Posts Tagged ‘God’

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*

The Road to Smutville

May 13, 2011

Photo by pinkmoose via Flickr

Driving a truck nowadays is almost like having a subscription to Playboy. Well, I guess the billboards only show portions of the actual goods, so maybe it’s closer to Maxim. Any way you look at it though, today’s truck driver has waaaaay too many loads going to Smutville.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. “Here comes another lecture from a holier-than-thou bigot. Who are you to judge what’s right or wrong.” Okay. First off, I’m not holier-than-thou. Second, you can do and think what you want; including not reading this post. Third, it’s my blog, so it’s my opinion. Fourth, quit using the word “bigot” for anyone who doesn’t agree with you. Whether you’re a bigot or not depends on how you act towards the person you disagree with. From Mirriam-Webster:

Definition of BIGOT

: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
I’m sure some of you think there is absolutely nothing wrong with porn. You’re entitled to your opinion. Now I ask you this. What good in this world has come from pornography? Sure, since the porn industry brings in more cash than all the major sports combined, I suppose you could say it stimilates the economy. But how does that really benefit anyone? Other than your two minutes of happy alone time, I mean. I guess it does provide some jobs, but the majority of the money you spend on smut goes directly into the producer’s pockets, which in turn, goes to make more porn. If you can think of some wonderful benefit of porn that I’m neglecting, please feel free to argue your point by leaving a comment. I’ll be glad to have the debate with anyone who can carry on an intelligent conversation and doesn’t resort to name-calling. Now back to the subject at hand. Uhhhh… perhaps that’s a bad cliché to use right now.

Anyway, I’ve been truckin’ coast to coast since 1997, and I don’t remember it always being so bad. Maybe my memory is just shot from staring at too many long stretches of road, but back then I only remember Las Vegas being overrun with porno billboards. I can’t say as I was all that surprised about that though. It is Vegas after all. And being Vegas, they have now lifted it to a new level. Last time I was through there, they had numerous billboards advertising production job openings for a company called “Bait & Tackle.” This sure looked “fishy” to me. The pictures on these billboards were of Jolly Green Giant-sized half-naked men and women. My suspicions led me to wonder if these “productions” were porno flicks. Turns out, I was right. Here’s the story if you don’t believe me.

While Vegas is always at the forefront of risqué, the rest of the country isn’t that much better. If you’re in an urban area, there are billboards for “Gentlemen’s Clubs” every time you glance up from the road. Now I can honestly say I’ve never seen one gentlemen in these establishments. It’s hard to be gentlemanly when you’re holding up a dollar bill with lust in your eyes and drool on your lip. And yes, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been to a few strip clubs in my younger years. All three times, I buckled to peer pressure from the guys in my band. It was never my idea. I can honestly say that I was just never into it. While I wasn’t exactly a great Christian example back in those days, I guess my Christian upbringing always made me feel that something was just “wrong” about the whole situation. It didn’t help that I’m a tightwad. I couldn’t really see the sense in paying a woman to tease me. I knew plenty of girls that would do that for free.

Temptation isn’t just in the cities though. Even out in the stix, you’ve got billboards telling you to that there is truck parking at the adult video store at the next exit. And how convenient that it’s open 24 hours. Couples welcome? I’ll bet. I wonder how many of those places have hidden cameras stashed around the joint? It still amazes me how many of these shops are on the highways of America.

Every once in a while you’ll see a billboard for massage parlors. And guess what? They have truck parking. And how about the topless cafe’s down on I-75 in the Southeast. Their billboards list topless waitresses, food, truck parking and showers. I’m sorry, but even if my electronic logs tell me I’m out of driving time, I’m not stopping for the night and taking a shower at one of these places. I feel sorry for the plumber who has to clean out those drains.

Even when you’re at the truck stop, you’re not immune from sexual bombardment. Most of the large truck stop chains stay away from porno mags, but many of the smaller places have magazine racks that devote more than half the shelf space to porn. That always disturbs me, knowing that a graphic image like that can get burned into a kid’s brain with one glance. And yes, I’m fully aware all the naughty bits are covered, but they’re still revealing enough to peak the kid’s curiosity.

Once you’re back in the protective cocoon known as your truck, you’d think you’re safe. But no, here comes the lot lizard. That’s a truck stop prostitute, for you non-truckers out there. Granted, most truck stops don’t have infestations of lot lizards, but you can pretty much count on a knock on your door if you’re anywhere near an urban area. I’ve seen a few nice-looking lot lizards over the years, but by and large, you’ve gotta be pretty desperate to go there.

Clearly, all these smut pushers know their audience. If their advertising didn’t work, they’d change their billboards or get rid of them altogether. Sadly, it is working. It’s not very often that I pass an adult store without at least one truck in the parking lot. Likewise, lot lizards wouldn’t be frequenting truck stops if there weren’t drivers forking over the cash for their services. Truck stops wouldn’t be carrying nudie mags if drivers weren’t buying them either.

So what’s a driver to do? Well, if he’s thinks there’s nothing wrong with porn, he goes as crazy as a nymphomaniac at a swinger’s convention. While he’s doing so, he may get lost in a world that will only take him further into the heart of Smutville. I’ve never been an avid porno guy, but I’d be a big fat liar-liar-pants-on-fire if I said I’ve never seen any. I’ve seen my share. Some of my friends went for the hardcore stuff, but I’ve always liked something left to the imagination. See, I was even classy back then. Pssshhht.

