Posts Tagged ‘The Evil Overlord’

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.*

Guest post: Benefits of Semi Truck Weight Compliance. By Noble McIntyre

September 12, 2012

Photo by Linda N. via Flickr

Hello, one and all. First, a quick update on the status of the new Web site. Things are coming along slowly, but surely. I recently fixed a major problem I’ve been having; so that’s good. But I’m still missing a major component, so you’re gonna have to control your giddiness. I’m sure you’ll manage somehow. Still, I have a feeling that I’m eventually going to have to crack this sucker open to the public with a few lingering quirks. It’s like choosing someone to marry. If you’re waiting for perfection, you’re never going to do it. The Evil Overlord is the exception to the rule. She really hit the jackpot there.

So what’s this about a guest post? Well, if you remember correctly, I told you in our last visit that I was working on providing a couple of guest posts to fill the Sandra Bernhard-sized tooth gap between the posts I’ve written.

Today’s treat is brought to you by a gentleman named Noble McIntyre. Now I’m not positive, but I think Noble may be a bit clairvoyant. A while back, I began playing with the idea of asking for submissions for a couple of guest posts to fill in the gaping hole that the blog was becoming. Not long after, I received an email from Noble asking if I accepted guest posts. I’m telling you people… clairvoyant. I’m guessing that skill comes in handy with his day job. You see, Noble is an attorney. That’s gotta be pretty darn handy to get into the minds of the opposing counsel. And before you say it, yes, I know it’s hard to believe a lawyer was perusing my blog, but that’s just further proof that I rock. I’ve been telling people that for years, but no one ever listens.

So let’s get on with today’s submission. Afterward, I’ll be back to share my thoughts on the subject. Here we go. And oh yea. You ladies may want to check out Noble’s picture at the bottom of the post. He’s a handsome devil, he is. Hands off though, ladies. He’s already been snagged off the market. Sorry to disappoint.

Benefits of Semi Truck Weight Compliance: by Noble McIntyre

It’s human nature to want the most benefit for the lowest cost. It may seem more efficient to load a semi truck to maximum capacity—or more—in order to transport more merchandise in fewer trips. That works in theory, but not always in practice. I’ve taken on semi truck cases that came about when someone was injured due to some sort of negligence on the part of a truck driver or a trucking company like, for example, overloading a truck. And accidents involving a semi have the potential to do much more damage when the truck is heavier than is legally allowed.

Surpassing truck weight limits can also cost more in fees and fines when trucks don’t pass inspection at highway weigh stations. But additional costs in fuel, maintenance, and safety must be considered as well. Here are a few of the ways ignoring trucking weigh limits can increase costs, and affect the safety of not just the truckers, but passenger vehicle drivers.

Road Fatigue

Highways are built to withstand a lot of wear—vehicles driving over them, harsh weather, heat, cold. They’re also constructed with certain weight limits in mind. When those limits are surpassed, the road suffers and begins to wear down more quickly than planned. This not only makes for uncomfortable driving, it increases road maintenance costs for the states the highways run through, and those costs are passed on to the taxpayers. By complying with weight limits, truckers and trucking companies can help roads last longer, and reduce maintenance costs, thereby saving states money that can be put toward other public needs.

Wasted Fuel and Time

It comes down to simple power-to-weight ratio—the heavier a truck is, the more power required to propel it. When a truck is loaded over its maximum weight, it will require more fuel to travel the same distance at the same speeds as a lighter truck. In addition to wasting fuel, this will also translate to higher costs for the trucking company because of the need to buy fuel more often. It also means lost time to stop for those fueling needs. Those costs are most likely passed on to the consumer. By adhering to weight limits, truckers can save time and money both for the trucking company, and for the people who buy the products being transported. For those of us concerned about the effect high food costs have on our communities, it’s frustrating to know that some of those costs could be more reasonable if weight limit regulations were strictly followed.

