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There’s no cure for iron in your blood

Growing up, I always wondered what it was about big rigs that struck such a chord in those who drive them.My own grandfather drove truck, hauling logs for his forestry company, Coughlin Forest Product...


James Menzies
James Menzies

Growing up, I always wondered what it was about big rigs that struck such a chord in those who drive them.

My own grandfather drove truck, hauling logs for his forestry company, Coughlin Forest Products, in and around Hwy. 7 to the west of Norwood, Ont.

He would spend countless hours preening his trucks.

His bookshelves were littered with volumes filled with page after page of trucks.

I can even remember his office clock – it was adorned with a long-nosed conventional that would make any owner/op proud.

He saw the condition of his trucks – primarily Kenworths, which were forced to work as hard as he did – as a reflection of himself.

If they did break down, tinkering with an engine was one of his favorite aspects of truck ownership.

Many years later, he became ill and spent a great deal of time in the hospital where it became clear he didn’t have much time left to live.

I still remember driving him home with my mother; the doctors had decided it was best to send him home where he could live out the remainder of his days in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

Driving east along Hwy. 7, he still managed to crane his neck toward each passing truck, which my mother and I noticed instantly.

“You still like the big trucks, eh?” she mused.

He nodded and, despite the pain, smiled – the first smile I remembered seeing from him in some time.

I have to admit, the love of trucks he displayed had always been a bit of a mystery to me as a kid. I enjoyed clambering about my grandfather’s logging trucks and playing in what seemed like a cavernous sleeper on the back of his Kenworth, but I never fully understood the appeal of nice iron until much later in life.

At night, I would hear them whining down the Trans-Canada at all hours, and would wonder where they were from and where they were going. But for years this was the extent of my interest.

When visiting my grandfather, I was too busy trying to pry my uncle away from his work responsibilities around the house for a quick game of hockey or a no-holds-barred boxing match to really take an interest in the semi-trucks parked in the yard.

But when editor John Curran gave me the opportunity to write for Truck News last spring, I knew that my grandfather would be proud.

And having spent the last eight months immersed in the trucking industry, constantly scouring photos and press releases and spending each day talking to the guys and gals behind the wheel, it all makes a lot more sense to me.

Now, I too can see the beauty in a shiny new tractor – or for that matter – in a beat up, greasy truck that has a story to tell in each dent and scrape.

I too, crane my neck at each passing truck. I still wonder where it’s going and what it’s hauling, but I now understand for those of us lucky enough to work with trucks, the industry is like a drug. Every bit as addictive and not without its side effects.

Once it’s in your blood, there’s no getting rid of it.

And I know that wherever life’s road happens to take me, I will still be admiring big rigs until the day I pass on.

And like most of you, some of my most gratifying moments will come from seeing a shiny new power unit rumbling down the highway. n


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