Things that go Bump in the Night

Long, lonely nights, dark ribbons of road with no signs of inhabitation all lead to flights of fancy and ghostly sightings by truckers…or are they flights of fancy?

Throughout the days of modern trucking there have been many of these ghostly happenings popularized in song…Phantom 309 for one. During long nights, you might hear stories of ghosts on the cb as drivers while away the hours. Perhaps one of the more famous ghost stories, the gray lady, comes out of Alabama.

On state route 278 in Alabama there was a race track…legend has it that a young woman had an argument with her boyfriend at the races one dark night. She stormed away to walk home along the two lane highway…it got late and the mists rose. A trucker running along the highway didn’t see the walking woman in time and hit her…panicking; the driver sped off leaving the woman dying along the road. It is said that on dark, foggy nights the gray lady jumps up on the running boards and looks in the window of trucks running along that highway looking for the driver that killed her. Rumor has it that several drivers have wrecked and had heart attacks from the fright.

Alabama is ripe for paranormal happenings it seems. One day about dusk, I was driving along a two lane stretch of highway 78. I saw a little boy who looked to be about 5, walking in the bar ditch on my passenger side. He was dressed in a dirty, tattered, long white shirt and nothing else. There were no houses along there for several miles, only trees, so I put on the brakes and looked in my mirrors for the little boy…he was gone.

A friend of mine related this story of the haunted house she lives in (we will call her Sue). Sue had bought her house a couple of years ago. There was no door bell so she bought one of those types that plugs in the electrical outlet. A short time later, the bell would ring for no reason. At the same time, she started smelling that menthol, musty old person’s house smell at times in her house. She consulted with a friend who had some psychic abilities who told her that there was the spirit of an old man that had lived there a long time ago who’s name was Charley. The psychic said that Charley liked Sue because she loved his house. Sue wasn’t afraid.

Sue had been living with another driver who she thought she was going to marry and while she was on the road, he moved out unexpectedly. When Sue got home, she was very upset, the door bell started ringing and would not stop for over 30 minutes…she finally had to unplug it totally. She knew that ’Charley’ was trying to comfort her.

Another driver told me of a stretch of mountain road in West Virginia that is curvy where at certain times of the night; you will come around a corner to see two vehicles wrecked on the shoulder of the road. Smoke is rising, the vehicle’s lights are on and the tires on one are still spinning. By the time you get pulled over to the shoulder ahead of the wreck where it is wide enough for a rig to park and get out of the truck…the vehicles have vanished.

One driver’s story sounded like a variation of the girl in the cemetery story. This driver was traveling down a lonely stretch of interstate out in the desert one night when he saw a young man standing on the shoulder with his thumb out. Starting to get tired, the driver thought that a little company would be good so stopped and told the young man to get in. The young man climbed into the jump seat and they carried on a lively conversation about old rock and roll and of course, girls. As the lights of the next desert town came into view on the horizon, the young man got quiet. When the driver looked over, the young man was gone.

Who can say if there are truly ghosts or not besides the people that say they have seen or experienced them. It may be just an active imagination, the play of light and shadows, a deer caught in the headlights…or it might actually be the restless spirit of someone who has gone before. One thing is certain, as long as truckers drive through lonely stretches of road there will be a never ending supply of ghostly sightings.

Boo!!

I delivered a load late one afternoon in the southeast last year and dispatch did not have a reload for me. The receiver said I could park for the night along the bottom of their property on a dead end road. As I was 50 miles from the nearest truck stop, I took advantage of the offer, parking at the end of the road, at the bottom of a hill from their docks. After dark, when I decided to get ready for bed, I took my little dog Lilly out for her nightly romp.

Walking along side of my trailer, I heard the jangle of metal. Lilly all of a sudden stopped and looked up the hill towards the dock area; she started to growl softly. Following her gaze, I too looked up the hill wondering if we were safe. All of a sudden I saw misty figures silhouetted against the security lights along the warehouse building at the top of the hill. The jangling of metal got louder and I started hearing voices shouting! The misty figures started down the hill and vanished! I stood in amazement as I realized that I had just seen several ghosts at the same time!

A friend of mine was staged ready to load at a well known brewery warehouse in Colorado. It was night time and she was sitting waiting for her load to be ready. As she sat in her truck in the dark, she felt the hairs rise on her neck. Looking up, she saw a tall dark figure in front of her truck looking towards her. The figure was male and dressed like a fur trapper. He stood there for a few seconds then turned and walked away for about five feet then vanished!

Ghosts as a rule do not scare me, I live with one in my house after all, but there are times when even I get hinky about what I see or hear or feel. Stopping on an on-ramp for a quick pit stop one night in the desert, I took Lilly out for her pit stop too. As I stood in front of the truck on the shoulder, I started feeling like I was tingly all over and goose bumps rose on my arms. I looked around but could not see anything to be worried about.

Suddenly, I heard a woman crying; Lilly obviously heard it too because she looked around on the alert. The crying sounded like it was right next to the truck. Thinking that there was someone in trouble, I hurriedly got my flash light from the truck and shown it around both sides of the ramp going so far as to walk out into the desert a ways. Even though I could still hear the crying, there was no one there!

Chills still go up my back when I think about this episode; poor woman, I have often wondered why she cried. Some have suggested that I was hearing a coyote sing, but I live in Missouri, we have coyotes here and I have heard them; this was definitely the sound of a woman crying. I think it was a woman from the past who was in despair and the echoes of her cries came thru the years. I have stopped on that ramp since then, but have never heard the crying again.

A male driver I know told me this story. The driver broke down one night along a lonely highway. As this was in the day when even a company driver carried tools, he got out of the truck and started tinkering with the engine to try to fix the problem. As he turned to get a different tool, he was startled to see a man standing beside his tool box. The man said hello and asked what the trouble was. Not seeing another vehicle, the driver thought it might be a farmer or rancher who lived nearby who saw the truck sitting along side of the road and walked over to see if he could help.

The driver told the man what had happened before the truck broke down and the two worked on finding and fixing the problem. The man told the driver to climb into the truck and try starting it. The driver pushed the button and the truck roared to life. Looking down beside the driver’s door where the man had been standing a second ago, the driver saw that the man was gone! There was not time for the man to have walked out of visual range. The driver swears to this day that it was a mechanically inclined ghost!

Ghosts, phantoms and spirits abound in the world of trucking. One never knows when one will see one; they do not walk up and say BOO, they are just there or are they?

Sandy Long is a long time truck driver who is also very active within the trucking industry. She was a long time writer for layover.com, is a life member of OOIDA, member of the WIT and owner of two websites:  Trailer Truckin’ Tech, a yahoo group dedicated to the education of new and prospective truck drivers and www.satinandsteelsisterhood.com for women truck drivers. Sandy’s first book Street Smarts: A Guide for a Truck Driver’s Personal Safety is available at https://www.createspace.com/3449566