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Recently, I had the pleasure (and by pleasure, I mean misfortune,) of being shut down at the base of Lookout Pass in Montana. This was due not only to the weather, but a few drivers who tried to make it up a snow-covered Lookout Pass without the help of chains. 

This left many drivers stranded at the base waiting for tow trucks to move the stranded vehicles and snowplows to clear the roads. Four plus hours, sitting in the snow with no facilities, can bring out the best and worst in people. Let me tell you what I observed.

First, let me tell you that there was no cell phone signal at all. Zero. Zilch. Not just for my carrier, but for every carrier. How do I know? Because everyone was on the CB complaining about it. I hadn’t heard that much chatter on the radio in a very long time. 

The first thing I heard was a bunch of people asking what was going on. There was a sign up telling people the chain law was enacted, but nothing stating that the Pass was closed. Then, people started chatting about the worst roads they had ever seen, or how they were gonna be late for their pick up, or not make it home at all. What I didn’t hear was politics, racist comments, or drivers telling each other to learn how to drive. I also didn’t hear the “Real Deal” from Memphis, or the guy that feels the need to declare “I ain’t got no pa*****” on. That was a surprise.

Then, I heard someone come on and ask for help chaining. They were partially disabled and while they could install the chains, it would be very difficult and time-consuming for them. Almost immediately, a driver came on and asked where they were and what they were driving. He then said he’d be right there to install those chains. There was also a driver offering to CashApp anybody who would put his chains on for him. It made me kind of happy that the disabled driver got help before the CashApp driver did. But, camaraderie is dead.

Then I saw a few drivers walking between the rows of stranded vehicles with water, making sure everyone had something to drink. It was snowing heavily and the conditions were less than optimal, so trudging through the slop in the cold weather was not an easy thing to do. I’m sure the drivers who needed something to drink appreciated it. But hey, camaraderie is dead.

A group of drivers then walked up to the front of the back-up to actually see what was going on and give everyone an update. They were laughing and joking with people on the way back, giving updates and lifting spirits. But, camaraderie is dead.

Folks were joking, telling stories, helping each other chain up, sharing food, and generally being good to each other. I saw drivers helping to get others un-stuck since the snow had accumulated rather quickly since the road was shut down. But hey, camaraderie is dead….

Except that it’s not. It may not be as readily evident, but when the chips are down and times get hard, drivers rallied and helped each other out in any way they could. 

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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