Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

A Trucker’s Thanksgiving

November 21, 2011

Gobble, Gobble

Photo by r_gnuce via Flickr

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to slap-fight your siblings for the drumstick and have spoon duels over the last dollop of Cool Whip, because we all know pumpkin pie just ain’t right until you can’t see the plate beneath the pie.

More importantly though, it’s time to look around us and give thanks for everything we have. For being blessed with an annoying brother who called dibs on the drumstick before you. For your superior health, which enables you to punch him hard enough to leave a giant bruise. For the job that you hate. You know, the job that put that turkey on the table. The job that paid your bills all year. The job that the dude in the unemployment line would kill for. Yes, I know I’m among the guiltiest in this regard. Thanks for pointing that out. Now shut your face.

So that’s what I’m here to do today: count my blessings. And since I’m such a ooey-gooey, touchy-feely, sentimental kinda guy, I’ll do so in my typical fashion. Here are the things that this trucker is thankful for. As expected, let’s start out with:

  • Thanks to the inventors of electronic logs for wasting my valuable time. As if my trips to the mall with The Evil Overlord weren’t enough torture for one man.
  • Thanks to the driver who insists on going the speed limit in the fast lane. I hadn’t realized it was your job to police me. Thanks for keeping me in line.
  • Thanks to all those drivers who slow down when you see a cop, even when you’re not speeding. I hear that if a cop sees you do this, he’ll pull you over and give you an ice cream cone.
  • Thanks to all you good folks who overspend your budgets. Your greed = my freight.
  • Thanks to all the credit card companies who promote this overspending. May your consciences be clear as you sleep on your $800 pillow lined with kitten fur.
  • Thank you to the medical profession for extending life expectancy. It’s going to take every last second of life to pay off these stinkin’ credit cards. Dang. My balance just went up again. Who knew there was such thing as a badmouthing fee?
  • Thanks to all the rubberneckers who bring traffic to a near standstill, even though whatever is happening is on the opposite side of the highway.
  • Thanks to that police officer who issues me a ticket for having a light out. You know, one of those three tiny, but extremely crucial clearance lights that are above my trailer doors. Whew! Did you see that? That airplane almost rear-ended me!
  • Thanks to all the drivers who try to close the gap when I flip my turn signal on to switch lanes. No worries. It’s not like I can’t take the spot after you pass. Aw crap. The next guy punched it too. And the next… And the next…
  • Thanks to all the truckers who tailgate 4-wheelers. Nothing says “professional” quite like a rear-view mirror full of grille.
  • Thanks to the woman who puts on her makeup in 65 mph rush hour traffic. We all know how important it is to look pretty when there’s an open casket.
  • Thanks to all those 4-wheelers who like to hang out in a trucker’s blind spots. Oh well. Out of sight, out of mind. Never you mind that pesky turn signal light that’s making the side of your face glow.
  • Thanks to the driver who locks up his brakes in front of me because he missed his turn. I’ve really been needing to check the integrity of my brakes. Too bad they work.
  • Thanks to the DOT, the FMCSA, the CSA, and all the other organizations who love truckers enough to regulate them. It’s nice to know that you can make me log it if it takes more than 7 minutes to pee, but you can’t make a receiver unload me in less than 3 hours.
  • Thanks to the trucker who parks in front of the fuel islands for extended periods of time. Yes, I know you had fuel card problems. I saw your fuel receipt through the Subway bag with toilet paper stuck to it.
  • Thanks to all the drivers who figure out where the gas pedal is after I start to pass you.
  • Thanks to all the 4-wheelers who go 5 mph under the speed limit on 2-lane highways. It’s a good thing I’m not driving this truck to make money or anything.
  • Thanks to the driver who writes SHOW YOUR HOOTERS in the dust on the back of the trailer. Public opinion: 1 Trucker’s reputation: 0
  • Thanks to the truck who parks crookeder than a homemade TV antenna. I hope you weren’t emotionally attached to that side-view mirror.
  • Thanks to the state of California for making us truckers stay in the far right lanes. It’s not like that’s where all the other vehicles are trying to enter the roadway or anything.
  • I’d also like to thank California for making trucks go 55 mph. We all know how dangerous those tumbleweeds can be.
  • Thanks to the driver who pulls out in front of me from a side street. I’ve been meaning to work on my slalom skills.
  • Thanks to my company for banning all cooking devices from my truck. There’s nothing quite like a cold bowl of Captain Crunch on a blustery winter’s night.
  • Thanks to the inattentive or unyielding trucker who won’t back out of it for two seconds so a slightly faster truck can get around him quicker. I’m sure all those drivers stuck behind you will be talking about the nice trucker when they get to work.
  • Thanks to the DOT for their hours-of-service rules. How would I know when I’m tired without your infinite wisdom?
  • Thanks to the drivers who feel the need to go 25 mph in a 45 mph construction zone. Good thing you’re clairvoyant. Those construction workers are always putting up the wrong speed limit signs.
  • Thanks to all the businesses who put up NO TRUCK PARKING signs. I nearly forgot that my money is less valuable than everyone else’s.
  • Thanks to all the worthless pile of dung truckers who use these parking lots as trash bins and toilets. I’m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with those NO TRUCK PARKING signs.
  • Thanks to all you 4-wheelers who are so kind as to allow me to hang out in the fast lane after I’ve scooted over to help you merge onto the highway. Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were on the phone.
  • Speaking of on-ramps and phones, thanks to the driver who can’t be bothered to put away his cell phone as he’s barreling down the on-ramp. I guess the two cars to the left of me forgot to use their X-ray vision to see you trying to push me over. I know, right? What a waste of super powers.
  • And yet again, thanks to all those wishy-washy 4-wheelers who can’t make a decision when they get to the end of the on-ramp. Yes, I know being 3 car-lengths ahead of me will make it an impossibly tight fit, but why don’t you try anyway.
  • Thanks to the Christians who write Bible verses on the bathroom walls. Nothing says “Jesus loves you” quite like vandalizing someone’s property.
  • Thanks to all the shippers and receivers who value my time so much. Everyone deserves a 5-hour nap in the middle of their workday. Right?
  • Thanks to the soccer mom who cuts across three lanes in front of me to get to her exit ramp. My doctor has been saying I need to increase my heart rate more often.
  • Thanks to the person who flips me the bird for riding out in the left-hand lane. Clearly I misread that sign that read, TRUCKS LEFT LANE ONLY. My bad.
  • Thanks to all the good citizens who vote for anti-idling laws for trucks. While you may not die from harmful gas inhalation, you’ve dramatically increased your shot at getting run over by a trucker who was unsuccessfully trying to sleep in a pool of his own sweat.
  • And finally, thanks to the truck stop owners who wants $37 for a small bottle of Pepto-Bismol. When you’re looking for your place of torment in hell, just follow the signs that say, EXPLOITED A DIARRHEA SUFFERER.
Well, there you have it; a list of things to be thankful for. Yes, I know. Heartfelt is my middle name. That’s just me.
So, what are you thankful for this Turkey Day? As soon as you get done clobbering your brother with that drumstick you stole, why don’t you pop on over to the comments section and leave your thoughts. I’d appreciate it if you’d wash your hands first. I don’t want you touching my comments sections with those greasy turkey fingers. I swear. We can’t have anything nice in this house.

