relationships

TD105: 4 Reasons Truckers Don’t Have Butts

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://5nl9r.hosts.cx/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein.
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]
Photo by The Pocket via Flickr

Photo by The Pocket via Flickr

You know, I’ll have to admit that I’ve had some pretty lame titles over the course of the Trucker Dump podcast/blog, but this, my friends, ain’t one of ’em. You’ve got to admit that your first thought was, “What the… (choose your intensity of potty word here)??” But now that you’ve had a chance to pull yourself together, I’m sure you know where this is going. But first, let’s discuss butts in general, because, you know, that’s the kind of thing we do here.

Butts are great. You know why? Well, for one thing everyone’s got one. I mean, there are people born without arms and legs, but even they’ve got butts. Some people have great butts. Heck, 70 years ago the hilarious comedian/actor Carl Reiner liked a girl’s butt so much that he wrote a poem entitled, “Ode To the Buttocks Bountiful.”

Other people’s butts aren’t so great. My sister Angi has told me for years that I have a “cracker butt.” She’s right and I know it. My butt is so flat, it’s almost concave. It’s also appropriately white like a cracker; just as it should be. Sorry. Guess I should have issued a TMI warning there. Oh well. No taking it back now. And for the record, my sister is allowed to use the word “cracker” because she’s a white girl. Kinda like black folks can use the “N-word,” but no one else can. Funny how that rule isn’t reciprocal. One of these days, that whole “racist” thing is going to have to work equally both ways. Well now. That was a little tangent I didn’t expect. So anyway…

The Evil Overlord agrees with my sister’s assessment of my less-than-stellar tush. She says it’s a cute heart-shape, but I just don’t see it when I’m checking myself out in the mirror. Wait… I’m not the only guy to do that, right? 😉 I know she’s just being nice, which is a real stretch for someone with the word “evil” in her title. I don’t know. Maybe she does like it? Why else would she smack it so hard every time I bend over to put down the shower mat? Seriously, the last time she did it, a neighbor came over to ask if we got a look at the plane that caused the sonic boom. I swear that if a CSI guy came by right then, they could get a full set of her fingerprints from the red mark she leaves. TMI again?

Anyway, my butt has been nonexistent as long as I can remember. I had a few friends in high school who had fabulous butts. Yes… guys. I know because whoever my girlfriend was at the time never failed to notice. I didn’t mind. They were just speaking the truth. Having a flawed butt isn’t great, but it’s better than having a hairy butt. Even worse, a dude with a hairy, flat butt. I feel sorry for you dudes the most… or ladies I suppose. 😉

But you know what? Even if I had been born with a fabulous derrière, I wouldn’t still have it today. Why? Because I’ve been a trucker for 17 years, that’s why. Here are 4 Reasons Truckers Don’t Have Butts. Pay attention here. This is life-altering stuff.

Truckers freeze their butts off

A couple of weeks ago I was in Grand Forks, North Dakota when it was colder than a Slushie brain freeze. My company has a rule that the truck must be left running if the temperature is below 20 degrees. They do this to keep the fluids from gelling up and causing starting issues. I had checked the weather when I went to bed and it was in the mid-20s, but I knew it would be dipping below 20 around 4 AM. My plan was to use the bunk heater until then, get up and start the truck, and go back to bed. I’ve done this countless times to save idle time (my top speed is based on idle time).

Unfortunately, my Weather Channel app got it wrong this time. By the time my alarm went off, it was already 14 degrees. Thankfully the truck started, but just about the time I fell back asleep, what must have been the most annoying sound known to man started screaming at me. The display on the dash said I had low coolant levels and the bright red “stop engine” light was on. Now usually that means the truck is about to shut the engine down to protect itself, so I bundled up as quick as I could, hopped out, and was immediately chilled to the bone thanks to the -33 degree wind chill.

The wind was blowing so stinkin’ hard that the hood slammed down on me while I was checking the oil! Thankfully, those puppies are made of fiberglass and not lead. Not that it would’ve mattered since I’m a tough-as-nails, macho kinda guy. I wound up having to turn the truck in the opposite direction to keep the stinkin’ hood open!

The oil level was fine, but the antifreeze was a bit low. I filled ‘er up, but sadly the mind-piercing alarm didn’t go off. Thankfully the truck kept running despite the “stop engine” light. The maintenance guy I had on the phone had me do some troubleshooting, but if I was out in that wind for more than five minutes at a time, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes for about 15 minutes. So basically, if I’d had a butt, it would’ve detached itself right there and scooted across the icy parking lot.

To make a long story short, I sat in a hotel all weekend until the local International dealer opened on Monday. I should’ve taken advantage of the down time and the quiet hotel room to put together a podcast/blog, but I honestly have a hard time staying off Netflix and Amazon Prime when I have free wifi. Turns out, a DEF injector had gotten clogged, probably due to getting too cold. Oops.

Another time, my truck broke down on I-494 near St. Paul, Minnesota in the dead of winter. That time, the motor died and I didn’t have a bunk heater in the truck. Due to the nasty weather and some nastier construction, it took the tow truck six hours to get to me. Despite me wearing my old cowboy-style, red long johns (complete with escape hatch) under my clothes and a coat, I was frozen to the core by the time I got rescued.

But we don’t need to have mechanical problems for truckers to freeze their butts off. We solo drivers have to fuel at least every other day. Team drivers probably do it every day. That means standing out in the cold for anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your fuel tanks. It could be even longer if you have to pump DEF. What’s up with those DEF pumps anyway? I could play a whole game of Monopoly before they’re done pumping!

Then there are the drivers who work outside. Flatbedders often have to freeze their buns off while they tarp or untarp loads. Tanker yankers usually have to walk around their trailer monitoring the off-load process. Even reefer drivers find themselves sweeping out a trailer that has been preset to freezing temperatures. Although to be honest, this is probably welcomed in the next reason truckers don’t have butts.

Truckers sweat their butts off

First, let’s take all those scenarios we just discussed; only during the summer months. Tanker drivers are now sweat-soaked while hooking up hoses or walking around their trailers hitting it with a rubber mallet. As for the flatbedders, The Evil Overlord and I once watched a guy sweating all over his tarps as he folded and stored them in 101-degree weather. No thanks.

As for fueling in the summer, you’ve also got the added time involved with scraping all those bug guts off your windshield. Even worse, if the truckstop doesn’t have long poles on their squeegees, you find yourself with the hood up and standing over a hot engine. Good times. Good times indeed.

Another reason a trucker might sweat their butt off is lack of air conditioning. Modern trucks are generally quite reliable, but still, one of the most common mechanical failures is a malfunctioning air conditioner.

