There was a countdown on Sunday for the new season for Highway Thru Hell. That’s the explanation for the featured image. The show has been on a while; this is season 11.
Season 11, for the first few episodes will deal with the catastrophic floods that devastated British Columbia in November of 2021. It took a huge toll on everybody, including the tow truck businesses. That’s one reason why I think, out of the plethora of reality shows that are faked on TV—Highway Thru Hell is not.
There are times when I wondered about the show’s authenticity, of course. One episode featured a potential new hire named “Jack Knife,” which brings to mind what the heavy tow trucks do, which is to drag huge jack-knifed semi-trucks out of ditches along the highways. The episode actually showed a segment of Jamie Davis, the owner of the major tow truck business on the show, in which he confirms that Jack Knife is the guy’s real name. It doesn’t look like he was hired.
There is a kind of irony about the kinds of jobs I’ve had and how similar or not they were to the Highway Thru Hell type of work.
You’d think that when I was working as a survey crewman back when I was a young, I would think it was similar to Highway Thru Hell. In fact, I worked for professional consulting engineers. I had a regular schedule with set hours. I had the right equipment for the right job. When work slowed down, meaning the company didn’t have a big contract for a highway relocation or whatnot, I and other guys would fill the time and to look busy, we would tie up redheads.
I’ve set up that joke before. We didn’t tie up red-headed women. You tied red ribbon as flagging around nails to use as measuring points for property or airport runway lines and the like. It makes them easier to see. If you were lucky and had some drafting skills, like me, in the winter months you’d work on drawing up survey plots and other plans for blueprints. I worked in pretty bad weather sometimes, in the winter. I never had to do anything that was dangerous. I got plenty of sleep.
But I never worked as hard as tow truck operators. When it’s slack time for them, some are laid off, which is never a good thing. But when they’re busy, they’re up all day and sometimes all night. The calls to haul trucks out of the ditch are unpredictable. And the conditions are always dangerous.
The irony is that it wasn’t until after I graduated medical school, got my medical license, and finished my residency in psychiatry that, as I look back on it now, that my work sort of resembled the chaos of workers on Highway Thru Hell. And being on call as a resident did sometimes result in my face nearly falling in my dinner because of sleep deprivation.
Like Highway Thru Hell, working as a psychiatric consultant was a lot like being like a fireman, which is similar to towing. I got called, often to emergencies, and had to work in conditions which were dangerous, mainly because of violent patients. Like towing, the work load was feast or famine. The job often called for creative solutions to apparently impossible challenges.
Much of the time, the Highway Thru Hell workers’ worst enemy was Mother Nature, just as it was in during the catastrophic floods of November 2021. For many psychiatrists and other physicians, it seems like the worst enemy was burnout, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is no quick fix in either case. We can work together and help each other.