A few weeks ago I had quite an intimidating experience.
I had to deliver a split load to two different shops in Leicester, quite late at night. I did the first drop then had to find somewhere to park up for a half an hour break due to the “six hour rule” which dictates that a break must be taken after six hours of work.
None of the usual laybys on the main roads presented themselves, so I found spur of road on one of those half-finished industrial estates, reversed in, and put the tacho on break. I got on the bunk and started reading my book, leaving the curtains open as I knew it was only a quick stop.
After about five minutes, a car pulls up and stops nearby – suddenly about eight more cars turn up – they were all “cruisers”, wannabe street-racers or whatever you want to call them but you’ll have seen the type of car – lowered, bright paint, loud exhaust, big sound system, etc.
I thought nothing of it and carried on reading my book. Then a car with four lads in it reverses right up to my bumper; they were about six inches in front of me. Two more cars reverse in, totally blocking my exit, then the rest of the cars all pile in in front of them. There must have been ten cars in front of my wagon.
By this stage alarm bells were ringing, I’d turned out the cab light, slipped back into the driving seat, and had my phone ready – to me this looked like a robbery about to happen.
I examined my situation. Leaving the lorry would not be an option – I can run quite fast but being on my own on a dark strip of wasteground didn’t really seem sensible. I hadn’t started the truck yet as I didn’t want to force any situation to occur. Left, my exit was blocked by bollards that would need a run up to crush; right might have worked but had the possibility of getting stuck on the grass verge.
So, really the only option would be to back up then take a run up at the cars which were four deep by then. As long as I maintained grip, throwing four cars out of the way would probably be quite easy given that I was running at about twenty tonnes and these wagons can pull over forty with ease.
By this time five minutes had passed, a couple of people had made a show of opening their doors but then not getting out – at the top of the road leading down to the estate some more cars had gathered.
Suddenly one car gave a signal and they started to drive off…within three minutes they had gone. My heart rate returned to normal and I quickly left the area and on to my second drop. I have to admit it, for a while I was shitting myself.
So, what was going on? Were they planning to rob me but then realised that it’s not worth robbing a Wilkinson lorry? Were they just trying to scare me? Were they just meeting up in a convenient spot? If so, why park six inches from my bumper, block off the road and generally be completely intimidating?
I guess (thankfully) I’ll never know, but if I’m in that area in the future I’ll stick to the main routes for a break, or take it at the shop.