It was nearing Christmas this year; a hard-working Mexican-American family man was driving his fully-loaded semi along I-81 near Roanoke. His truck hadn’t felt right for the last 20 miles or so: sort of a dragging sensation. He was determined to pull off at the next truck stop. Suddenly he saw a hawk set on a collision course with his cab. The bird was in a power dive after prey. When raptors do this, they suspend their peripheral vision. Sure enough, the hawk smashed into the truck.
The drive pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway. As he did so, he noticed his brakes were spongy, no bite. Once securely off the road, he called his wife. “Yeah, I just hit this beautiful bird!” He looked out his rear-view. “He’s on his side! I think I kil… No, wait! He’s standing up! Honey, I’ve got to get him. I know he’s dangerous to handle, I’ll take my jacket.” And that’s what he did. He wrapped the injured hawk in his jacket, securing him in the passenger’s seat.
He limped the two miles further to the way station, stopping the big rig with his emergency brake; his foot brakes were gone. He called us to come get the hawk; we did.
The mechanic rolled up an hour later, heard the driver’s description of the complaint, and immediately began checking out the braking system. He then approached the driver shaking his head in disbelief.
He turned and spoke to the driver. “Your brake shoes have been pushing on your rotor even when you’re not braking. Look, in order to drive, your brake shoes retract, they don’t touch anything, so you free-wheel. The dragging you felt? The brake shoes had come loose and were pushing on the rotor which is what they do when you want the truck to stop. This constant rubbing wore your rotor down to nothing.” The driver still appeared to be confused.
“Look,” the mechanic said, “Those rotors are eaten through; your brake is worn completely out. It doesn’t work at all. If you hadn’t stopped for that bird, well, you were never gonna stop again.”
The driver’s name was ‘Jesus.’