The Spitting “Christian” Zealot

October 12, 2011

Advance warning here. Other than the fact that a “conversation” I had with a fellow company driver brought it on, this post has very little to do with trucking. It does have to do with the intolerant and sometimes violent reputation that Christians are getting nowadays. Please don’t tune me out yet. This isn’t a preaching lecture. I’m not qualified for that. I’d just like to explain to you how the Bible says Christians are supposed to act in today’s world. These are just my views from what I’ve learned. Take them or leave them out by the street with all the dirty diapers and empty pizza boxes.

Real Christians don’t picket military funerals and shout at funeral processions. Real Christians don’t scream about damnation to tornado victims. Real Christians don’t yell that gay people are going to hell. Real Christians don’t verbally abuse women coming out of an abortion clinic. And real Christians don’t spit on you when they talk. And that brings me to the driver I spoke with the other day. Let’s call him Bruiser. Just because he looked like his momma might’a named him that.

In all fairness, Bruiser never actually spit on me. But trust me, that was only because there was elevation and a truck door between us. At first, Bruiser seemed like a normal trucker. He was big fella. Probably 6’3″ and 260 pounds. He had a bald head and was wearing a U.S. Army baseball cap and a big ol’ salt and pepper goatee. I made a mental note to thank him for his military service before we parted, but I didn’t much feel like it by the time it was all over.

The conversation started out normal. He asked what the sign in my passenger side window was. He was happy to learn that the Colorado scales wouldn’t pull you over every time if you put the last 8 digits of your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the passenger side of the truck (there’s my trucking info quota). But the conversation changed when my hatred for e-logs came up. That’s when he started talking about the government wanting to control everything. You can imagine the Obama rant that followed.

Now I’m not a fan of big government, so I was actually agreeing with some of what Bruiser was saying. But then he started to get excited and the spittle started to show itself. He started to get a lot louder too.

Turns out he was a Christian. Or so he said. Within about 15 minutes, he said, “I’m not a racist, but…” about 5 times. I figure that means he’s probably a racist. He basically said that the black communities in America were suffering the highest rates of violent crimes because they also have the highest rates of abortion and children out-of-wedlock.

He went on to say that as a Christian he was called to “rebuke” the wicked. His word, not mine. He said that if a Christian politician had the gonads to stand up and boldly “rebuke” all the homosexuality, abortion, and black people’s sin, that he or she would easily be elected the next President. That’s when things started to get out of hand. I told him I was a Christian too, but that I didn’t agree with him.

I told him that anyone who spoke out like that wouldn’t stand a chance of being elected. Politicians have a hard enough time getting the opposing party’s votes as is. Start getting radical like that and everyone would back away from him, even their own party. I also told him he’d never win any non-believers to Christ by yelling at them. It was immediately apparent that this guy was not the kind of guy that liked opposing views.

Well, I’ve gotta tell you that Bruiser lost it. I mean, he went bonkers. Spit literally started to fly out of his mouth. He started talking about nations saying “yea or nay,” and he’d pause at the end of a tirade and say, “Praise the Lord!” Now I may not be the brightest LED in the tail light, but I’m not a total imbecile either. But I can honestly say that from that point on I had no earthly idea what he was talking about. Especially with that whole “yea or nay” thing. I’m certain he understood himself, but I was at a total loss. After a couple more heartfelt “Praise the Lord’s,” he went about hooking up his trailer. I couldn’t help but notice he was breathing hard from his verbal workout.

It was too bad that I had to be at my shipper in 30 minutes. I had so many things to say to him, although I realize it wouldn’t have done a lick of good. You really can’t talk reasonably to zealots, especially spitting ones. So instead, I’ll tell you what I was going to tell him.

First, real Christians aren’t supposed to be racist. Jesus said to love one another (John 13: 34-35). That’s pretty clear. You can’t love someone and hate them at the same time. Heck, Jesus even said to love your enemies (Matthew 5: 43-48). Now to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have called Bruiser out on this. You know, because he’d already stated that he wasn’t a racist… Five times. Still, I thought I’d point that out to any non-believer who thinks Christians are racists. We’re not. Or, we shouldn’t be.