I can only tell you that the more you see this stuff, the more obsessed your mind gets. I hate to tell you guys this, but your mechanic is not a hot chick who’s going to get all hot and bothered when you bring your car in for a busted radiator. It’s just plain unrealistic. Your partner may or may not get into playing “housewife and UPS man.” But guys, you don’t really want your wife hopping into the sack with every delivery guy that shows up at your door, do you? But hey, because there’s a woman doing it on video, your distorted perception tells you that you should probably leave your partner to find someone more adventurous. Good luck with that.

Like I said, I was never heavy into the porno world, so it was easy for me to get rid of it altogether. I’m grateful that I never got lost in it. I know myself and how easily I could fall prey to this stuff. And I know that I don’t want to go where that road would take me. A few slaps upside the head from The Evil Overlord (my wife and ex co-driver) was all it took for me. It’s not so easy for others to walk away.

So why am I even talking about all of this? It’s actually for two reasons. I’m trying to warn anyone who may already be struggling with this, and I’m also trying to help those who may be considering becoming a truck driver in the future. It’s similar to me telling someone with a weight problem to really consider it before they start trucking, because it’s likely that their weight problems will only escalate once they set foot in a truck. It’s just the nature of the beast.

If you’re going to be all alone out on the road, you’ve got one of two choices. You can embrace the smut, which means you’ll be risking a wicked wrist injury and/or a scorching STD; or you can resist the urge to give into temptation and keep your jump shot and the bliss of peeing without pain. Naturally, the latter is the harder of the two and the road less traveled.

Here’s the thing. It would be all too easy to take the road to Smutville. Most of us drivers are alone out here on the road. We can stop into any video store or strip club we want. Who’s ever going to find out? “Sorry I didn’t answer the phone last night, honey. I was in an area with no cell service.” Or you could load up on porno mags when you leave the house and trash them before you get home. The pages are probably all stuck together by then anyway.

My point is this. If you want to stay away from this stuff, you need to have a strong will and possibly even a little help. Now I’m a Christian, but even so, I’m not immune to this stuff. I admit that all the opportunities out here are tempting at times. When I see a racy billboard or a nice set of legs in the car beside me, I try not to take a second look. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. The thing that helps me most is that I know God is always watching. Even if The Evil Overlord never found out, I would still know and so would God. Now that may be enough to keep me from caving in, but if you’re not a believer in a supreme being with an ever watchful eye, you may need more help.

If you even think you might be addicted to porn, just do a Google search for “pornography addiction help line” and call one of the toll-free numbers to get some help. And if that still isn’t enough, I might be able to talk The Evil Overlord into coming over and giving you a good THWACK upside your head. You know; while that is rather effective, she does seem to enjoy it just a taaaaad bit too much.

*Please feel free to leave a comment and/or give any further advice you might have. And please go rate this blog post. Now go on with your bad self.*

E-logs: My First Impression

January 1, 2011

Despite the fact that I’ve been driving for 13 years, I made a bonehead rookie mistake yesterday. It was especially unfortunate since it probably would have been covered if it didn’t coincide with my first day running with e-logs. But first… what are e-logs?

E-logs are electronic logs. For more details, you may want to jump on over to a previous blog of mine before you read on. I gave it the appropriate name of, “Fear and loathing of electronic logs.”

As my truck was getting e-logs installed, I was taking a class on how to use them. I went in grumpy and hating them. Four hours later, I came out with a slightly less grumpy disposition and a lower hate factor, but I’m still not doing round-off-double-back-handsprings. And thank God for that. I wouldn’t want you to see my cheerleading panties.

One thing I knew going in was that each company can set up e-logs according to their own guidelines. This is something that @Dean0806 had informed me of in the blog post mentioned above. Knowing my company, this was what I was most worried about. My worries weren’t unfounded.

For example, Dean’s company has their e-logs set up where he can creep along (7 mph or less) in rush hour traffic and still be on the “On-Duty, Not Driving” line. My company has it set to go to the Driving line after a half-mile, no matter what your speed is. It used to be set at 1 mile, but they decided that was waaaay too long. Grrr. Keep this under your hat, but I think mine is still set at 1 mile. Shhhhhh.

When they mentioned this in class, all three of us drivers started talking at once. Our concern was this. Many times we’ll be parked at a shipper/receiver waiting for a dock. Or maybe we got there the night before. Either way, if it’s going to be a while, we’ll start our 10-hour break. At some point, we’re going to have to wake up and back into a dock. Now there are a lot of massive warehouses out there. Some of them even have off-site buildings. Many of them will require us to drive over .5 mile to get to the dock. That will effectively break our mandatory 10-hour rest period.

The company is aware of this and is looking into it. For now the fix is to call in to the Safety Department and let them know what happened. If they can verify you never left the property, they’ll fix it. While it’s good that they’ll do that, it’s a big fail in my book. Still stranger, I’m thinking they wouldn’t even have this problem if they’d just left the 1 mile limit in effect. Although that still wouldn’t fix the off-site problem…

Next, I asked about a situation that happened to me not long ago. I had enough hours to get to my delivery location, but they didn’t have any parking. My plan was to park at a nearby Lowe’s that I had been parking at for years. Since I didn’t have enough time to fit in a 10-hour break before my delivery appointment, I was just going to drive the 5 miles from Lowe’s to the customer and show on my paper logs that I had been at the delivery point all night. Illegal? Technically, yes. Done frequently by truckers? Definitely yes. Able to do on e-logs? Nope.

