Posts Tagged ‘team trucking’

The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon

May 28, 2013

The truck driver's seat

Look at them butt-prints!

If you’ll remember from the last podcast called Honor Among Truckers, I mentioned that if you were to drive around a truck stop parking lot, you’d see lots of drivers sitting in their driver’s seat whiling away the hours. They’re talking on their phones, doing paperwork, people watching, playing with their laptops, turned around at an awkward angle watching their TV, or even weirder, staring off into space with a blank expression. I just don’t get it. And since the word “phenomenon” makes anything sound more mysterious than it actually is, I’ve chosen to call this one “The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon.” (more…)

Hey everyone. Another friendly reminder to go and resubscribe to the new blog/podcast if you haven’t already. Thanks!

The Trucker Dump podcast is available in the iTunes Store, on Stitcher and TuneIn Radio, on Podcast Gallery, or in the Microsoft and BlackBerry podcast directories.

Or simply enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.

Honor Among Truckers

May 6, 2013

Truckers have to trust each other every day

Truckers have to trust each other every day

Have you ever watched a movie and heard the bad guys talking about the concept of “Honor Among Thieves?” Every time I hear it, I think, “What the heck is up with that crap?” I mean, clearly if you’re a thief, your moral compass must’ve fallen out of your pocket while you were hiking out in the woods. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Honor Among Thieves concept, it’s basically saying that there is an unwritten code that even an untrustworthy group of people can abide by to get along. I’ve know for quite some time that there was something similar in the trucking industry. An Honor Among Truckers if you will. (cont.)

Guess what? If you’re reading this right now, you’re getting another one of my blog posts late. I will once again remind you that I won’t continue to post these reminders here forever. I am trying to give everyone a chance to get over to AboutTruckDriving.com and resubscribe over at my new site. That link will take you to the subscribe page. If you want to be notified via email, just type your email address into the subscribe box on that page. Dang. Now I know what my teacher felt like when she was scolding me for putting gum under my desk. 😀

Follow me on Twitter at:   https://twitter.com/ToddMcCann
Read or listen to the Trucker Dump blog/podcast at:   http://abouttruckdriving.com/
The Trucker Dump podcast can be found in the iTunes store, on Stitcher and TuneIn Radio, Podcast Gallery, and in the Microsoft and BlackBerry podcast directories.
Or you can simply enter:   http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml  into your favorite podcast app.

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Guest Post: Five Tips for Sleeping Near a Busy Road. By Sam Fisher

October 15, 2012

Photo by landlessness via Flickr

Hey folks. It’s been a little over a month since the last blog post, so I figured, “Yeah, I guess I should put something up. Gotta stop the crybabies from whining, you know.” Yes, I’m referring to me, Todd. You know, I’ve really been feeling the itch to get some new blog posts out, but I’m still busy getting the new Web site finished. Although I suppose that itch could just be dandruff.

Anyway, I’m going to put myself out there by saying that I’m shooting for a late November/early December time frame. I’ve just gotta say that after I’ve busted my hump on this, if you people don’t mob the site like a pack of cavemen on a Zippo salesman, I’m going to officially disown all of you. I might even make my protest last a whole day if you don’t watch yourselves.

So anywho, I’ve got another guest blog post for you today. This one is written by a British fella named Sam Fisher. Now I’m pretty sure this isn’t the same guy that’s in all the Splinter Cell video games, but just in case, no one piss him off. This guy could sneak up on you easier than a pair of too-small panties and make your life just as uncomfortable. And for the record, I plead the fifth on that analogy.

Seriously, the real Sam Fisher seems like a very nice guy. He discovered the blog and wrote me a nice email asking if I accepted guest blog posts. It just so happens, I was looking for one. He suggested he could write one called, “ways to fall asleep near busty roads.” I mean, how could I refuse that? LOL He was a good sport when I pointed out the spelling goof and we had a laugh about the trouble I get into when my auto-correct changes a sentence that is supposed to read, “I had trouble backing into the dock.” 😀 So now we get to the main course; spelled correctly and everything. And of course, I’ll be back afterward to blab some more.

Five Tips for Sleeping Near a Busy Road. By Sam Fisher

For many, a quiet night’s sleep in familiar surroundings is the norm; however for a trucker the complete opposite is true. Many nights will have you pulling up at the side of a busy road with the roar of traffic and the honks of horns to contend with. However, fear not sleepy heads. Here are five sure tips to let you drop off into a deep, natural sleep and help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to drive.