Last summer I was asked to go rescue an abandoned truck from a truckstop. When I showed up, I discovered that the air conditioner was broken. The maintenance department swore they knew nothing about it. Since it wasn’t my truck, I wasn’t about to take it to an International dealer where I probably would’ve been sitting for 2-3 days.

It took three days to get back to the yard. The first night it was cool enough to sleep in the truck, but the second and third nights I had to get a hotel room, which the company gratefully paid for. After all, I was rescuing their stupid truck.

Another situation where a trucker might sweat their butt off is when you’re at a loading dock that doesn’t allow idling. Your company is too stinking cheap to install APUs, so you’re sweating like a mob boss on the witness stand, and as usual, the loader seems to be moving slower than a snail with a cane. Thanks buddy. May all your lugnuts fall off on your way home from work.

Or say you’re trying to sleep in a no-idling jurisdiction, but instead you’re tossing and turning in a pool of your own sweat. Or maybe you have to go sweep out your trailer after it’s been cooking in the sun all day. It’s like an oven filled with dirt, without the fun of mud pies.

Still, truckers not having butts doesn’t always have to do with the temperature.

Truckers work their butts off

Truckers are allowed by law to work 70 hours in 8 days, so that is exactly what most of them do. That 70 hours includes a combination of duties like; loading/unloading, vehicle inspections, fueling, and obviously, driving. How quickly your butt falls off depends on the type of work you do. Lazy bum OTR (Over-The-Road) van drivers like me have it easy most of the time. I rarely have to hand-unload anything any more (knock on wood).

LTL and local drivers likely aren’t that lucky. Beer, soda, or local food haulers are getting out of the truck multiple times a day, each time loading heavy cases of Budweiser or chicken fried steaks onto 2-wheel dollies, and into stores or restaurants. Maxing out a trucker’s 14-hour legal work limit per day is fairly common with local work too.

As we mentioned before, tanker pullers usually have to be present during the unload process and flatbedders are lugging heavy tarps up ladders and crawling around 15 feet in the air to make sure their freight is protected from the weather.

And then there is the regular wear-and-tear of driving for 11 hours per day. Non-truckers may be thinking, “They’re just driving. It’s not like they’re working hard.” Let me ask you; do you get tired when you take a long car ride? Well try doing that every day for 17 years. You’re right, it’s not physically hard; it’s mentally hard. Neither is much fun.

But you know what? Truckers don’t even have to be working to lose their butts.

Truckers talk your butt off

The image of the strong, silent trucker is a fallacy. We truckers love us some talking, as you can no doubt tell if you’re counting these words right now. It doesn’t take much to get us started either. Personally, I’ve been working on this.

I may have mentioned this before, but I used to talk waaaaay too much in social situations. I still don’t mind hearing my own voice, but I’m much more mindful of it after The Evil Overlord so graciously told me several times that I had monopolized a conversation earlier that evening. Actually, she’s not usually that nice. She’s more apt to say something loving like, “You should try shutting the f*** up every once in a while.” Who was the idiot that said truth in relationships is good? 😉

The truth is, truckers just often don’t know when to shut up. The Evil Overlord and I quickly learned not to say anything to truckers seating near us at truckstop restaurants. If you say one word to them, they take it as license to talk to you throughout your entire meal, even if we’re in the middle of a conversation ourselves.

Most talkative truckers that I’ve encountered just don’t seem to comprehend when someone is trying to escape. After a while, I’ll turn away from the blabbermouth like I’ve got somewhere to be, usually because I do. I’ve even taken a few steps away as he’s talking. Unfortunately, this rarely prevents a determined talker from closing the distance and continuing on with whatever boring topic he’s decided to enlighten you about. There have even been a few times when I’ve walked away with the guy still talking. I hate to be rude, but if he can’t pick up the cues that I’ve got crap to do, then so be it. It’s not like I’m ever going to run into Mr. Waggletongue again anyway.

I do understand that truckers are alone most of the time and therefore feel the need to connect with people. I truly do. I would just ask that you start paying attention to how interested your target seems to be and reign it in if his eyes start to glaze over. Trust me; it can be done. At least that what I keep telling myself.

And by the way, if you didn’t catch the drift, you don’t have to have your butt talked off by another driver, you can also talk your butt off to another driver. You’re one or the other, so either way your butt is vanishing as we speak.

So there you have it: 4 reasons truckers don’t have butts.

Now maybe you’re thinking that you’re the last living trucker to keep his/her butt intact; that somehow you’ve managed to avoid freezing, sweating, working, or having your butt talked off. Fine. But I wouldn’t get too cocky there, SuperTrucker. I guarantee you that if you keep at this trucking thing, you’ll eventually sit on your butt long enough to smash it in so much that it may as well have fallen off. If you don’t believe me, just check out my pooper the next time we meet.

So what did I miss? Are there other ways to lose your butt out here? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. I trust you passed elementary math, yes?

Additional links from the podcast version:

The Trucking Podcast with Buck Ballard and Don the Beer Guy

Erich McMann’s trucking music video

BigTruckGuide.com for axle weights and bridge laws

LoadingSpot.com is a website where truckers can rate shippers and receivers. Check it out!

Carl Reiner’s poem, “Ode to the Buttocks Bountiful”

Learn about DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid)

Learn about APUs (Auxiliary Power Units)

In the feedback section:

Dave is slightly pissed about TD44: The Split, yet he still somehow manages to cram my workout videos and Bugs Bunny into his email.

Andrew listened to TD57: Really? A Good Dispatcher? and writes in complaining about his crappy dispatcher. He also needs my help killing him.

I mention two guest posters who weren’t afraid to record their voice for the podcast. Kevin McKague encouraged us truckers to get off our lazy butts when he recorded TD88: You Can’t See America From The Trucker’s Lounge, while Englishman Sam Fisher added some class to the podcast by recording TD87: Five Tips For Sleeping Near A Busy Road in his awesome Yorkshire accent.

You can email your comments, suggestions, questions, or insults to TruckerDump@gmail.com

Got a second to Rate and/or Review the podcast?

Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein

Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?

TD102: What’s It Like To Be A Trucker?

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein.
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

Snowy RoadWell, I’m doing something a bit different today. I’m not writing anything here. I’m simply linking you to another bit of writing I did a while back. This was an interview I did for JobShadow.com. It has produced a lot of good comments from the readers so I’d thought I’d share it with those of you who are just too stinking lazy to go over there on your own. So if you want to know what it’s like to be a trucker, click here and enjoy. Or if you’d rather listen to the podcast version, which includes a lot of the comments and the answers I’ve given, just click that big ol’ Play button in that big black bar at the top of this post.

Click here to go to the JobShadow.com interview.

TD100: What Makes The Evil Overlord… Evil?