That was my plan anyway. What actually happened is a tow truck driver knocked on my door and told me he was instructed to tow any truck that wouldn’t leave the Lowe’s parking lot. Naturally, I left. Here’s the thing though. I was about 7.5 hours into my break. If I had been down 8 hours I could have used it as part of a split sleeper berth, moved, and gotten my other 2 hours somewhere else. Since it wasn’t, I moved, pretended I didn’t, and delivered my load on time.

But that was only possible because I was on paper logs. I asked the trainer about this scenario and was told that since I didn’t have any hours available, and I had to move before my 10-hour break was completed, I would be charged with a log violation. She did say that the company would note the situation along with the violation so that it could be seen that I had no choice in the matter. While this sucks more than a dehydrated mosquito, that’s not the worst of it.

Since I had moved before completing my 10-hour break and I hadn’t even gotten 8 hours in to set up a possible split sleeper berth, I would now have to start my break over. So now my mandatory 10-hour break has just turned into a mandatory 17.5 hour break (that’s my wasted 7.5 hours that didn’t count, plus my new 10-hour break). Furthermore, I’m sitting 5 miles from my delivery point, but I now can’t deliver because I don’t have any driving time. In this situation, another driver would have to come and deliver my load.

The trainer said the fix for this problem was to plan ahead. If you know that a receiver doesn’t have parking, tell your dispatcher how close you can get and they’ll find another driver to relay the load. This is going to lead to a LOT of relays, especially since my company doesn’t always know which customers allow parking, and which don’t. Even crappier is that many times you can get within the same city as the receiver, you just can’t park at their facility. Since my company doesn’t pay a dime for local runs (within the same city), many of these runs won’t pay anything except for the miles it takes you to get to the relay point. So that guy taking that relay from me would’ve been hosed on money.

While all this sounds easy enough, what about those situations like the one I was in? I’d been parking at that Lowe’s for years. How was I to know they’d change the rules all of a sudden? Or how about those times when you park somewhere questionable because you’ve run out of driving time? Truckers are forced to move all the time for reasons such as this. Who gets stuck with the log violation, the ticket if we get caught, and possibly a service failure if the load can’t be delivered on time? Once again, it all comes back to the driver.

Here’s the next thing that didn’t make sense. Any calls to breakdown must be done during On-Duty time. So say you pull into a truck stop, do your walk-around, and notice a flat tire. You call into breakdown while you’re still On-Duty, then you check into the shop at the truck stop. They say it’ll be about 3 hours before they can fit you in. That’s fine, I’ll just go to sleep until then, get my 2 hours of my split sleeper berth in, and finish the other 8 hours after I’m out of the shop. Right? Wrong. The new e-log rules say that when you are awaiting repairs, you have to log it as On-Duty time. So not only are you wasting time that could be going toward your 10-hour break, you’re also using up your hours on your 70-hour work week. Can someone please explain to me how this is any different from moving on a customer’s property to bump a dock? Cuz my e-log trainer couldn’t.

One thing I was anticipating was for them to say how much time e-logs would save me. It came as expected. She said, “Using paper logs, you have to log 15 minutes for fueling, even if it only takes you 5 minutes. Now, if it takes you 5 minutes, it saves you 10 full minutes of driving time!” To which I responded: “But isn’t logging 15 minutes for fueling a company policy?” It was. “Federal guidelines say that anything under 7 minutes doesn’t have to be logged, other than flagging it. So, in essence, we’re losing 15 minutes, because under DOT rules, we wouldn’t even have to show fueling if it only took 5 minutes.” No good answer followed.

AMMENDMENT:

I later discovered that ANY time working has to be logged. So I was mistaken about this and so was my e-log trainer. Gee, that’s comforting. If they can’t get it right, how the heck am I supposed to? So in the above scenario, even if I managed to fuel in 5 minutes, I would still have to log it as 15 minutes on my paper log. So now that that’s clear as a tornado sky, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled program.

END AMMENDMENT

Next was the mandatory Pre-Trip Inspection. 15 minutes minimum is the standard for both carriers and the DOT. As I happily pointed out, “Here’s another 15 minutes lost. Before, I could log my PTI when I fueled, no matter what time of day it was. Now you’re telling me I have to do it at the beginning of the day, and it can’t be combined with any other activity.” Again. No explanation.

Now back to my rookie mistake. I got my load information and wrote it all down. For some reason, my brain decided that my delivery time of 1300 (1 p.m.) was actually 3 p.m. I don’t know how that happened. I’m guessing the “3” in 1300 stuck in my demented brain. Anyway, here’s how e-logs affected this situation.

Since I got this load information the day before and I didn’t want to sit around and wait, I had already asked if I could deliver early. No one would respond to my dispatcher, so I never got an answer. Now if I had been on paper logs, I no doubt would’ve taken off extra early and tried to deliver before my appointment time. If the customer would’ve taken me early, all would be well. If they wouldn’t take me until my appointment time, I would’ve simply showed taking off a couple of hours later on my logs. Again, illegal? Yep. Done by truckers every day? No doubt.

Instead, I waited until the very last minute to take off. I knew that the second I rolled out, my 14-hour clock started ticking. If I rolled out too early and couldn’t deliver, I’d have burned all that time while I sat waiting on my appointment. I wasn’t going to do that. The problem was, I only left in time to deliver by 3 p.m. When my dispatcher called to ask me why I wasn’t heading toward my delivery, I knew I had screwed the pooch. I had planned on rolling in by 3 p.m. Now I was going to be 2 hours late.