1. Sleep Cycles

A little known fact is that as you sleep you drift through various sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle can leave you feeling tired and like you still need a few more hours sleep. In some cases, waking up half-an-hour earlier can actually be better than sleeping a bit longer. It is best to try and sleep for 9, 7.5 or 6 hours, as that will mean you will usually wake up in between sleep cycles. It normally takes around fifteen minutes for the average adult to fall asleep, so plan accordingly.

2. White Noise

The mysterious late night sounds of the road can wake even the most tired of drivers from a heavy slumber. Interrupted sleep can stop rest and often leave you struggling to try and drift back off. One great technique for combating unexpected noise is a technique called white noise. White noise is usually something such as classical music that after listening to it for a while your mind blocks out. This can then dull your sense of hearing when played at night while sleeping. This can work with all types of music but just make sure it’s nothing that will get you excited and have an adverse effect on sleeping.

3. Avoid Sugar and Caffeine

It might seem an obvious suggestion but many people forget and end up staring at their truck’s roof with their mind buzzing and sleep far out of reach. Try to avoid drinking coffee, energy drinks or other things with lots of caffeine or sugar for at least four hours before you plan on falling asleep. Stimulants are not only bad for your sleep, but for your health in general; so try to get some proper sleep and eat better, more natural foods that have long-lasting energy release. In doing so, you may be able to reduce the habit and leave you feeling much better in the long run.

4. Make Yourself Comfortable

I know it’s easier said than done, especially while you’re in the confines of your truck, but getting comfy is a must if you have trouble sleeping. Mattress toppers and the right pillows are a great way to improve your comfort within the limited space you have to work with. Pillows come in all shapes and types from firm to soft, including some special ones such a memory foam and orthopaedic. Try some out and see which works best for you.

5. A Good Book

I know reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but with the massive variety of literature, there is bound to be a book or magazine for you. Reading helps you sleep in several ways. Firstly, it helps remove from your mind the worries and stress of the day which usually jump on you as you try and sleep. Reading also helps calm the mind and gets your brain in the right mode for sleep. Not only does a good book help with your sleep but it can get you through boring patches while you’re waiting around for your truck to be loaded or when you’re in the middle of nowhere and have some time to kill.

Good luck and I hope this helps you get a better night’s sleep on the road.

This is a guest post by Sam Fisher on behalf of Teletrac a company specialising in fleet tracking technology.

Well Sam, I’m sure it will. Thanks for the fine article. Now you people know me. I can’t let a post go by without adding my 2 cents. First up is about white noise. I know Sam’s right about this one. I keep a small, 12-volt fan running while I’m sleeping. The steady drone really helps me zonk out. When it’s super cold outside and I can’t run the fan, I usually don’t sleep as well. That’s when I pray for a reefer by my head. That would be a refrigerated trailer, not the other kind of reefer (although I bet that would knock me out too). 😀 However, reefers can be a mixed blessing if the thing keeps starting and stopping all night. You drivers know what I mean. Those hard starts can sometimes scare you into squirting!

My first experience using music as white noise was back when The Evil Overlord and I were just dating. She was telling me how awesome The Cure was, but me being a metalhead, I was having none of that. Then the guitar player in our band got into The Cure and suddenly it was okay. The Evil Overlord still gets pissed about that. And by the way, the same thing happened with The Cult. Anywho, she eventually got me listening to The Cure’s “Disintegration” album when I went to bed. It even says in the liner notes that it was mixed to give two different experiences, depending on whether you played it loud or soft. It’s true. It’s powerful when it’s loud, but it makes me sleep like a drunk, 18-year-old cat when the volume is low. It’s weird how that works.

Next up is making yourself comfortable. Boy, do I know about this one. When The Evil Overlord was on the road with me, I always accused her of bringing too much crap. Much of that was bedding. I’m telling you folks, we had a lot of bedding. She usually brought 3-4 sets of sheets and blankets, 3 or 4 mattress pads, 5 or 6 pillows, 2 body pillows (if you team drivers don’t have one yet, go out and buy one (or two) — you can kiss my feet later), and a couple of sheets of that egg crate-looking padding. And this was for only 3 weeks on the road.

