My day started around 3am. We were at a rest area. A very full rest area. Every truck parking spot was taken and there were more trucks parked on the ramps and along every curb in the lot. Adam was just finishing up his shift, so he meticulously weaved the trailer between several other parked rigs, dropped me off so I could run into the restroom, pee and brush my teeth as fast as I could. This was a unique rest area where he was able to make a loop and come back around – compared to most where it’s just an on-ramp/off-ramp kinda’ deal.
When I got out, he was parked near the exit, side-by-side with a Werner truck. I grabbed my gloves, opened the hood and began my pre-trip inspection by the light of my Maglite.
As I walked around the truck, I thumped the tires with our hammer. I’ve always heard the normal “thump!” and the hammer has always bounced back with a nice, tight bounce… until this time. I thumped one of the passenger-side trailer tires and the hammer didn’t bounce and reverberated a low “thud.”
The reason we thump the tires, or kick them as some truckers with steel toe boots or iron feet sometimes do, is to check for low air pressure. On our cars it’s easy to tell – there’s one tire, so if it’s flat you see it. Since trucks have dual tires, the other tires hold up the one that’s low so it’s pretty hard to tell. That is, until you smack it with a hammer.
We had a low tire. Crap. We couldn’t hear any leaks amongst all the idling trucks and buzzing reefer units, so I finished the rest of my pretrip and we head out to the very next truck stop just down the road.
This is when I observed the weirdo. Surprisingly it was at the truck stop – not the rest area.
I pulled around the maintenance shop, and handing the shop attendant my driver’s license as collateral, he handed me an air hose to hook up to their machine outside.
I hooked it up, walked around the truck to the low tire… and there stood this guy.
Pants pulled up high over his belly, he stood under the eery glow of the empty row of fuel pumps – just two pumps away from where I was parked. I ignored him and continued my tire project. Adam was inside using the restroom. I silently hoped he was gonna’ be quick about it.
I squatted down to remove the cap on the tire valve and looking over my shoulder I noticed the weird dude had walked a little closer and stopped just on the other side of the nearest fuel pump. At first I thought he was going to ask if I needed help, but he just stood there. And stared. While adjusting his pants button… buckle… something.
Um… what was he doing? I really wasn’t sure, but I worried this could get very awkward very fast. I gave him a dead-serious glare, all the while ready to sternly tell him, “I have a tire thumper and I’m not afraid to use it, buddy…” and just then I noticed behind him was Adam! Oh thank God. The creeper saw Adam walking towards me, turned around and walked back to the row of sleeping semis behind us with his hands in his pockets. He never said a word.
I can’t really say for sure he was going to do anything weird, but I wasn’t taking any chances – I was on the defense. It was still dark in the early morning, there really wasn’t anyone around where I was, and I wasn’t getting any friendly vibes from the guy.
Anyway, with that situation resolved (thank you, husband, for being big, unintentionally and appropriately intimidating!), we aired up the tire from 30 psi to 70 psi and Adam heard the leak. There was a small hole right in the middle of the tire tread.
We were able to pull it into the shop right away (no wait at 4am!), and after a text to our maintenance guy back home, and a phone call to our night dispatch, we were set up to get a retread on our tire. It didn’t take long and we were back on the road.
What an eventful morning!
Tonight I love our 3-1/2 pound tire-thumping sledge hammer. It’s my newest best friend.
Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!