Luckily, I have a cool dispatcher who knows I don’t make rookie mistakes like that very often. It was also lucky that there was heavy fog out that she could blame my lateness on. I’m telling you folks, I’ve got the coolest dispatcher. Still, if everyone on e-logs is trying to maximize their time, it seems to me that it will put a whole lot of truckers in a race against time. Does anyone think that’s a good idea?

So now that my first day with e-logs is completed, here’s my initial impression. They are fairly easy to learn and use. It has some cool features that I didn’t have before, such as a running total of my hours, always knowing what city/state I’m in, and how it automatically knows when I arrive at a customer.

While all of that is great, the ability to search and read messages while I’m driving is my favorite feature. My old Qualcomm unit wouldn’t let me read a message unless I was at a complete stop. They say that I still can’t type while I’m going down the road, which is to be expected. Again, I think they forgot to disable this feature in my unit, because I’ve tried typing while going down the road and it works just dandy. Of course, I’m not planning to abuse this, but still… shhhhhhh.

I’m convinced that the trucking industry is going to have to change if e-logs are going to work. Shippers and Receivers in particular are going to have to start caring about a trucker’s time. And if some of the new proposed rules, such as the hard 14-hour workday take hold, it will be even more necessary. I just don’t think e-logs are quite ready for the weird situations that truckers find themselves in every day.

To sum up, I think the key isn’t the e-logs themselves. The key is how they’re set up. E-logs can be as flexible as a double-jointed gymnast or as rigid as an Eskimo’s clothesline laundry. Here’s to hoping that trucking companies prefer leotards over stiff boxer shorts.

*Please leave a rating and post a comment with your concerns or experiences with e-logs.*

Truckers vs. Cops vs. DOT vs. Carriers

December 21, 2010

Photo by davidsonscott15 via Flickr

There is a constant unseen battle going on in the trucking industry. It’s like the movie “Alien vs. Predator,” only with two more factions that rear back their butt-ugly heads and roar. Perhaps someone should make a massive online video game about it.

It could be called Truckers vs. Cops vs. DOT vs. Carriers. I’d ask all the geeks to play as the Trucker faction. That way the proper groups would receive the bloody slaughter that they deserve. Let me explain what brought this blog post to fruition.

I was sitting at a truck stop in Birmingham, Alabama when it all started. I had arrived there on a Saturday night and was still 150 miles away from my delivery location. The load didn’t have to be there until Monday at midnight.

I could have had the load to the receiver by 9 AM on Sunday, but I was planning on delivering it by 9 AM on Monday. Now why would I do that? My trucking readers already know the answer, so let’s get the unwashed masses of non-truckers up to speed.

Truckers can only work 70 hours within an 8 day period. This is called the 70-hour rule. This includes driving, loading or unloading, fueling, inspections, dropping and hooking trailers, etc. Anything that takes up time to do your job goes against the 70 hours. Enter the 34-hour rule.

The 34-hour rule says that if a trucker is down for 34 straight hours (either off-duty, in the sleeper berth, or an uninterrupted combination of the two), they can reset their 70-hour work week. But why is this a good thing? Because after 7 days of driving, we only get back the hours that we ran a week ago. So if I only ran 3 hours last Wednesday, that’s exactly how many hours I would have available to work this Wednesday (providing I max out my hours every day). It’s a bit more complicated than that, but you get the gist of it.

Every trucker and dispatcher knows that the week before Christmas is busier than a Las Vegas pimp. There are lots of dropped loads, relaying with other drivers, and cancelling or switching of loads, all in the name of getting the driver home for Christmas. Seeing as how this all happened the week before Christmas, I wanted to be able to run as hard as possible that week. And that’s why I elected to do my 34-hour restart instead of delivering ASAP.

That’s when my Qualcomm beeped at me (that’s the satellite communication thingy-ma-bop; yes, that’s the technical name). Weekend dispatch had a preplan for me and needed me to call in. After viewing the load on my Qualcomm, I figured up my logs and realized that I couldn’t finish my 34 hours and still deliver my current load and pick up the preplan on time. I’d have to leave at about the 32 hour mark to do it legally.

I called in and asked if I could finish the 34 hours and pick up the preplan 1-2 hours late. Some customers allow late pick ups, but of course, this wasn’t one of them. I was told that the 34-hour restart is a luxury, not something that is required. He was right and I knew it. Still, most dispatchers would work with you. He said I was the only one in the area that could do the load. Yea, I know drivers, we’ve all heard that a million and one times.

I accepted my fate and figured I’d go ahead and deliver ASAP instead of waiting. That way I could deliver, drive to the pick up point, and get in a 10-hour break before my appointment time. Once loaded, I’d have a full 11 hours to run. That was my plan anyway.

After driving 3 hours to deliver the load, I heard another beep. Assuming it was my load information for this all-important, cancer-curing, God-ordained preplan, I eagerly read the message, only to find out the load had cancelled. I mumbled something not print-worthy, took a few deep breaths, and called in again.

I was told that the load had been double-booked. This means that two drivers had somehow managed to be issued the same load. When I expressed my frustration of being pulled off a 34-hour restart to cover the load, all I got was, “Sorry.” Being the completely unselfish guy that I am, I asked why I was pulled off the load instead of the other driver, to which I got the intellectually-stimulating answer of, “I don’t know.” Good answer, Crap-for-brains.