Luckily, this padding stayed in the truck. As for the rest of it, she changed the sheets once per week and using the pillows, packed herself into bed like a vase being shipped from Nicaragua via Jeep. I’m pretty sure if anyone made little fluffy packing peanuts, we’d have bought them too. But you know what? All of that made sleeping a joy. Well, as much of a joy as it could be when you’re bouncing down the road.

Now that the wicked one is out of the truck and back with the normal humans, I’ve stuck with the plan… well, to some extent anyway. I don’t use the egg crate stuff because I don’t need the extra cushion as a solo driver. But I’ve stuck with the sheets, extra pillows and mattress pads. I’ve got three pillows, one soft, one firm, and one body. I normally use the soft one, but the firm one comes in handy when you’re in one of those parking spots where it feels like you’re trying to sleep while standing on your head. And of course, it’s always nice having extra pillows when you’re leaning up against the wall in your bunk.

Now I can hear some of you masculine guys out there saying, “All a man needs is a sleeping bag.” I’ve got a correction there. “All a macho man needs is a sleeping bag.” Seriously, get over yourself and buy some freakin’ sheets! You sleep in your bunk more than you do your bed at home! Make it comfortable! I keep two sets of sheets with me now. I rarely change them in my 3 weeks out (I am a man, after all —  and I always smell fresh — really), but it’s nice to have a backup for when you spill milk all over them. Been there, done that. And a final word on sheets: cotton-blend in the summer, flannel in the winter. Spend the money on flannel and I might let you kiss my hand when you’re done with my feet.

And lastly, The Evil Overlord will vouch for reading before you go to bed because the Sandman typically taunts her at night. Personally, I don’t need a book to fall asleep. Unless I’ve got something stressing me out, I’m usually dreaming about swimming pools full of banana split ice cream in less than five minutes. And that’s a good thing, because when The Evil Overlord gets pissed at me for falling asleep so quickly, it’s always nice to be snoring again not long after she purposely nudges me, slaps me on the chest, makes a loud noise, or drops something on my head. You people never believe me, but I’m telling you folks; she’s evil personified.

*Let’s hear from you drivers out there. Give us some tips that help you sleep when you’re in the truck. And do it now. You heard me. No back-talk.*

Time to Step Up and Help Some Fellow Truckers

May 17, 2012

An unhappy Lou

Ever been in need and wished someone could help you out? Well that’s where a couple of our fellow truckers are right now. They need our help so it’s time to step up, folks.

The people in question are Lou Obadal and Heather Pontruff. So what’s going on? Well, Lou has had back pain for months, but being the macho trucker (like we all think we are) and needing the money, he toughed it out and kept driving until it totally took him down. I’m no doctor, but it has something to do with a couple of herniated discs. That just sounds painful.

So we’re looking at a case of bad timing here folks. No insurance, no workman’s comp, and to take the proverbial knee to the junk, the company they worked for cancelled their contract after Lou got injured. Ahhhhh, yes. There’s nothing quite like an employer who sees you through the hard times. For the full story, check out Heather’s article clevery titled, Your Back Doesn’t Always Have Your Back. If you’re a super-generous person and you’ve already decided to donate to the cause, well God bless you. If you need convincing as to why you should help Lou and Heather out, the price you pay is having to read on. Actually, I hope you do.

So why should we help Lou and Heather? Well, because there’s that whole “Do Unto Others” thing to consider. There’s also the fact that they’re fellow truckers and if we can’t take care of our own, then who will? Well, wait a second here. Actually, Lou is the “official” trucker. But anyone who knows Heather knows she’s really a trucker too. She may not do the actual driving but she rides along with Lou, takes care of most of the business stuff and still manages to do lots of good in this world. What kind of good? Well I’m glad you asked.

First of all, let me say that Lou and Heather had absolutely nothing to do with what I’m about to say. Knowing them, they’ll probably be shocked and humbled by it. All they asked of me was that I help spread the word by retweeting the link to their fundraising site. While I’m doing that whenever I get a chance, I think these two truckers deserved a whole blog post. And let me tell you why:

  1. Because Lou and Heather are funny. Just check out Heather’s YouTube Channel for verification of that. My personal favorite is the one where Heather is tormenting a totally wasted Lou. Funny stuff.
  2. Because they’re nice folks. For instance, Heather can have a completely opposite viewpoint from you and still carry on a civilized conversation that doesn’t turn into name-calling. Case in point; we both think each other’s spiritual beliefs are nuts, but we can have heated debates about it and still walk away friends. Not being a meanie is always a plus in my book.
  3. Because Heather speaks out for truckers. I especially appreciate the fact that she writes in-depth, well researched articles about today’s trucking issues. And that means yours truly doesn’t have to do any research. I can just wait until she posts an article on her Web site, Trucker’s Voice, and then retweet it with the words “yeah, what she said” tacked onto the end of it.
  4. Because they’re our Twitter buds. I know Heather’s active on Facebook and other social Web sites too (check out Trucker’s Voice for all the places you can find her).  While Heather does most of the tweeting, Lou pops in every now and then. What is it with husbands and boyfriends that don’t tweet? Perhaps Heather and @raysunshine77 could explain this phenomenon to us. I’d ask @ChrisandCasey (cancelled Twitter account) too, but Casey seems to have dropped off the face of the planet. I’m hoping the boys at the space station will snag her with one of those cool robotic arm doohickeys before she slips past them.
  5. Because they are two of the most generous people I know. In 2010, they started an organization called Trucking Santas to help provide a decent Christmas for families who weren’t going to have one. As part of this program, they also adopted three facilities within the United Cerebral Palsy of Central Maryland. They tweeted some heartwarming pictures of their visits to these facilities last Christmas season. Now how many of us can say we’ve done that? Don’t expect me to raise my hand. I’m busy twiddling my thumbs, looking around non-chalantly, and whistling.

So what do you think? Are Lou and Heather worth dipping into your checkbook? I sure think so. You don’t have to give a lot, but I’m sure there won’t be any complaints if you do. 😀 I’m sure anything will be appreciated. You can be a proud sponsor when you donate or do it anonymously. You can even hide the amount you give. Better hurry though. The fundraiser ends on May 27! Quite frankly, if I’d realized it ended that soon, I’d have done this earlier. My bad. But please don’t let my procrastination issues keep you from helping to reach their goal. They’re just over halfway there! Donate now! And please pass the word along to whatever social networks you belong to. Let’s get this puppy moving!

A Trucker Visits Carhenge

March 5, 2012

As a trucker for nearly 15 years, I’ve traveled all across the United States and parts of Canada. Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to explore many things. Yet, for the most part, I haven’t. Why not? Well, it basically comes down to one thing: I can be a lazy tightwad when I put my mind to it.

You see, I drive a truck to earn a living, not to have fun. Every time I’ve tried to go exploring, it ended up costing me a fortune. Like that time The Evil Overlord (the wife and ex-codriver) and I went into Portland, Oregon when our company couldn’t find us a load. The cab fare to and from downtown was almost $40. The meal we had at Jake’s Famous Crawfish was unbelievably awesome, but it set us back over $100. By the way, The Evil Overlord and I both highly recommend the Halibut stuffed with Brie.

Another time, we were stuck in Salt Lake City for five days due to the combination of a broken air conditioner, a holiday weekend, and a bonehead who ordered a wrong part. Long story there. There’s another venue for that. Again, The Evil Overlord wanted to go sight-seeing. Another expensive meal or two (not so great this time), a car rental, and a trip to the zoo, aquarium, and lots of other places I have no recollection of, and we spent nearly as much as we would have made if we’d have been driving all week. Had The Evil Overlord not been there, I’d have ordered a couple of pizzas and glued the remote control to my hand. That’s just how I roll.

Again, my point is that I spend 2-4 weeks on the road to make money, not spend it. And that’s what I choose to do. If you choose otherwise, you could see a lot of cool junk as a truck driver. You’ve just got to be motivated enough to do it and be willing to spend the dough. Your call.

Now having said all that, sometimes an opportunity just presents itself. That’s what happened when I found myself out in the middle of freakin’ nowhere in Nebraska. As if Nebraska itself isn’t in the middle of freakin’ nowhere. Anyway, I saw the signs for Carhenge long before I got there. Somewhere in the back of my amoeba-sized brain, I recalled the name and remembered reading about it somewhere. So what to do? Should I stop or not? For a change of pace, I had plenty of time on the load. Hmmmm. . .

Ultimately, I decided that I wasn’t going to go out of my way to see it. Yea, I know; surprise, surprise. If it wasn’t within viewing distance of the road, or it was, but the parking looked tight, I’d drive right on by. In other words, if I had to put any effort whatsoever into this little endeavor, I was going to pass. As fate would have it, the parking lot was empty and it was right on the main thoroughfare.