Safety

When loaded to maximum weight, the stopping distance for semi trucks is roughly 40 percent greater than that of regular passenger vehicles. This is assuming fair weather and road conditions. That distance will increase when roads are wet, for example, or when the truck is traveling above the speed limit. Now imagine how the stopping distance is affected when a truck is carrying more than the allowed maximum weight. Even in good weather, the distance is increased, not to mention, a heavier truck will do more damage to other vehicles and to property should an accident occur. Weight compliance promotes safety for the truck, its driver, and other drivers on the road. I would be more than happy to accept a reduction in the number of clients I have if it meant fewer people were being injured in trucking accidents due to poor practices.

The trucking industry remains the most effective tool in transporting goods from one location to another. There is plenty of room for improvement, to be sure. But until technological and mechanical advances come about that improve efficiency, current safety standards must be maintained. The benefits simply outweigh the costs.

Noble McIntyre is the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law, a firm staffed by experienced Oklahoma City truck accident lawyers.

 

 

 

 

 

Good stuff, Noble. Thanks for entertaining and informing the peeps. Now from a trucker’s view, let me add a few thoughts of my own.

For quite a while now, my company has been sending out a satellite message about once a week reminding us to route around the Pawtucket River Bridge on I-95 in Rhode Island. It seems that about once a week one of my highly intelligent co-workers gets a ticket for crossing the bridge. You know, the bridge that has been marked as truck restricted since 2007. The one marked by those bright orange signs that are really hard to see. Yea, those. I just don’t get it. If a bridge is clearly marked as illegal, why would anyone cross it? Why not take the marked route? It’s not that far out of the way. Yet the coppers in Rhode Island have been picking trucker’s pockets clean for years. These fines aren’t cheap either. We’re talking maximums of $2000 plus. Ouch-a-mundo! But then there are times when things aren’t quite so clear-cut.

Now there isn’t a trucker out there who hasn’t come across a situation that can’t be avoided. Sometimes by the time you see the weight restriction signs on the bridge, you’re already crossing it. Oops. But hey, when you looked at the trucker’s atlas during your trip planning, the road was clearly marked in orange! For you non-truckers; roads highlighted in orange are supposed to be open to trucks. Most of the time, they’re right. But some of the time they neglect to mention that it’s okay to run the road, providing you’re under the weight limit. That would be the weight limit that isn’t posted anywhere in the atlas.

Other times, you find yourself stuck between an FMCSA rule-maker’s head and a hard place. There you sit, staring at a weight-restricted bridge in the dead of night. You followed your company-supplied directions to the letter. Yet there you are. You’ve got no place to turn around. What now? I wrote about this exact scenario in a blog post called Trucking in the Northeast. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I find that prayer helps.

But what about running with an overweight load? Truck drivers do it all the time. But why do we do it? Because your dispatcher says to do it? Sorry dudes and dudettes, but that crap ain’t gonna fly here. Drivers, you’ve gotta think about this. It’s your license. It’s your ticket. It’s your money that’s gonna pay the fine. It’s not a point of pride to say, “I can find my way around any scale.” Okay great.

What good does it do? It takes more fuel to go around the scales. The back roads always take longer too. So why do we do it? Yeah, it’s a pain to take the load back to the shipper for reloading. Yes, it’s annoying to stop five times to fuel in a 600 mile trip just to keep your load legal.

But notice I kept saying “we” truckers. Yes, @DriverChrisMc, I just called myself a trucker again. Mark it on the calendar. The thing is, I’ve done all this myself. I routed around all the weigh stations once a long time ago. I found it stressful and never did it again. Sort of. What I will still do is route around ONE scale if I know I can burn off enough fuel before I get to the rest of the chicken coops (weight stations–a little trucker-speak there). But why even do that?

Well, I know why I do it. Because the places where I load, you either take that load or you sit and idle your truck until you burn off enough fuel to run the load. I’ve asked the company to cut the load. They won’t. I’ve asked to deadhead to get another load. Nothing else in the area. That’s not hard to believe when you’re in the wasteland known as North Dakota. And this is why I NEVER fill my fuel tanks any more. 3/4 max for me. Less if I’m anywhere in the vicinity of one of our 46,350 pound sugar loads.

I guess if you’re an owner/operator, I can maybe see the point of dodging all the scales on an entire trip. Maybe it was “take the load or don’t get paid.” That’s your choice I guess. Just remember that not only are we all breaking the law, but we’re also defying every reason that Noble just laid out. And shame on us all for dissing the Noble.

