Out on the road, from Tuscon to Tucumcari and Tehachapi to Tonapah and everyone in between, truckers see a lot of crazy things. As such, they are also not impressed by much, as there is little they haven't seen. When they get to telling stories, it's best to listen because they could get pretty nutty.
The Mud Man Strikes
“Back in the day I had several odd jobs that required I drive across the country. One was shipping horses, I drove the truck from barns to shows or vice versa.
I was very very young. 16-20 years old. For reference, I’m female, short, athletic. Definitely the odd one out at a lot of rest stops and gas stations along the major routes. I am also tattooed and at the time had a red Mohawk which made me stand out more.
Several weird things happened that I remember. But first I wanna say: Navajo Nation is indeed really creepy. I always drove though at night too; never meant to plan that way, but that’s always how it happened. Another creepy place is northern Utah. It’s totally ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ up there.
One time, I was driving from Galveston, TX to New Orleans, LA. Galveston had just been hit by a hurricane, and there was a weird serial killer moving through the city, so the vibe had already begun as weird. Just as I crossed the border from TX to LA, I started to get super tired. It was really late, 3am or so, so I tried to find a gas station to pull over, rest, and fill up, but all of them were closed. Finally I gave up, pulled into the next one which was closed, parked in the far corner of the lot, killed my car (a convertible Jeep at the time), and laid my seat back to sleep. Everything seemed quiet. There were a few lights from the station that were on 24/7, but I parked far enough away they couldn’t really bother my eyes.
I woke up with a start. I had been dreaming, but I had this like gut instinct to wake up. I immediately saw someone covered in mud, wearing rags, holding a knife, advancing slowly towards my car. He was maybe 5 feet away, moving forward. My adrenaline kicked in immediately and I switched the car on. At that point he lets out some guttural growl and launches towards the car, as I’m backing up. I barely miss him as he’s grabbing at the vehicle. With the headlights on, I could see he was covered in sores and the knife was all rusty. I sped out of there and didn’t sleep again, all the way to New Orleans. It really freaked me out. I also never again slept in my car. The idea he could have been watching me sleep for who knows how long freaked me out. My car was also a convertible, he could have easily cut his way in. That image of waking up to some crazy person advancing on me with a knife has also given me nightmares for years and still does.Thank you for the kind words! At the time, I was just totally clueless and young and had no idea how dangerous it was to do what I was doing. I’m also very thankful that nothing too bad ended up happening to me either! I look back as an adult and think ‘what was I doing?’ Driving all over late at night alone, sleeping in rest stops, using the trucker showers at Love’s as a single 18-year-old girl. But I guess my blind confidence warded off any serious attacks.”
Robbed And Accused
“My dad is a truck driver and about 13-15 years ago while resting at the side of the road he woke up in the morning seeing that his entire trailer was robbed empty. My dad’s a heavy sleeper but his cargo could not have been stolen without at least a forklift and everyone would have woken up by a forklift unloading a trailer.
At first, the police thought my dad was the thief, because that made the most sense. Having the police go through your entire house and belongings is something you don’t wish on your worst enemy in my opinion. its humiliating and the entire neighborhood sees you as criminal all of a sudden.
On top of that when you work 6 days a week and have to spend your only 24 hours a week you’re at home in a court room or police office instead is incredibly brutal and kills your moral quiet quickly. Especially if it drags on for a couple of months which isn’t out of the ordinary in these cases.
He was eventually cleared, but the real robbers were never caught. My dad suspects the robbers used a pump to get some kind of chloroform into his cabin to make sure he couldn’t wake up.”
Refusing To Pull Over
“I was 23 and my newly married husband and I decided driving team would be a fun adventure after college, rather than jumping into the 9-5.
I was down in Arizona, on a long stretch of nothing about 4am when a guy pulled up next to me waving his CB. I never left mine on, listening to those guys jabbering was irritating, so I turned on my CB and he told me I had a blown tire. I thanked him, figuring I would stop at the next truck stop. He kept harassing me to pull over and check my tire for a good 40 miles.
