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Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Trucking Life or Death?...Decision
What would you have done?

With all the racially charged theatrics going on in the country these last few months, it made me think of a split second decision I had to make back in the early 1990’s. I was on an over the road trip from Wisconsin to Texas and back with my now ex-wife with riding along. It was a good multi-stop mileage run that went to Dallas, south to San Antonio, east to Houston before the return to Wisconsin. I would grab this run whenever I got the chance because it paid very well.

After completing my stops in Dallas, I pre-tripped the tractor and trailer, discovering a flat tire on the trailer in the process. It was early-afternoon and we were near the central, urban and rundown area of the city. I looked in my truck shop directory and found the nearest facility, which I decided to drive over and get the tire repaired. I was not familiar with the area and after exiting the freeway, noticed that the neighborhood was very seedy with vacant buildings and dilapidated houses.

We entered the truck shop yard without incident and had the tire repaired. Eager to get back on the road and out of the city before the afternoon rush, I didn't waste any time. I thought the way back to the freeway was simple, but, I made a wrong turn. That’s when our day went bad.

I found myself in a residential neighborhood that was full of porch sitters and gang-banger types. The speed limit was 25 mph and I proceeded down the street, intending to turn left at the next corner and work my way back to the freeway. As we approached the intersection,there was a gang of approximately 12 or 15 teenagers standing around the corner. As I slowed for the turn, I was very observant, watching them watch us. One of them started yelling something at the others and raised his fist, they all stepped quickly off the curb directly in front of the truck facing me.

The ONLY thing that I thought was that if I stopped the truck, we would be robbed, beaten or killed. In that "it's us or them" moment, I grabbed the gear lever, downshifted and mashed the throttle wide open as I pulled on the air horn. The bangers scattered in all directions with one tripping over another as he fell. One guy barely made it out of the way, I turned the steering wheel to avoid him, but there was no way I was going to lift off the throttle. I then started grabbing gears, assuming one or more of them had a gun.

I kept going straight to the next corner before turning as my wife screamed at me “You could have killed somebody!”. I was dumbfounded and yelled back “What did you want me to do, stop?. We could have been killed!” She didn't answer and I don’t remember that we ever discussed it further.

I grew up in the “inner core” of Milwaukee in the 1950’s and 60’s and I remember the evil that permeates in those gangs. My ex-wife lived 15 years in Salt Lake City and spent many more living in northern Wisconsin and was away from all that. She had never lived in an area where you had to constantly be vigilant, keep your home locked up and fortified and watch your back. When that gang of youths came off that corner, it seemed my instinct automatically kicked in. It wasn't the first time my life was threatened, in my younger years in Milwaukee, I was robbed twice and involved in a knock-down brawl with a neighborhood thug at work earlier in my life. Those are stories for another day, maybe.

What would you have done? My life could have completely changed that day if I had hit one of them. It would have been one lone white guy and his wife’s word against the whole neighborhood. On the other hand, my wife and I could have been robbed, beaten or killed. I’m so sick of these race baiters like Jackson and Sharpton that keep stoking the fires for their own personal gain. They never have solutions, except to throw more taxpayer money at the problem, which has never worked.

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