Now to find a parking spot. There was only one tiny little truck stop with no real parking, and it was already jammed with trucks. I pulled out of the lot, hit my flashers, and pulled onto the edge of the road. Keep in mind, this is a side street, not a major corridor. Seeing as how my Qualcomm doesn’t work when the truck is moving, I had to stop to send a message relaying my intention to drive to the next town to look for parking.

I had been there for approximately one minute (no exaggeration) when a car pulled up with its headlights pointing at me. As I hadn’t blocked the driveway, I figured the guy was just being a jerk. I went about typing my message. When he continued to sit there I began to wonder if it was a cop. No lights or any decals were visible, but just in case, I held up my keyboard to show him what I was doing. He continued to sit there.

Just as I was ready to get out to see if it was a cop, he pulled around to the driver’s side, got out of the car and yelled, yes, yelled at me, “You’re parked in the street!” I said, “My keyboard doesn’t work when the truck is moving. I was just sending a quick message and I was just getting ready to leave. I’ve been here less than a minute. My brake isn’t even pulled.” He yelled yet again, “Why didn’t you move when I was sitting there?” I said, “You were pointed straight at me with your headlights on, you’ve got no lights on the hood or on your dash, and no visible decals. How was I supposed to know you were a cop?”

That’s when he got the look. It reminded me of Martin Lawrence as he’s about to go into his, “Is this because I’m a black man?” tirade that is present in everything he does. I don’t mean this to be racist, but that’s exactly what it reminded me of. Again, a yell. “Give me your license!” I was waiting for a “boy” to finish out the sentence, but it didn’t come.

I handed it to him and he got back in his car. He immediately got back out and yelled again, “Get out of the street!” “Where am I supposed to go!” “I don’t care! Just get out of the street!” He followed me as I pulled around to the fuel bay and within 10 minutes he was back at my door with a ticket in hand. Once I figured out I was getting a ticket, I figured, what the heck Todd; give him a piece of your mind.

In a calm voice I said, “You know, I have a lot of appreciation for the job you guys do, but clearly you don’t have any appreciation for what truckers put up with. I’ve got all these guidelines to follow and no one cares as long as I’m following theirs at the moment. My load unexpectedly cancelled and I was looking for a place to park. As you can see, there aren’t any spots here. Since I can’t drive around without telling my company what I’m doing, and I can’t use my satellite unless I’m sitting still, I pulled to the side of the road. Yes, I know I should’ve pulled back into the fuel bay, but I was just going to be there for a minute or two.”

He said, “That’s not my concern and as far as the rest of these truckers, I’m fixin’ to go move them too.” What a set-up he had just provided. I said, “There’s another thing. DOT has regulations too. If you wake those drivers up and make them move, most of them will be violating the DOT rules. But why would you care about that? If they get caught driving illegally, it’s their license and money that’s in jeopardy. But again, that’s not your problem, is it?”

By this time, he was getting quieter, but he managed to say, “That doesn’t change the fact that you were still breaking the law.” I responded, “Yes, I admit that. But you could have just as easily considered that I was only there for a minute and let me off with a warning. But no…”

He handed me my ticket and told me there was a small place to park about a mile up the road. Being the snarky kinda guy that I am, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to say, “Gee. Would’ve been nice if you’d told me that BEFORE giving me a ticket. I would’ve been happy to move. That’s all I was looking for was a place to park.” I confess that I was overjoyed when I managed to kick up a bunch of dust on his car as I left.

So that’s the battle. The Cops, the DOT, and Carriers all have guidelines that Truckers need to follow. Each thinks theirs is the most important. As long as the driver is complying with their rules, the world is a happy land of fluffy bunnies and chocolate streams. And why not? The driver is the only one taking the risk. Things are just as they should be.

To end this on a somewhat happy note, I called the Chief of Police the following morning. I explained that the officer hadn’t identified himself until he pulled around. I then relayed the rest of the story and asked if I was supposed to be able to read the officer’s mind. He chuckled. The chief realized that I had a good point. He apologized for the incident and asked if I would mind paying court costs if he could have the ticket reduced to a non-point violation. Of course, I agreed. Nevermind that the court costs on a $30 ticket are $101.50. Sheez Louise. Are these people cops or robbers?

*Please leave your stories of your battles with inconsiderate Cops, DOT, and Carriers in the comments for all to enjoy. And don’t forget to give a star rating at the top of the post.*

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.*

Funkin’ Truckin’

November 8, 2010

If you’re here looking for a happy-go-lucky attitude, perhaps you should go see if Elmo has started writing a blog over at Sesame Street. As long as he’s not doing an audio blog, you should be able to visit without causing any permanent hearing damage. What you’re going to get here is what I call a “funk.”

Everyone gets the funk. Now if you’re George Clinton or Dr. Funkenstein, that’s a good thing, but for the rest of it, it’s a funking drag. The funk happens when you think your life sucks. Perhaps your life has always sucked, but you’re just now noticing it. In my case, I don’t really know how the funk crept on me. It just hit me one day.

I know my life doesn’t truly suck. For one thing, I have a wife that I don’t want to murder every day. Now The Evil Overlord may be thinking just the opposite, but as long as she doesn’t follow through with it, I can live with that.

I also have my health. I’ve got an immune system that could fight off the Bubonic Plague or a mean case of cooties. But if I wanted to show off my six-pack abs, I’d have to commission an artist to whip out the body paint. And so what if I can’t run 1/4 mile without coughing up blood and wetting myself? While that is kinda lame, at least I can walk into a truck stop without panting, and although I’m not exactly ripped, at least I can still look down and see my light saber (that’s for my perverted 😉 Twitter buds, @Dean0806 and @raysunshine77). Those are two things many truckers can’t do.

