truck parking

How To Find Semi Truck Parking

The following article was written by STOW IT, an online marketplace for car, boat, trailer, RV and semi storage.

This is not a paid advertisement for STOW IT. I just think this is a really good concept to help truckers find parking. Think of STOW IT as the Airbnb of trucking.

There are people out there who have property big enough to park 18-wheelers, but the space is going unused. Meanwhile, truckers are having a heck-of-a-time finding truck parking.

Well, STOW IT hooks up these truckers and property owners. While it only seems to be available near some major cities in Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas at present, I think it would be great if they were to succeed and expand to more locations across the United States. Best of luck to the

The pain in all trucker’s existence: parking. This issue has persistently been a top-ranking concern for truckers over many decades. There have been many attempts to tackle this problem but very few promising outcomes. Many find themselves asking “what will it take for this industry to have better options for parking?”

Top Factors Causing Parking Shortages

Safety

All truckers are aware of the safety issues surrounded by parking, whether long-term parking or daily parking. There are too many stories about tragic deaths related to unsafe truck parking, some that have even passed laws to try and combat these situations. Jason’s law was created after the tragic death of a trucker who was shot and killed after he was forced to park under unsafe conditions due to the lack of accessible parking. This law has tried to regulate truck parking by improving existing parking infrastructure and promote the availability of all private and public parking options.

Awareness

Industry experts believe that the problem doesn’t stem from lack of spaces but rather lack of knowledge and awareness of these available spaces and how to access them. Many yards and other trucking options are available all over the United States, but there are very few efforts to market and create awareness of these spaces.

ELD Requirements

ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) have required all drivers to digitally log their records of service (ROS) and hours of service (HOS). This is a huge switch from what was previously the industry standard- the honor system. This requirement has put stricter supervision on the driver’s schedule and makes it almost impossible to break any hours-of-service rules. The ELD enforcement has held drivers accountable for rest times by forcing them to find parking.

Finding Semi Truck Parking

There are a few already existing options available to help find parking for semi-truck drivers. For daily parking, the most widely used option are the chain semi parking companies- Loves and Pilot Flying J. These truck stops provide many amenities on top of daily parking including fueling, food, showers, Wi-Fi, etc. Most truck drivers utilize these options for daily parking or general short-term parking. Long-term semi-truck parking is less commercialized and generally harder to find. STOW IT provides many options for monthly or long-term semi parking. STOW IT finds individuals and companies with the space available to store semi-trucks for longer periods of time. These spots can be found on STOW IT’s website and all booking and payments are processed through the website as well.

What is STOW IT

STOW IT is an online marketplace for car, boat, trailer, RV and semi storage. We help connect companies and individuals that have extra spaces like facilities, garage, land, and barns to others that need vehicle storage. We offer benefits like payment processing, handling evictions, and guaranteeing your payments. Learn more about STOW IT.

If you are interested in working with us, drop us a line at info@stowit.com or call us at (844) 478-6948.

TD143: Coronavirus Trucking

Podcast Show Notes

Well, you can probably guess what today’s podcast is all about, and unfortunately it ain’t fluffy kittens. Nope, for today’s main topic I’ll be rebroadcasting an episode of the Payload Podcast where JT Peters talks to an epidemiologist about Coronavirus and how it relates to us truckers.

But before that, we’ve got lots of news on how this pandemic is affecting the trucking industry; including suspended and forced rules, how truckers are gaining new respect, and some clarification on the $2.2 trillion stimulus plan. And of course, what you should do if you think you’ve got the virus.

But it’s not all about the Corona. We’ve got an update on new HOS rules, autonomous trucks, truck parking, and new high-tech maintenance ideas. Also, a major data breach and tips for being in an accident.

In the feedback segment, we’ll talk about ignorant commenters, under 21 truckers, tailgating, and kitchen utensils.

Listen to the podcast version or read the full article and the podcast show notes on AboutTruckDriving.com or search for Trucker Dump in your favorite podcast app.

Be sure to check out the 25% off ebook combo pack for Trucking Life and How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job while you’re there.

