Not his first rodeo: Part 2

by Edo van Belkom

The story so far…

Mark has some time to kill in Saskatchewan and comes across a local paper advertising a truck roadeo that weekend. Mark enters, but right away he’s labeled as a City driver and wonders if he’s even welcome here…

The drivers were led into an adjoining room where a number of tables and chairs were set up in orderly rows, just like the gymnasium at Mark’s high school during exam time. Mark took a seat at a table in the middle of the room and watched as defending 10-time champion Rob Goldrick took the seat to his right, and the old-timer everyone seemed to be so fond of, Cyril Mitiuk, sat down on his left.

A volunteer went around the room and placed a copy of the examination on each table, face down along with two pencils.

Mark was about to turn the test over when someone at the back of the room said, “Leave the test where it is until it’s time to begin.”

Mark put both hands on his lap.

“Is everyone ready? You may begin.”

Mark turned the test over and flipped through the pages. Just as promised, there were 100 questions, both multiple choice and True or False.

Before digging into the test, Mark glanced to his right where Rob Goldrick was going through the questions smoothly and confidently, taking a few seconds on each before making a confident stroke on the page. To his left, the old man, Cyril Mitiuk had a pained look on his face as he looked from one question to the next without answering any of them.

Mark figured his own system of answering the questions would be somewhere in between the other two men’s styles. The first question was an easy one.

Who is responsible for the accuracy of the driver’s daily log?

A) The driver.

B) The carrier

C) The shipper and receiver

D) The driver and carrier

Mark smiled and circled D. This is going to be a piece of cake, he thought. He answered a dozen more questions he thought were easy and straightforward when he was stopped in his tracks by a question more difficult than the previous ones.

To recover from a skid, the driver should steer in which direction?

A) Right

B) Left

C) The same direction the rear of the vehicle is skidding in

D) The opposite direction that the rear of the vehicle is skidding in.

Mark had to think about that one a second. The first two choices were obviously wrong because
either one could be right or wrong depending on which way you are skidding.

One of the next two was right, but Mark had to close his eyes and imagine himself behind the wheel during a skid to figure out that C was the correct answer.

And then another tough question.

On trucks with air brakes, at what psi in the primary reservoir should the “Low Air” warning operate?

A) 60 psi

B) 20 psi

C) 80 psi

D) 100 psi

What? Mark had no idea. The low air warning had come on in Mother Load a few times over the years, but he didn’t know exactly what number it came on at. He eliminated B as being too low and D as being too high for a low air warning.

He knew that 80 psi would be sufficient pressure on his truck for the air brakes to operate so he crossed his fingers and opted for A.   

He took a deep breath and ran a few fingers over his forehead. Much to his surprise, he was sweating. Were these questions that hard, or did Mark not know as much as he thought he did about his truck and the trucking industry.

He glanced left and right. Goldrick was still circling and checking off answers at a steady pace, while Mitiuk was circling answers, then rubbing them out, then circling the same answer again.

Well, at least I’ve got him beat, thought Mark.

After struggling with another dozen questions, Mark found himself lost.

The amount of force exerted on the structures of the back is how many times greater when lifting with a bent back as opposed to correctly lifting the a straight back?

A) Two times

B) Four times

C) Ten times

D) Eight times

How the hell should I know?, thought Mark. I’m a truck driver, not a structural engineer. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that this was a question designed to get drivers thinking about safety and avoiding injury. Mark guessed D since the first two choices didn’t seem like enough and 10 times seemed like an
awful lot.

Mark let out another sigh and wiped the damp palm of his hand on his pant leg to keep it dry. While this had started out as something to do for fun, it had become stressful and was reminding Mark of his days in high school…And he’d hated high school.

Nearing the end of the test, the questions had started to get downright impossible.

When recharging a fire extinguisher, the agent used should be what?

A vehicle fire can generate heat upwards of what temperature?

What month is the most dangerous for lightening?

Who the hell knows these things?, Mark wondered. Who the hell cares? Obviously the organizers of the roadeo care, but really why in the world do I need to know this?

Just then, Goldrick got up from his chair and handed in his test paper. Of course, he’s finished, he’s the defending champ. Mark glanced left and saw that Mitiuk was still struggling, the eraser now gone from his pencil and changing his answers with an X every time he changed his mind.

The speed of a truck that slides in a curve can be determined by the marks left from a sliding tire. What is the mark normally called?

A) Skidmark

B) Wheelspin

C) Yawmark

D) Wheel Line

Mark didn’t have a clue, but he knew that the word Yawmark was the only one that dealt with direction, because the word yaw was used in describing an airplane’s orientation.

“A couple of minutes left,” one of the volunteers said.

Mark had ten questions to go. He answered eight and guessed at the last two.


They posted the results a short while later and Mark was stunned. Mitiuk had scored a 98 while Goldrick had 94. Mark didn’t finish last, but his score of 85 was near the bottom.

He knew he’d gotten a bunch of answers wrong, but he was amazed that the old man, who had been struggling from start to finish, had posted the best score.

He has to be cheating, Mark thought. There’s no other way.

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