start part two
I worked midnight shift a lot,,I mean to say a lot,,and one event that remains as one of the most
frightful events I can recall is the night about an hour or so after I came on shift that I responded to a call box signal
located in a rather dark,isolated stretch about 15 to 20 miles away from the station.
I got to the area I found a large group of people wandering around in the middle of the median and both sides of the roads
from guard rail to guard rail.They had all been in the mid size van on the south bound side of the road.I immediately popped
on my beacons and work lites and pulled onto the emergency strip behind the van.I hollered to the folks to all get out of
the road and back to the van and called my arrival into dispatch.
By the time I was done there was a fellow at my truck door speaking Spanish through the window.I got
out and seen that the people hadn't responded to my earlier commands.I yelled again for them all to come back to the van.There
were men,women and children about 18 or so just looking at me waving my arms at them,beckoning them to come.I was clearly
discernable in the light of the wreckers beacons and work lights.
I asked the fellow to get them back over by the van right away.And from his reaction I realised
at that time that they 'no spekka dinglish'.His reaction was just that,,he said 'no spekka dinglish'.I then pointed to the
people and tried to communicate in gesture to indicate they need to come back over here.I even included 'ondelay',,'vamoose',,'chop
chop',,and various other words from other languages I had picked up phrases and such from during my working around many various
tourists.And a slew of America words I find difficult to imagine he didn't know.
He got it and began hollering at them appropiately but he seemed bemused by me insisting.Another fellow
who I hadn't noticed as being in or at the front of the van when I pulled up started trying to get my attention regarding
the vehicle.He was an older fellow and not very big but had a deepish voice.
I seen the people
coming toward the van slowly so I did walk to the front of the van with the man.After trying to communicate for just a minute
with him regarding it I looked back out and down the roads.The guy has ceased urging them and they had sort of just stayed
where they were.
Yet this time the danger that concerned me was approaching.There were lights coming down the south bound
lane.At this point on the pike,,like many another, you could first see lights from about 10 miles away on a good night.That
night was not bad but only so so from the amount of early fog that had allready been whisping in.
here is the situation,,traffic on the pike,,from what I experienced of it,,tended to move in packs or groups.Why?Humans are
just that way,,herd minded quite often I suppose.And it seems to be more likey to exhibit that pattern at night.Now, while
I had no way of telling at that time how many individual cars were in this approaching pack,,but I could tell it was more
A set of drivers traveling at at least 55 or 60 mph through wispy fogged dark Florida country side in the
early a.m. approaching a number of humans scattered across and beside the road are quite likely to be startled and the chance
of a horrenous event is drastically more likely to occur.If any reading this have ever been in a similar stretch of dark highway
at that time,,you are sure to
understand the severity of this situation.And they were less than 10 miles away,,
coming at 60mph at least,,you do the math.
I again started yelling and waving my arms in a much more frantic sounding way.I also started pointing down
the road at the oncoming lights and jumping up and down.The fellow that was at the front of the van yelled a few things and
they all seemed to hurry up a little.As they got to us I herded them in between the guard rail and the van and wrecker.Being
a bit more responsive since the older fellow started speaking they actually began climbing into the van.Seeing that,I
quickly opened my driver door and popped off the work lights,,but left the beacons on,,then got back around to the people.
They had not all gotten in and there were several still 'in line' but all were off the road and essesntially
out of sight of the drivers coming.I watched the approaching cars as I stood between the last people and the space between
the van rear and the wrecker front.
As they approached they did slow down a tad,not much.A set of
lights behind the lead two,,which seemed to be almost abreast each other,,swapped to the inner lane,,away from the wreckers
beacons.A set remained and appeared to accelerate to move into the space vacated by the moving set.There was still a set behind
that one,,a total of three in the outer lane,,two in the inner.
They whipped by in a blink,,the trailing breeze rocked the vehicles and blasted us folks.One guys cap flipped
off and the van hood slammed shut.The old man didn't holler so I figured his hands hadn't been under it.Disaster sidestepped.
Thank you,Father.I stepped out to the road and looked north seeing that it was totally dark,,for now,I walked the line to
the front of the van.
With frequent looks north and at the location of the people who were starting to spread out a little,I tried
to determine what may be the appropiate course of action to take to get these folks off the side of the road and on their
way south.There was an exit and another plaza about 10 or so miles down.I decided to jump it since the starter was turning
very sluggishly and the other indicators,,lights dim,,but on untill you bump the key pointed that way.
As I went north on the line I seen a twinkle northward in the blackness.Since I had to get the cables
from the passenger side of the truck I ensured that the folks were all still between the truck or van and the guard rail.As
I did so I pointed at the oncoming lights.A couple of the children immediately got back in the van.The adults acted completely
After that pack,,there was a few more cars in this one,,about 15 or 20 spread out over about half a mile
filling both lanes a few swapping lanes and most of the lead ones not slowing a bit,I hooked up the cable and laid it out
on the line to the front of the van.
As I hooked it up,,I tried to impress to the old fellow that we would let it pull a charge off the
wreckers charging system then crank it.He seemed to get it.As the others realised I had hooked the cables up to their ride,they
all jumbled back in the van.I timed off 10 minutes on my watch and started fiddling with stuff to fill the attention time
for all involved.Ten minutes can be an agonizingly long time under these conditions.
So with frequent looks north and allways looking at north bound traffic that went by in the same fashion
on occasion as well as making a point of reacting to the 4 or 5 packs rocking us on their way south,my fiddling was over and
I tried to tell the man to crank it and let it run so I could determine the working status of the charging system.
end to prt one of part two