This episode of Trucker Dump is sponsored by:

Links mentioned in the podcast:

Paccar Recalls 35,671 Peterbilt Trucks for Fire Risk from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Worldcometers COVID-19 statistics

Multiple Hits to Economy Likely to Trigger Recession, Analysis Shows from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Chinese Plants Ramp Up Again as Rest of World Reels from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Senate OKs Historic $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Rescue Package from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

All You Wanted To Know About Those Tax Stimulus Checks But Were Afraid To Ask from Forbes.com

US Department of Transportation Expands National Emergency Declaration for Commercial Vehicles Delivering Relief in Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak from FMCSA.gov

Frequently Asked Questions Related to the FMCSA Emergency Declaration 03/19/2020 from FMCSA.gov

States Suspend Weight Limits for Trucks Involved in Coronavirus Relief from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

FMCSA demands truck stops must stay open 24 hours from TruckNews.com

FMCSA waives CDL, medical certification renewal regs until June 30 from OverdriveOnline.com

Risk Remains Low for Coronavirus Transmission on Packages from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Step by step: What you can do if you suspect COVID-19 symptoms on the road from OverdriveOnline.com

Options on the road for a speedy coronavirus consult from OverdriveOnline.com

Showers of Praise Greet Busy Truckers from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

How America Is Thanking Truckers During the Coronavirus Crisis from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

CVSA Postpones Roadcheck Due to Coronavirus Crisis from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

TWIC card now satisfies requirements for hazmat endorsement from OverdriveOnline.com

Final Trucking HOS Rule Sent To White House For Approval from TheTruckersReport.com

Truck Parking Bill Could Mean $755 Million For New FREE Truck Parking from TheTruckersReport.com

Starchy Robotics ends remote truck experiment, shuts down operations from FreightWaves.com

Autonomous Tech Company Locomotion Signs Deal With Wilson Logistics from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

TuSimple Expands Autonomous Trucking Program With UPS from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

How Smart Tire Technology Is Changing Fleet Management from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Fleets Move Toward Predictive Maintenance to Prevent Breakdowns, Reduce Expenses from ttnews.com (Transport Topics)

Trucking Law: When trying to help at accident scene can hurt you instead from OverdriveOnline.com

News roundup, Feb. 27: TQL data breach potentially exposed carriers’ bank account numbers from OverdriveOnline.com

Check out the Payload Podcast and subscribe!

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Map from Johns Hopkins University

Links mentioned in the Feedback segment:

Greg tells us about his 20-year old pots and pans that he uses to cook in the truck. They have folding handles, which is perfect for small storage space like the cab of a semi. You can buy them on Amazon using this affiliate link.

Scott enjoyed listening to TD142: Being An Expedited Truck Driver but he writes about some hateful comments made about TD95: 4 Reasons That Trucker Might Be Tailgating You. He believes that I shouldn’t give haters the time of day by sharing their vile comments on the podcast. What say you?

New listener Rico also shares his thoughts on TD95: 4 Reasons That Trucker Might Be Tailgating You.

Zachary tells us about learning to drive truck at an early age and relates it to the current under-21 debate.

Show info:

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

Join the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group

Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at TruckerDump@gmail.com

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

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

TD125: Reserved Truck Parking: Convenience or Exploitation?

We’ve all heard that there is a shortage of truck parking. Truckers deal with it every day. The public can see it as we’re lined up on interstate on and off ramps and crammed into Walmart parking lots. The government has done the research to prove the problem is real.

And of course, the truck stop owners know it. So what’s their answer to the problem? Hey, I have an idea! Let’s charge truckers money for these coveted parking spaces! Enter; reserved truck parking.

For you non-truckers out there, some of the large truck stop chains have decided to block off some of their premium spots for those willing to pay. As a world-class cheapskate, you can imagine how I feel about it.

The idea behind reserved truck parking is that you can call ahead or go online and reserve your parking space early in the day so you know you’ll have a safe place to park for the night. Sounds like a great idea, right? We’ll come back to whether this works or not here in a bit.

My first (and only) experience with reserved truck parking

I had accepted a load from dispatch with the understanding that it was going to be really tight. The issue wasn’t my available hours; the issue was time. While that might sound like the same thing to you non-trucking folk, all you truckers know what I’m talking about.

I had an 8 AM delivery at the Costco warehouse in Morris, Illinois. I was going to get there about 11 PM, but the receiver didn’t have overnight parking available on site (despite their humongous, always half-full parking lot ?). Luckily there are two truck stops within a couple blocks of my delivery. This was important because if I had to park for the night even 5 miles away, I couldn’t have delivered on time.

You see, if I started my mandatory 10-hour break when I got there at 11 PM, my break would be up at 9 AM. Problems is, I’d be late for my 8 AM appointment. But if I could find parking within 1 mile of Costco, I could drive over to the delivery in the morning while I was still officially on break, thanks to the very little bit of leniency my e-logs afford where it doesn’t register me driving until I drive over one mile. So by the time they finished unloading me, my legal break would be over and I’d have another 11 hours to run that day. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Now I know some of you truckers out there are screaming at your phones right now, so let me explain to the non-truckers why you’re losing your ever-loving mind right now. Officially, I could have delivered the load on time in a legal way by utilizing the God-awful 8-hour split sleeper berth.