I finally got to a next town and pilot truck stop, got out and checked my truck. No blown tires anywhere.
No clue what that guy would’ve done to me, but I’m so glad I trusted my gut and didn’t stop.”
Someone Was Looking Out For Him
“My dad told me and my brothers this story when we were growing up and it’s always stuck with me, particularly on long drives when I’m feeling a bit sleepy. The first time I remember hearing it was after I asked him if angels were real, I was probably 7 or 8-years-old.
He drove trucks decades ago, before I was born and before labor laws around limits and breaks were more standard (I’m assuming it’s different now?). He’d fairly regularly accept calls that would extend his shift to where he was driving 24, 36hrs, or more without a break longer than a quick bathroom or fast food stop.
My dad has a pretty mathematical brain, he’s the type to make up logic puzzles out of something totally mundane just for fun. Whenever we were driving around town, he’d regularly ask me things like how long would it take us to get from home to the store if we were going 30 mph but had to stop for 5 minutes in the middle because a family of kittens were crossing the road, etc. He’d come up with similar equations for himself while he was driving solo that involved things he was seeing like the odometer, mileage markers, the time, and then he could test his speed based on the equation, and other stuff like that.
One night, after having already driven a particularly long day, he noticed his eyes getting droopier and the whole ‘roll-down-the-window-and-turn-the-music-up’ thing didn’t seem to be helping much. It was a rainy night on a pretty windy mountain road without a shoulder to pull over safely, so he started doing those logic games out loud to keep alert and awake. He was saying something to the effect of ‘I just passed mile marker 146 so what time will it be when I reach 200 if I’m going 55mph…’ then he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and felt his head do the nod-tilt thing which woke him up with a gasp.
He opened his eyes to see he was driving straight towards mile marker 158, which would have sent his whole truck tumbling down a random mountain ravine. He was able to correct the course safely back, but it was a matter of seconds between that reality and certain death. He insists to this day that he slept through 12 miles of windy mountain road going 60+ mph, only to wake up right at the last moment between life and death.
The story usually ends with him tearing up saying, ‘I don’t know if there’s angels, but I know there’s something bigger going on in this universe than our human brains have been able to understand yet. If I wouldn’t have woken up right when I did, you kids wouldn’t be here today and that’s something that feels pretty close to spiritual.'”
Not The Bees!
“I was headed west on I-76 here in Denver, just cruising along at about 70mph. Out of nowhere, I saw a massive, almost solid cloud of what looked to be dirt coming at me. I’d say it was at least 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall. I scanned ahead of me but couldn’t see any vehicle it could have came from. With nowhere to go I slowed down and took the hit, hoping there wasn’t anything big enough in there to come through the windshield or jack up my truck. It was pretty loud as I smashed through it, the instant it hit I knew it wasn’t dirt though.
I immediately hit the washers because I couldn’t see a darn thing through all of the carnage, my windshield was painted with guts. It turns out it was bees, freaking huge bees that sounded like rocks when they hit. I can’t even imagine seeing that swarm if I was walking, they would kill the pants out of anything in their path!”
Stare Down With A Man Eater
“I am a log truck driver in the Pacific Northwest. We go up into the woods on logging roads and haul logs back from the loggers to sawmills. We start work very early in the morning (2-5am), so it’s night time obviously.
One of my co-workers pulled away from the job and started down the logging road. After a couple miles – after the load had settled a bit – he decided to pull over and throw his remaining wrappers around the load. As he is tying his load down, he looked back and saw a mountain lion watching him from ten feet off of the end of his trailer. He slowly backed up to his driver door and got in. By the time he looked in his mirror the lion had disappeared.”
A Trucker Saved His Life
“This is my Father’s story and he wasn’t a long haul trucker but rather a 18 year old gas station attendant in the late 70’s and without a certain Long Haul Trucker I probably wouldn’t be here:
The gas station was 24 hours and my Dad was the only one working the night shift (11-7 I think). A guy comes in and just gives him the creeps. Seems sketchy. He was wearing tight jacket/pants and you could tell he had something in his pants under the jacket. It was during the summer and was warm so why is he wearing a jacket to begin with?
