Back when I first started driving a truck and had a little difficulty backing into tight areas, I had the “pleasure” of being sent to a downtown Chicago business where the only truck access was through the alley. A very narrow alley. About halfway down was the dock I was supposed to back into. A recessed dock with concrete walls on both sides. The walls started as just small curbs but the further down the dock recessed, the higher the walls became. They were eight and a half feet apart—the exact width of my trailer—but due to all of the trucks that had scraped them over the years, in effect, the space was a little wider. There actually were several such docks, in Chicago and other mid-west cities, but this particular one has a story.
These days, I would love the challenge—backing off of a narrow alley into such a small opening, making sure to position the trailer precisely between the walls, turning it right when it needed to turn, and keeping it straight all the way to the dock—that would be fun. Back then, not so much.
The guy on the dock, who told me where to back in, said not to worry if it took me a while, because they were going to lunch. So, I had an hour—to do the impossible. Or what seemed impossible at the time.
I waited until everyone left to move the truck. I certainly didn’t need an audience! Once I was alone, I began. Doing a set up, I started backing, angling the trailer toward the opening. Then, when it didn’t work, I repeated the process a few times. Every time, I had to stop. I didn’t want to add any fresh scrapes to the walls—or my trailer.
I was glad no one was watching my many failed attempts. Except there was someone watching. And old man who hadn’t left for lunch. He sat there on a bucket, munching on a sandwich—and watching me. I hadn’t noticed him until he got up and, still chewing his sandwich, slowly walked over.
He nodded to me and climbed up on the step of the truck. “Want some advice?”
I said I could use some and he told me, “Just run over the curb. Makes the dock a lot wider at the start and gives you more room to turn the trailer. Then, all you have to do is back up. If you can back straight, you’ll have it made.”
Seemed reasonable, and I knew instantly he was right. I could drop the trailer wheels off the curb where it was eight or nine inches high and easily give myself an extra ten feet. I took his advice and in only a minute or so, I was backed in. The old man waited until I set the brakes and then satisfied I had made it walked off down the alley.
When the loading crew came back from lunch, the dock guy asked if I had any trouble. “No,” I said. One of your workers helped me.”
“One of my workers?”
I nodded and described the guy and what he had told me. “I figured he must have been a truck driver once.”
The guy on the dock laughed. “Charlie? No. He doesn’t even drive. Doesn’t do much of anything. He’s just a crazy man who wanders around down here. I wouldn’t take advice from him about anything.”
Well, that was comforting! A little disconcerting, actually. I wasn’t sure who was crazy, the old man or me for listening to him. But the thing is, his advice worked. Pretty well too. However, I think you can see why after that I was a little more motivated to learn to back up on my own. ~
Bruce A. Borders is the author of more than a dozen books, including: Inside Room 913, Over My Dead Body, The Journey, Miscarriage Of Justice, and The Wynn Garrett Series. Available in ebook and paperback on iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. Amazon Profile – http://www.amazon.com/Bruce-A.-Borders/e/B006SOLWQS. Bruce A. Borders is a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club.