Is there punishment for consequences? You bet. Even a toddler jumping back from the oven screaming a profane-word-he-didn’t-learn-from-you, could tell you that. Pretty much everyone believes in the concept of “what comes around, goes around.” Some people call it Karma, Christians know it as “you reap what you sow.” (Galatians 6: 7)

So, could the black community be suffering from high crime rates because of abortion and the fact that 67% of black children are growing up in single-parent homes? I suppose it could. Could the world be suffering more natural disasters because of some of the biblically immoral choices our society has taken? That just might be the case. Could sexually transmitted diseases be the consequences of a society who commits biblically immoral acts? It sure could. At least according to the Bible it could. The Bible is full of instances where God disciplines his people for their rebellion and their poor choices.

Most non-believers hate the thought of that. They say that God is a vengeful God and that he doesn’t have any right to tell us how we should act. Well, if you’re a Christian, you believe he’s your creator, so he actually does have a say in the matter. I’d also like to point out that God doesn’t punish his children to hurt them. He does it to protect them. Do you discipline your child to protect them from doing stupid things? So does God. Despite what most non-Christians think, God wants what’s best for you. Need some proof? Okay.

First, let me say that I’m not “casting the first stone.” I’m a sinner. I know it and I struggle with it every day. I always will. I was raised in the church, but totally rebelled from my teens until I was almost 40 years old. Why did I rebel? For the same reason I think most non-believers deny God. Because I didn’t want to be held accountable for my actions. No one likes to be told what to do and how to act. But sometimes it’s in our best interest.

For example, if a boy and a girl grew up under the guidance of biblical teaching and remained sexually pure until they married each other, what are the chances of either of  them getting a sexually transmitted disease? Well, unless they’re purposefully rubbing their junk on public toilets seats, the chances are minuscule. And before you nit-pickers can attack, yes, I do realize fetuses can get HIV during pregnancy.

If that same couple got married, what are their chances of divorce? According to studies, it’s in the low single-digit percentage. That’s compared to the almost 50% divorce rate the rest of us suffer from. How much emotional and physical damage do you bring into a marriage if you’ve had other sex partners? I’ll bet everyone reading this has suffered a breakup that would’ve been a heck of a lot easier if sex hadn’t been involved. How about teen pregnancy? Pretty hard to get all preggers if you aren’t doing the deed. You see, God is trying to protect you by showing you what not to do.

How about something like murder? God doesn’t want us to kill because he values life and knows that it will be something you’ll deal with for the rest of your life. Now I know what’s coming next. How can Christians be against abortion, but in favor of capital punishment? To that, the Bible points out that governments were established to maintain justice. Barring some freak anomaly, if a criminal is on death row, they’ve done something to deserve it. A judge and 12 jurors said so. These jurors are citizens just like you and me. The same citizens that elected the judge and decided whether their state will enforce capital punishment or not. If you don’t like that, you’re welcome to move to another state where the death penalty doesn’t exist and like-minded people abound.

But what has that fetus done to deserve death? But wait, you say. Is it a life if it isn’t born yet? Well, it’s heart is beating. Is yours? Are you alive? Yes, I guess it’s true that a fetus doesn’t really know what’s going on, but neither does a person who’s in a coma for 9 months. Should we kill them too? Now if the mother’s life is in jeopardy, well someone has to lose and that’s unfortunate. But are most abortions done because of real physical risks to the mother? No. Other than the fact that she just won’t look right in her new bikini. Actually, the stats show that women who have abortions have greater risks in lots of factors. Check out this article for more on that. Once again, God is looking out for you.

What about something as simple as lying? The 9th Commandment says it’s a sin. This commandment also pertains to lying to accuse someone falsely. Don’t you just hate having to apologize to someone when you’ve been caught in a lie? I do. Do you like it when people spread lies about you? If you do, you’re some kinda weirdo. Again, God is your bud here. He doesn’t want you to go through that.

I’d like to address one more controversial issue: homosexuality. The Bible clearly teaches that it’s a sinful act (1 Timothy 1: 10). I’ve heard many gay people say, “Why would God design me this way if I’m not supposed to be this way?” This is a rough one. From what I’ve learned, it’s because this is a fallen world. In the beginning, man chose to rebel against God. We’ve been paying for it ever since. We come out of the womb with a sinful nature. What? You don’t believe that?

Do you have to teach a toddler to lie? No. Now they’re quite bad at it, but they try none the less. Do you have to teach a child to be selfish? How about disobedient? I gotta tell you, my nephews have been pushing against The Evil Overlord and me since the moment they could crawl towards the poor unsuspecting sleeping cat.

Having said all that, here’s something most people don’t know and quite frankly, I struggle with myself. To God, all sins are equal. He hates a simple little white lie as much as he hates me taking an axe to someone’s face. For one person, their sin might be anger issues. For another it might be homosexuality. Whatever your particular poisons are, we are taught to resist them.

Still, we’re not perfect. That’s why it’s so awesome that he’s a forgiving God to those who believe in him. Do I personally think lying or dude-on-dude action is as bad as an axe to the face or cheating on your spouse? No, I don’t. The thing is, I’m not God. Neither are you, and neither is Bruiser. And that leads us to wrap this puppy up.

Some say Christians are not to judge. Bruiser says we are. Who’s right? I’ll go a happy medium with you. The Bible says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged (Matthew 7: 1-5).” But does that go for both people and actions? Well, in the next verse, it talks about judging others. I mean, if we didn’t judge actions, how would we discern right from wrong? But it God’s job to judge people, so I’ll leave that up to him and you should to.