I ended up being there for 45 minutes. Not because the place was so interesting, but because I thought I’d finally reach into the depths of my soul and explore my artsy-fartsy side. This is something that @darkstaff, @alanqbristol, and @DriverChrisMc have been trying to get me to do for a long time. I don’t really have an eye for that sort of thing, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s what I came up with.

The video was shot with a Flip Mino HD and all the pictures were taken with my iPhone 3GS (the one with the older, crappier camera). The pictures were all taken and edited using the Camera+ app, which totally rocks, by the way.

The music is a song called “Segue Jazz” from the band Walking On Einstein. You can find it on the “Commoners Among The Masses” album. They are from the Joplin, MO area and I went to high school with the drummer and bass player. Although the band is no longer playing, I love ’em and still listen to their stuff all the time. Let me know what you think.

Big Rig MacGyvering

August 3, 2011

Photo by striatic via Flickr

The Evil Overlord and I have driven quite a few different trucks in our driving careers, but I’ve been through more than my fair share of trucks recently. It all started with “Hell Week 2: The Sequel” and continued with my most recent truck crapping out on me last week.

I’ve also owned quite a few personal vehicles in my life. But I’ve never had the same assortment of sounds from them that I’ve experienced in the cab of a big rig. And that’s where we truckers excel in our MacGyvering skills.

Every truck has its share of squeaks, clicks, and creaks. The trick is finding them, as many of these sounds only happen when you’re driving down the road. But finding them is of utmost importance because listening to a continuous squeak will eventually cause you to yank out fistfuls of hair. Now I kinda like my faux-hawk, but I’ve got no desire to have a real mohawk. I’ll leave that to the punker dudes.

I feel sorry for solo drivers when it comes to squeak-hunting because it’s rough to track down a noise that only happens when you’re scooting down the road. That’s where team drivers have a distinct advantage because one person can hunt down the noise while the other drives. This is especially important because as a team driver one of you is always trying to sleep.

Hearing even the slightest persistent noise when you’re trying to sleep is akin to buying a Ford Explorer. Let me explain that. You may never notice how many there are until you start driving one. All of sudden you see them everywhere. Likewise, once you hear a noise in a truck, you’ll always notice it. You can try to ignore it, but it’s completely impossible. You may as well face the fact that until you crawl your cranky butt out of bed and find the squeak, you’re never going to get back to sleep. Once you figure out where the annoyance is coming from, it’s time to whip out the trucker’s MacGyver kit.

Just as MacGyver could make a bomb out of a stick of Juicy Fruit and a cigarette lighter, a trucker can stop any noise with whatever is at hand. Duct tape, paper clips, toothpicks, bungee cords, paper towels… you name it.

The Evil Overlord was the master MacGyverer. When a cabinet door rattled, a properly placed folded paper towel silenced it. If it was placed too high or too low on the door, the squeak persisted. Only when placed in one particular spot did the squeak quit driving us crazy.

Other times, the canned goods in the cabinets would “click” together from the road vibration. That’s when you’re glad that the cashiers at Wal-Mart think that each cup of ramen noodles deserves its own sack. All those extra plastic bags were perfect for shoving down between the cans.

The Evil Overlord brought an extra towel from home to keep one of our coolers from rubbing up against the side of the cabinet. She’s crammed everything from toothpicks to Q-Tips to small pieces of cardboard in between the plastic moldings on the interior of the bunk or on the dashboard.

Other times the MacGyvering falls to me. If the offending noise requires WD-40, duct tape, bungee cords, or tools, The Evil Overlord reluctantly sets me loose and stands clear. As a typical man, you really can’t make me any more giddy than encouraging me to jury rig something. There’s just something about the smell of a fresh roll of duct tape and WD-40.

I believe the truck designers have it out for us truckers when it comes to the drawers in these trucks. I’ve had problems with the drawers in more than half of our trucks. Either it squeaks like a frightened mouse or it won’t stay closed. We’ve managed to fix the squeaks with strategically-placed paper towels, but I’ve had to resort to bungee cords to keep the stinkin’ thing closed at times.

