By: Matt Chase
Like most kids growing up, if I heard or saw a big rig coming down the road, relentless attempts were made in getting that driver’s attention, well before he reached me, by pumping my arm up and down, wildly and vigorously, trying desperately to get that trucker to see me.
I must hear that loud air horn blow!
Usually the trucker would see me, I could make out the big smile across their face, see their head nod in the affirmative, then reach up and grab on to that chord, and it pull down,
Womp, Womp….. Womp-Womp… Womp-Womp… Womp-Womp – Wommmmmp……
The echo of that loud air horn trailed off into the distance, and black smoke would be pouring from those stacks, pig-tailing in its wake. I would give a loud shout – “YIPPIE!!” – wave my hand to the trucker who just passed me. Sometimes a hand would appear, as the trucker would give me a thumbs up.
The sound from that diesel engine, and the smell from that diesel exhaust, would trail off, until all was quiet. Perhaps a bird would be chirping somewhere in a tree behind me, or the sound of a dog barking in the distance, but the exciting event was over.
I would sniff the air one last time, turn on my heels, and continue on with my journey, at the same time trying to mimic the sound that a big truck makes as it swooshes by, or the sound of a loud air horn trailing off in distance, – “womp, womp womp, womp womp womp wommmmmmp……….”
On that day, and many others to follow, I saw pride in the eyes of truckers.
Perhaps I already knew then, that one day I would be that proud trucker, the trucker who loves to make some child happy, simply by giving them a smile, watching their reaction as I reach up, and pull down on that chord, and the air horn would blow.
The other day as I was driving in a town, a little girl who was walking on the sidewalk of a busy street, where cars were speeding by, and a loud car horn was yelling at me and my truck for being in his way.
Over all that noise the kid heard my diesel engine, as I approached a red light at the intersection. She turned on her heels, and a big smile formed, as that multi-generational, and always a joyful ritual, of pumping the arm and fist, up and down, wildly and vigorously, trying desperately to get my attention. The universal signal, that allows a natural smile and a connection to form, forever, between the trucker, and the kid that instigates this unique bond, that never will be forgotten.
But I could not look in her direction, so I pretended not to notice, by suddenly becoming busy. Was pretending to write something, or looking in the other direction at traffic. Still from the corner of my eye, I saw joy jumping up and down, desperate for me to notice her. I felt guilty, and the red light kept me as a prisoner.
A Green Light
As I started to pull away, my head gently turned to look back at her in my side view mirror, and I felt saddened and ashamed, at seeing the way she reacted. I saw a tiny face twisted up in a sour look, and her head and shoulders quickly slumped down. She looked utterly dejected. “No!….” I screamed, and I reached up and grabbed the chord and
– WOMP, WOMP, WOMP, WOMP –
4 times was all it took, to get her attention. The girl stood up tall and a big toothy smile appeared, erasing any disappointment she felt, just seconds earlier. And my terrible deed was overturned, and I was free, and the green was a go!
Immediately her little arm and fist started pumping, up and down, relentlessly, wildly!
And I did it one more time!
– WOMP, WOMP, WOMP, WOMP –
She was waving as I turning and burning, my hand with a thumbs up fist completed this simple bond, but an ever increasing diminishing joy.
Laws on the books that now give restrictions on trucks to curtail noise in populated, or even non-populated areas, always come after studies from the experts. They form study panels to see if the environment is impacted in any way. Also how it may affect humans and animals, or even vegetation.
(I wonder if any impact study, has taken into consideration the laws that ban the truckers air horn, while depleting the ‘joy that is found in the air.’)