In close, Christians should try to treat non-believers like Jesus would. He was kind to all sinners, yet firm in his beliefs and standards. I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery (John 8: 2-11) and was about to be stoned to death. Jesus said, “He without sin cast the first stone.” When no one chucked the first rock at her, he told her, “Go and sin no more.” You see, he wasn’t mean to her because she was being a naughty girl. He didn’t yell at her about sleeping around or cram a Xerox of the 7th Commandment down her throat. Nor did he excuse her sin.

Now pretty much every person in the galaxy (even non-Christians) will acknowledge Jesus as the most moral character in all of history. And if that’s the way he treats people, then that’s how we should do it too. After all, the word Christian does mean Christ-like.

The Bible also tells Christians to teach the truth in love (Ephesians 4: 15), and we all know actions speak louder than words. Therefore, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include yelling at people, being a bigot or racist, slandering someone, or just plain being a mean ol’ jerk. So for Saint Pete’s sake, you psycho-Christians out there, quit yelling and spitting on people.

*I know I probably won’t have to ask for comments on this one, but I will anyway. Let me know what you think and please give this post a rating and pass it on to your friends. Thanks*

A Trucker’s Home

December 6, 2010

I’m 42 years old and The Evil Overlord has been 29 for several years now. We live with her parents. How pathetic is that? Well, according to many of the truckers I’ve spoken with, it’s not pathetic at all. Well, at least it’s not that uncommon anyway.

I was reminded of this again yesterday when my company asked me to pick up a driver whose truck had broken down. He needed a lift home and they needed me to rescue him and the load he had been hauling. I’d be willing to bet that they were more concerned with the load than the driver. Carriers are “family-oriented” like that.

I knew immediately that Clint was a non-smoker. If he had been a puffer, all his stuff would’ve smelled like smoke and it would have taken a week or two to fumigate my truck after the 4.5 hour trip to his house. I did, however, put my foot down when he tried to bring his 13-gallon trash can into my cab. That would be the one that was caked with Skoal spit. *shudders* I was also grateful to discover that he wasn’t one of those annoying drivers. That would have made it seem like an 8-hour trip.

As we talked (and no, I didn’t do all the talking), I discovered that Clint was an avid sportsman who loved hunting and fishing. Well, there’s two things right off the bat that we don’t have in common. I’m certain that I don’t have the skill to shoot a fish or cast far enough to snag a deer.

As the conversation progressed, I discovered that he was a 41-year-old single guy who had never been married. After serving a couple of terms in the Navy, he got his CDL (Commercial Drivers License) and moved home with his dad. His father had recently passed away after a nightmare called Alzheimer’s disease.

I asked him if he had moved in with his dad because of the Alzheimer’s, to which he said, “No. He got that years later. I drive a truck. I’m never home. What the hell do I need a house for?”

Good point. While it may be pathetic for most grown adults to live with their parents, I believe that truckers might be one of the exceptions. People with special needs such as physical or mental disabilities would be understandable too. Now that I think of it, a lot of truckers might qualify for the mental side of that.

After The Evil Overlord and I got married, we moved to Dallas where I attended The Art Institute. During that time, we rented an apartment and suffered through life as most poor, uneducated, newlyweds do. They were some of the best years of our lives. Doesn’t everybody say that?

After graduation, we came back to Missouri and moved in with her parents until we could get our lives in order. We got into trucking after discovering that my degree was a worthless as a bartender at a lemonade stand.

As truckers, we stayed out on the road for 3 weeks at a time. Many drivers stay out much longer than that. When we did get home, we were only there for 3-4 days at a time, so we never really saw the need to get a place of our own. Her parents were happy to see us when we got home and they had an extra room to spare, so what the heck?

Years later, we got the itch to own a home. Since we were making good money, we thought we’d build a house that we could enjoy when we finally quit trucking and came off the road. We built that beautiful house, but there was one big honkin’ problem. We didn’t see any immediate end to our trucking careers.

I’ve got to tell you, it really sucked paying a large mortgage payment on a place that seemed to only be good for doing your laundry when you came off the road. It didn’t take long before we sold it and moved back in with her parents.

Fast forward to present day. The Evil Overlord is no longer driving. She quit for a while, then came back for a year-and-a-half, then quit again. Fickle woman. This time it’s for good though. Now she’s back at school and living with her parents while I’m out here on the road. And that is why we’ve put a deposit down on one-half of a brand new rental duplex.

Parents are fine. Actually, they’re more than fine. Without those two people feeling frisky at least once in their lives, you wouldn’t even exist. We should all thank them for doing the nasty for us. Still, they aren’t someone you want to live with for the rest of your lives. That’s why the Bible says to “leave your parents and cleave to your spouse.” God knew even back then that your parents would eventually drive you bonkers.

After The Evil Overlord put the deposit down on the place, she gleefully called me up to ask me if I was excited. I was less than enthused and she was perplexed. I explained that, while I understood her giddiness, I was still out here on the road for 3 weeks at a pop. She was happy to be getting some personal space and that was understandable. Since I’m rarely home, all it does for me is make her happy. And after all, I guess that’s part of a husband’s job. I’m sure I’ll enjoy getting back to the way it all began. It’ll be just me and The Evil Overlord again. And those pesky nephews, I guess. Unfortunately, my glee will only last for 30-40 hours a month.