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://5nl9r.hosts.cx/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein.
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]
The Evil Overlord having lunch on a typical day

The Evil Overlord having lunch on a typical day

Y’all aren’t fooling me, you know. I’ve known it all along. The fact is, you don’t come to the Trucker Dump blog to hear my “…insights and sometimes humorous views of truck driving and the trucking industry.” You come hoping to hear some little morsel about the mysterious life of The Evil Overlord. Now I’ve tried to tell you she’s evil, but there are always doubters who assume I’m exaggerating. Well, I’m devoting my 100th blog post to satisfy us both. You will finally get to learn more about The Evil Overlord and I will once and for all prove that The Evil Overlord is in fact… evil.

For those of you new to the blog, The Evil Overlord is my wife of 20 years and my co-driver for 9 of those. Her real name is Lorinda, but this presents a problem. Having an odd name like Lorinda lends itself to people screwing it up. She’s been called Loren, Loranda, Lorinna, Loreena, LaManda, LaLinda, Dorinda, and every other name you can imagine that sounds even remotely close. People even say it wrong when they’re reading her name from a sheet of paper, for Pete’s sake. I just can’t fathom what’s so hard about it, but there you have it. I guess I’ll just chock it up to the fact that people can be dumber than a head of lettuce.

Perhaps a bigger problem is for kids. I first recognized this back when we were dating (before I realized she actually was The Evil Overlord… had I known at the time… hmmm). Our best friends at the time had a little girl who adored her. She’d sit in her lap for hours and stroke Lorinda’s hair, but she never could say her name right. No matter how hard we tried, it always came out as Ralinda. It was so cute though, we eventually just went with it.

Years later, after The Evil Overlord’s title was spawned, our nephews couldn’t pronounce it either. The first one, Jake, called her LaLeigh and it stuck with Jared and Joel too. I guess it’s just way easier to say with a mouthful of slobber. But now that the brats are 14, 12, and 8, and have graduated to actual human speech filled with what they perceive to be quick wit, they have taken to calling her LaFawndah (although she prefers to spell it LaFonda), which for those of you chained up in a basement, is a character in the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, which, by the way, is a hilarious quirky little movie. And for the record, The Evil Overlord is neither tall nor black, but apparently she is attracted to nerds.

There are only three categories of people who manage to call The Evil Overlord, Lorinda. One group are the peeps who know her casually. The second is the three lonely people she’s met in her 29 years cough who share the same name. The other, even smaller group did the nasty once and hatched her. Although her dad still insists that her real dad is in prison.

So enough about her name. She knows I call her The Evil Overlord and she embraces it wholeheartedly. It’s especially satisfying to her when the nephews call her that after she’s done something particularly evil. Which leads us nicely into the subject of today’s topic.

What exactly makes The Evil Overlord…evil?

Let’s start with the origin of the name.

When The Evil Overlord first wakes up, she can be as cranky as a centipede with bunions

I knew this by the time we were married. But I didn’t know the extent of it until she became my co-driver. Almost every afternoon when I’d holler back to her that it was time to get up, I’d hear a loud “NOOOOO!!!” Or perhaps I might be told to go someplace that is a lot hotter than heaven. The amount of curse words associated with this refusal to get up usually corresponded to the quality of the highways I’d driven that day. She usually stayed grumpy until she got a shower, which meant that the days we had to skip showers were never much fun. To this day, no one wants to wake her up… ever. And if you don’t believe how vicious she can be in the morning, just come over to my house and look at my three nephews sitting quietly on the couch until The Evil Overlord gets out of bed. Trust me. The only time they aren’t loud and obnoxious is when LaFonda is still asleep. Speaking of being in the truck…

I once woke up with a pillow on my face

Seriously, she was laughing maniacally as she held me down. She’s tried to convince me it was all in fun, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be alive if I weren’t just a tad bit stronger than her. 😉 Come to think of it, that might have been right around the time I bought that life insurance policy. And speaking of my head…

The Evil Overlord likes to drop stuff on my face while I’m sleeping 

The cooler lid that "accidentally" fell on me

The cooler lid that “accidentally” fell on me

It started innocently enough. When we were shut down for the day in the truck, I often went up on the top bunk to sleep so we could keep our driving schedule intact. Now being a woman, she always brought a bunch of crap that filled up the top bunk. We had a portable freezer/refrigerator (see photo for the exact model) up there along with a couple of large duffle bags, a dirty laundry bag, and I’m pretty sure I saw a fireplace up there once. Anyway, being a typical lazy man, I moved only enough stuff so I could lay down in a space as wide as my shoulders. That meant my head was right by the cooler. One day when she was trying to get something out of it without waking me up, the cooler lid came off its hinges and bonked me right on the forehead. She tried to apologize, but it was kind of hard while she was laughing her butt off. Apparently, my sleepy reaction when hit had been hilarious… at least to some people it was. From then on she would drop stuff on my face every now and then to see how I would react. Granted, I was thankful that it usually consisted of rolls of paper towels, toilet paper, clothing, or the occasional slightly heavier object, like a claw hammer. 😉 Keep in mind, this all comes from someone who hates to be woken up herself. Which brings me to…

She wakes me up for her amusement

If I had a quarter for all the times she’s done this to me, well, let’s just say my retirement fund would be a lot further along than it is. Here’s why she does it. I fall asleep quick. Real quick. She doesn’t. Yes, that is the full reason. If I get in bed five minutes before her, I’m usually snoring like a misfiring chainsaw by the time she walks into the room. She’ll walk over to my side of the bed, smack me on the forehead, and walk away as I’m hazily wondering what the heck just happened. Or if she’s already in bed, she prefers to give me an open-handed slap on the the chest.

She also loves it when she catches me sleeping with my mouth wide open. She thinks it’s fascinating to stick stuff down my throat and try to touch that flappy thingy that hangs down in the back. Naturally, this isn’t a very pleasant way to wake up. If I woke her up like this I’d be picking my teeth out of that little hangy-down flappy thingy.

At one rough period in our lives I was working 1 1/2 jobs and going to school. Because of this I had to sleep in two short shifts. When the mood would strike her, she’d anxiously wake me up and tell me I was late for either work or school, even when I wasn’t. I’d either panic and stumble out of bed or I’d wake up and start talking gibberish about something that wouldn’t even make sense to a mental patient. In the latter case, she would often ask me questions to keep the amusement going. Now if that isn’t evil, what is?

She willfully puts me in danger

Nearly every day in the truck she would make hot tea for one or both of us. She always put it in these styrofoam cups and lids we got by the megabox at Sam’s Club. To test the integrity of the lid’s holding power, she used to tilt the full cup of hot tea over my body while I sat in the driver’s seat. And this wasn’t a slight tilt either. I’d say a 45-degree angle was about par for the course. Thankfully, those lids never gave way. I’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank WinCup for their quality products.

