After a long day on the road, Mark turns in for the night. Since it’s cold that evening, he turns on his auxiliary power unit to keep his cab warm. In the morning, he finds his fuel tanks empty and realizes he’d been robbed during the night. To comfort himself, Mark has a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and spends some time watching “stupid trucker” videos on YouTube, then he heads back out on the road.
That night, at a truck stop near Virdon, Man., just a few miles from the Saskatchewan border, Mark parked Mother Load and looked forward to a good night’s sleep. He’d been robbed of a full tank of fuel the night before and the chances of being robbed of fuel two nights in a row were virtually nil. No thief could possibly be dumb enough to steal from the same truck on successive nights, so Mark was confident that he’d be able to spend the night in peace. He’d also checked the forecast earlier in the evening and since it was going to be a warmer night he’d be able to sleep without his auxiliary power unit heating the cab. Without the noise of the APU lulling him to sleep it would take Mark a bit longer to doze off, but he appreciated the quiet and would probably sleep soundly through the night because of it.
He closed his eyes. But instead of counting sheep, Mark began counting litres of fuel as he squeezed the nozzle and the pump began counting upwards to 10, 20, 30…
Several hours later the pump was still running but instead of directing the nozzle to empty into his fuel tanks, he was holding the nozzle over a large commercial drain, pumping diesel fuel straight down into it. He looked over at the pump and saw that the register was well over 1,000 litres and closing in on 2,000 as more and more fuel was poured straight down the drain.
“What the…” Mark awoke, his body covered in sweat.
He looked around and realized it had only been a dream, and a bad one at that. But as he regained his senses and his surroundings became more familiar, Mark realized there was still a humming sound coming from somewhere nearby.
What could it be? he wondered. He was too far from the filling station for it to be a fuel pump, and he’d gone to sleep without switching on his APU. But if not those things, then what?
Mark crawled forward and knelt on the driver’s seat. Then he inched forward until he could see what was going on outside in the rearview mirror. “Son of a–” Mark said in a whisper.
There he was – the man who’d stolen the fuel from Mark’s tanks the night before was back – doing it again.
Mark leaned forward and took a closer look in the mirror. This guy was a real pro. He wasn’t siphoning gas with a hose like some petty thief, but instead had a custom rig that looked like it could empty a tank in no time flat. In the guy’s right hand was the sort of brief case that all kinds of driver’s used to help keep their paperwork in order. But instead of papers inside that case there was likely a fuel pump out of some kid’s aquarium. The pump, probably running on a motorcycle battery, was connected to two lengths of hose. One hose was in Mark’s fuel tank sucking diesel while the other hose was in this guy’s tank, pumping it. Mark had to admit the rig was ingenious, and quiet too. If he hadn’t been wary of this sort of thing, Mark probably wouldn’t have thought anything of the slight hum he was hearing.
But, even though he knew he was being robbed, Mark wasn’t sure what he should do about it. That’s because the guy outside his door had to be 300 lbs of muscle, tattoos and leather. Mark could see a knife in his waistband and who knew what other weapons he
had on him? Of course the guy was good at stealing fuel…who would be crazy enough to confront the guy in the middle of the night in some secluded part of a truck stop parking lot?
Mark was the first to admit he was crazy, but he wasn’t that crazy. There had to be something else, something better he could do to stop this guy from robbing him blind.
The only thing Mark could think of was his cell phone…but not to call 911.
He grabbed the phone off the center console and flipped it open. Then he flicked on the phone’s camera and began recording the image of this – well, the word bandit came to mind – bandit stealing fuel. Mark held the phone steady, making sure the outline of the man, along with his jeans, t-shirt and boots, were all clearly visible. Then, when he was sure he had enough, Mark turned the phone toward the win dow so he could get a shot of the man’s truck. It was a white Volvo, which made for a very clear picture, and his trailer was a light shade of green with the words and “Dobb and Ithaca Trucking” in eight-foot high blue letters on the side of it.
Mark had a good laugh at that. The letters forming the word “Bandit” were there on the guy’s truck. “Imagine that,” Mark muttered under his breath. This guy was obviously an outlaw, but one whose plunder, pillage and pilfering days would soon be coming to an end.
Mark checked the camera to make sure he’d gotten good footage, then he clicked off the phone and began stomping around the cab. Then he made an exaggerated yawn and bumped his knuckles against the driver’s window. The humming suddenly stopped. Mark took a look out the window, but the guy was already gone from between the trucks. A moment later the white Volvo and its Dobb and Ithaca trailer were sliding forward, out of the parking lot and away from the scene of the crime.
Not to worry, Mark thought.
The bandit could drive halfway across the country but that wouldn’t change the images captured by Mark’s phone. He had the guy a hundred different ways – red-handed, pants down, smoking gun, dead to rights, hand in the cookie jar – and there was no way he was going to let him off the hook.
Mark switched on his truck to check the damage. The fuel gauges read half full. And to Mark they were half full as opposed to half empty because things could have been a lot worse. He could have stopped the guy earlier and saved more of his fuel, but he also might be lying in a pool of his own blood right now, or maybe even be dead. Mark was happy to trade a bit of fuel for the footage he’d gotten because this time around he was going to let technology do the grunt work for him. And when he was done not only would this thief, this bandit, would be hit so hard he wouldn’t know what it was that hit him, or how he’d been hit.
-Mark Dalton returns next month in Part 3 of Dalton and the Bandit