I was working for RJ Feller in Caldwell Idaho when this happened .
There was a message in my box when I returned late from delivering spuds to Ore Ida In Payette telling me that I had a load of grain going to Portland and I needed to be on the road by 4:00 A:M so I want home and called my Baby sitter and asked if she would let my son go to her house after school the next day.
She was pissed at how late it was but she understood so I left a note on the table and I showered and jumped into the rack.
Summer months were always busy driving truck and I could fall asleep very easy .
I have raised my son from when he was two years old and I am very proud of him when excels at almost anything he tries and really him and I pretty much grew up together because I never had much of a childhood myself.
Well My pot of coffee was in my two quart thermos.
I threw my crap in the truck and hooked up to the trailer then did my walk around checking lights and air pressure then I was on the road.
I hit the freeway headed to Oregon and I was only a couple miles out when I blew a tire so I had to call the maintenance mec. and he sent crew out to replace the one that blew. I called dispatch to make sure about the load because I was late but he said go and if I had to sleep over it was fie so I stopped in Ontario Oregon at the rest area to walk around getting the blood going again then was on the road again.
I was running late and I was pushing it hard not wanting to be gone overnight and I passed through Baker Oregon Where Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin made the movie Paint your wagon.
When I reached the summit of Cabbage Hill it was noon thirty so I stopped long enough to check my breaks and thump the tires again then off like a big asses bird but it was either low clouds or foggy with little visibility but as usual I started at forth and over and figured that if I milked the breaks at about 4 pounds of pressure where the air could get in enough to cool down my pads I should be fine.
Cabbage Hill is 6 miles of 6% grade with three escape ramps.
Within in a quarter of a mile I ran into a problem a new driver was at least a full gear under me and creeping through the fog so I tried to pass but there was a car running along side of him at the same speed.
I knew that my breaks were going to heat up fast if I couldn't keep air flow from and I was right on this guys bumper now and my breaks were getting spongy So I gave a blast on my air horn and that poor dude disappeared I don't know if he ran off the road or kicked it in the ass but he was gone. I let it float now trying to get control but it was to late my breaks were not responding now and they felt very soft and I panicked for a second I was going to fast now to down shift and if I got it in between gears and out of control .
When I passed the first escape ramp the other Truck was still beside me and I couldn't cut in front of him so I made the wide turn and I could see smoke coming out of my drivers now .
I was sitting high in the seat now and my mind was clicking like a computer as the power poles flashed by me looking more like fence posts.
the second escape ramp was just around the next turn but I had been leaning on the air horn and all the traffic was pulled to the side of the road and that ramp was partially blocked by cars so I sucked it in knowing that I really had to take that last ramp I was afraid with the motor revved up like it was I might float a valve and the engine would seize up and then it would be shit city.
I was prepared now with the third ramp just minutes away and a little afraid to because those ramps are about 4 foot deep and filled with loose gravel and some of the drivers get seriously hurt it is almost like a head on collision
All of the frontend is stripped away and the truck bounces like trying to ride a bull but when I saw it my heart sank.
Another truck was in it so I did the only thing I could I kicked it out of gear and let it go.
My mind was going a thousand miles an hour and I was aware of everything and I felt more alive than anytime in my life I was in the inside lane giving myself as much room as I could praying that the front tires wouldn't hit any sand and even though it was working the truck was gradually merging into the other lane .
I had a death grip on the steering wheel as the soft shoulder came closer and I was hyperventilating gasping like I had ran a race the soft shoulder crept closer and closer as I watched and all I could do was pray and then it was over I was headed up the next rise but my tractor drivers was on fire now as I slowly came to a stop then I grabbed my fire extinguisher and jumped out and a UPS truck pulled in behind me with his extinguisher then several more trucks stopped but my drivers had all melted when we got the fire out.
One guy drove me down into the Town of Pendleton so I could call and give the bad news.
They sent another driver up to take the Grain into Portland and I stayed with the truck while the tires were replaced and everything was fixed then I drove it home.
I quit that outfit that day because their maintenance was not all that good and started Driving for Willie Shaw/
Trucking jobs were not hard to fine in the mid 1980s