She sics our cat on me

Meet Hammy; our demented, incest cat

Meet Hammy; our demented, incest cat

I’ll admit it. Our cat is a little crazy. Seriously. As in incest crazy. So the cat iiiiiiisn’t quite… right. Hammy is pretty big for a cat, too. And since he’s an outside cat most of the time, he’s super-powerful. The Evil Overlord once watched him jump from the patio railing up onto the roof of the house. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SuperCat! But since he’s usually outdoors, he also still has his front claws. One thing The Evil Overlord likes to do is to get him all hopped up on catnip and then put the laser pointer on my junk while I’m not looking. Needless to say, pandemonium ensues.

Now like I said said before, no one still wants to wake her up, even though she doesn’t seem to have a problem doing it to me and my nephews.

More torture while people sleep 

When kids get older, they want to watch scary movies or TV shows. The Evil Overlord is very selective, but she doesn’t mind letting them get a bit spooked. Nothing too gory or anything. Of course, it’s sometimes hard to get them to sleep in a dark room after they’ve been screaming like a bunch of little nieces. Often, just as she gets them calmed down, she starts to close the door and she’ll say something sweet like, “I love you guys… and never mind that werewolf that’s been creeping around outside.” More squeals ensue as the calmness utterly vanishes. Once they’re calmed down again, she’s been known to wait until they’re asleep and then she’ll go back for more jollies. Sometimes, she’ll bust the door open and start yelling through the megaphone the nephews got her for Christmas. I think it’s her favorite Christmas present ever. Other times she’ll just creep in quietly, lie on the floor, and reach up to one of their legs with a hairy, glow-in-the-dark glove with giant claws. Mind you, if you did this to her, you’d think a werewolf actually was in the house.

She just loves to scare kids 

We live waaaaay out in the stix. I mean the road to our house has tree branches over the top of the road and there are trees and bushes on both sides. At night, there isn’t a light in sight. It’s quite creepy really. One time she was in the car with her aunt and 7 year-old cousin. Kyle, who just so happened to be terrified of clowns. Last I heard, he still was and he’s in his twenties now. Well, she stopped suddenly and turned the ignition and lights off, pretending like the car had died. Then she jumped and yelled, “Did you see that clown?!!” Naturally, Kyle started wigging out. The Evil Overlord was sure her aunt would swoop in and stop her child from being tortured, but to her shock, she went right along with it. Needless to say, that kid was scared sh… well, let’s just say he probably didn’t have to poop for a while. As with most kids though, Kyle loved it. The Evil Overlord would often jump out and scare him. After he quit shaking and managed to pull himself off the floor, he’d yell, “DO IT AGAIN!!!!” Kids are weird. When Kyle was a teenager, she bought him an Insane Clown Posse T-shirt to rub the whole thing in.

Another thing she likes to do is wait until all the nephews are in the back of the house with Nanny (their grandma). Now by this time they were used to her jumping out at them and scaring them. So she started turning off the lights. They’ll all creep into the room and she’d always manage to be hiding exactly where they didn’t look. She’d scare the crap out of them and they’d all hate her for the next two minutes, including Nanny. Eventually, they learned to turn on the lights as they entered a room. But since she’s evil, she’s graduated to killing the power on the fuse box. I fully expect this to escalate to the boys carrying flashlights in holstered belts, 24/7.

The Evil Overlord alters the rules at her leisure

She plays the slug bug game, but we can’t punch her any more. She always spouts some nonsense about “boys shouldn’t ever hit girls.” What a crock. 😉 The rules are, she can either punch one of us or give her punches away. Naturally, having the power to issue extra punches tends to get her just about anything she wants. But I’m sure she’s never thought of that before. Pshhhht.

She also determines who can and cannot play the “Infinity” game. And if you try to argue with her verdict, she says, “You can’t play the Infinity game… Infinity.” After she wins a round (and she somehow always manages to win), she pinches the loser HARD. Usually right on the back of the arm. No fair! She’s the only one who’s got fingernails!

Not too long ago, she waited until the little punks were all in bed and under the covers, and then she busted in and unloaded on them with a fully-automatic AirSoft rifle, screaming, “Say hello to my leeeettle friend!” (And for the record, she did make sure they had their head under the blankets.) By the way, did I mention that shooting AirSoft guns in the house is strictly forbidden? Uh-huh. She does all this and we just accept it. And when I say “we,” I’m including myself in this nonsense. I have no clue why we allow this abuse. I think I need to see a shrink.

She tortures the nephews

After taking the boys past an old abandoned house down the road, she told them stories of the werewolves that live in our area. The youngest, who was 5 or 6 at the time, didn’t want to get eaten so The Evil Overlord convinced him he needed to do the wolf dance to appease them. This involved him getting naked, going outside, and running around in a circle three times while howling at the moon. It was a bit chilly outside, but I have video with full frontal to prove he did it. I’d love to post the hysterical video, but I hear the other inmates don’t treat you very well in prison if you post pictures of naked kids online. 😉

Another thing she does happens at Christmas. Ever since the boys were old enough to do it, she has set up a scavenger hunt to find the last of their presents. This is one of their favorite parts, not only because they get to run all over the place, but also because they have to answer a trivia question before they can proceed. Although this year, each member of the family silently acted out a room in the house where their next clue was. As you might expect, my pantomime involved squatting and grunting. Hey, this is called Trucker Dump you know! In the few Christmases that they were all at the right age, they would inevitably have to strip down to their boxers and go outside in the freezing cold (and sometimes snow) to rummage through someone’s car. Hey! It wasn’t our fault if they forgot to take the keys to the locked cars! I’m really not sure why these boys still like Christmas. I guess they’re just weird. Well, scratch that. I know they’re weird.

One of her latest tortures came when our oldest nephew, Jake, had his best friend over. We all got in the car and his friend said, “Play some good music!” Normally this is fine because The Evil Overlord calls herself the Magic DJ, as in, she has a knack for playing the right song for the mood. But in this instance, “All Out Of Love” by Air Supply came on at full blast. As we both sang at full volume, they all covered their ears and screamed like someone was ripping their toenails out. After it was over, they were all groaning about how horrible it was. But they were soon drowned out by the Bee Gees doing “Tragedy.” I have to admit, it was pretty awesome.

Another time, she caught Jake’s friend sleeping with his hand down his pants. She’s holding that picture as blackmail along with the many compromising snapshots of our nephews. By the way, every friend Jake has brought out to the house so far is now totally in love with The Evil Overlord. At least that’s what Jake says. From the embarrassed look on their faces when I ask them if it’s true, I’d say Jake is right.