And then there’s God, who loves me and forgives me, even when I don’t deserve it. Thoughts of eternity, world-wide suffering, hunger, and disease helps to remind me that all of my problems really don’t add up to a hill of beans. I mean really, at least I’m not getting raped in Africa right now. I’d say that’s something that I’m pretty happy about.

And then there’s my job; truck driving. It may not be the greatest job, but in this economy, I shouldn’t be complaining. There are many who would love to have my income right now.

So, if I know all of this, why am I in a funk? What could possibly happen that could cause such a funk? No one close to me is dying. No one I know personally is going through anything that they haven’t been battling for years. It’s nothing really, yet it is.

As many of you know, The Evil Overlord is attending college again. I feel her stress as she studies day and night for her Anatomy & Physiology class. It’s kicking her butt, but she’s managing a decent grade. This class is all-consuming. Which makes her other two classes harder to keep up with. She’s making it, but her heart isn’t in it. And there is the crux of the problem.

I don’t know how The Evil Overlord and I managed to hit our mid-life without having any passions. It’s depressing to think that we are both trying to attend college for careers that we aren’t passionate about. Now I’m fully expecting everyone to tell me that I shouldn’t go back to school unless it’s something that I’m really gung-ho about. That’s easier said than done.

If The Evil Overlord and I had our way, we’d probably both be freelance writers. She’d go with fiction and I’d do non-fiction. That would be all fine and dandy if we were younger, but we’re a couple of old turds who have little experience as writers. Well, I guess officially, she’d be a turdette. Anyway, when you’re young, you can take a chance on a freelance career with unsteady income.  But when you’ve been a money moron all your life, you need to find a good occupation with steady income. Something that you can do until you’re an old fart who farts with every step. You old farts know what I’m talking about.

So let’s say we both start writing for a living. Everyone knows it takes time to become a good writer, and even longer to get noticed. How do the bills get paid all that time? How do we save money for retirement? How do we afford health insurance? Even worse, what if neither of us ever gets good enough to make a living out of it? I’m not a big fan of government-run old folks homes. Too many weird smells for me. And this coming from a guy who is locked in an enclosed truck with himself all day.

So, it’s off to school to pursue careers that we can tolerate. Quite honestly, it wouldn’t take much to top trucking. Just a job where you’re home every night would do the trick. You can say “Pursue your dreams” all you want, but in the end you have to do what is practical for your future. And without any true passions…

Now back to funky subjects. The Evil Overlord and I are both in a funk due to our lack of direction. Add to that, the fact that we are apart. Add to that the fact that I haven’t had more than 42 hours off in a row. Add to that, my company is installing e-logs.

Now tack on the fact that my company has recently banned all cooking devices from our trucks. All because of a couple of drivers who are dumber than a retarded camel. We already couldn’t have inverters. Now, it’s nothing but cold foods if we want to save money by eating in the truck. Now if we want a hot meal, we’ll have to eat fast food, or spend even more money to eat in the truck stop restaurant. Neither is good for your health or your wallet.

That’s not all. They have a policy that if you are going to be out of the truck for more than four days, you have to turn your truck into a yard. It used to be five days. Recently, they changed it to three days. The problem is, I live about 7.5 hours from the nearest terminal. That means that if I ever want a vacation, I’ll have to waste 15 hours of my vacation time driving to and from the terminal. Nice. How do they expect to keep any long-term drivers? I guess they just assume that everyone will move close to a terminal.

Let me ask a favor here. From the policies and new rules I’ve described here, if you work for the same company that I do, you now know what company I work for. Please don’t say the name of the company if you know who it is. I know a driver who was fired from this company for posting this kind of information online. The difference is, that driver mentioned the company name numerous times and I haven’t. Let’s keep it that way. Thank you.

I’ve voiced my opinion to my boss about e-logs, the banning of cooking units, and turning the truck in. I even moved above my fleet manager and spoke with her boss. When I asked to speak to the Operations manager, I was told I didn’t want to talk to him. I said, “Why? What’s he going to do? Fire me for voicing an opinion?” The answer: “Maybe.” Again, nice.

This is not the company I worked for in the past. But it is the one I’m stuck with for now. With school in sight, it’s not worth quitting and finding a new company. I’m not saying anything new. This was all covered in Sucking it up a while back. Problem is, I’m not doing a very good job with that title.

I’m not through yet. Sorry. To add to the funk, I recently had a load to Miami, FL, which is a place I loathe. I got reloaded quickly, but I knew I’d be back to the shipper. 45-46,000 pound loads of sugar can’t be loaded all the way to the trailer doors. Any experienced trucker knows that. Unfortunately, the entire non-English speaking staff at the shipper couldn’t understand what I was saying. A long trip across Miami to the nearest scale proved me right.

As I was heading back to get reloaded, I got a call from my boss telling me that these people didn’t understand English and even the Spanish-speaking drivers had been having trouble with them. Luckily, when I arrived back, I began talking to another driver there and he explained that it was Spanish, but it had a Puerto Rican accent that was hard to understand. Since he was Puerto Rican, he explained the situation to the shipper and I got reloaded.