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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.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: Trucker Style

December 19, 2011

Well, it’s that time of year again. Christmas is here and you and your brother have finally settled out of court over that ugly turkey drumstick incident. The house is filled with holiday cheer. Everyone is happy to be together while they snort chocolate shavings, smoke cookie dough, and mainline eggnog.

But what about those truckers who didn’t make it home on Christmas Day? Well, I’ve written a poem in their honor. I hope it puts you in a Christmasy kinda mood. Here goes nothing. Pick your poison. You can listen to me or read it yourself. Enjoy!

Click here to listen

‘Twas the night before Christmas: Trucker style

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the truck,

the only thing stirring was a case of bad luck.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

but thanks to my job, I wasn’t there.

The nephews were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Modern Warfare 3 danced in their heads.

With The Evil Overlord at home in her teddy (hey, it’s my poem) and I on the road,

We had both settled down to take off a load.

When outside my truck there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bunk to see what was the matter.

I reached for my clothes, knowing I was certain,

Prepared for the worst, I opened the curtain.

The moon in the sky gave off such a great glow

It made the parking lot look like it was covered with snow.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a flatbed loaded with big green John Deeres.

With the driver outside looking at my truck,

I knew right away I had more bad luck.

As I jumped outside to check out my bumper,

Something flew over my head and then took big dumper.

My luck continued as I took it in the eye,

It was such a huge load it almost made me cry.

As I looked to the sky I swore I heard a jingle,

I took cover and prayed it didn’t need to tinkle.

Alas, I did not see what dumped on my head,

But I thought I glimpsed something that might have been red.

I thought, “Could that have been good old St. Nick?”

Nah, couldn’t be. My eyes had just played a trick.

So back to my problem, the wreck, not the poop.

I called my Nazi safety department to give them the scoop.

We exchanged information and he went on his way,

I guess he was too embarrassed to back in and stay.

Next thing you know I was getting a call,

The Evil Overlord sounded like she was about to bawl.

It seems that some fat guy had squeezed down through our roof

He didn’t seem too happy that he burned his caboose.

He was all dressed in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all covered with ashes and soot.

She said, “Why would a man be wearing so much fur?”

“I bet he’s one of those drag queens, Do I call him sir?”

“His eyes-how they twinkle! His dimples how merry!”

“This dude must be wasted, I’m guessing it’s cooking Sherry.”

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the Sherry had stained his beard, like a dead deer in the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And she said, “Holy cow, I think that’s weed!”

He had a broad face and a big ol’ gut,

Every bit of him was fat, yes, even his butt.

He was chunky and plump, a right jolly old guy,

She said, “I’d be jolly too if I was that high!”

A wink of his eye and a shake of his head,

“Are you kidding me, perv, not even if I were dead!”

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings with Doritos and beef jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh and they lurched into flight,

As she leveled the shotgun, she had him in sight.

As he started to exclaim, she squeezed off a shot,

“That’ll teach you to let your reindeer poop in my husband’s eye!”

The End.

Merry Christmas

*If you enjoyed this little ditty, please give this post a good rating and tell all your friends to check it out. If you didn’t enjoy it, keep your rating to yourself and your trap shut.*

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*

Who’s a Trucker?

September 27, 2011

No, seriously. That’s a real question. Does just driving a truck make you a trucker? Or is there something more to it? Sorry, I realize I didn’t put a quiz on your syllabus, but hey, that’s the nature of the dreaded pop quiz. Deal with it. And don’t you dare stick that gum to the underside of your desk.

Here’s the reason I ask. I don’t really consider myself a trucker. Neither does The Evil Overlord. It’s not a conscious decision that we made. It’s just been that way ever since we started driving in the summer of ’97.

Every time someone asked us what we did for a living, we’d say something like, “We drive a truck for a living.” We’ve even told people “We’re truck drivers.” But I can’t ever recall us saying, “We’re truckers.” I’m guessing I’ve probably said it before without thinking, but if so it’s rarer than road kill tartare. So why is that?