She’s an intstigator

Any time there are shinannigans in our family, you can bet your little brother’s life that The Evil Overlord is behind it. In the intro to the last podcast, TD99: 4 Ways to Be an Awesome Trucker, you may remember that when I got home on New Year’s Eve, I was attacked by four masked men with AirSoft rifles. Yea. My nephews and their friends didn’t think of that. That was The Evil Overlord’s idea, which, of course was enthustically embraced. And for those you who only read the blog, well, see what you’re missing by not listening to the podcast version? 😉 Hey, it’s not too late. That PLAY button is still hanging out up there at the top of this post.

Another thing she likes to instigate is bathroom cruelty. Now you’d think that me and my three nephews would already be doing this, but oddly enough we never remember to. Never fear though, The Evil Overlord is always happy to remind us that “so-and-so” is in the shower and there is lots of cold water in the kitchen sink. She usually plans well enough in advance to have enough time to suggest ice in the water too. Such a planner, she is. Last time I was home, I doused Joel (the youngest) while he was showering. He was quite pissed at his Nanny for letting me sneak up on him. But as you might have guessed, it’s usually me who’s the victim of these frozen showers. And of course, she’s exempt from this because she’s a girl. The thought of seeing The Evil Overlord naked is petrifying to the boys. And as for me doing the honors, well, personally I like having a sex life.

She preys on people’s stupidity

Any time we step out of the car for any reason, we always have trouble getting back in. We all know this, but we continue to do it. Recently, Jared asked The Evil Overlord to pull over because he left his iPod in the trunk. As soon as he got to the opened truck, she pulled up a few feet. And again. And again. Hey, he knew better. Sometimes she’ll be nice and wait to pull forward until we open the door to get back in. Oddly enough, they all still want her to drive everywhere. Although that could possibly have something to do with me needing to protect my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), while The Evil Overlord tries to launch the car into outer space on a hilly road or does surprise “brake checks” that test the tensile strength of their seat belts.

But undoubtedly, the best example of her preying on human stupidity happened to yours truly. This story is told at every family gathering and it never fails to bring everyone to hysterics. She’ll actually tell anyone who will listen. Here’s the situation. The Evil Overlord, her dad, and her mom, were waiting for me out in the driveway. Now it’s important to note that they were in her parent’s car. More on why that’s important in a bit.

You know how you do that thing where you hit the interior garage door opener and walk out of the garage before the door closes? Yea. I was gonna do that. Of course, we all know you have to step over the laser beam safety feature so the door doesn’t go back up. Well, I did that like I always did, but the door started going back up. I looked over at them, shrugged, and went back to do it again. This time I ran faster and jumped higher. I was sure I had cleared it, but the door starting rising again. I looked over at them again and this time all of them were looking at me with puzzled faces.

What I didn’t know, was that as soon as The Evil Overlord had seen what I was going to do, she quietly chuckled, turned to her parents and said, “Watch this.” Her dad said, “Watch what?”  She pointed to the garage door opener she held in her lap. Apparently, this brought on fits of laughter from all of them. Now if you know The Evil Overlord’s family, there isn’t a quiet laugher in the bunch. They all laugh with loud guffaws and their heads tossed back, which makes this story even more amazing. Somehow they all managed to subdue their laughter and put on straight faces by the time I made my first jump. But every time I walked back into the garage, they busted up, only to miraculously recover by the time I looked over again.

I just couldn’t understand how I could keep hitting the laser because each time I ran faster and jumped higher, all while ducking low enough to avoid hitting my head on the descending garage door. Well, after the 4th or 5th jump, I eventually smelled a rat. I looked at her with disgust and yelled, “Do you have the garage door opener?!!” The Evil Overlord and her evil parents all looked at me with confusion and then she shook her head “no.”

Now here’s where the stupidity kicks in. I should have known better, but they all looked so serious and concerned that I assumed they were telling the truth. I mean, they weren’t in my pickup truck after all. They were in her parent’s car. Why would they have our garage door opener? And while I could see The Evil Overlord or her dad pulling this kind of prank, I could not see her mom going along with it. I mean, she’s always been on my side before. I still call her a traitor for this incident, which of course, only makes her head toss back with more guffaws of laughter. Traitor.

Well, I’d say my stupidity lasted another 4 or 5 jumps. By the time it was all over, I was trying all sorts of jumping, from curling up in a cannonball position to doing a scissor kick jump like I was trying to clear a high jump pole in a face-down position. I swear at one time my body was completely parallel to the ground, yet that blasted door just kept raising. And I was getting pissed. They somehow managed to keep their composure until the very end when I walked up to the car. Then they busted out. I somehow find this funny now, but I don’t recall thinking that way at the time.

This past Christmas, this fiasco was being told again. Yes, amongst the same people who always hear the story. The nephews were getting a kick out of it too. I tried to play it off when I said, “Yea. That was pretty funny.”
The Evil Overlord said, “You didn’t think it was funny at the time. You called me a mean bitch.” To which I calmly responded, “Well… you are a mean bitch.” More guffaws. For some reason, this struck Jake as particularly funny. He just couldn’t stop laughing, even after everyone else had stopped. I guess that’s what happens when a non-cusser suddenly drops the B-word. I still consider this incident to be the pinnacle of her evil career. Well, there might be one other incident, but it’s far from print-worthy. Even the Trucker Dump won’t go there.

The Evil Overlord is obsessed with people’s butts 

I’ll warn you now. There is something wrong with The Evil Overlord’s family. Every time anyone bends over in front of her, you hear the words “CREDIT CARD SWIPE” as you feel a straight-fingered hand swipe up your butt crack. Trust me, while the credit card swipe sucks, it’s much better than the old-style “jab your finger straight at it” move. The woman always had a surprising ability to hit the “sweet spot” on the first jab. I always felt like I needed to file a police report after each instance. Apparently, she learned this violation of personal space from her mother and is merely passing on a tradition. And for the record, I don’t think anyone is exempt from the credit card swipe. She’s done it to the boys, her cousin, her aunt and uncle, me, my sister, my brother, and even my mom, who was quite surprised when it happened. Frankly, I don’t know why that shocked her since she’s known The Evil Overlord for over 20 years. About the only one who isn’t subjected to the dreaded credit card swipe is her dad, because, well, let’s face it… no one wants to get any where near his butt. Speaking of butts…

She doesn’t allow farting around her

Believe it or not; she is actually evil enough to be able to enforce this rule… with three boys in the house (four if you count the 45 year-old boy). Whenever one of us has to let one fly, we always go into another room. And we’re also careful to make sure it doesn’t follow us back into the room either. Sure, there’s more methane in the air than on a cattle farm when she’s not around (boys will be boys), but we’re also always careful not to do it when we know she’s almost home. That’s because she can smell a 5-minute-old air biscuit as soon as she walks into a room. Seriously. Now in her defense, she doesn’t have this rule just to be cruel. She just so happens to be one of those “super-smeller” people who’s sniffer is about 10 times as strong as the average bloodhound. And of course, this rule doesn’t apply to her either. She’s more than happy to bust one in our faces when none of us are expecting it.