Naturally, if the noise is coming from the exterior of the truck and there’s even the remotest chance of sweating, that’s my job too. I’ve had to bungee the heck out of a catwalk (the walking platform behind the cab of the truck) to keep it from rattling. I’ve had to cram an old towel in between some load locks and the rear of the cab. I’ve had to pull over on the side of the road after The Evil Overlord grumpily woke up with a pigtail (the electric cable between the truck and the trailer) thumping against the rear of the cab. I’ve even had to use a big piece of folded cardboard to keep the hood from squeaking.

So if you ever need to locate and stop an annoying squeak, call a trucker. There are few things that a trucker can’t rig when given a challenge. Now if I could just figure out how to MacGyver a small bomb out of a stick of Juicy Fruit and a cigarette lighter, I’m sure I’d be up for “Uncle of the Year.”

*I know you all have your own rigging stories, so let’s hear ’em. Leave a comment so we can all learn new and exciting ways to use duct tape.*

Truckers Go Turtle Racing

April 16, 2011

Photo by TheMarque via Flickr

Turtles are cool. If I see one trying to cross the road, I’m the kinda guy that’ll pull over and carry him across the road to safety. That is, unless it’s one of those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If I see one of them in the road, I’m gonna stick out my tongue, close one eye, take aim, and hit the accelerator. Man, those “dudes” are annoying.

So why would I go out of my way to help a turtle cross the road? Well, like I said, they’re cool, but it’s also because The Evil Overlord likes that about me. What can I say? I’m a sweetie. Still, the main reason is simply because he’s so freakin’ slow. By the way, I do always assume it’s a male turtle crossing the road. My thinking is that the only thing that could make a turtle jump out into traffic is a lady turtle batting her eyes and wiggling her sexy little tail around.

So anyway, why all the talk about turtles? Well, because the trucking industry has its own version of turtles. Only no one likes them. I’m talking about speed-limited trucks. Specifically, I’m talking about two speed-limited trucks trying to pass each other out on the highway. You know; Turtle Racing.

Whether your vehicle has 18 wheels or four, we’ve all experienced a Turtle Race. You’re tooling along in the fast lane, when some trucker jumps out in front of you. You calmly slow down and follow while this truck slooooooowly creeps up and passes the slightly slower truck. I assume you were calm, right? I mean, it only took five minutes for dillmunch #1 to pass dillmunch #2.

Notice that I called both of these drivers “dillmunch.” Besides the fact that I have no earthly idea what a dillmunch is, I still say the turtle race was both of these driver’s faults. It takes two to do the Tango and it takes two to race. If you were to ask most drivers whose fault it is, they’d blame the guy trying to pass. I agree… and I disagree. Let’s take a look at that.

Okay. Say my truck will go a mind-blowing warp speed of 65 mph. I’m coming up on a truck going 64 mph. Sure, I could tap my brake, lower my cruise control, and stare at his trailer doors all day. After all, I am looking pretty smokin’ in those reflective doors. But why should I have to slow down because my truck is faster than his? Wouldn’t it make more sense to let the faster truck get on with his business?

The thing is, it takes two drivers with common sense, professional attitudes, and the willingness to put themselves in the other driver’s shoes. Those are three attributes that are sorely missing in today’s trucking industry. Nowadays, everyone is out for themselves.

Drivers can’t be bothered to let you go around them before they take ten minutes to back into a wide-open parking spot. The same guys don’t have a second thought about butting in line to get to the shipping clerk’s window. Nor do they mind parking in front of the fuel bay while they mosey into the truck stop, stand in line to get their fuel receipt, take a dump, fill up their thermos, and grab some to-go food; hopefully in that order.

These are the same drivers who see the faster truck coming up behind them. They’re the drivers who see you in their mirror as you pull out to pass. The same jerk who can see the traffic stacking up behind you. The worthless puddle of dog vomit that refuses to tap his brakes, even though he can clearly see you’re going to pass him eventually.

Here’s how I try to deal with this. First, I give the driver the benefit of the doubt, trusting that as soon as he notices me, he’ll let me around. Hey, it could happen. Once I’ve caught his beady little eyes looking at me in his mirror, I wait a few seconds to see if he’s gonna back out of it. If he doesn’t, I resort to a drastic step. Well, it is for me anyway.

