The Chain’s in Command – Part 3

by Edo van Belkom


Mark is traveling to Winnipeg on Hwy. 17. He checks the forecast and it looks bad, so he chains up long before the snow. After driving a while Mark is wondering if the snow will ever come, but it does eventually hit and when it does it’s a monster.

After a while on the road, Mark comes across a driver stuck in the snow. Apparently, he has chains, but doesn’t know how to install them. Mark helps the man out and shows him how to install his chains.

Back on the highway for an hour, the storm that had looked to be dying down had gotten stronger. The snow on the road had accumulated and now Mark could feel that his chains were having trouble making contact with the asphalt. And still he soldiered on.

The drive wasn’t so bad on the straight sections but every once in a while there would be a hill, or downward slope, and everything slowed to a crawl to allow the chains to do their thing or to prevent the trailer from sliding out from behind him.

Mark’s initial joy at making the right decision to chain up well ahead of the storm now turned to regret that he hadn’t just hunkered down for a day or two in order to let the storm pass and road crews clean everything up. But he’d made his decision and he was now married to it, having to ride out the storm and continue on driving through it until the storm abated or he reached his destination. To be honest, it was better that he’d actually made a decision. If he hadn’t, he would have been like the driver he could see up ahead who was foundering in the icy conditions and still trying to move westward even though his truck wasn’t set up for the weather.

With the snow swirling and the temperature still down in the minus double digits, the last thing Mark wanted to do was stop his truck, get out into the cold again and help someone else do something they should have done long ago.

But…he thought.

But what if it were me? What if I was older, or not feeling 100%? What would it mean for someone to stop and lend a hand? He thought about it a bit and then concluded – it would mean the world. And so Mark switched on his hazard lights and pulled over to help another driver in need.

As he walked back along the snow-covered highway he could see that the driver was simply trying to coax his truck out of a snowbank by rocking it back and forth…with no luck. The drive wheels were just spinning turning the snow beneath them into ice and ensuring he wouldn’t get his truck off this highway until maybe May of next year.

The driver’s side window rolled down as Mark approached. “Why don’t you put on your chains?” Mark shouted.

The driver shrugged in response, and smiled.

“Do you have chains?”


“Have you ever used them before?”


“So, you don’t know how to put them on?”

“Not really.”

Mark shook his head in amazement. How could someone drive this stretch of highway at this time of year without being prepared to use tire chains if conditions required them. “Get out!” Mark said. “I’ll help you put them on.”

The driver got out of his truck and quickly fished the tire chains out from the storage box he had behind the cab. They were in good shape, almost new…maybe even never used before.

Thankfully, the snow and wind had died down for a bit and traffic was able to see them on the side of the road and slowly make their way around them. Mark laid the chains on the snow next to the drive tire and immediately felt that something wasn’t right. The chains didn’t look like they’d be long enough to go all the way around the tire. However, seeing as these were the only chains the driver had, Mark went ahead and placed them up over the tire.

Now the problem was obvious. These chains were not the right size. Too small, and no amount of coaxing or fiddling was ever going to get them to go all the way around the tire.

“You’ve never used these before, have you?” Mark asked.

The driver shook his head.

“They’re the wrong size. Too small.”

“I’m driving this truck for my cousin,” the driver said. “It’s his truck.”

“But you’re responsible,” Mark said. “You’ve got to know what equipment is on your truck.”

“What can I do?” the driver asked.

Yeah, thought Mark. What can you do? He considered the problem for a moment, then said, “I can try and pull you back onto the road. After that you’ll be on your own.”

“Thank you,” was all the man could say.

Mark had a heavy-duty cable with large hooks affixed to each end stored in one of Mother Load’s outside steel boxes. He’d used it rarely in the past, but you never knew when a piece of equipment like that might come in handy. Like now, for example.

Mark backed up until the end of his trailer was less than 10 feet from the front end of the driver’s tractor. Then he connected one hook to a secure point on his trailer and the other hook to one of the tow hooks the rig had centred in its front bumper.

Once connected, Mark had a little trouble inching forward – it was all Mother Load could move – until the cable between the two rigs was taut.

When he felt everything tighten up, Mark pressed harder on the accelerator. Amazingly, he continued inching forward, pulling the rig behind him off the shoulder and back onto the highway. Mark stopped, backed up a few feet, then jumped out of his truck. He had the cable gathered up and was jamming it back into its box in minutes.

“Good luck!” he shouted with a wave, then thought, ‘You’re going to need it!’”

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