Now if all of this hasn’t convinced you of The Evil Overlord’s evilness, perhaps you’ll believe it coming straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ll rest my case with this text message exchange. But you know; despite all her evil tendencies, I think the nephews and I will keep her. If for nothing else, for the challenge of one of us taking her down in the Infinity game.

Proof of evil

Proof of evil

TD98.5: Casting Call For New TV Show About Team Trucking

[box]Sorry, but there is no podcast version of this blog post. It’s a shorty, so I will be covering this topic in the introduction of the next Trucker Dump podcast.[/box]

Are you a team trucker? Want to see your mug on TV? Well here’s your chance. The same company that brought you American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance is now accepting applications for a new show about team truck driving. Here’s how you can toss your name in the hat (press release):

NOW CASTING NATIONWIDE: TRUCKING COUPLES!

Do you work together to make sure your load arrives on time and in one piece? Do the challenges on the open road test the strength of your relationship? Are you one of those lucky truckers who gets to spend hours on the open road with the person you love?

A major cable network and major production company are searching for trucking couples for a new documentary television show that follows them as they navigate the road and their relationship. Most people enjoy road trips, but the challenges facing truck drivers can put a strain on anyone – especially when your significant other is along for the ride!

We are searching for all types of couples (married or dating; young or old; all ethnicities / sexual orientations) who will show us the reality of life when partnered on the great American road! No matter how long you’ve been together, as long as you’re with your significant other and on the road, we want to hear from you!

Please submit the following to TruckerCouplesCasting@gmail.com

1.    Name

2.    Contact Info (Phone and Email)

3.    Home Location

4.    Recent photos of you and your partner

5.    A brief paragraph describing yourself, your partner and life on the road (routes driven, time spent away from home, common challenges, etc.)

**Once you submit your information, a casting producer may contact you with more information (production company, casting process, etc.)**

Okay folks, Todd here again. Here’s the thing. If you want to be on this show, you need to act fast. Applications will be received through the end of January, but they would prefer to get them sooner. So in other words, don’t procrastinate like I did posting this sweet opportunity. Hop on it now and nip it in the bud!

TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]
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.”

Here’s the thing I just don’t get. The average solo trucker drives approximately 120,000 miles each year. I actually ran about 127,000 last year. All of those miles are done while sitting in the driver’s seat. Yes, the driver’s seats in these trucks are highly adjustable to make the long hours of driving tolerable. Yes, they have air-ride suspension to keep you from feeling like Superman punched you in the tailbone every time your load takes you on US69 near Stringtown, Oklahoma. But even with all that, why in the name of Zeus’ hemorrhoids would you want to spend even one more second in that seat when you don’t have to?

Now sure, I understand that team drivers have more of an excuse to be welded to the driver’s seat.

Maybe your co-driver is getting out of bed and you don’t want to see his great-hairy-chasm-of-a-butt-crack sticking out of his tidy-whities. Can’t say as I blame you there. Or maybe your co-driver is your wife and you actually do want to see her backside, but she’s meaner than a giraffe with strep throat when she first wakes up; meaning you’d have a better chance of getting lucky with said giraffe than with her. Not that I have any experience in this whatsoever. *clears throat* Anywho…

Another scenario when you might need to occupy the driver’s seat is when you’re shut down and your co-driver is trying to sleep. Since The Evil Overlord and I always tried to keep on a set schedule, this used to happen to us a lot, especially when the economy took a kamikaze-worthy nose-dive in 2008. I used to put my TV in the passenger seat and sit sideways in the driver’s seat for hours while playing video games on my Playstation 3. After all, the giraffe… errrr, wife needed her sleep if I were to keep her from waking up tired and smiting the world with her mighty hand. I tried to be super quiet up there, but even with the curtain closed The Evil Overlord would often wake up when she’d hear me cussing under my breath or feel the truck moving as I shook my controller in frustration. LOL Hey, what can I say? Some of those games are friggin’ hard! Still, I didn’t sit in the driver’s seat because I wanted to. Like I said, I had the fate of the world in my hands.

Now that I’m a solo driver, I’ve got absolutely no good reason to sit in the driver’s seat when I’m shut down… therefore, I don’t.

When I start my day, I do my 3 B’s (breakfast, Bible, and bended knee) in the bunk area, where I’ve got a nice little desk to eat and read on. The bed makes an excellent place for the bended knee part, too. If I stop for lunch, I hop in the bunk area and eat back there if I have time. If not, I make my traditional peanut butter and jelly sammich and then eat on the run. If I’m picking up or delivering a load, I vacate the driver’s seat and go lounge on the bed with my feet propped up. At the end of my driving shift, I’m required to log a 5-minute post-trip inspection. A walk-around inspection only takes about 2 minutes, so I just do paperwork or hop on Twitter for a few minutes. But once that 5 minutes is up and hit the button on my retarded e-log unit, I’m outta the driver’s seat and sitting on the nice soft bunk while I make yet another bowl of soup while watching a DVD and ignoring the fact that I have a podcast due.

The fact is, I spend waaaaaay too much time in the driver’s seat already. If you want a really good look at the shape of my butt (and who wouldn’t), just look at the driver’s seat, because there are some super-lifelike butt-prints there. Good thing butt-prints aren’t like fingerprints, else there’d be a heck-of-a-lot of identity theft in the trucking industry. LOL And by the way, if you’re sniff-testing your newly-assigned truck for hidden cigarette smoke, I’d advise against putting your nose right up against the driver’s seat. Anywhere but the driver’s seat. You have been warned.

So what’s up with this obsession of the driver’s seat?

Why do so many of you drivers choose to spend your off-duty hours sitting in a seat where you already spend so much time? And why the heck are you all staring into space? These are serious questions that I really want to know the answer to. I think about it every time I walk into the truck stop and see drivers sitting there and watching the world go by. What is so stinkin’ fascinating about seeing me walk into the truck stop or watching the guy down the way back into a parking spot? I just don’t get it. And lastly, why on earth would you spend even one extra second in a seat that’s been farted in more times than OMG has been texted by teenagers?

*Please help to ease my troubled mind. Leave your excuses for living in the driver’s seat below.*

TD75: Who’s A Trucker?

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?

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

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?

