Truckers In The Fast Lane*

by Ashish

Of all the incomprehensible mysteries on the planet (and isn’t that a very long list?), there is one that is rapidly climbing up to the very top as far as I’m concerned.

Why are truck drivers not extinct yet?

Consider the dodo.

It was, by all counts, a large, friendly bird. It was also the dimmest light by far in the ornithological world. It would waddle up to its hunters, and simply wait to be exterminated. Not that it knew of it’s imminent demise, of course. The only thought, if one can call it that, that passed through it’s brain in it’s last few seconds on planet earth was “Hey, long black barrel. Whoa! Loud nois….”

In other words, it would be safe to assume that the good dodo died out at least in part because its IQ’s was measurable with a rather good pair of vernier callipers. If that.

Well, then, there you go. By that measure, there is no way the truck driver could ever have outlasted the brontosaurus. No way at all. Because if one were to call the dodos dimwitted, truck drivers are absolute black holes. They are also absolute another-word-that-ends-with-holes, but that is neither here nor there.

Why do they drive in the fast lane? Every time I think of this question, I dig my fingers so hard into the palm of my hand that I swear a little blood oozes out. And since I clock about 40 kilometres a day on my commute, I lose a lot of blood on a daily basis.

They’ll chug out of side lanes in stately fashion, and rumble over on to the fast lane at the first opportunity. And once they are there, it is impossible to dislodge them. There you are, zipping along at sixty kilometres, not a care in the world, until you see a green truck in the far distance, moving at at an obdurate thirty kmph. There’ll usually be a message in Hindi painted on the back, including such superlative vignettes of wisdon as “Horn OK Please” or “Tu 13 Dekh” – this only aggravates my irritation.

Anyway, you hope and pray that he will veer off in time, but of course, no such thing happens. So you end up behind him and honk resignedly. Which makes not the slightest difference to the subterranean intelligence, since it is handicapped in terms of both grey and hearing matter.

And so you stick behind the befuddled behemoth, puttering along at 30 kmph until you slowly ossify to death. All over India, ossification due to being behind a truck is a leading cause of mortality, being beaten to top spot only by ossification due to dealing with an Interactive Voice Response System.

Over time, I have evolved a system that brings me some respite, if only temporary. I overtake from the left, swerve ahead of the trucker, and slow down to an even slower crawl. This forces the truck to go ever slower, until he finally moves into the slow lane – at which point I zoom off.

It is a very satisfactory system, save for one fatal flaw. It drives the missus mad. I don’t know why (yet another of those incomprehensible mysteries that I referred to at the start), but it does. She gets mega pissed.

And that, my friends, is why I can deal with being stuck behind a slow trucker. The alternative is too painful to consider.

*Typed out on my mobile phone while being stuck behind a trucker on the way home at 6.30 in the evening.**

** You didn’t really believe that, now did you?