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We all know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (or some variant thereof). This rule applies to every aspect of your life. Anyone who says otherwise should be forced to eat my fresh loogies from a spoon. The trucking industry is a part of your life, so it applies here as well.
If everyone out here followed the Golden Rule, we truckers would have a lot less frustration in our lives. Yeah. Wishful thinking. I know. While there are plenty of opportunities to put the Golden Rule into affect, today we’re going to focus on one specific place… the fuel bays.
The way I see it, once we truckers finally escape the time-suck that are the loading docks, there are only two major slowdowns for us once we hit the road. The obvious first one is traffic. Whether it’s rush hour, bad weather, construction zones (with no actual construction taking place), or 4-wheelers being driven by what appears to be armless blindfolded people afflicted by ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), traffic is a trucker’s biggest time-waster. But there is another one too.
The fuel bays at the truckstop are a major bottleneck for truckers. Every minute we spend at the fuel bays is wasted (albeit necessary) time. And when you get paid by the mile, time is money. For starters, every trucker has to go there at least every other day, perhaps more if you’re team driving. And the last time I checked, diesel engines still require fuel to keep churning. Now if some budding genius could figure out a way to harness all the gas stored in a trucker’s seat cushion, well, they’d be richer than a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Secondly, there are only so many fuel bays. If you go to any of the major truckstop chains during the day, there is a decent chance you’ll have to wait in line to get fuel. Even if you are lucky enough to pull right into a bay, that’s still no guarantee you’re getting out of there quickly. And that brings us to the subject at hand.
What should and shouldn’t you do when at a fuel bay?
Prepare before you get there – Okay. To be clear, I’m not saying you should put on your shoes, jacket, and gloves while you’re flying down the exit ramp. Let’s leave the whacked-out exit ramp tactics to the 4-wheeler nut jobs, shall we? But if you need to call your company to approve the purchase, please do that before you pull into the fuel bay.
I can’t count how many times I’ve watched a driver pull his brakes, then get out his cell phone and make a call. Hello????? McFly????? This is NOT the place to do that! You knew you were going to need fuel before you got there, right? Why haven’t you already taken care of this? And if that’s a personal call you’re making, well, then you deserve to eat my loogies too. And this time I’m hoping there’s a little blood mixed in for good measure. But let’s face it…
There are times when your fuel card just hates you – Listen, we all have fuel card issues now and then. The thing is, you usually don’t know how long it’s going to take to sort it out until you’re already well into the process. Here’s the way I handle this.
If the card reader is giving you fits, head into the fuel desk. Nine times out of ten, the cashier can get the pump turned on by manually entering your information. And hey, Einstein, this means you should remember to bring all the relevant information with you. Don’t make everyone wait on you while you run out to get the mileage off your truck. I’ll have to admit that most truckers are good up until this point.
But now the cashier says, “There’s something wrong with the card. I’m going to have to call Comdata (or whoever your card belongs to).” Okay, here’s where most drivers break the Golden Rule. Most drivers will stand there and stare at the cashier while she listens to hold music for 5 minutes, which is fine for the drivers in line because the cashier will likely keep helping other customers.
But what about the driver who’s sitting behind your truck? He’s already stood out on his running board and looked up at your truck shaking his head with disgust… twice. They may have even walked up to your door to see what the hold-up is. But you aren’t there! You’re inside watching someone hold a phone! Unacceptable driver!
What you should do is go back out to your truck the instant that cashier picks up the phone. Even if they were to get through right away, you have no way of knowing if they will be able to fix the problem quickly or not. Sometimes you’ll wait for 10 minutes while they try to fix it, only for them to hang up and tell you that the problem is on your company’s end. Ugh.
Now if nobody is behind your truck when you go out to check, you can do one of two things. 1. Assume the worst and go park your truck until the mess is sorted out, or… 2. Run out and check on it periodically to make sure you aren’t holding anyone up. I prefer the first method, but I’m sure most of you will do the second.
And if you’ve decided to ignore me altogether and block the fuel bay, at least go back and tell the driver behind you that you’re having fuel card issues. He’ll still be pissed that you’re blocking the fuel bay, but at least he’ll be able to move to another line with a less jerky driver. Speaking of holding up other drivers…
Always pull forward after fueling – The fuel bay is NOT a parking spot. I’ve seen drivers do this more often than I’d like. You’re done fueling and you’re now being blocked by the previous driver. You impatiently wait for a bit, but then decide to leave your truck in the fuel bay and run into the truckstop. You’ll be in and out in a jiffy, right?
Well, inevitably, the other driver gets back to his truck just a minute or two after you vacate yours. Now your truck is keeping another driver from fueling. So now you’re wasting his time, which was the very thing you were pissed off about five minutes ago when the the other driver was in front of you. Ya bonehead.
The one time it is acceptable to run in real quick is if you’re going in to find the driver or ask the cashier to use the intercom to get him moving. Oh, and I suppose I’ll give you one other reason. I’d much rather wait on you for a couple of minutes than see you take a whiz in the fuel bay. C’mon, man. Drivers have to walk there!
The fuel bays are not parking spots – This goes for the spaces in front of the bays too. Now if you just need a cup of Joe and a doughnut, then by all means go for it. Although perhaps you should take a look at your waistline before you make that particular choice. But if you’re going in to grab some grub at Subway, Wendy’s, or the ever-so-delicious Taco Hell, then please have a look at the line before you step up.
