Human Side Podcast 06: McCandless in the Wild

A discussion of Chris McCandless, Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, and why some young men must go on adventures.


Accident Part II: The Wrecker's Prayer

Ahead of me the wrecker was sweeping the accident debris off the shoulder. The wrecker continued to my truck and knocked on the passenger side door. 

I caught up to him. "You need something?" 

The wrecker turned to me. A wide scar ran from his right eyebrow up his forehead and back through his hair. The hair did not grow where the scar passed.

"You're the driver?"


"Nobody was hurt here tonight?"


"When I got the call I expected there to be dead people. When did it happen?"

I told him.

"I was in bed and an explosion woke me. I said to my wife, there's been a terrible accident. But that was 25 miles from here. I couldn't have heard it." 

"It was like a bomb went off when he hit my tandems."

"Somebody should have died."


"If he hits you a second earlier he goes under your tandems and you drag him down the road crushing him. A second later, he hits the rear of your trailer and shears off the top of his car taking his head off. He should have flipped from how he hit you."


"I was in an accident with a truck once. Its how I got this," he pointed at the scar. "My brakes went out and I hit his trailer going through an intersection. Ejected me from the car. Truck dragged the car two miles before he knew he was in an accident."

"You don't feel anything when you're driving a truck."

"I asked an EMS guy once what was the worst accident he ever saw. He was off-duty sitting at a diner eating a burger and from the window he watches a car collide with the trailer of a truck. The driver is ejected 15 feet in the air, then lands on his feet and starts running. The EMS guy chases him down the street yelling after him. He chased the guy until he collapsed from blood loss." The wrecker smiled.  "That guy was me. You lose a lot of blood when your head's opened up."

"You didn't remember running?"

"Nothing," said the wrecker. "I was in the hospital a long time." Then the wrecker said, "Are you a Christian?"

"Yes," I said.

"May I pray with you?"

"Yes," I said.

The wrecker held out his hands and I took his hands in mine. We bowed our heads and the wrecker began to pray. The wrecker prayed in thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ for what had happened this night, that I and the other driver were both alive and unhurt. The wrecker prayed in thanks for the Lord's protection against evil and prayed for His continuing protection. The wrecker prayed in thanks for the gift of His son Jesus Christ, who's birth we were to celebrate in a few days. The wrecker prayed that more of the world would come to know Him and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. The wrecker prayed this all in name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

"Amen," I said.


Accident Part I: Over the Line

The night was clear and very cold. After leaving Dallas in rush hour there had been no traffic on US 69 through Oklahoma, and it was very quiet in Pryor and in Muskogee. In my trailer was more than 45,000 lbs of boxed Coca-Cola syrup. It was three days until Christmas.

At midnight, miles from the Kansas border, I turned into the dirt truck parking lot at the Buffalo Run Casino to take my 30 minute DOT break. I heated water to make coffee and lay in the sleeper reading. I had 180 miles left to Kansas City and a 4 am appointment at Vistar. 

It is my custom to begin driving after exactly a thirty minute break -- the minimum mandated by the DOT to unlock the remaining three hours of drive time on the daily 11 hour clock -- but on this night, knowing traffic would be light into the city because of the holiday, I chose to make a proper coffee from grounds, requiring water heated longer and to the highest temperature. 

I remember finishing the coffee and noting on the Qualcomm my break had lasted 42 minutes. I was not pressed for time, and would likely have to wait to be unloaded when I arrived at the customer, but a truck driver lives by his clock and as a matter of principle these twelve minutes in excess bothered me. 

I began driving and crossed into Kansas. US 69 merges with US Route 400 at the town of Baxter Springs and the posted speed increases to 65mph as the road leaves town, a northbound and southbound lane undivided by a median. The road continues to a roundabout with Route 66, a very technical obstacle to pass cleanly with a semi-truck, but one I each time looked forward to as a test of my professionalism. 

A mile before the roundabout a southbound car edged over the line. 

At 65mph you do not have much time but I gave the driver the tiniest moment to right himself in his lane, then yanking my horn I started to the shoulder. But he kept coming into my lane and now with both hands on the wheel, headlights coming at me, I jerked the tractor onto the shoulder, as close as I could get to the drop off into the ditch and bushes and the pond, and he went by me. Then an explosion like a bomb had gone off, but I felt nothing. I slowed onto the shoulder but in my mirror I saw nothing. Then bounding down the road went one of my trailer tires. 

