Guest Posts · Life is a Highway

There’s No Business Like Snow Business: A Guest Post by Paul Curran

 

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A guest post by Paul Curran

Damn weather – I cursed as I drove my tractor-trailer into yet another snowstorm, seven in seven days. A break would be nice. Now that darkness had descended, the blowing snow screaming horizontal in the wind drew the heat from the windshield so fast that even with the defroster on full, two circulation fans pointed at the windshield, and heated windshield wipers, the ice was still building up too quickly. I snapped down the driver’s air-powered side window, the frozen blast hitting the side of my head like a sledgehammer, snow swirling viciously into the cab. Leaning forward in the seat, I reached around the door frame, caught the windshield wiper as it changed direction at the edge of the glass and gave it a big jerk outwards – the subsequent bang as it reconnected with the glass shook the ice off temporarily so it could continue to at least pretend to clear the windshield.

As the side window clunked back into place at the push of a button, the CB crackled:

“Hey Eastbound! Where ya headed tonight?”

A set of headlights had come up quickly behind me – some idiot driving way too fast for conditions – and there was only one road across Newfoundland and one major city at the far end. My destination was never a question here. I’d driven this road hundreds of times and had learned to respect it – whiteouts were common with drifting snow and ice invisible on the road until it was too late.

“St. John’s.”

“Great weather, eh?”

Yeah and you are following too close and driving too fast and are clueless. 

“About normal for this time of year here.”

“Oh yeah? Well, I’ll tell you I’m from Illinois, and we get so much snow there that they put markers on the side of the highway that stand about 6 feet high with reflective tops so we can see the edge of the road when the snow is piled high. Makes this look pretty tame.”

He really hadn’t seen anything yet and was way too cocky to be safe. The previous year I had spent over a week in a service station in one storm when the road was closed because of 120 inches of snow.

“Oh this isn’t bad, just normal – daily lately in fact.”

We were passing the Gander International Airport on our left, but there was no indication in the dark as their landing lights were out – no flights expected in the storm. This airport sat on the top of a small elevation, and the road went past the end and below the level of the runways. We were actually passing the very end of a runway not currently in use, and the buildings and lights were out of sight, obscured by the difference in elevation.  – the runway was about 40 feet above and to the left. So that incoming small planes following visual flight rules did not come in at tree top-level and run into the end of the runway, there was a set of what appeared to be light poles flanking the road but which were about 60 feet high. Each pole was wrapped in a red retro-reflective applique for about 10 feet down from the top. Also on the top, but unseen when not in use, were special warning lights indicating that the runway was elevated.

There were 5 of these towering wooden poles along each side of the road where I knew the invisible runway started high above us. Just as Mr. Illinois was done bragging about the 6-foot highway markers in his home state, we came to the 60-foot poles –  to the unknowing, apparently in the middle of nowhere.

“In fact we get a lot of snow here too by times. See those 60-foot poles there with the reflective tops? That’s what they are for – so we can find the sides of the road when the snowbanks are piled high.”

Bwahaha! The timing could not have been better – it was God-given, I swear – all I did was continue his thought.

There was complete radio silence, and I saw the following headlights back off to a respectful and safe distance in the snow. He trailed behind, behaving himself until the next restaurant where he stopped. It was a nice quiet ride after that as the wind abated and I giggled the remaining 200 miles to St, John’s.

*****

What can I say about Paul? We know him as the kind soul who reads everything we write, and then shares his compassionate and wise words. Since the beginning, I’ve been poking at him to share more about his years as a truck driver. There are many layers to this wonderful man, and I’m so honored he shared one of those stories with us today.

I also asked Paul to give us an extended biography so that we could learn more about the man who graces our pages with his smile and wisdom. He doesn’t keep a personal blog, but if you would like to read more, you can find him at Cordelia’s place.

Paul

In my late 50’s I’m still trying to decide what I want to be if I grow up. There is a psychology theory that there are two kinds of people: 1) those who know early in life what they will do and proceed in a straight line and 2) those who wander from place to place and profession to profession collecting experiences to use later in life. I am definitely of the second type. When Michelle asked me to write a short bio, I realized I had never done that before.

