Lady Big Rig

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For weeks my truck driving instructor had said things like: "Stop fishin' for gears. C'mon, Annie, get that dang shifter in there," or, "You 'bout ran over that curb!"

Most times I'm more comfortable holding an artist's paint brush than a giant steering wheel in an eighteen-wheeler. But here I was, 58 years old, and a hundred and five pounds, learning to drive one.

I'd had an eight-year relationship with a truck driver. While I worked on my art, he hauled horses out of Golden Gate Fields all over the country. Other times he drove a rig delivering assorted freight. His life seemed adventurous and frankly, I was envious.

Sometimes he'd encourage me to get my Commercial Drivers License so we could be team drivers. But after an argument he called me from a truck stop and said, "I'm done." Emotionally devastated, I decided to go to truck driving school anyway. I needed to move on, even if it wasn't with him.

Truck driving school was a hoot. Over six weeks I learned to double clutch and shift a truck with thirteen gears. With an instructor I drove hundreds of miles up and down 101. I loved it.


Test day came. My examiner was young enough to be my son. I did okay driving to the large parking lot for backing maneuvers, but as well I'd done driving forwards, I felt clumsy parallel parking, even driving backwards in a straight line. Steering a big-rig backwards is counter-intuitive. You have to steer opposite to your intended direction, and timing is everything. I squished an orange cone, an automatic fail.

Even with more practice, after two more unsuccessful attempts at my Class A license I began to appreciate the metaphorical aspects of my failures. I didn't want to go backwards in my thinking, dredging up painful memories of what might have been.

On a recent trip north I passed dozens of trucks. I imagined myself peering up and seeing my old boyfriend driving one. Then I visualized myself smiling, passing him fast, and driving on ahead.

With a Perspective, I'm Annie Kassof.

Annie Kassof is an artist and writer, content to be driving around now in a '95 Honda Civic.