I quick put on my coat, took my flashlight, my knife and a blanket and jumped out of the truck. The driver-side outer tandem tires on the trailer were gone, the rims bent and disfigured. A quarter mile back in the ditch on my side of the road was a car with its lights on and I ran towards it. The road side was littered with pieces of metal and plastic and glass.

A car stopped on the shoulder ahead of me. A young couple was inside. I told them to call 911, I gave the location, and told them to say a car has collided with a semi.

I hurried down the embankment through the grass, shining my light on the car. The hood on the driver's side was crushed, the front tire was gone, and the driver's side door panel was torn away. I prepared for something awful inside.

Someone was in the back seat. I shined the light in on him. A young man was packing things into a duffel bag and mumbling. I asked him if he was okay. He said he was okay and continued packing. I told him I was the driver of the truck he had hit and I asked him to step out of the car. He stepped out and faced me. I looked him up and down, shining my light over him. I asked if he was injured, if he was in any pain. He said he was fine. I could hardly believe it. 

On the knee of his right leg was a spot of blood. A skin graft, he said. The skin was tender and prone to bleeding. It was nothing. He really was fine. I could hardly believe it.

A patrol car arrived and parked on the road. The state trooper came down the embankment with his light on us. The young deputy was called Noble Deakins. He asked each of us if we were injured. I gave the deputy my CDL and insurance card and told him what had happened. He sent me back to my truck to call my dispatcher and roadside service. 

After I had made my phone calls I walked back to see the deputy. A wrecker was down in the grass preparing to winch the totaled car up onto a flatbed. The young man was gone. A friend from Missouri had come for him, the deputy told me. He claimed to have insurance, but could produce no insurance card and had been cited. Deputy Noble Deakins also said the young man told him it was I who had gone into his lane and nearly killed him. I smiled and shook my head. The roadside evidence does not support his story, I said. The state of Kansas does not assign guilt in accidents and the two stories would be presented in the report, the deputy explained, the insurance companies will then debate who is at fault. 

I said goodbye to the deputy but he stopped me.

"You did a good thing here tonight," said Deputy Noble Deakins. 

"I know, sir. But I was lucky too."

He held out his hand and I shook it. Then I walked back towards my truck. 



Human Side Podcast 05: Knut Hamsun

Discussion of Knut Hamsun and a recently completed English translation of his book of poetry The Wild Chorus (Det vilde Kor). Drawing of Hamsun by his then 10 year old son Torre Hamsun.



Aphorisms on Truth / Diversity

9. They say truth is atomic, too small to observe with the eye, and that only a specialist can explain it. They say too that truth is the most general, the equation to assume all other equations, and that only an expert can understand it. That men in the middle, men of localities, small communities where they know every other man by his face and blood--they say now that these men know nothing of the truth. They are without specializations. They have expertise in nothing at all. 

10. Language itself is being remodeled on the tiniest or the most general; its origin in a local, small, well-knit community of men now obscured. To what purpose? To the benefit of whom?

22. And so you have inherited a tradition. It is Greek. It is pagan. It is Jewish and Christian. It is the singular, monotheism of the latter that has come to dominate. Plotinus was the first, they say, to acclaim the One, and thereafter the multiplicity of gods were winnowed down to the one God of Abraham, the one Christ. It is a model of truth that allows no diversity of opinion -- none of the endless conflicts of the disputing pagan gods and goddesses. The one God brought the Europeans together when before they worshiped and believed apart: they believed locally. Now they were to be brought together in the first pan-European project: a faith in Jesus Christ. Those who resisted to maintain local traditions, rituals and divinities were heretics to be converted or set fire to. 

27. They speak today of diversity. They invoke it often. They say hiring a negro to do a job is diversity. Publishing the thoughts of a woman with a penis is diversity. Putting a retard on the high school varsity basketball team will bring some sort of justice. But these are each shallow understandings of diversity. True diversity is to allow for other forms of life: to allow for hunter gatherers to go about their lives and not imprison them for poaching and trespass; to leave the forests alone that are habitat for the animals that are each year made more extinct; to let alone the plants and fish; to not drill into and cut apart the mountains; to not darken the skies with pollutants; to keep what is wild and illegible from being named and transformed by the political-economic system.


Human Side Podcast 02: Once, I Lost My Soul

A conversation with Andreas of Austria on the experience of "losing his soul." Also talk of toothless lot lizards, Wittgenstein, Bruce Chatwin, working third shift at Home Depot, Colombia, Argentina, Patagonia and other nonsense.

Download it here:

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