Well I don’t know about you, but I guess I have a stereotype trucker in my mind. I think of a trucker as someone who looks, acts, and talks the part. They buy miniature truck collectibles. They know all the NASCAR drivers. They never drive without their CB turned on. But for the most part, I’m talking about drivers who talk about trucking all the time.

I’ve got some family friends who have truckers in the family. Every time we get together, they talk about trucking. A lot. I always find myself heading to the ladies table before too long. Go ahead, make your jokes about my manliness, or lack thereof. I can handle it. And I’ve got my mascara handy for when I start to cry.

Hey, I drive a truck 11 hours a day for 3-4 weeks at a time. The last thing I want to do is talk about trucking. When The Evil Overlord was my co-driver, we never talked about trucking unless it had something to do with our current load. Now that she’s off the road, we still don’t have long talks about trucking. It rarely comes up. That’s just the way we are.

I know I’m not the only one. Take my friend Alan, a.k.a. @alanqbristol, who I met on Twitter. Twice now we’ve shared a meal when I was in the Denver area. Sure, we talked about trucking matters a little bit. We have that in common. But you’d think two guys who met on Twitter because they both drove a truck would talk about trucking… but no. We’ve talked about our pets, our friends, relationships, politics, religion, and the cesspool this world is becoming. Now I’ve never asked Alan if he considers himself a trucker, but I’ll bet he doesn’t. Maybe I’m wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

I guess I’ve always considered myself to be a truck driver, not a trucker. Maybe that’s just a matter of tomayto-tomahto. Is it? Once again, I really don’t know. Am I a trucker because I’ve driven a truck for 14 years? What’s the time limit? I know many hard-core truckers don’t consider rookie drivers as truckers. Heck, many times they don’t even consider them truck drivers. They call them “steering wheel holders.” Other super-truckers don’t consider you a truck driver if you drive a truck with an automatic transmission.

Maybe I’m just being retarded. Once again, that wouldn’t be the first time I’ve ever been accused of that. The Evil Overlord is full of loving comments like that. Does it even matter what I call myself? I think it does.

I’m not a trucker. I drive a truck for a living. I do my job each day and then I pursue other interests. I’m doing fun stuff on my Mac or playing a game on my iPhone. Even when I’m sitting in the cab of my truck or sitting in a Wendy’s writing a blog post, I’m not really thinking about trucking. Heck, you folks have read my blog posts. It’s not like a spend a lot of time researching and pondering these topics. An idea just pops in my head when I’m driving, I take note of it, and then I sit down one day and write a rambling string of 1600 opinionated words. Sorry about that.

I think perhaps the biggest difference between truckers and truck drivers may be how they look at the job. Listen, I know this is going to sound bad, but that’s never stopped me from saying stupid crap before. So here goes. Send your hate mail to… ah screw it. Send it to Alan. I don’t want it. LOL

I drive a truck. I know how important the job is. I know the skill that’s involved. I know how hard it is to be away from your family for weeks at a time. I know that I should have more pride in my job than I do. But I don’t. I’m ashamed to say that when someone asks me what I do for a living, I don’t say, “I drive a truck” with my chest stuck out. I say it expecting them to think less of me. Heck, I usually say, “I drive a truck for a living” and then with a whisper and a smile I say, “But don’t tell anyone.” Even when they act interested, I can’t help but imagine they’re thinking, “This guy must be an uneducated loser.”

I guess that’s just the way I feel about it. Is it wrong that I don’t feel pride in doing a job that I know deserves it? What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic. And let me know, are you a trucker or a truck driver. Or is there a difference?

Doing Dallas

September 10, 2011

Photo by dave_hensley via Flickr

I’ve got an odd relationship with the city of Dallas. In my pre-trucking days, I loved it… well, most of the time anyway. Now that I’m a trucker, I like being in Dallas almost as much as I like being in the middle of West Texas when I have a surprise attack from the Kingdom of Diarrhea.

My first trip to Dallas holds special meaning. It was November 19, 1993, and The Evil Overlord and I were standing in the courthouse sporting a lot of hair and a pair of rings that cost $50. Dudes, I gotta tell you. Getting married in jeans and flannel ROCKS! Yes, I eventually wound up in a penguin suit when we had another ceremony for the family and friends, but the first time was a lot more fun.