I break out the “Official Communication Device of Hell”, otherwise known as the CB radio. Again, I’ll be nice at first. Maybe he’s into a good audiobook and the situation just hasn’t registered in his puny little brain. I’ll key up the mic and say in a friendly voice, “Hey driver. How about a little driver courtesy here?” Sometimes that works. Other times, the guy doesn’t have his CB turned on. Can’t say as I blame him for that. Still other times, you know you’ve got a real winner on your hands when he picks up the mic and says, “If you can’t pass me faster than that, it’s not my problem.” Oh my. What do you do with a guy like this?

That’s when I take a deep, calming breath and explain to him that we as drivers are never going to get respect and cooperation from the public if we can’t even get it from our fellow drivers. I’m often filled with awe from their insightful comeback. Something truly wise, like, “Shut up, stupid.”

This is what we’re dealing with out here. All this could be avoided if drivers just had a little common courtesy towards each other. Instead, we’re all faced with turtle racing every day. And as for you four-wheelers, don’t think you’re exempt either. The only thing more frustrating than being stuck behind turtle racing trucks, is to be stuck behind turtle racing four-wheelers. For the love of Pete, folks. Trust me on this. It’s okay to turn your cruise control off. The car manufacturers have thoroughly tested these devices. You’re not gonna break anything. Except for my forehead, which is decisively bashing into my steering wheel with a head-banging force usually reserved for Slayer songs.

So here’s my plea to all drivers. Just get off the road and let me do my job. Okay, I guess that’s a bit impractical. So practically, let’s do this.

  • First, keep your eyes open and pay attention. They key to avoiding turtle racing is knowing when it’s actually happening and then doing whatever it takes to help the situation.
  • If you need to instigate a turtle race, wait until most of the traffic behind you has cleared. If traffic is heavy and you’re going to be holding people up, just tap your brakes and follow the slow-poke until traffic thins. Then mount your attack.
  • If you’re the slower driver, be a sport. Tap your brakes and let the other driver around. It’s not like you’re approaching 88 mph and if you don’t reach it in time, you’ll be stuck in the past… or future.
  • If you’re the faster driver, use the CB to politely ask if the dimwit will let you around. My suggestion would be to NOT use the term “dimwit” when addressing said dimwit.
  • If the slower driver ignores you, or worse, laughs at you, feel free to wave at him as you drive past his window. I leave the amount of fingers you use entirely up to you.
  • If you’re the faster driver, and Captain Slo-Mo just won’t let you around, even after multiple attempts, be the bigger man (or woman). Back out of it, get behind him, and let all the backed-up traffic go on their merry little, un-speed-limited way.
  • Now for the final and most important step. Concentrate hard and wish for the next toilet seat he visits to be infested with crabs. Now, don’t you feel better?
*If you think I’m totally off-base here, or you’ve got some good tips to avoid turtle racing, please share them in the comments section. Also please give this post a star rating. I’m sorry, but the button seems to be broken. It appears that only 5 stars are being accepted at this time. HeeHee And please share this post on whatever social network that sucks up waaaaay too much of your time. 🙂 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.*

Solar Driving as a Trucker

October 5, 2010

Photo by barockschloss via Flickr

Go to Lunar Driving as a Trucker, read it, and reverse everything. *smirk*

Lunar Driving as a Trucker

September 22, 2010

Photo by Jason Bache via Flickr

Here’s a heads-up to any prospective drivers out there. If you think Over-The-Road (OTR) trucking is a 9-to-5 job, you’re gonna be more disappointed than a stoner with a bag of oregano. We have a name for you folks: Solar drivers.

Solar drivers are guys or gals who only like to run during the daylight. While our circadian rhythms are ideally designed for solar driving, the chances of you getting to do it every day are about as good as you finding a Christian Atheist that’s interested in converting to Islam.

Remember that I’m speaking of OTR driving. Sure, you may be able to find a local driving job that will let you do the solar thing, but if you’re a long-hauler, well, good luck with that. And don’t get your hopes up for a local driving job with big bucks and no whammies.

The fact is that freight can pick up or deliver at any time, and 9 times out of 10, you’ve got no choice as to whether you’re going to be a Solar driver or a Lunar driver. Most loads simply don’t have enough extra transit time for you to be picky.

Common sense would tell you that most businesses are open during the day, so that’s when you’ll be awake and driving. That’s all fine and dandy, but what if you pick up a 500-mile load at night and it delivers at 7:00 AM the following morning? This happens quite frequently, so you should expect it.

I’d love to tell you that you won’t have to drive at night very often, but if I did I’d be a bigger liar than if Pamela Anderson came out and said that she was born with those entities (no pun intended).

