Monday, March 26, 2012

Backing Up

Unlike some truck drivers, I actually like backing up. The smaller the space and the more difficult the situation, the better. I just like the challenge. However, that wasn’t always the case. When I first started driving a truck, the first place I was sent served to create a lot of frustration and left me wondering why I ever decided to become a truck driver.

I’d arrived at my delivery destination just after sunup on a bright summer day. The dock I was supposed to back into was an inside recessed dock with no lights. Lights may seem unnecessary since it was daylight but, for those of you who may not know, the bright sun outside makes for a very dark hole inside. The end of the trailer disappears once it goes through the door. In effect, I was backing into a building blindly. To make matters worse, there was no room to get the truck and trailer lined up straight with the dock before backing up. And with the many smaller buildings, machinery, and piles of supplies all strategically placed in the way, I had to negotiate a virtual maze – with little room to spare. Somehow, they expected me to get the trailer backed into the dock and have it end up straight. But, as the guard pointed out, I was a “professional” driver.

I’m sure the dockworkers, and everyone else who gathered to watch, were not at all impressed by my lack of proficiency at my job, but they didn’t say anything. They all waited patiently until I’d finally gotten the trailer into position so they could unload it. Both their silence and patience were remarkable considering it took over an hour before I was done.

Of course, with practice, backing up became much easier and before long I looked forward to what the next challenge would be. After 10 hours or so of highway driving, backing into tight places was a welcomed change of pace.

With the driving job I have now, I don’t do much backing, usually only once a day. The nice thing is I don’t have to put the trailer into a particular spot, I can choose from any number of open slots. Some drivers might instinctively pick the easiest ones but I like to look for the most difficult. It provides something to test me and keeps me in practice.

Over the years, I have kept a mental list of some of my favorite backs. Generally, to make the list there needs to be not enough room and multiple turns involved. A real life labyrinth – in reverse. Yes, I do like backing up.

More than a year after that first backing fiasco, I was again sent to the same warehouse where I’d made my first delivery. For a long time, I’d wanted to return and was glad to finally have the chance to see if it was really all that difficult or not. To see if the months of practice of backing through small alleys and into docks made for much smaller trucks had paid off.

Conditions were nearly the same when I arrived – a bright, sunny, summer morning, the same obstacle course to maneuver through and a dark building to back into. The same guard was on duty and I recognized many of the same dockworkers. I hoped none of them remembered me. That dream was short lived as one of them instantly smiled and asked if I’d had any practice since I’d been there. I laughed and said, “I guess we’ll see.”

While they all waited, I got the truck into position and backed into the building, relying on feel when the back of the trailer disappeared. This time, in less than three minutes, I was ready to be unloaded. Apparently, at some point during the year, my truck had drastically shrunk. No one applauded or anything, but judging from their faces, I’d say they all were happy I’d learned to like backing up.

Bruce A. Borders, author and songwriter has over 500 songs and 9 books. Over My Dead Body, and The Journey, his latest books, are available on Apple I-Pad®, Amazon Kindle®, Barnes & Noble Nook® and Sony Reader®, Kobo, Diesel Books, and Smashwords. For more information, visit See Bruce’s Amazon Author Page at or view his Smashwords Profile at

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