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Only Semi-Panicking

, , , , , | Working | March 10, 2023

During a cold snap in the southeast, I am driving a company truck from one facility to the other in order to do some work there. It is about 9:00 pm, as I work the overnight shift, and it is raining a bit. I think I can handle the drive, as I’m a Georgia native and don’t think it looks that bad.

It turns out there is a black ice warning that I missed before we headed out. With my supervisor in the passenger seat, I’m driving a few miles below the speed limit, and I am getting passed as a result, even on roads where passing shouldn’t be allowed.

I’m a few car lengths behind a semi-truck on a four-lane highway with water spraying back onto my windshield when the semi starts to slide back and forth. My supervisor starts cursing, but I very calmly take my foot off the gas, letting the truck slow down on its own while the semi-truck in front of us jackknifes, swerving across all four lanes, crashing into a guard rail. It nearly tips over but finally comes to a stop and, luckily, it doesn’t hit any other cars.

Once the road is clear of the wrecked semi, I keep driving, but at about half the speed I was before the semi started sliding.

After a few minutes of staring at me, the supervisor speaks up.

Supervisor: “Are you okay? You’re surprisingly calm.”

I’m feeling a bit shaky after the fact.

Me: “Nah, yeah, I’m fine.”

Supervisor: “Jesus, you didn’t even blink when the truck spun out.”

Me: “Well, sure. What was panicking going to accomplish? That being said, can I pull into this parking lot up here?”

My supervisor agreed under the circumstances, and I pulled into an empty parking lot since the full weight of what almost happened was hitting me and I started shaking a bit.

He was surprised when I insisted on driving the rest of the way, since we were almost at our destination anyway, after only a few minutes to calm down.

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