When I reexamined the load, I saw that they had only moved the freight a couple of feet forward. That wasn’t going to cut it either and I had everyone at the shipper mad at me when I refused to move from the dock until they reloaded me according to my specs. They finally did, and after another drive across town to scale, I once again proved to myself how truly cool I am. Hey, it’s my story. So 5.5 hours from the start of my day, I was under way. As I pulled out, all I could think was, “Good thing I’m not on E-logs yet.” *evil grin*

To cap this all off, I just got a call from The Evil Overlord informing me that my ticket for being on a restricted road in my truck had finally been settled in court (the signs were only visible AFTER you were on the road with no place to turn around). I didn’t get any points, but the $150 ticket ended up costing me $372 plus the $100 lawyer fee.

All the above is what put me in a funk. When the combination of crappy things pile up on you all at once, funk ensues. I’ll drag myself out of it eventually. I’m not looking for sympathy. That’s why I stayed offline for the past week or so. We’ve all been through rough patches in our lives. This is no different.

It might help if I had something to look forward to, but for now I’m just going to try to make myself feel better. Since I don’t cuss anymore, I think I’ll start my journey out of funkhood by saying, “Funk lawyers.” Well, it’s a start anyway.

*Please leave your funky comments and click the pretty “Like” button. No sympathy please. I’m giving myself enough for all of us.” 🙂

Sucking It Up

September 1, 2010

Photo by kiwanja via Flickr

@WilsonHines is a guy I met on Twitter a while back. I’ve discovered that when it comes to Wilson, I’m clearly breaking the 10th commandment. That’s the one that says: Thou shall not covet.

Wilson and I have similar plans for our lives. He wants to get out of trucking and get a degree. I do too. We also both married hotties that we don’t deserve. His wife recently became a nurse. The Evil Overlord has started classes to become a sonographer. The difference is, when it comes to goals, Wilson and his wife are a couple of years ahead of me and The Evil Overlord; which just isn’t fair since we’re older than them.

This past week, Wilson cleaned out his truck for the last time. Clearly, I didn’t. Patience has never been my particular virtue, but this time I’ve got no choice in the matter. I’d love to drop my truck at the nearest company terminal, but the fact is, I need to pay off some debt before I can start school. So I guess it’s time to suck it up.

Here’s the thing that gets me. I’m being a hypocrite working at my present job. Normally, if I hear a driver talking about not getting home in a timely manner, I tell them to find another job. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that my company has utterly failed in getting me home the first two times I’ve tried. Yet I’m still not quitting and moving on to another company. Why not?

For one thing, I’d never make a decision based on two failed attempts to get me home. The thing that has me leery is that this rarely happened when I drove for this company the first time around. Because of where I live, it’s never been easy to get me home. Still, I’d say 95% of my home times with them the first time around were successful. I’m hoping that their current failings are just a fluke. I’m having some strong doubts though.

Secondly, the money is just too stinkin’ good. Many times a carrier is willing to pay a high mileage rate because they know that you won’t be getting many miles. Others will offer you high miles cuz they know they’re gonna giving you the shaft on pay per mile. My company gives me both.

I make more money per mile than most companies are willing to offer. None of it is based on unobtainable bonuses either. Furthermore, my first five paychecks had miles of: 2859, 3176, 2607, 2223 (lame home time week), and 3053. That’s pretty freakin’ good, especially compared to what I was getting at my last company, both in terms of miles and mileage pay. And before anyone asks; sorry, I never say my company’s name online. Still, is good money reason enough to stick around?

When The Evil Overlord and I decided to return to school after 13 years we knew it would be tough. Only rich students have the luxury of turning a college education into a series of keg parties and bong hits. The rest of us have to make major sacrifices. Finances will probably be tight. Weekend camping trips will turn into writing research papers. Keeping up with all your favorite TV shows? Yeah. You can forget that.

Sadly, my sacrifice is going to have to start before I even get to school. I’m going to have to tolerate a company that doesn’t meet all of my criteria. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there is no such thing as a perfect trucking company. Your job as a driver is to find one that has annoyances that you can live with. What is that annoyance? Well, it’s different for everyone. You’ll have to figure that one out on your own.

My number one priority right now is to make as much money as I can. I simply have to pay off some debt before I can attend college. This company is providing me with bigger paychecks than I can make anywhere else. Unfortunately, they’re also providing me with iffy home time. Therein lies my sacrifice.

My first home time involved getting me home a day late and the load only allowing me 30 hours off. Sure that stinks, but when I came back to this company I knew that this sort of thing happened now and then. Granted, it didn’t keep me from giving my dispatcher a big ol’ fat piece of my mind, but in the end I had to suck it up and deal with it.

As I’m writing this, I’m trying to get home for the second time. I’ve got to admit that this is a new experience for me. I’ve never driven for a company that didn’t get me home within a day or two of my requested time. Usually I get home the day I requested. This time, I asked for Saturday and Sunday off. As of now, it’s Tuesday and I’m heading to Iowa to deliver a load on Wednesday. I live in Missouri. Someone needs a geography lesson.

If anyone sees a way out of this, I’d be glad for them to point the way. As of now, The Evil Overlord and I have resolved that the next 6-7 years are probably going to suck harder than a chain-smoking death row inmate; especially when I’m still out here in the truck while she’s at home.

She has class every weekday and studies at night. If she has any time off at all, it’s always on the weekend. So far, my company can’t seem to get me home on weekends. So if I get home on weekdays, I’ll get to be alone during the day and watch her study at night. Yay for me. I’ll pray that changes, but I imagine God’s got bigger fish to fry.

I will say that if my goal was to drive a truck for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t tolerate my company’s inability to get me home on time; no matter how much money I made. I’d give it another couple of months, and if things didn’t change, I’d jump ship.

