Be Careful With Anhydrous Ammonia


Absolutely nothing about this story relates to the suckage factor of Albert Lea.

In fact, it's the kind of heartwarming story that I love to tell when no one appears to want to listen to me.

Almost 25 years ago, this could have been me. For, you see, I once had to drive a truck and I once had to deliver an anhydrous ammonia tank to a rural residence. And, I had to do it because I was a complete and utter dumbass.

I won't go into my personal dumbassery; that's the stuff of legend. But, I will say this--one of the few things I ever actually did correctly was that, when I realized that the anhydrous ammonia trailer I was pulling with a pickup truck, I slowed down and pulled over to the shoulder of the road. I eased the truck down from a top speed of all of 25 miles and hour and safely parked the truck and the trailer. This was between Albert Lea and Hayward.

We had CB radios then, so I called back to "base" and an older fellow drove out and saw what had happened. The cap on the trailer's axle had come completely off and there was nothing holding the tire on the trailer. With thousands of pounds of anhydrous in the tank, I had a trailer which was about to come completely apart on me.

The old timer laughed at my predicament, unhooked the trailer, and I went on my way. The trailer was fixed, another tank was delivered to the farmer, and all's well that ends well. But, I've never forgotten it because that could have been me in the ditch, upside down, with a leaking trailer full of dangerous chemicals. I saved no one that day, but I did develop a healthy respect for the sinus-clearing effects of anhydrous ammonia, which I was often dosed with while filling up those tanks, and, when I joined the Army, there wasn't anything their tear gas could really do to me.