I’ve spent a lot of years in transportation and often tell trucking stories. I’ve done many management jobs as well, including owning my own company, transportation manager, project manager, business analyst, operations manager, etc. Oddly enough my life seems to express itself in cycles. I truly enjoy driving professionally (and casually) and now and then I will move into a more white-collar job in management and then after a few years, back to driving again. Usually there is an education component to these driving hiatuses and I have accumulated a number of university degrees and countless specialized courses in such a diverse range of interests as training adult educators, nuclear safety, operating an experimental nuclear reactor, defensive driving, French, computer programming, IT Management, teaching, Highway Safety, etc. Because of health issues I am currently and likely permanently on disability pension. This has given me the opportunity to focus on writing – an endeavor that I have always enjoyed but seldom had the time to pursue. A new cycle has begun.

*****

Paul – thank you again for sharing your highway with us.

Life is a Highway: Where is the most awesome place you’ve ever visited or lived?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In what ways has your life’s journey not gone according to plan? Where are your roots? Have how you handled the following: crossroads, stop signs, one-way streets, wrong turns, hidden treasure. Tell us where you’ve been or where you want to go.

52 thoughts on “There’s No Business Like Snow Business: A Guest Post by Paul Curran

  1. Paul, it’s so nice to see you on the web today – we were worried about you!

    60-foot snow markers? LOL. We could use some of those here, but hopefully not this year.

    Mamamickterry – Thank you for hosting Paul. His stories are the best ever!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. He is truly a gem and I love that you keep a room at your home for him.
      And, yes, Paul! Where are you?? I’ve been worried about you all weekend. Surprise! Look what went live today 🙂
      Thank you, CM for stopping by today. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! I left him an e-mail with the draft and then another one so he could be a contributor. I just worry yaknow?
        Hi Paul if you’re reading this – we don’t mean to freak out on you…but, just want a quick hello to let us know that you’re okay 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi CM! I just got internet back. Thank you so much for your kind comments and I am sorry that I worried you so – I missed you, Mamamick and my other blog friends fiercely.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ” I snapped down the driver’s air-powered side window, the frozen blast hitting the side of my head like a sledgehammer, snow swirling viciously into the cab.” What a great way you create strong multi-sensory images for the reader.
    Funny how all the experiences circle around to build a person. (Lots of fun to do it that way)
    Always enjoy riding along with you. (Stories! More stories…wait…do put those down and make an ebook!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for the compliment and the link Phil – I saved the link and will check it out. I apologize for worrying everyone – I had a perfect storm of internet failure which was ironically suddenly solved by the biggest snow storm we have had here in Ottawa for 120 years. Ha! Life is strange. Yes I do believe, as you do, that a great deal, if not all,, occurrences help people to grow.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cheers you’ve burrowed out! Nothing like a storm to unexpectedly insist on rearranging and redoing everything. Mother Nature just wanted her charges to do a bit of redecorating of places and thoughts? Good to see you around the neighborhood. (careful on that hill near you with the ice!)

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yep, that monster of a storm actually came from Texas, tracked right up the coast, aimed directly at Ottawa. It didn’t waver, flinch, get side tracked – it came directly at us like a well aimed arrow. Are you sure you didn’t sic that storm on me to wake me up Phil? Ha! I was sure that the underside of one particularly large snow bank was stamped “Made in Texas by Union Members and Phil”. We got 20 inches of snow in 17 hours – a record.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I often think that truck drivers and taxi drivers have the most interesting untold stories. I was on the edge of my seat through his journey. Sometimes I really don’t envy those guys. It must be dangerous operating such a huge vehicle plus nobody ever wants them to pull out in front of them in traffic, LOL. You really find the best Michelle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Marissa! So sorry to have been delayed in answering your comment. I am hoping it won’t happen again. Yes, there are great stories out there on the highway, provided you keep your eyes open. Unfortunately, there are many drivers who focus on just getting the job done rather than enjoying it. There are some special challenges driving a tractor-trailer, however, that said, it is often safer than driving a car. One reason is that companies are required by law to teach safety and follow up on incidents. this increases awareness of trouble spots before they become an issue. Also the shear size of the rig makes some situations safer – i.e. better traction on snow covered roads than a car; better visibility for the driver who sits higher; more accessories to address safety concerns – i.e. heated windshield wipers, heated fuel lines, captain’s chairs that support lumbar and allow driver to sit more naturally and comfortably; remote controls for radio, heaters, etc., that allow adjustment without removing hands from the steering wheel. etc.