A lot of truck drivers used this station as it was the only one open 24 hours for a long stretch of the highway. They also had a big lot where they let truckers park and sleep or take a break.
On this night at this time it was just my dad, sketchy dude, and one trucker in there he kinda knew (as in, came in frequent enough to be conversational) and asked if he’d stay in the station and hang out until sketchy dude left. Well, after ‘looking’ at the stocked shelves for several many minutes while sneaking peaks at my dad behind the counter the sketchy guy eventually looked fed up and got into his blue car and sped off. Cool trucker guy hung out with my dad a little longer until another couple of guys came in to use the booths they had to eat a sandwich. .
I should also point out this was pretty middle-of-nowhere rural Southeast United States and the 1970’s. CB and landline was it. My dad only had a landline in the store.
So the hours pass and my dad had shaken off the paranoia when all of a sudden this truck driver comes hauling at full speed into the lot, jumps out, and sprints into the store hollering he needs a phone.
Calls 911 to report that he had walked in on a gas station 40 miles back (next closest station) to find the attendant shot and dead. No one else around. And the only other piece of information is that a blue car was speeding out of the lot when the trucker pulled in.
Apparently they eventually apprehend the guy in the blue car, my dad confirms it was sketchy dude from earlier in the night, and they charge him with murder and armed robbery.
To the long haul trucker who waited around with my dad that night, thanks and hope you’re keeping it real.”
It’s A Jungle Out There
“I’m not a trucker but my cousin was for a short stint. A lion ran out in front of him when he had gotten out to take a leak. He called his mom and she asked if he was high. He denied it and said ‘a freaking lion ran out in front of me, I’m telling you!’
A few days later, the news revealed animals had escaped from a local zoo he was near, including…….a lion! We love to tell that story to everyone!”
Truck Stops At Night And Swarming Cops
“I was at a truck stop in Arizona. I was pulling through the fuel island and right as I was about to leave roughly 15 cop cars came flying into the parking lot with a swat van. They surrounded a truck that was already parked for the night. I heard later that the driver had lost a tire or something off his trailer and it had killed a guy on the side of the road. Don’t know how true that story was, but it sounded possible.
Another time, at the old Flying J in El Paso, TX, I had pulled through the fuel island and was filling out logs and what not after filling up when someone started screaming help on the CB.
It’s not unusual to hear kids messing around or whatever but this sounded like a full grown man and didn’t sound fake. It only happens for about 15-20 seconds and then silence. Some people started asking the guy where he was but never got a response.
Suddenly another big rig in the parking lot starts to take off right as a couple of cop cars pull into the truck parking area. The big rig takes out a smaller sign and then jumps a curb out into the service road for I-10. Turns out a student got angry at his instructor and stabbed him before leading the cops on a short high speed chase.”
A Cop In India Isn’t Really A Cop
“I’m a trucker, or I was a trucker, but this happened in a vacation. I was on a road trip in India, along National Highway 1, which goes through Kashmir. My Indian friends and I had decided to drive from Jaipur to Ladakh. We did this during the late spring, over several months. If you don’t know, Indians drive on the British side of the road, which, being an American, made it so I couldn’t drive safely. Plus there are a lot of stretches of Highway 1 that are really really sketchy mountain roads without guards or pavement. Many trucks also drive this route and will often barrel fast around blind corners on a road barely wide enough for two cars. So we hired a driver to do most of the driving past Srinagar.
Part of the trip also involved going through military / containment territories that I as a foreigner on my specific type of visa was not allowed to enter. However, these areas were very close to the Pakistan border, so my friends just told me to wear a burqa and sit in the back at the checkpoints and let them deal with it. I didn’t / don’t speak Hindi or Urdu, so I have no idea what they told the military guards but I assume they either bribed them to let me enter or told them I was their sister or something. I also had a fake Thailand passport I bought from a sketchy person in Bangkok off Khaosan road awhile back, so I gave that to the boys I was traveling with to show at checkpoints if needed. At the time I also held fake press credentials (again from Thailand, 600 Bhat, best deal ever lol). This will be important later on.