We were moving from Missouri to Dallas where I was going to be attending college. For The Evil Overlord, it was a return to where she lived during most of her wild teen years. These first few years are what every married couple considers “the good ole days.” Granted, at the time they sometimes didn’t feel like much fun. Although we both worked, we were usually broke and were sharing a crap-hole apartment with a large family of cockroaches. But when you look back, they were definitely good times. I know the cockroaches partied nearly every night.

Eventually, The Evil Overlord got a job as a leasing agent at an apartment complex and she started making more money. It seemed that she could sell hamburgers to cows when she put her mind to it. Once we had a little more money, we started enjoying some of the things that you can’t get in rural Missouri. Hockey games, sightseeing, museums, and lots and lots of nightlife.

In my opinion, Dallas also has one of the coolest skylines at night. Reunion tower is probably the most unusual. It looks like a giant microphone with a lighted ball on top. You can’t see it from the ground, but there’s a restaurant inside that spins 360 degrees. Pretty cool, but waaaaay out of our price range. We used to take visitors to the observation deck though. Check it out if you get a chance.

Another standout building is a skyscraper outlined in neon green lights. It looks wicked cool at night. Another building has a giant X on the side and a cool-looking tower on top. The Evil Overlord informed me that Metallica lived on the roof of that building. I’m thinking there might have been some funny smelling smoke coming out of her beat-up Honda Civic when that idea came to fruition. Ya think? Her and her friends were kinda naughty back then. Funny, now she can barely drink a glass of wine without turning beet red.

So you can see, Dallas holds a lot of “firsts” for me. My first hockey game. Ah yes. A little tip from your Uncle Todd: it’s not wise to wear a St. Louis Blues jersey to a Blues vs. Stars game, especially if you can’t fight your way out of a soggy paper bag. Luckily, the Blues lost. Whew!

Other firsts: I visited my first real museum. I went to my first piano bar. Funny stuff! I had my first Shiner Bock. Yummy! I went to my first gay bar. I went to my first Major League Baseball game at Rangers stadium. I had my first I-Max experience. Heck, I even got my first wife there. If I ever need another all depends on how long The Evil Overlord can tolerate me.

What? What are you stammering on about? One at a time please. I can’t understand when you’re all talking at once. There. That’s better. Oh… I guess I should explain that trip to the gay bar, huh?

The Evil Overlord had leased an apartment to a gay couple she nicknamed “The Homies.” Don’t worry, The Evil Overlord wasn’t being insensitive. She has a long history with gay guys and these guys loved it and her. One of her best friends in high school was a guy who turned out to be gay. Funny thing was, she knew he was gay long before he did. Anyway, these new friends of hers asked her to go to the bar with them. She asked me if it was okay if she went with them.

Now why wouldn’t she ask me to go along? Because she knew me… or she thought she did. You see, I grew up in a small town without a lot of diversity. We had a few exchange students, but most of the town was caucasian. NO ONE was outwardly gay. Heck, I found out a close high school friend of mine was gay about two years after graduation. I figured that out when he hit on me. Yikes!

So when it came time to go to a gay bar, The Evil Overlord naturally assumed I wouldn’t want to go. My initial reaction, was “HELL NO, I don’t wanna go,” but I started to think about it more. I was in a big city and knew I wouldn’t live there forever. I knew I wasn’t gay. I knew “The Homies” and they were okay. I was even getting used to their wolf whistles when they caught me walking down the hallway. And best of all, I had an experienced guide. The Evil Overlord was a veteran of gay bars because she attracts gay men like dogs are drawn to crotches. So what the heck? Life is about experiences. Right?

Well, it was an experience all right. Once at the club, our first stop was upstairs where there was a drag show complete with guys, errr, gals, errrr, whatever, lip-syncing to “Son of a Preacher Man” and every song ever sung by Whitney Houston. As we were walking back downstairs a guy coming up the stairs ran his hand down my chest. Now THAT gave me the heebee-jeebees, and The Evil Overlord and “The Homies” fits of laughter!

Really, a gay bar is pretty much like a regular bar, except there are mostly guys and they’re dancing with each other to lots of disco hits. They’re also doing pretty much everything else that goes on at a regular bar. Lots of grinding, fondling, and necking take place. The later it gets, the crazier it gets.

