It was a bleak and frigid night on I-88 somewhere in northern Illinois. The icy wind whipped across the flatlands, grazing the endless rows of white, brittle remains of last year’s corn crop. The only place to be that night was in your house, wrapped in your Snuggie, with a warm glass of brandy, watching videos of past vacations at Daytona Beach.
Alphonse Maddin knew he had to deliver his truckload of stuff, but he was low on gas. Somehow, he had not been able to find his assigned gas station in the vast, treeless midwestern expanse. So he drove and he watched, as the needle slowly but surely slid below the little red “E.”
Some thirty years earlier, in the land of cherry blossoms and the Potomac River, Congress passed the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. The law said (among many other things) that an employer could not take adverse action against a driver because the driver refused to operate a truck for safety-related reasons. (The law was later amended to add security-related reasons.)
Back on I-88, Alphonse Maddin was afraid he was going to run out of gas, so he pulled his rig over to the side of the road. He waited for an inexplicable 15 minutes, and then decided to venture back out in search of a truck stop.
No go. His trailer brakes were frozen.