      Thanks again for the read and comment Marissa.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey Paul, I love hearing about your time on the road. Great post! Although I’m not looking forward to snowy winter days. Thankfully we don’t have too many in Texas. 🙂

    Hear you’ve been hiding out somewhere. Hope all is okay and that you’re just enjoying an Internet break. You’re obviously held dear by all of us out here. Thinking good thoughts for you. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i escaped! Don’t pay the ransom! Ha! Thanks so much for the read,compliment and concern Christy.I apologize for tge delay in answering your comment. All should be OK now – it was a struggle.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha! Hey MIC! Love to – thanks so much for the read and comment. Sorry to take so long in response – believe me, I’ve been chaffing at the bit trying to get back on the internet.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LOVE the story Paul… 🙂
    I have lived from Texas to Michigan… Kentucky and Missouri, so I have seen all kinds of snow. It must be difficult to drive an 18 wheeler in any of that mess, no matter how much experience you have. So stay safe and keep on truckin! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Courtney! Thanks for stopping by…Paul has been incognito since his post went up last week, so if you happen to see him in the bloggy sphere, please let me know. I’m worried that he’s snowed in somewhere….
      Always love seeing your smiling face. xo

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It looks like he has deactivated his blog or something. I can’t find him… I can get his Gravatar but that leads no where. I don’t know what is going on, but I hope he is ok :-/
        It’s always good to see you too sweets! :-*

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment and concern Courtney. I have managed to get back onto the internet and it appears permanent. Actually driving a tractor-trailer in the snow is easier than driving a car – as long as there is visibility and no ice. Loaded they will drive through drifts without even hesitating. Empty,they are pigs in the snow.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Oh, and the answers:

    Place visited: Charleston, SC. Every time i go, there’s new allure. And plenty of old.
    When life’s journey hasn’t gone as planned: I reset the compass. I’m doing that today, in fact.
    Roots: In Colorado, but covered in Carolina kudzu.
    Crossroads: I trust my instincts.
    Stop signs: Stop, look, and listen. No rush.
    One-way streets: Let go and see where it takes me.
    Wrong turns: The best wrong turns happen without us even knowing.
    Hidden treasure: You have to stop and look, you know? If you’re going to fast, you’ll miss it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! Wonderful prose Eli. Very very true. Thanks so much for the compliment and comment. I apologize for the delay in answering – believe me it was not by choice. thanks again1

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Mamamick! So sorry to have disappeared and worried y’all. I was upset at myself that I could not respond to your gracious post and readers. thank you so much for the note and I hope you got my response. It was like the perfect storm – hospitalized and then internet lost where I live and then failure of my computer and then the inability to get my replacement computer on line. Then after 5 specialists failed to fix it over 2 months, suddenly and very, very oddly, the problem became obvious and repaired itself. Today,we just had the largest snow storm in 120 years here in Ottawa – over 2 feet of snow in 24 hours. Thoughtlessly, while I had a small electric heater going, I decided to grill some hot dogs while toasting buns in the toaster oven – all at once. With a loud “POP!” I blew the breakers in my apartment. I had been doing some word processing on my new laptop and it just moved flawlessly to battery operation. I paged the manager, confessed and he trudged over to reset the breakers in the basement..When the power came back on – about 20 minutes later – the internet suddenly appeared on my computer. It appears to be here to stay. There is a router in the basement that serves the building and hooks to a modem in the management office. Although it was checked twice, there must have been an issue with power that inhibited it’s proper operation until the breakers were popped and reset. Amazing! After a delay, I got my hot dogs and the internet – ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PAUL!!! Hellloooooo!
      Thank you so much for checking in. Yes, I received your lovely and kind note. There’s just something special about getting a handwritten letter – it made my heart happy to know that you were doing okay.
      I actually had assumed that it was a perfect storm type of thing, but Mark, Cordelia’s mom and I just weren’t going to be settled until we knew for sure.
      I see that you’ve been busy responding to comments, so thank you so much.
      I also love how the breaker pop brought the internet back. It has almost a movie script feel to it!
      So glad you’re back – you have been missed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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