At first it was a little creepy, but like anything, I got used to it fairly quick. Although I have to say that I never really got used to the G-string clad guys that were paid to dance on a ledge around the edge of the dance floor. Especially since one of them clearly had a thing for me. I’m also pretty sure he had an elephant somewhere in his family tree. Perhaps the best thing about that night was that for the first time, uhhhh… ever, I got more attention than The Evil Overlord. Granted, it wasn’t exactly the setting I would’ve preferred. Hey, when you’re me, you’ve gotta settle for what you can get. And no, you pervs. I went home with The Evil Overlord.

So now that that’s explained. Let’s move on to the present. I really can’t stand Dallas now that I’m a trucker. I still have a few good memories as I drive by the glowing skyline at night, but they vanish quicker than a glass of milk at an Oreo convention as soon as I start looking for a parking spot.

Most of the large truck stops are all within a few miles of each other on a stretch of I-20, just south of Dallas. I wouldn’t exactly call this a “nice” neighborhood either. First you drive around in the parking lots hoping to find a spot while you dodge the NASCAR wannabe trucker that keeps doing laps in the parking lot at 30 mph. If you don’t find a spot there you move to the next truck stop. When (if) you finally find a parking spot, you can’t go through the night without at least one knock on your door. It’s either a beggar/junkie or a lot lizard… /junkie.

Take last night, I circled the Pilot parking lot three times looking for an empty space. Twice I had to hit my brakes hard as the Jeff Gordon wannabe came screaming around a corner. I finally gave up and headed out. As I passed a tiny truck stop about a block down the road, I noticed a couple of open parking spaces. I whipped in and nabbed one. Two hours later, the cashier comes out and asks for $7 for parking. I told him I hadn’t seen a sign. He pointed to it, but I still couldn’t see it since there weren’t any lights in the lot. I would have left, but if I had it would have broken up my 10-hour break and I couldn’t have delivered my load on time. Not to mention, the later it gets, the less chance of finding an empty spot. So I paid up.

Next, I wake up about 11 PM and hear someone yelling outside my window. “C’mon, back! C’mon! You got it! Bring it! You got it!” I guess the guide had to yell because the parking lot was as black as a bat’s bedroom. Still, that’s kinda rude for a driver to do that to another driver. He had to know there where drivers sleeping.

The next time I woke up was at 3 AM. This time it was a Latino lot lizard. Now I have to admit, she was kinda good-looking. She was thin, had make-up on, her hair was fixed, and she was nicely dressed. I waved her away and immediately heard another knock on the truck next door. Before I could crawl back into bed, she had crawled up into my neighbor’s cab and slammed the door. You know what came next. Yep. A driver who needs to spend a little time greasing his truck shocks better. Now see, if I were allowed to idle my truck without consequences, I wouldn’t have had to listen to all that.

Now it’s 5 AM and I hear another knock. I think, “Great, she’s forgotten that she’s already hit me up.” Nope. This time it was a woman who I can only describe as, “The human race is doomed if the apocalypse comes and it’s just me and her left.” Talk about nasty. She was a black woman who looked like she’d just crawled out of bed. Now that I think of it, she probably had. Great. Now I’ve got the heebee-jeebees again. Her hair was all messed up, she was overweight, her clothes were all tattered, and she had a gap between her two front teeth that I could’ve backed an over-sized trailer into. I waved her off and went back to bed. Not that it mattered. I’d been awake since Lady Latin knocked.

This isn’t just Dallas we’re talking about. When it comes to trucking, the names of big cities are interchangeable. Whether you’re talking about Vegas, Newark, the outskirts of L.A., or Dallas, your experience will probably be similar. Fight traffic, fight for a parking space, fight off lot lizards and beggars, and fight for your sleep.

And guess what? When I got up at 7 AM, I saw Miss Latin Lot Lizard 2011 and yet another lot lizard trotting across the parking lot and giggling. Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get any sleep.

*Please rate this post and leave a comment about your worst night in a truck stop. Let all those non-truckers know I’m not full of it. Well, not about this anyway. ;-)*


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