TD68: Guest Post: This Is The Life. We All Have To Be Somewhere. This Is My Life. By Jean McHarry

Hey! Todd here. Yes. I know you were expecting me, but I won’t be the one entertaining you today. Let me explain. You and I both know I’m a blabbermouth, but sometimes I just don’t know what to say about a particular subject. I had one of those cases back in July of 2010 with a post called Riding Along with a Trucker.

This post was written due to a question I got from Lucinda, a woman who was planning on riding along with her trucker husband, but only as a passenger. She was asking for advice. Well, I’ve never done that and neither had The Evil Overlord, so I enlisted the help of a couple of Twitter friends. Patty, a.k.a. @luv18wheels and @CB_SnowAngel (who apparently has given up on Twitter) gave some sound advice, but I knew I’d want more eventually. That’s how we arrived today at my first guest post.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

I don’t plan on doing this a lot, but I thought I knew someone who could both answer the question better than I could and reach meet my required level on the Snark-O-Meter. Recently, I decided to hit up Jean McHarry, a.k.a the infamous @raysunshine77 on Twitter. She’s a first class smart aleck on Twitter and she always cracks me up with her sarcastic sense of humor. I’m also beginning to wonder if she’s a long-lost sister of The Evil Overlord. After much manipulation (I lied and told her I liked her), she finally acquiesced. I think you’ll be glad she did. She did a bang-up job on what she admitted was her first writing assignment since high school. I’ll let her introduce herself. That’s her standing next to her devastatingly handsome husband. Love that macho mustache. Hey, wait a second…

This is the life. We all have to be somewhere. This is my life.

By Jean McHarry

Don’t call me a seat cover! Don’t assume I’m a lot lizard! Don’t disrespect me because you don’t want women taking away a man’s job! Don’t accuse me of not having knowledge of this industry because I ride! Don’t ask me to run away with you cause you have a bigger, badder truck! And for the love of all that is chrome, don’t ask me to move the stupid truck!

I have driven, I’ve dispatched, I’ve loaded and unloaded trailers and I’ve run a truck stop. DOT assumes I’m a driver and will sometimes ask for my log book. I have to produce paperwork to show that I am allowed to be here, that I won’t do anything that would be considered work and I pay for this privilege. I love my life, I love being out here on the road. I enjoy every aspect of being a truck driver except I don’t drive the truck and let’s make this clear, I don’t want to drive the truck and no one is going to make me.

My husband has diesel running through his veins. He says it’s all he ever wanted to do (that’s a small lie, he also wanted to be a train engineer or a boat captain) and I believe it’s all he’ll ever do. I enjoy being out here. I love going new places, meeting new people and just being a little bit of a gypsy. Waking up someplace new and not knowing where I’m going to be tomorrow is a thrill that I truly appreciate. I am a passenger. That’s all I want to be.

I call myself a rolling assistant because I do more than just sit here and look pretty. I spend about a quarter of my time playing navigator. Between maps (both truck and city versions), a functional GPS, the company’s routing, the local directions, and my notes on the local directions, I can tell where we’ve been, where we’re at, where we need to be going and just how long it should take to do it all. This knowledge also helps me with keeping an eye on the weather. Twitter really has been my best friend in this endeavor. Those up to the minute updates that tell me it’s raining in Texas helped a whole lot when we were dealing with blizzards in Buffalo. I keep track of loads and payroll, keep up on all relevant news and generally just keep him company.

I cook. That sounds so simple when you type it. Is there any way to make it simple in the truck? We don’t have a refrigerator, so storage of perishables must be done in a cramped cooler that also holds our water. Canned goods have one cabinet available to them and it can’t be opened without something landing on a foot or head. I carry a crock pot, a lunchbox (it’s shaped just like those old lunch boxes your dad took to work and functions kind of like a crock pot) and an electric skillet. One of these days when I find room, I want a rice cooker but at this point something else has to move out for it to have a home.

We try to eat out of the truck for 18 out of 21 meals. Sometimes we accomplish this, most weeks it’s closer to 14 out of 21. Sometimes, we just need out of the truck. It’s not like eating dinner at the house. Imagine you had to eat every meal with your spouse in the bathroom (just throw a mattress over the tub and put the lid down on the toilet). At some point, you would need a break. Restaurants have so much more space and other people to help carry on conversations. These two luxuries can make a really long day seem like a vacation. Because when there are just two of you, there is only so much to be said and quite frankly if he asks me one more time “whatcha doing?”, I might hit him with a tire thumper.

I clean. That’s another one of those things that sounds so simple but is never as simple as you want it to be. Mirrors need to be cleaned. Glass on both the inside and the outside. Dusting (I hate dust and in a truck, the stuff just reappears the moment you knock it off). To sweep and mop (something I try to do every other day) requires half the truck be picked up and put someplace else while I accomplish such an easy task. The cooler (loaded down with ice, half a case of water and whatever perishables have been purchased for the week), the crock pot, the lunchbox oven, the trash can, 4 pairs of boots, 3 pairs of tennis shoes and the rugs. They must go somewhere. I just wish I knew where. The bed is already loaded down with luggage, a shower bag, my purse, laundry baskets, and a dozen bags of other stuff that one of these days will eventually find a home. Once the floors are all pretty, it all has to be put back. At least until bedtime. Then everything has to be moved back up front so we can sleep.

My goal is to try to make his load a little lighter, especially since I increase the weight of the truck (I have to bring a lot of stuff). Didn’t you see all the stuff I just mentioned? I’d like to have so much more, but there will never be room and I probably wouldn’t use it if I finally got it in here. My resolution each year is to try that whole minimalistic lifestyle. One of these years, it’s gonna happen. Trust me.

I spend my day trolling for news articles to read to him. I download podcasts that we both enjoy to kill the hours of driving. There is only so much music and news you can listen to in an 11 hour day. Even less now, since every hour the whole thing seems to repeat. We joke, we tease, we argue, we repeat.

I spend a huge chunk of my day online. I harass people I’ve never met (and some I never will) on Twitter. I stalk people I do know on Facebook. I farm and tame the frontier. I troll truck driving and cooking forums. He used to complain that I spent most of my day on the computer and phone. He’d ask what could I possibly be doing that would waste 7 hours a day. Why wasn’t I looking at the beautiful scenery and enjoying just relaxing while he drove? Why wasn’t I paying more attention to what was going on around us? That’s what he does. Why couldn’t I do that? I tried to explain.

From my side, with no vehicle to control, just looking at scenery that I’ve seen 100 times isn’t entertaining. It’s like staring at a wall. Now when we go home, I drive. That’s 8 to 12 hours, depending on who we are going to visit. He whines the whole time that he’s bored. I tell him to relax and enjoy the scenery, pay more attention to what’s going on around us. That’s how I get new toys.