We were chugging along during the trip, made it to Ladakh with no issues. Probably the best road trip of my life. Kashmir is the most beautiful place in the entire world!! I absolutely was having a great time although I was getting altitude sickness. But that didn’t matter. Visiting obscure monasteries in the mountains and camping out under the stars, watching the sunset over the Himalayas was just incredible.
On the way back however we took a slightly different route because of a landslide that blocked a section of highway one. This took us through area controlled by Islamic extremists or so I was told. Certainly there were black flags with Islamic writing on them everywhere and there were no women in public. I put on the burqa again for this section of the drive.
One evening we were speeding and a ‘cop’ pulled us over. Something seemed off immediately as we was on a really old motorbike and had a uniform unlike any other military ppl we had seen thus far. He was armed with a Kalashnikov tho, so when he approached everyone was formal. Had a huge handlebar mustache too!
He started interrogating my friends in a harsh tone. Idk what he was saying but he didn’t seem happy. He then pointed at me and started firing off questions. At me and to them. I didn’t say a word. Eventually he reached into the car and tried to grab me. My friends deescalated and got out, opening the back door so the cop could see me. He was talking in Urdu I think, motioned me to step outside. I did. He then grabbed the top part of the burqa and ripped it off. Out popped my crazy hair and tattoos. He started going ballistic, grabbing other ppl out of the car, making us all kneel down, pointing the weapon at us.
One of my friends said to me in English – show him your press pass. Which I luckily had with me. It was in the car tho, so I said i had to get up to get it. My friend (actually my bf at the time, long story), then started speaking to the cop presumably explaining. I heard the word ‘BBC’ and ‘CNN.’ I was motioned to go back into the car so I did and I got the fake pass. Gave it to the cop. My friends all then started talking to him and it deescalated further. The cop started yelling again but motioning to get in the car. So we did. My friends then asked if I had American money. I did. They asked how much? I had about $200 USD. I gave it all to them. They then gave this money to him, and he motioned for us to leave. Everyone was thanking him, I put the burqa back on and we drove off quick.
Apparently he was telling them I was not allowed there and he was going to detain me and possibly kill me and them for being there. But they lied and said I was a western reporter for the BBC & CNN sympathetic to the cops cause. The fake cop believed them after seeing the credentials and then demanded American money. Lucky for me I had American money on me and lucky for us all it was enough to make him happy.
My friends then told me he wasn’t a real cop just a local person who’d be nominated to patrol the area for whatever rebel faction controlled it. Like a neighborhood patrol for Al Queda or whatever their faction was named. They knew this because one of my friends (not the BF) had family in the area and his uncle or something was chief of police. He had tried to name drop the uncle and text the uncle but the fake cop had basically told him that the actual police appointed there had no power. This was confirmed by the uncle via phone once we had left the scene and moved on.
Got back to Jaipur safely happy to report,with no further incidents”
He Let The Animals Loose
“A number of years ago, my stepfather was working at the Indianapolis Zoo. They were transporting a number of animals (fish and penguins, mostly) to a zoo in Galveston to look after them while renovations were performed on their building in Indy.
One of the drivers apparently fell asleep early in the morning and drifted off the road on the interstate in Marshall, and the truck tipped over. A lot of fish were killed, and the animals escaped. Four penguins were killed when they were struck by vehicles on the highway.
I feel badly laughing at it, but it’s really funny to me picturing some poor Texan driving to work early one morning when a freaking penguin runs out in front of him. Like, his insurance company and his wife are never going to believe that he hit a penguin in east Texas in summer.”
The Diner In Mystery, Louisiana
“My dad was a trucker and in the summers I tagged along with him. One evening we were driving from Houston to Jacksonville and somehow we got turned around on the back roads of Louisiana. The last major place I remembered us being in was Troy* at about 1am. Well it was almost 3 and we had no idea where we were. We eventually came to this little bitty town. It had one broken stoplight, a diner, an abandoned factory, and some empty shopping centers. In total it was maybe four blocks from one end to the other.