My point is this. You’ve got good reason to raise your eyebrows when you meet a grown adult who still lives with his/her parents, but if you find out that person is a trucker, give them some slack. Would you want to spend a good chunk of your monthly income to own a home or maintain an apartment that you rarely get to visit?

*Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this subject. And if you’re feeling particularly nice, go up to the top of the post and give it a star rating. Thanks.*

Really? A Good Dispatcher?

November 17, 2010

Photo by mboperator via Flickr

Yes, I know that’s a rather comical statement for us truckers, but hang on and I’ll make my point. But first, let’s start this out by explaining something to my non-trucking readers. You drivers out there can zone out for a second. As if you weren’t doing that already.

When you drive a satellite-equipped truck, here’s the way the dispatching process is supposed to work.

  1. Your satellite unit beeps at you. If your company believes you to be incapable of reading a short message and hitting a few keys while you’re driving, then you pull over. If they actually treat you like a professional, you can do the remaining steps while you drive.
  2. You examine your load information, which includes a load number, the shipper and receiver, their addresses (and sometimes phone number), the pick up and delivery times, possibly some fuel stop and/or routing information, and any additional information you might need, such as pickup and delivery numbers,  weights, piece counts, etc.
  3. If everything you need is included in the message and you have the hours to run the load, you respond with a canned message that says you got the info and you accept the load.
  4. You pick up and deliver on time.
  5. You wait for the next beep.

That’s the way it works if you work for a normal company. Now I swear I’m not going to start another whine-fest, but I’ve got to explain what happened this morning to get to my point.

I had set my PTA (Projected Time Available) for 1:00 p.m. So naturally, I get a beep at 10:30 a.m. I’m not exactly shocked about getting woke up. The message says to call in for a “verbal.”

As long as I can remember, there has always been a need for verbal dispatches. Maybe the load is too complicated for a satellite message. Maybe it requires special instructions; like you have to go to a different location to weigh your empty tractor-trailer before you go into the shipper. Maybe it’s a high-value load. It could be a lot of different things. These loads are fine for verbals. They’re actually appreciated because they shed light on a confusing situation.

However, lately, nearly every load I get requires a verbal dispatch. I don’t know why and according to every one I talk to, they don’t know either. Basically, everyone is just repeating something that someone else has already said, which just so happens to be the exact same information that is included in the satellite dispatch. Take this morning for example.

I call in and my dispatcher tells me where and when the load picks up and delivers, including the extra stop. She tells me to call another phone number. I call that number and the woman tells me the EXACT same information. Then that woman tells me that I need to call yet another number because there is 19 pounds of HazMat on board. That’s hazardous materials for you normal folk.

Okay. First off, 19 pounds isn’t even a reportable quantity. It still has to be listed on the Bill of Lading, but it doesn’t require any other special handling. Secondly, I’ve been hauling HazMat since 1997, so do I really need to be told to keep the papers in the side door or on the seat when I’m not in the vehicle? Thirdly, I’ve been woken up early and told to call three different people. Lastly, I think the stupid beep interrupted an especially interesting dream. I’m assuming that because I woke up grumpy, and frankly, that’s just not like me. Unlike The Evil Overlord and the wrath of her mornings, I usually wake up in a decent mood. Not today. Which brings me back around to the point. Yes, finally. Hush.

When I called the HazMat guy, I said these exact words: “Hi. This is truck #### calling in for a HazMat verbal, because clearly I haven’t learned how to do HazMat loads in the 13 years I’ve had my HazMat endorsement.” Okay. I admit that it was dripping with sarcasm, but it was in no way said with a mean or violent tone. I’d be willing to bet that if he would’ve laughed, I would have too. But that was not to be.

His response? “Do you have a problem.” I said,“Well, yes. This does seem a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?” His reply? “I can always route you to a terminal if you’d like to turn your truck in.” After a moment’s pause of disbelief, I said, “Wow. This company sure has changed for the worse.”

Now I realize that he didn’t deserve my sarcasm, but I didn’t deserve that kind of threat either. That’s like giving your pal a friendly punch in the arm and getting a swift kick to the nuts in return. I think he realized that immediately, because he started explaining that he had a job to do and that he didn’t make the policies. I apologized for the sarcasm, but again explained to him that this kind of nitpicking does nothing to make us drivers feel like the professionals that they claim us to be.

And now to my point. Yes, I know. It’s about freakin’ time. You know, I’m fully aware that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I just prefer to get from point A to point B like an alcoholic wastoid trying to walk a white line on Cops. (sings Bad Boys)

I immediately called my dispatcher to tell her what happened. I explained to her what I had said and how I had said it. Knowing me fairly well, the sarcasm bit didn’t surprise her much. Still, she said that the HazMat guy shouldn’t have said that to me. She said she was going to turn him in, but I asked her to give the guy a break. Who knows what kind of day he was having and our conversation had ended on a friendlier tone. I suppose my forgiving nature might have had something to do with some unnecessary sarcasm, too. Just maybe…

After that, I went into a mini rant about how things are changing at this company and where I thought the company was heading if they continued to treat experienced drivers like 4th graders. Although she’s heard similar rants from me before, she calmly listened, agreed with certain points, and disagreed with other points. By the end of it all, we were laughing as usual. And that, my friends is the key, and the point B at the other end of my oddly shaped line.

Sure, a dispatcher needs to know what they’re doing. They need to know the rules. They need to try to fight to get you pulled off the crappy loads. They need to try to get you home when you requested. But that’s not what makes a great dispatcher. First and foremost, they need to have the ability to listen, understand, and remain calm; even when you aren’t. Some examples? Glad you asked.