If there is more than one or two people in line, I’m going to go back out and look to see if I’m blocking anyone. If not, I head back in. If yes, I either go park my truck and walk back in, or I take that opportunity to instead hit the road again with yet another peanut butter and jelly sammich in hand, which does wonders for my cheapskate ego. And hey, if you have to wait on fresh fries or something, go out and check on your truck. Pretty please?
Now I know the chances of most drivers doing any of this is Karen Carpenter to none, but hey, we can always hope.
Hey man! Watch where you’re hosing! – How many times have you been fueling away when you’re suddenly shocked into a surprised-kitten-like-jump by a splash of water from the next bay over? Now I’m not a confrontational kinda guy, but I always let out a “HEYYYYY!” to let the offender know that they need some hose control *snicker*.
Sure, the hose is there for us to use, so have it. Just follow the Golden Rule. You want the next guy over to look where he’s hosing, so you do it too! I will say that this isn’t always a bad thing on a hot summer day, but the last thing you want during the winter is some ice water running down your shirt. The simple remedy is to look and if you see someone, warn him you’re about to whip the hose out *snicker*. Yes, I’m 13 years old.
It’s called a fuel bay, not a wash bay – I approve of squeegees. Squeegees are good. By all means, use the squeegees. And the more times you can say the word “squeegee,” the better. It’s a fun word, you know! But here’s the thing with squeegees. If it’s glass or plastic, squeegee away. If it’s not, please refrain.
We’ve all seen the guy who’s trying to save the $40 run to Blue Beacon by squeegeeing his entire truck cab, which, of course, is followed by drenching the driver in the next bay with an errant water hose. So you say, “What do you care? Ain’t no one behind me! I’m ain’t blockin’ no one!” Perhaps thats true. But I still don’t like it, so knock it off. Thanks.
NO SHOWERS! – No, my caps lock isn’t on. I’m getting more and more irate the further I go into this. Seriously folks. If you’ve ever parked on the fuel bay and gone in to take a shower, then I think your children should have to eat my spoon loogies.
I have seen a driver ask to park in front of a broken fuel bay to take a quick shower though. I’ve got no problem with this guy. First, he asked the cashier. And second, he wasn’t blocking anyone. I once parked in a similar spot when I was waiting on a driver to relay my load. Again, it was late at night, the parking lot was full, I asked the cashier, and it was a broken fuel pump with a barrel in front of it. No harm, no foul I say!
NO 30-MINUTE BREAKS! – If that 8-hour mark is creeping up on you, please find a parking space to take your mandatory 30-minute Twitter break. The only caveat here is if there are no parking spaces to be had. Now I’m sure most of you have been in this situation at one time or another. But how did you handle it?
When it’s late and I need to do a 30-minute Clash of Clans break, I’ll pull through a fuel bay and park. If someone pulls up behind me to fuel, I watch in my mirror until I see them hang up the hose. With that, I drive back around and pull into another empty bay. Rinse and repeat until my 30-minute Crossy Road break is over. Even better, if you see a broken pump, use that lane.
I’ve seen a driver do a full 30-minute break in the fuel bays at the Flying J in Waco. It was in the evening and there were lots of trucks pulling in. He was already sitting next to the pump when I pulled into line behind the truck in the bay next to him, so I got to see the whole thing. When I finally got up to the pump, he was just sitting there looking at a magazine. He was still sitting there when when I pulled off some 20 minutes later.
Now you might be saying, “Maybe his co-driver was inside!” Well, maybe that’s true. But does that change anything? He was still blocking other drivers from fueling, right? Don’t mess with the bull son, you’ll get the horns. 😉
In short… DON’T BLOCK THE FRIGGIN’ FUEL BAYS! – There is no excuse that you can give me that will relax my views on this. Even religion won’t work on this kid. Believe it or not, I once saw a Muslim man who had laid down a carpet in front of his truck and he was saying his prayers while he was in front of a fuel bay. Seriously! Hand on the Bible! While he wasn’t keeping anyone from fueling, he did cause the driver behind him to have to back out of the fuel bay to get back on the road. Again I say, UNACCEPTABLE, DRIVER!
Once again, here is the rule of thumb: If there’s even a remote chance of you holding someone up for more than a few minutes, go find a parking space. End of discussion.
Now I know there are some of you out there who don’t believe that I take this much care about “Doing unto others as I would have them do to me,” but it’s the God’s honest truth. I talked about the concept of putting yourself in someone’s shoes all the way back in TD3: What Has Happened To Common Courtesy? and I drove it home big time in TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing.
So here’s my offer to you. If any of you ever see me waltzing back to my fuel bay-blocking truck after you’ve been waiting more than 3 minutes, feel free to walk up, Judo chop me in the throat, and call me a hypocrite. Just please ask me to put down my Taco Hell bag first. No one likes crushed Mexican Pizza, you know.
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Additional links from the podcast version:
LoadingSpot.com is a free website and app that can help truckers find information about shippers/receivers.
I did a short interview over at TruckersTraining.com
Need to get a quick DOT physical? Check out CVS’s Minute Clinic
Check out this Kickstarter for Advicy Drive, which is a new device to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.
In the feedback section we hear from:
Dave is binge listening to all the past episodes and has comments on multiple episodes. He also mentions Dan Miller and his 48days program.
The Trucking Podcast is a great weekly podcast for truckers. Sometimes twice each week!
Jed the Safety Guy, writes in to ask a question about TD101: Stupid Rules That Truckers Tolerate.