We were both hungry and because we didn’t want to wait to go to a truck stop, we pulled in behind the diner. Now that I think about it the fact that a small town diner was open at 3:00 am should’ve been a sign that something was amiss.
We get in and this diner is pretty nice actually. A bit old school, reminiscent of the 60’s. There’s a single waitress on duty and a cop eating in a booth. We naturally all got to chatting. I remember that meal so clearly because it was the first time I had grits. They were loaded with cheese and bacon. The cop gave us directions back to the highway and bought me a chocolate milk for the road. I even remember the tables. They were composite wood covered in polka dot contact paper.
Well, we eventually made it to civilization and later that morning at a stop my dad asks about the town. Cue a lot of confused local truckers. He was sure he was getting the name right but no one had heard of it.
A few months later he was driving me back home to Texas and he drove through Louisiana attempting to find the town. We never could. We’re still not sure what happened, if we drove through a ghost town no one remembered or something weirder. But I remember that night clearly.”
“I was in rural Maine looking for a lumber mill just before sunset. It took hours to get out there because Maine is riddled with these narrow windy roads that try and get as close as possible to every building in every village from US 1 to Canada. So I pull in just as the last guy is leaving, I ask him were to park and say I’ll see him in the morning. I park my truck in this fairly large gravel parking lot with thick forest right on all sides. There are no visible artificial lights except for my truck and my flashlight. After I get parked I go and sit out in a lawn chair and just enjoy the warm night air and look at the absolutely beautiful night sky. It was a rare treat to enjoy basically no light pollution.
As I’m looking at the stars, like a switch was flipped, what sound like fifty coyotes, sixty feet away, start howling like mad. It is at this point I nope right back into the truck and don’t open the door until sunrise.”
The People Of The Forest
“Not a trucker but my Dad was. When I was young he’d take me on hauls sometimes. On one such trip, we were heading across I-80 in Nebraska and there was a snow storm. We got to a part of the highway where a cop had blocked it off saying it was closed and we had to pull off for the night. We ended up pulling into the parking lot of an old Motel 6 that was closed and abandoned and went to sleep in the cab. The next morning there were 3 sets of footprints in the snow around the truck. The foot prints came out of the woods and circled the truck several times and looked like they had paused at windows and whatnot and then led back into the woods. Not sure what was up but I remember my Dad acting weird.
Nothing rattled my Dad, and he was rattled that day. He didn’t take me out on the road after that.”
Men In Black
“Back in 1990, a family friend bid for and won on a government contract to haul something from Nellis AFB to some random address in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. He arrived at the address and nothing was there. He recalled seeing a diner about 50 miles down the road.
Frustrated, he drove back to the diner for directions. Once he got inside, the diner owner told him to sit down, get comfortable and have something to eat. Just then, two black SUVs pulled up and multiple men in uniforms got out, came inside and asked for his keys. 6 hours later, the truck was returned without the trailer with a full tank of fuel.
He knows he was close to Groom Lake (Area 51) so he suspects it had something to do with that.”
Overreaction In Detroit?
“My dad is a long-haul driver and told me this story years ago: He was in Detroit trying to find some factory in the middle of the night and was a bit lost, and ended up having to drive through a really sketchy area (pre GPS and cellphone days). As he was entering the area he gets pulled over by a cop. The cop says to him something to the effect of, ‘You must be lost, even WE don’t go through that area at night.’
My dad being the stubborn guy he is tells the cop he has to get to where he’s going and has already lost enough time trying to get back on course and needs to go through the area. The cop proceeds to tell him not to stop for anything. Tells him to roll through stop signs and red lights, and if anyone steps out in front of his truck top flag him down to ‘turn them into a grease spot on the road and we’ll deal with it in the morning.’
He made it through without incident but I imagine he was pooping himself the entire time considering a police officer told him that running red lights and vehicular manslaughter were better options than stopping his truck.”