  • When the person on the other end of the line is having a hissy fit, they need to understand that life on the road isn’t a picnic. The Bible says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” It’s true. When she’s calm, it always calms me down. If a dispatcher gets combatative back at you, it’ll only cause things to escalate. My dispatcher is always calm. Even when she’s having a rough day, she always manages to stay cool with me.
  • When you call to inquire why you only got 1500 miles last week, they need to understand that you’re not staying away from your family for weeks at a time just so you can sit at a truck stop while you wait on a load. Not to mention, poor miles make them look bad. My dispatcher comprehends this.
  • When you call complaining about some stupid policy that you both know will never be changed, they need to realize that you just need to blow off some steam. My dispatcher always has an open ear.
  • When you get woken up, causing you to cop an attitude at them or someone else, they need to understand that a trucker’s schedule is as wonky as SpongeBob on a Peyote vision quest. My dispatcher understands that I don’t hold the same hours as she does. She always apologizes when she has to wake me up to pass down the holy orders from the trucking gods.

Now I fully understand that truckers haven’t cornered the market on crappy days. I have no doubt that working in an office must really suck. I know that dispatchers have bad days too. But what a good dispatcher must realize is that at the end of the day, they get to go home and relax, while we’re stuck in our truck waiting for the next beep and our next idiotic verbal dispatch. And we’ve still got a week-and-a-half before we’ll see our family again.

So drivers everywhere, if you’ve got a good dispatcher, hang onto them. Tell them you appreciate the fact that they understand your life on the road. Maybe even get them a gift card this Christmas.

If you’ve got a crappy dispatcher, ask for a new one. And if you can’t seem to get rid of them, I’ll be barreling down I-29 tomorrow. Just bring them out and shove them into my path. That oughta do the trick.

*Please leave a comment and give this post a rating. Feel free to lie and give me 5 stars. ;-)”

It’s My Birthday, so Fork It Over.

August 19, 2010

Photo by rejon via Flickr

It’s August 19th, which makes it an extra-special day. Forty-two years ago today, I got my first spanking. Forty-two years later, I still enjoy a good spanking, providing that it’s The Evil Overlord with the riding crop and the ball gag, not some creepy doctor.

Unfortunately, Google Maps is telling me that home and The Evil Overlord are 582.5 miles away from me at the moment. That means that I won’t be getting the one thing that men want most for their birthday. So I guess I’ll have to settle. That’s where you good folks come in. I want some stuff from you, and I want it now. So in no particular order, I’m demanding that you fork the following things over:

  • From God, I want full forgiveness for all my sins. Oh hey. I guess I’ve been getting that on a continuing basis for years. And I just had to believe and ask. No demanding necessary. I kinda doubt God’s real good with demands anyway.
  • From @Truckdrivernews, I want his know-how of the trucking industry. I really should care more about my profession. I just don’t. Jason does.
  • From @gabsatrucker, I want her willpower to stay physically fit. The Gabster can keep the wacked-out desire to run and cycle for insane distances. I’d just like to be able to walk from the truck to the truck stop without hyperventilating.
  • From @PamCourt and @geoff_court, I want the ability to stay positive most of the time. Pam and Geoff have this in spades. I ask you though, is that even normal? Perhaps they should see someone about that.
  • From @Dean0806, I want the ability to sweat like a preacher with Tourette’s Syndrome and not complain about it. Dean unloads tires all day. If I have to turn my truck off for five minutes, I’m crying like a cat in heat.
  • From my little sister, her husband, and my mom, I want the willingness to sacrifice for family like they do. Angi and her hubby Mike take care of our aging father, and mom deals with my brother’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder every day. Getting home for Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost too much for me. I’m such a selfish guy sometimes.
  • From @johnfbraun, I want John’s well-rounded knowledge of both Mac and Windows computer geekery. I’ll take that macho podcasting voice too.
  • From @DaveHamilton, I’ll take Dave’s dual attack of Mac Geekdom and the ability to play the drums. Who said geeks weren’t cool?
  • From @HighwayofLove, I’ll take that S-Type R Supercharged Jaguar off Lucinda’s hands. I have no idea what it looks like, but with a name like that it’s gotta be freakin’ fast.
  • From @KevinofMI, I’ll take Kevin’s knowledge of the workings of the US Government. I guess I should’ve spent more time listening to my Civics teacher and less time flirting with Krista Mathre.
  • From my dad, I’ll take his work ethic. Oh yeah. He already gave me that.
  • From @WilsonHines, I’ll trade him places on the career ladder. He’s already working on the degree that will get him out of trucking. I had to put mine off for a year or two. But I’m not bitter, Wilson. Really.
  • From @tmasteve, he can transfer his Mac Mini home media mojo to me via mind meld. And throw Steve’s doggedness to backup, backup, backup my computer.
  • From @Lawsonbulk, I’ll take Ray’s knowledge of the Owner/Operator side of trucking. Granted, I’ll never need this knowledge. I just want to be smarter than everyone else on something other than trucker bathroom habits.
  • From @TrulyHeidi, I’ll take her sense of style. Actually, Heidi could dress like a Led Zeppelin groupie for all I know, but considering that she’s a wedding planner, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.
  • From @podfeet and @spsheridan, well, they’re just the ultimate Mac geek couple aren’t they? Allison and Steve always look so happy when they are hanging out. I strive for The Evil Overlord and I to always have as much fun as these two.
  • From @bbusschots, I really want to know how to work my way around the Terminal on my Mac. If for nothing else, so that I can watch the bewildered look on people’s face when I say, “Just open your terminal and…” You know, it’s that look that I get on my face when Bart says it now.
  • From @alanqbristol, I’ll take his tendency to speak his mind. While Alan and I already share a brain when it comes to beliefs of most things, I sometimes lack in the “tell it like it is” category.
  • From @leolaporte, I’d like to have Leo’s 24/7 access to his chat room filled with 700 nerds just waiting to answer everything I’ve ever wanted to know about technology.
  • From @Ihnatko, I want the wit to make people laugh like Andy makes me laugh. May as well throw in those sideburns for a day. Any longer than that and The Evil Overlord would send me into celibacy hell.
  • From @cris34k, I’ll take her bubbly, fun nature. Since Cris works at a toll plaza, I’m assuming part of this is a result of heavy doses of exhaust fumes.
  • From my brother, Tim, I’ll take his love of music. I still love it, but not like this freak of nature. He could probably name every member of the 80’s metal group, Overkill. Of course, the only time that kind of knowledge is useful is when you’re playing 80’s metal band Trivial Pursuit. Hey, I wonder if that game really exists. Hmmmm…
  • From @DroidTrucker, I’ll take the patience and tolerance it takes to train new truck drivers. Either Brian has a death wish, or he’s just good people. The only time I have that much patience is when I’m waiting for fresh Krispy Kreme’s to roll off the conveyor belt.
  • From @unklefuzz, I’d like to have my mind work in the strange ways his does. He’s always good for a gut laugh, but I’m not sure I’d like to live in his world for long. Isaac can and does say the weirdest things sometimes.
  • From @jgamet, I’d like the ability to work without pants on. That is all, Jeff.
  • From @victorcajiao, I’d like to obtain his knowledge of all things audio. Victor plays a mean sax too, so you may as well toss that into the mix. Now that I think of it, it might also be handy to be able to smoke one of those big ol’ cigars without puking up my liver.
  • From @georgestarcher, I’ll like to suck the internet security knowledge out of George’s noggin’ so I too can become a computer security ninja.
  • From @PJVesperman, what else would I want except Patrick’s capability in a kitchen. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know how to make a big cookie? Actually, I’d settle for learning to boil eggs properly.
  • From my father-in-law, I’ll take his knowledge of the Bible. He can keep those pesky foreign languages though.
  • From my mother-in-law, I’ll gladly accept her inability to smell even the strongest of odors. But only when I’m around my father-in-law.
  • From @Roadcookin, I’ll take Don’s passion for healthy eating. I might toss that passion into the bin alongside my junk food wrappers, but I might put it to good use too.
  • From @luv18wheels, I’d like to have Pat’s love and tolerance of dogs. You see, I like the idea of owning a dog. I just don’t like the hassle and the smell they bring with them. Gee, why does that remind me of my father-in-law again?
  • From @MacSparky and @KatieFloyd, I’ll take David and Katie’s lawyering skills. Combine that with their love of Macs, and I’d sue those pesky Microsoft people out of business. That would end a lot of needless pain and suffering.
  • From @Little_Trucker, I’d just like Terry to keep tweeting her complaints about how much the humidity messes with her hair. It reminds me of home.
  • From @ChrisandCasey, I’d like the ability to vanish from Twitter for extended periods of time. Having said that, “HEY CASEY! GET YOUR BUTT BACK ON TWITTER!”
  • From @Surfbits, I’ll take his omniscience of Mac software. If you need something done on a Mac, Tim always knows a product or two that should do the trick.
  • From @truckinwife, I’d like learn to tolerate birds like Kathy can. The first time they make a noise, I want to cook them up for breakfast. I hear they’re good with improperly boiled eggs.
  • From @diesel_lady, I’d like to learn to go against the grain when it’s necessary. Asia takes a lot of crap for the things she stands for, but she’s right, she knows it, and we all appreciate it.

Now I know I’ve probably left some people out of this list. Look at the bright side. If I’ve forgotten you, that means you get to keep all your positive attributes. As for the rest of you, fork it over now. On second thought, why don’t each of you just give me 10 bucks so I can go buy an iPad.

*If you’ve got question, comments, suggestions, or feedback for me, be sure to leave a comment and ask away. Thanks.*

Is Forced Dispatch Forced?

October 30, 2009

Photo by Glutnix via Flickr

I’m sitting in the driver’s lounge of a truck shop right now. Last night, in 25 degree weather, our alternator belt broke. It not only powers the batteries, but since everything in our modern truck is electrical, it also powers nearly everything else, including the heater. So what does this have to do with forced dispatched? Hang on. I’m taking the construction detour to get around to it.

Forced dispatch simply means that you can’t reject a load that your company gives you. Since Owner/Operators can pick and choose their loads, this is usually only an issue for company drivers. The term “forced” is the thing most folks get caught up with. Now I don’t like to be forced to do anything. Most people don’t. Perhaps the term should be changed to the phrase, “Strongly suggested if you want any good loads in the future” dispatch. Or how about, “The planner is too freakin’ lazy to look for anything else” dispatch. Those are both pretty fitting.

The thing with forced dispatch is that it’s really not… at least it isn’t if you’ve got a good reason to refuse the load. And now we come to the part where I’m sitting in a shop’s driver lounge with a broken truck. Now undoubtedly, my alternator belt would have broken at some point, but if I had utilized the exception rule on forced dispatch, I’d be close to home instead of freezing my nipples off in Longmont, Colorado right now.

I had just delivered a load near Dallas, TX  when I received my next load information. This was Tuesday night and the load was going to the Denver area to be delivered Wednesday night. Since we were due home in Missouri on Thursday night, I almost refused it. Instead I got greedy. I saw that we could deliver on Wednesday night and still be home by Thursday night. Just one more load, right! The problem is that I accepted the load without thinking it through. On hindsight, I should have refused it and sat in Texas until they found something better.