There is an exception to this rule. If you’re a team driver, you may get to choose Solar or Lunar driving. Since a team truck pretty much runs around the clock, you can usually get on a schedule. For instance, The Evil Overlord is a Lunar driver. Each afternoon I’d wake her up, and after wrestling the grenade launcher from her, we’d eat and shower. Just before dark she’d start her driving shift and finish sometime before sunrise. You can do this too if you’ve got a flexible co-driver who’s willing to drive the opposite shift.

I’m a lucky guy. Not only am I blessed with devastating good-looks, but I’m also capable of switching from a Solar driver to a Lunar driver in less time than it takes you to roll your eyes at that “devastating good-looks” statement.

So tell me. Why is it that you want to be a Solar driver? Are you sure that it’s all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s my argument for embracing your inner Lunar driver:

  • There’s no rush hour at night. That should be enough in itself.
  • There is no such thing as a good time to cross over the George Washington Bridge into New York City, but if you must, 3:00 AM is the time to do it.
  • There’s less construction at night. Even when the crews are working the graveyard shift, there’s fewer 4-wheelers around that haven’t figured out how to merge BEFORE you get to the giant flashing arrow!
  • When it’s time to go to sleep, the truck stop parking lots are less crowded in the morning.
  • There’s less traffic at night.
  • The darkness is sooooo peaceful.
  • The chicken coops (DOT weigh stations) are less likely to be open at night.
  • Fewer drivers are cursing at each other on the CB radio.
  • It’s fun to flash your bright lights at people. Kidding. Okay, maybe sometimes. Ohhhhh. So THAT’S why he was cussing at me on the CB.
  • If you’re a woman trucker, it’s harder for people to notice you. Therefore, they don’t slow down, act stupid, try to get your attention, and unwittingly block you behind other traffic. The Evil Overlord drove at night for this very reason.
  • Did I mention that there’s less traffic?
  • Heavy winds usually get calmer at night.
  • The fuel bays are typically less crowded at night.
  • So are shippers and receivers.
  • There’s no waiting for a shower at 2:00 AM.
  • If you pull out of a parking spot after dark, you just made another driver happy enough to pee his pants, which could actually be the very reason why they’re looking for a parking space in the first place.
  • And I should also mention that there’s less traffic.

Then again, as I’m making this list, some negative aspects of Lunar driving come to mind. For instance:

  • Potty breaks become an ordeal because all the rest areas are packed tighter than a Mexican illegal immigrant’s apartment. On the plus side, the exit ramps are usually quite dark. So do what you gotta do.
  • OH CRAP! DEER!
  • More drunks on the road… or the sidewalk… or the shoulder of the road… or the ditch… or on the wrong side of the highway… or all of the above.
  • You can’t see the ladder laying in the middle of the road until it’s too late. That would be the ladder that fell off the roof of the aforementioned drunk’s VW Beetle.
  • You can’t see the Smokey Bears (police) at night. Not that it matters when your speed-limited truck gets outrun by an armadillo with a limp.
  • Snow-packed and/or icy roads at night are much more dangerous, which is why you should pull over and tell your dispatcher to stuff it.
  • Your choice of fast food is Subway, Subway, or Subway. If you’re lucky, you can wait a few more miles and find a Subway.
  • It’s harder to read street signs in the dark.
  • Fewer of your Twitter friends will be online. Now put down that phone and drive.
  • Finding a parking spot in the middle of the night just plain sucks.
  • Getting brighted by some jerk who’s just doing it for fun. *snicker*
  • I did mention that there’s less traffic at night, right? Oh shoot. That went in the other section.
  • Sometimes that pesky circadian rhythm jumps up and yanks your eyelids shut for no apparent reason. Even if you’ve had plenty of sleep.
  • The Fuzz can easily see if you’ve got even one teeny-tiny-little-light that has burned out. They’ll pull you over as the VW drunk guy does a U-turn in the ditch to retrieve his ladder.

So maybe there are some advantages to being a Solar driver. I can do either, and quite frankly it’s nice to have to mix it up a bit. I wouldn’t want to have to choose between the two, but if I were forced, I’d go with being a Lunar driver. Why? Did I mention there’s less traffic on the Lunar shift?

*Got pros and cons that I’ve forgotten? Leave a comment so that everyone can read them! And please pass this on to anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thanks*


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