I’d like to say we are unique, but that wouldn’t be true. I know plenty of couples out here that are in the same boat we are; one drives and one rides. Anybody that has met him will ask how I spend 24/7 with him. I am heavily medicated. All kidding aside, we love each other and we take care of each other and we are co-dependent on each other. We’ve spent time apart. I didn’t like it. He didn’t like it. I respect couples that team. I respect women that stay at home while their husband is out here on the road. I’ve been there, done that and I don’t plan on going back.

Todd here again. Please leave your comments and/or questions here and I’ll make sure Jean sees them. You can also contact her directly through Twitter @raysunshine77, email her at janedean77@yahoo.com, or check out her Facebook page. I hear she also doesn’t mind the occasional stalker. 😉

TD59: A Trucker’s Home

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.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

I was reminded of this 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 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.

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 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. 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.

TD57: Really? A Good Dispatcher?

Okay. Let’s start this out by explaining something to my non-trucking readers. You drivers out there can zone out for a second. As if you weren’t doing that already.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sure, a dispatcher needs to know what they are doing. They need to know the rules. They need to try to fight to get you pulled off the crappy loads. They need to try to get you home when you requested. But that’s not what makes a great dispatcher. First and foremost, they need to have the ability to listen, understand, and remain calm.

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by mboperator via Flickr

TD52: Non-Truckers: Don’t Take It For Granted

As I’ve stated before in “Why I do this,”  one of the main reasons I have an online presence is to inform non-truckers what it’s like to live as an Over-The-Road trucker. Sure, bad days can come off sounding a bit whiny sometimes, but the idea is not to gain sympathy. The plan is to help people stop and think when they’re around trucks. From what my non-trucker friends tell me, it’s been working.

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
Or enter http://abouttruckdriving.com/truckerdump.xml into your favorite podcast app.
Download the intro/outro songs for free! courtesy of Walking On Einstein
Mystery Feedback Song – Only a cheater would click this before listening to the podcast! You aren’t a cheater, are you?[/box]

Driving a truck isn’t the hard part of trucking. Living the life is. Once you learn how to drive the monster truck on steroids, the actual driving is usually a pleasure. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the desert, a hillside full of fall foliage in the Northeast, or a glimpse of Lake Coeur d’ Alene in Northern Idaho never gets old. It also helps not to have a boss who is constantly trying to catch you surfing the web instead of working.

Of course, there’s also the threat of crossing snow-covered Rocky Mountains, fighting rush hour traffic, and the very existence of New York City, which is about as much fun as a titty-twister from a professional arm wrestler. Still, the majority of time it beats staring at a cubicle wall and kissing some jerk’s buttocks day after day.

So what exactly is so hard about the trucking life? It’s the little things that most non-truckers rarely, if ever, think about. For instance,

When was the last time you:

  • had to wonder if your shower was going to have hot water?
  • had to worry about having good water pressure in that shower?
  • had to worry about even getting a shower?
  • had to get dressed in the middle of the night to take a leak, or worse?
  • had to blow a non-family member’s pubic hair off your toilet seat?
  • had to brush your teeth while smelling someone else’s butt funk or five someone else’s?
  • couldn’t easily get to a hospital when you were puking up something that resembles cottage cheese and hot dog chunks?
  • had to be a contortionist to make your bed?
  • were up all day and were then told you need to drive 500 miles?
  • got out of your vehicle and the parking lot smelled like boiling urine?
  • tried to pass a vehicle for 5 minutes before you gave up and got back behind the freak with the fickle right foot?
  • couldn’t find a place to park?
  • had to sleep in a pool of your own sweaty B.O.?
  • couldn’t sleep because your toes felt like they’d been dipped in liquid nitrogen?
  • got bad directions, cursed, missed your turn, cursed, and couldn’t turn around for 10 miles, cursing the whole time?
  • were woke up and solicited by a hooker? Sorry men. Dreams don’t count.
  • were separated from your spouse for over a week… and that happened every month?
  • were forced to have a marital spat over the phone?
  • missed your child’s big event because you were in another state delivering a load of really important ketchup packets?
  • had to post a “Beware of falling objects” sign in your vehicle to remind you every time you open a cabinet door?
  • couldn’t get to a Starbucks when you really, really, really needed a fix?
  • realized that your restaurant choices were limited to where you could park?
  • had to get out of your vehicle 10 times just to back into a parking space? And you weren’t 16-years-old.
  • had to drive up a painstakingly long 6-mile hill at 25 miles per hour?
  • had to drive down a painstakingly long 6-mile hill at 25 miles per hour?
  • were told you couldn’t drive any further until you got a nose-hair-sized crack in your windshield repaired?
  • had to account for every 15-minute period of your day?
  • had to sit for 10 hours just 15 miles from home because the Department of Transportation has deemed that it’s too dangerous to drive another 15 minutes?
  • had to live in a room the size of a walk-in closet, sometimes with another crabby person?
  • had to sleep in a bouncing bed? On second thought, don’t answer that.
  • had to pack a suitcase to go to work?
  • had to do 15 loads of laundry in 30 hours? I should have bought stock in April Fresh Tide years ago.
  • had to pay twice as much as another driver for the exact same traffic violation?
  • were issued a DUI after one beer? CDL holders can be; because we all know that the type of plastic card you hold makes all the difference in how your body handles booze.
  • had to fuel at a particular station, even if the lines were longer than an NBA star’s criminal record?
  • had to take a particular route to work, even if it took longer than the way you’d prefer to go?
  • had to cancel a vacation because your employer couldn’t get you home in time?
  • were told you could go home on Friday afternoon, but you didn’t actually get there until the following Thursday?
  • got a 30-hour weekend after working for 3 or 4 weeks?
  • said “TGIF” and it actually meant something?
  • had a friend that didn’t involve an Internet connection?

I rest my case for now. I urge my non-trucking readers to appreciate the normal lives that they lead. Your life may seem mundane at times, but please don’t take it for granted. When you’re on your way to your weekend golf game or a baby shower, remember the truckers that are en route to the docks at Golfsmith and Babies-R-Us. Hopefully, those thoughts carry over into the weekdays too.

To the folks out there who are considering driving a truck for a living, I’d like you to think long and hard about what you’re getting into. While it’s true that you’ll never really know if you’re cut out for the trucking life until you’re actually doing it, you can do everything in your power to be informed before you try to enter the industry.

Talk to truckers. Read about trucking. Ride along with a trucker for a week or more if you can manage it. Whatever you do, please don’t get into trucking without careful consideration. The last thing we need out here is another whiny trucker. Just follow me on Twitter if you don’t believe me. 🙂

So, what is it that I missed? What do you think people shouldn’t take for granted? Let us all know by leaving a comment. And please pass this post along to all your non-trucking friends. Who knows? Maybe they’ll started giving us truckers a bit more consideration out on the road. Thanks.