We cannot all drive death machines

Notorious for his “grandma-like” driving, Conrad Frommelt shares his first experience behind the wheel of a truck.


Notorious for his “grandma-like” driving, Conrad Frommelt shares his first experience behind the wheel of a truck. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES

Conrad Frommelt, Writer

Notorious for his "grandma-like" driving, Conrad Frommelt shares his first experience behind the wheel of a truck. | Katie Evensen/THE CHIMES


I drive like a grandma. Seriously, my sister refuses to drive with me unless absolutely necessary. She complains and makes forceful suggestions the entire ride, even though she does not have a license. But I have not received a single ticket in my half a decade of being on the road, an achievement I remind her of frequently.

So when the time came for my family to move, we rented a truck to transport some of our larger pieces of furniture. I volunteered to drive, believing all cars drive basically the same way. They most certainly do not. From the second I vaulted into the cab of the truck I felt a new sense of power. In the car I drive most often — which my mom lovingly calls a college-girl car — you have to push the gas pedal to the floor to get past 45 mph. Granted, it gets incredible gas mileage, has the sharpest turn radius you have ever seen and can park anywhere comfortably.

Driving a truck feels fundamentally different. For the first couple of miles, I worried about drifting into other people’s lanes and going too quickly — things we grandmas often think about. Then a weird thing started to happen. I noticed that I was six feet taller than the Honda next to me. I realized I could turn the Prius in front of me into a convertible and I would barely feel it.

It was like being at the helm of a ship. My steering became loose I grew less concerned about staying in the perfect place and more concerned about not foundering on the Smart car reef ahead. I figured if worse came to worst, I could just broadside whatever came next to me and probably bounce away mostly intact.

I viewed the other cars like Joaquin Phoenix viewed the gladiators. I was Cesare and their fate depended on the twist of my hand. I did not have to obey the speed limit really, accelerating in a truck is a commitment. Trucks carry too much weight and bulk to stop when other cars get in your way, they just kind of keep going.

Sadly my undisputed reign of the highway did not continue without challengers. Any other truck or particularly massive SUV took away some of my powers of intimidation. I could not ram another truck as effectively if they started to encroach on my territory. We had to reach a diplomatic solution and share lanes. Sharing, however, takes away from the whole reason you drive a truck, which is for total road dominance. So, we can not all drive trucks. Some of us have to willingly take the coupes and sedans and scurry out of the ruling car’s way. A road full of trucks is like a kingdom full of kings. Everyone would attempt to rule, no one would willingly bow and then the entire freeway system as we know it would cease to function. Kings do not merge, but someone needs to drive in the right lane.

Alas, we had to return the truck the next day. And after I almost backed into someone, I started the process of trying to park, which I could never quite do on the first or even second try. Reluctantly, I turned over the keys to my newfound kingdom. Driving back to my house from the rental place proved disheartening. But I did get cut off by a truck that made my car physically tremble in fear. And instead of getting angry, I felt a sense of kinship and slowed down, out of respect.


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