OK, this really happened:
A long time ago, I was a student tractor-trailer driver. My instructor
and I were in the city, me driving a single axle tractor pulling a 40
foot van. The instructor asks me "How many cars are following you?" and
I replied "One". He says "How do you know? I don't see any". I answered
"Because I can see the shadow of a car behind the trailer". That means
the following car is _right_ on my rear bumper.
He compliments me on my driving skill as we approach a underpass which
is on a curve. In the shadow of the underpass, in the middle of the
lane, is a V8 engine block. About 400 pounds of iron, festooned with
various brackets, just sitting there. Now I have two problems: spike the
brakes, get hit in the rear and automatically lose my learner's permit,
or try to avoid hitting the engine block. Hitting the block is
completely out of the question, as the head instructor is a former
Marine Drill Instructor and on our first day told us not to even THINK
about dinging one of his trucks, using language and gestures as only a
former Marine Drill Instructor can.
I tap the brakes lightly, to let the tailgating idiot know I'm slowing
down, and center the tractor over the block, telling my instructor " I'm
gonna straddle it!" He opens his door and starts trying to look under
the truck. He starts yelling " It missed the axle, turn a little left,
no, right, left, yeah, Ok, hold it right there!" I'm wincing, waiting
for a bracket to reach out and tear out an air line, or rip a tire, or
bang into a brake servo.
I'm yelling " Did we hit it?, Did we hit it?" when the instructor swings
back up in the seat, smiles, and says " No, but the guy behind us sure
I look in the mirror, and sure enough, the guy behind now has a new
Cadillac with a vee-shaped front bumper and a major coolant leak. And
a new perspective on tailgating.
I ask " Do we have to stop?" " Nope, didn't come of our truck, did it? "
So off we went, laughing.