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David had tried to rent something more compact but all the smaller trucks were unavailable, so we were stuck in this gigantic white monster. And I was in the driver's seat. David and Ollie looked uncomfortable bouncing up and down as the tires transmitted each bump in the road to our seats. I smiled to myself, giving in to the prurient enjoyment of these bounces and their pleasantly vibrating result -- the same vibrations that caused the two empty cans of Diet Coke to rattle in the plastic cup holder.

I felt a surge of power in the simple act of directing such a mammoth machine. Is this how it is for all truck drivers? I was accepted by my fellow high-riding road kin, like I had figured out the secret handshake and thus been allowed into their ol' boys' club. I never knew this before, but trucks watch out for each other on the road. I really felt like these guys had my back.

After driving through the weigh station at the immigration checkpoint near San Onofre, a grocery-store truck sidled up next to me. Behind the wheel sat a man, his face and hands dirty with road dust and nicotine, his cab filled with fast-food wrappers, colorful business forms, and a duffle bag. He was wearing a bright vest the same shade of orange as my sweater. After a sideways glance in my direction, he quickly turned his full attention to me -- perhaps surprised to see a smiling, sloppy-haired, Ralph Lauren--wearing female version of himself.

The grocery store truck driver shot me a wide grin and waved his hand. I interpreted this to mean, "Hello, my strong, truck-driving sister. That's a nice orange sweater you have on."

I waved back, hoping he got the message from my face and hand loud and clear: "Ten-four, good buddy. Ten-four."

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