I was well on my way to Denver when one of my Twitter friends shot me a tweet that told me that he was heading to Austin TX and he hoped I enjoyed the Denver blizzard. The what? As they say on the iPhone commercials, “There’s an app for that.” The Weather Channel app confirmed it, up to 12 inches of snow. Great. Had I known that in advance, I would’ve had grounds to refuse that forced dispatch. I could’ve simply stated that I might get stuck in the storm which might cause me to get home late. I had the company look for another driver who might want to switch loads, but I knew it was useless. What kind of idiot would want to drive right back into the blizzard that he had just escaped? My dispatcher asked if I wanted to put off my home time until the next week, but that really wasn’t an option. Under normal circumstances, that might work. But not this particular weekend.

You see, we had been planning a decked-out Halloween weekend for our nephews and we really needed to be home by Thursday night to prepare for it. Our costumes had been bought way back in August. On top of that, The Evil Overlord had scheduled a few appointments on Friday and I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday. Doctors appointments are yet another good reason to refuse forced dispatches. Yet I didn’t. So basically, I blew it worse than a kid with a kazoo.

And all this because I thought I could fit in one more load. You know, it’s true what the Bible says about greed. It sucks. Well, it doesn’t say it in those exact words, but you get the drift… just as I do. All snowy 12″ of them. Dang it.

*Do you have a similar story where your greed got you into trouble? Tell us all about it by leaving a comment. And if you enjoyed this post, please pass it on to your friends. You do have friends, don’t you? 😉 *

Meeting Myself

October 15, 2009

I just had a strange encounter in the peanut butter isle. No, I didn’t decide that mustard should replace my beloved strawberry preserves. Although that does give me a devious plan. I think I’ll try to get one of my nephews to eat a peanut butter and mustard sandwich. Maybe I’ll throw in some cash to sweeten the pot. Anyway, what really happened was that I ran into myself from two years ago.

I was listening to some tunes on my iPhone when a guy walked up and started talking to me. I really hate that, but I hit pause anyway. He was asking me if peanut butter ever went bad. Truthfully, I told him that peanut butter doesn’t last long enough around me to know the answer to that particular question. He laughed, saying that he had found a half-eaten jar under the bunk in his truck. I said, “Well, I sure know the feeling of losing stuff in my truck.” He raised his eyebrows in surprise and said, “You drive a truck?” I just love it when people can’t believe I’m a trucker. So, similarity number one.

As is typical in trucker conversation, the next question was, “Who do you drive for?” Well, I never reveal my employer on the web, but I’ve got no problem doing so face-to-face. No, we didn’t drive for the same company, but the two company names were so similar that we had a laugh about it. Similarity number two.

He went on to comment on my lack of a belly (very anti-truckerish) and said he was just starting to work on making his disappear. He told me he was an ex-Marine and expressed how disgusted he was with himself for getting out of shape. Now it would have been really cool if I had been in the Marines too, but I wasn’t even in the ROTC, let alone the real gun-toting deal. Anyway, I congratulated him on his decision and he began to show me the food he was buying and telling me how he tries to eat in the truck as much as possible. I agreed that was the way to go. The Evil Overlord and I figured that out years ago. As he said, “They serve too much food at truck stops.” So there’s similarity number three. We both try to eat as healthy as possible and stay away from fast food and truck stop restaurants. And believe me, that’s strange in the trucking industry.

Similarity number four came when he asked if I worked out to stay in shape. I told him that I had a couple of years ago when The Evil Overlord had quit trucking and I was running solo. He said he had just bought a set of dumbbells that he was going to use when he was away from home. I went on to tell him how he needs to find a way to workout inside the truck if at all possible. When he looked at me skeptically, I told him that it could be done and proceeded to tell him how to position himself to do certain exercises. I went on to explain that if he tried to do his workouts in a truck stop parking lot, he would have constant interruptions from truckers who wanted to talk his leg off. On that subject, why can’t anyone ever talk your beer gut off? Why is it always a leg or an ear? Anywho, he thanked me for the tip and admitted that I was right about that. We’re men, for Pete’s sake. We can’t be expected to count reps AND carry on a conversation at the same time.

Similarity number five was realized as I was preparing to leave. I wished him luck and he said, “God will help me stick to it.” “He certainly will,” I said. Two or three years ago, I had decided that I should give God a little more respect than I had in the past. I started to read my Bible and pray every morning and I started listening to some Christian podcasts. I told him this and he said that he had strayed too and he was trying to get back into the habit of opening his Bible everyday. He decided that the first step was unburying his Bible so that he’d remember. Good call, man. So this fifth similarity caused the sixth.

He said he was trying to quit cussing. I laughed and said, “This is getting weird.” I told him that I had quit cussing a couple of years ago when I started reading the Bible again. He laughed and said, “Man, it’s sooo hard when you’re out here with all these truckers.” I assured him that he could do it. I also made sure he knew that I fall back into my potty-mouth self every now and then, especially when I’d like to nudge some four-wheeler into the ditch for being a moron. I thought it might help him when he caught himself slipping. You know, for some strange reason, when you start reading the Bible you realize that your mouth could use a whole case of Palmolive dumped into it. God’s weird like that.

As for the seventh and final similarity, well, some things are just hard to believe. As the conversation wound down, he stuck out his hand and said, “Man, it was nice to talk to someone who has been through all this recently. I didn’t catch your name.” As I stretched out my arm, I replied,“Todd.” His hand stopped in mid-air. Through squinted eyes he said, “Seriously?” I grinned and said, “Don’t tell me your name is Todd.” It was.

%d bloggers like this: