the rig into the middle of the road, into one of those shared turning lanes. As the rain fell heavier, cars zoomed by either side of us, some beeping their horns angirly at us. “Well… here you go!”
I looked around, realizing that this is where he was going to drop me off, right in the middle of the road. I shook his hand and grabbed my bag. Opening the door I got a wave of vertigo looking down at the pavement far below. I slid, rather ridiculously, on my belly off the seat and out the door, my feet kicking wildly trying to find steady ground. A car honked as I finally fell to the pavement and Big Bob had started driving away. Cars passed carelessly on either side of me as I waited in the middle of the road, searching for a break in traffic. As I waited I began to feel my queasiness starting to subside. While now I was able to finally say that I have ridden in a semi truck, I wasn’t necessarily ecstatic. Sprinting through a gap between a few cars I came to my side of the road. This… I thought, falling into step on my familiar shoulder of the highway, is where I belong.