However, since there is an end and a clear goal in sight, it’s time to suck it up and be a man. Just don’t expect me to quit whining about it anytime soon. I’ll just try to whine in a really deep, macho voice.

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.*

The Tale of Three Trucker Slobs

July 9, 2010

In the last 24 hours, I saw three different truckers do three things that disturbed me. That’s pretty bad, considering I spent about 23 hours and 50 minutes alone in my truck. Two of these things, I see all the time. The third I knew happened, but had never actually seen it with my own eyes. Now I’m wishing that I hadn’t. Be forewarned. This post isn’t pretty.

The first thing I saw was the most disturbing. Being the sweetie-pie that I am, I’ll save it for last. The second thing I saw was early this morning when I got up and ventured into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I walked in, I noticed an extremely short, but stocky, older guy standing at the sink doing his morning ritual. I could tell right away that this guy was a slob.

Any driver will tell you that truck stop bathrooms are nasty. The sink countertop is always covered with water, excess soap, soggy paper towels, facial hair, you name it. Every trucker will act all grossed out about it too. So if everyone is so put out by it, who the heck is making all the mess? Well, for starters, my morning companion.

He was washing his face and hands, and water was going everywhere. And I don’t mean just on the countertop. I mean everywhere. It soaked the front of his shirt, the countertop, and it was even splashing onto the floor. If there hadn’t been an empty sink between us, I’m sure he would have gotten me wet too. He didn’t even bother to dry anything off, including himself. So there’s offense #1: Not cleaning up after yourself.

I was finishing up when Aqua Man finally left. As I was preparing to follow, a guy stepped out of a bathroom stall and walked out the door in front of me. And there’s offense #2. Whether you go #1 or #2, wash your freakin’ hands! I mean, you may be fine with touching your special parts, but when you don’t wash your hands, you put your funk all over everything you touch. So knock it off.

I will congratulate him on one thing though. He had been in there the whole time and I hadn’t noticed. For once, there wasn’t a gawd-awful stench and loud noises coming from the stall. He was as quiet as a church mouse wearing tiny, little moccasins.

Now, I’m not stupid… or so I keep telling myself. I know certain noises and scents coming from certain body parts can’t be helped. Still, it’s gross to have to hear it from someone other than yourself. Why God put us together that way is a mystery. I’m sure a lot of wives will be asking him that very question when they get through the pearly gates. Since St. Peter is a man, let’s hope for their sakes that there’s no farting in heaven.

The part that really bugs me are the noises that come out of the other end. I tell you, if you aren’t in severe pain caused by some rare gastrointestinal infection that you picked up in the Amazon, keep your grunts, groans, and heavy breathing to yourself. No one is interested in hearing it.

So, while I commend Mr. Allergic-To-Soap for doing his business so unobtrusively, I’m not about to shake the guy’s hand. And I certainly hope he wasn’t heading over to the deli to pick up some finger foods.

Now on to the last guy… or would that be the first guy? Yes, it’s the first guy… that I’m mentioning last. I met this guy the night before. I was catching up on Season 3 of Supernatural when my own super nature called. Rather than use the parking lot as my personal commode like so many truckers do, I ran into the bathroom. Another guy walked in right behind me.

Great, two urinals with no dividers. Who designs these freakin’ things anyway? So, we both step up to do our business. And that’s when the fun started. First, I need to say that I’m not a peeker. Most guys aren’t. We stare straight ahead and don’t say a word. That’s why there’s always an advertisement of some kind right there at eye level. Women, on the other hand… well, you ladies carry on conversations while you’re taking care of business. What’s up with that?

So back to my ordeal. As I’m staring straight ahead, I hear a sound. It’s a splashing sort of sound. From my peripheral vision, I can see that this guy is totally missing the urinal. Well, not totally, but I’d say that only half of the gold is making it to the pot. Why, you may ask? Because he’s got one hand on his hip and the other hand holding his shirt up over his belly. Furthermore, he does absolutely nothing to adjust his aim.

Now how do I react? I figure that I’ve got two choices: say something or don’t. My initial reaction was to say, “Can you not see that you’re pissing all over the floor?” No. Too confrontational. Not my style. Perhaps I could have been more witty by saying, “I hope you don’t have any career plans to be a sharpshooter.” But in the end, I went with silence and a step away from him. After all, if a guy can’t cover up his gut and put at least one hand on his junk, I doubt that anything I could say would make this guy go to a community college and enroll in Whizzing 101. As a grand finale, he grabbed hold and shook it like he was trying to strangle an anaconda. Which, of course, released more venom.

So there you have it. Like I said, I always knew that the wet stuff on the floor wasn’t water. I knew how it got there. I really think that knowing was enough. I didn’t really need to see it first hand. I do understand that no man hits his target every time, especially with that weird viper piss that strikes some mornings. The difference is, most guys adjust their aim.

There is a moral to this story. Truckers don’t get much respect; and from what I’ve seen over the last 13 years, I’m not surprised. It’s not just the bathroom issues that I’ve pointed out here. It’s the way we treat other people’s property. It’s the way we drive. It’s the way we talk on the CB. It’s the way we react when we’re disrespected.

Truckers one and all; listen up. It’s as easy as this. If you want respect, start being respectful. How the heck do you expect the outside world to respect us if we don’t respect each other first? You can start by always having one hand on the wheel… and other places.

*So what have you experience that totally grossed you out? Let us hear about it by leaving a comment. And if you feel dirty afterwards, by all means wash your hands. If you enjoyed this post, please pass it on to a friend or two. Thanks.*


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