Again, let me explain to the non-truckers out there. Normally after driving 11 hours, we are required to take a 10-hour break. But there is also an option to only take an 8-hour break if you haven’t driven your full 11 yet. So if I had used 9 hours getting to the customer, I could take an 8-hour break (it must be all in the sleeper berth) and still have my other 2 hours to run (9 hours driving before break and 2 hours after equals 11 total). After that, I’d need to take a full 10-hour break before I could drive again. Correction: I was corrected by a reader. Check out the explanation below.

Yes, the 8/2 split sleeper berth is as complicated as it sounds, which I why I avoid doing it like a meth head shuns toothpaste. And it almost always screws up your day somehow. In this situation, I was pulling in at 11 PM, so I could move again at 7 AM (after 8 hours in the sleeper). So as long as I was parked within two hours of the delivery location, I would’ve been on time for delivery. You’re right, trucker. But you also know why I didn’t go this route. Let’s look at the bigger picture, non-truckers.

Being in the sleeper from 11 PM to 7 AM is 8 hours. I would then drive for 2 hours, deliver and then go back on break for another 10 hours before I could drive again. Do a little math and you can see that my mandatory 10-hour break has effectively turned into an 18-hour break! No thanks. If I want to screw myself, I’ll just sign up for a marathon or something. Correction: Reader Jeff Hardy wrote in to correctly state that I only needed to take a 2 hour break after my 8 hours of sleeper berth time. Oops. Told you the split sleeper berth is confusing!

This is why it was so important to me to get close to Costco. The issue was going to be finding parking at either of those truck stops. The Pilot is smaller than the TA, but they both fill up pretty fast because they’re some of the last truck stops on I-80 eastbound if you’re staging to head into Chicago the following morning.

Honestly, I wasn’t worried about finding parking. Obviously, I was hoping to find a free parking spot, but if all else failed I knew both locations had reserved truck parking. I drove through the Pilot lot. All full. No surprise.

I thought about parking along the side street, but the only thing worse than paying for parking is a police officer knocking on your door in the middle of your break and telling you to move your truck. Not only does it suck getting woken up, but depending on how far you have to drive, it also might screw up your break, effectively putting you right back with the possibility of doing that 18-hour break like I was trying to avoid in the first place. I saw a reserved parking space, but I didn’t give up just yet. I’m ever-hopeful when it comes to saving a buck.

Not only were the employees tired of hearing truckers gripe about it, but it was also a pain to monitor the area to see if someone was trying to park there without paying. They also had to deal with the reservations, which they said was a major pain-in-the-tookus.

I drove over to the TA and they were just as jam-packed. No place to even park illegally that wouldn’t have blocked another driver in. There are drivers who would do this, but I’m not one of them.

Reserved truck parking at nightGuess what? There was plenty of reserved truck parking at the TA. This is my point. There often is. Take a look at this photo I took at the TA in Greencastle, Pennsylvania the night of TD124: The Overweight Axle Debacle. The rest of the lot was packed like a Casper mattress in it’s shipping box! Some drivers were even parked outside of legal spaces to avoid paying for a spot! Although honestly, that’s just par-for-the-course.

So anywho, since the Pilot was closer to Costco, I quickly drove back over, backed into a reserved parking space (with no pull-ups I might add – yes, I’m that awesome) and walked inside to pay. As I paid the $12, I told the cashier how much I hated it. Much to my surprise, the cashier and one of the managers told me they hated paid parking too!

Reserved parking receiptNot only were the employees tired of hearing truckers gripe about it, but it was also a pain to monitor the area to see if someone was trying to park there without paying. They also had to deal with the reservations, which they said was a major pain-in-the-tookus.

So to bring this seemingly never-ending story to a close, I stuck the receipt in the window so no one would bother me, grabbed some shuteye, and I delivered on time without my e-log screwing me over. Yeah! I win! Go me! Other than the fact that I had to pay to be victorious, which disturbs the innermost part of my being.

The problem with reserved truck parking

Listen, I’m all for capitalism. If the truck stops think they can make some extra money by having reserved truck parking, then who am I to say they shouldn’t do it? So with that, let me just say:

YOU SHOULDN’T DO IT!

I guess these truck stops have forgotten that there used to be paid parking at lots of their locations. And I’m not talking about some of the parking spots. I’m talking about paying for parking anywhere in their parking lot! But for some reason (that I honestly don’t understand), they decided to quit charging for parking.

There are still a few holdouts near big cities, like the Greater Chicago Truck Plaza in Bolingbrook, Illinois or a couple of TA’s near Baltimore, just to name a few. I haven’t been out west in quite a while, but I’d bet a full-nekid body massage from The Evil Overlord (wife and ex co-driver) that both the TA’s in Ontario, California still charge to park too. (I later found out one of them is a Petro now, but they both still charge for parking – good thing, because she’d have killed me dead if I’d lost that bet.)

Still, the vast majority of the paid parking truck stops have gone to a totally free model. You’ll recognize them when you see the long-abandoned little booth that guards the parking lot from the outside world. Why is this?

Perhaps because truckers were avoiding them to find free parking elsewhere? I’ll bet if we could examine their books, we’d noticed an uptick in gross revenue when they axed the paid parking. I mean, if more drivers are parking there for free every night, they’re probably also buying fuel, eating in the restaurant, filling up their coffee thermos, and buying horrifically overpriced, decade-old DVDs. Just a guess, but why else would they quit charging for parking?

Give it up. It doesn’t work

I was talking to my friend @driverchrismc the other day and somehow reserved truck parking was brought up. He said he used to reserve spots when he thought there wouldn’t be any free parking by the time he got there, but he quit reserving in advance because he’d often arrive at the truck stop and still find free parking available. He now waits until he arrives before he pays.

So doesn’t that defeat the purpose of reserved truck parking? At that point, I feel like it’s more exploitation of drivers than it is convenience. Yes, I know exploitation is a pretty strong word, but look how the Google dictionary defines it.

ex·ploi·ta·tion

ˌekˌsploiˈtāSH(ə)n

  1. The action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.
  2. The action of making use of and benefiting from resources.
  3. The fact of making use of a situation to gain unfair advantage for oneself.

Okay, Definition 1 might be a stretch. Definition 2 is getting warmer though. The truck stop has a resource (a parking spot) and they’re charging for the privilege of using it. Definition 3 nails it right on the head though. They are making use of a situation (truckers not being able to find parking) to gain unfair advantage.

Whether all this is “unfair” or not is up for debate. But in my eyes it’s similar to that argument of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”

Again, saying the act of charging for parking is “unfair” might be pushing it a tad. But in a sense, it is unfair because you have to pay for it simply because other drivers got there before you did. And if you paid in advance like Chris did, only to find there was still free parking available, now you’ve paid for a parking spot that you no longer need. That’s kind of unfair too, isn’t it?

I looked on the Pilot/FlyingJ website and apparently you can’t ask for a refund once you show up either. You have to do it 4 hours before your reservation starts. So there’s no backing out there. You’re just out the $12.

Whether all this is “unfair” or not is up for debate. But in my eyes it’s similar to that argument of “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”

Trucking companies and truckers keep these truck stops alive and kicking. And to thank us for that, they take advantage of us when we least need to take their crap; after a long day of driving when we just need  a warm meal, a hot shower, and a place to lay down and recharge so we can do it all again the next day. Is that so much to ask?

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that truck stops exist. Without them there’d be even fewer places to park and we’d probably start seeing truckers squatting behind bushes on the side of the highway. God, help us. But do they really need to charge us for the last few parking places when we’re at our most desperate? I mean, they’re already charging $8 for a tiny bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Isn’t that exploitation enough?

What are your thoughts on reserved truck parking? Please leave your comments below.

Podcast Show Notes:

As you can tell from the title, today’s show is about this reserved truck parking that is popping up at all the truck stops.

But before we get to that, listener Kevin wrote in to tell me I screwed up the Meritor jacket contest from the last podcast. He was right! We also have some gift ideas for truckers, which is handy right before Christmas. We also discuss Telsa’s fancy new electric truck and I share a mechanical tip I learned from listener Mike. But that’s not all! Connor Smith from the Big Rig Banter podcast shares his article on the Top 5 Issues In Commercial Driving.

In the feedback section, Renae shares her experience with her training and being a trainer herself, Tim points out a problem with one of my books, and Ryan thinks he couldn’t solved my overweight issue from the last podcast. And to wrap things up, Shannon lost a bet with me and had to send in an audio comment telling me how awesome I am!

Links mentioned in the intro:

The School of Podcasting podcast with host Dave Jackson

The Hindenburg Journalist Pro audio editing software that I want to purchase. Feel free to buy it for me. It’s pretty cheap. ?

The Audio-Technica ATR2005USB Cardioid Dynamic USB/XLR Microphone I’m hoping to buy. (not an affiliate link)

You should buy my books so I can afford the two previous products! Free text samples available! (not affiliate links)

Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide To Becoming And Being A Truck Driver
Free audiobook sample of Trucking Life
How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job

The good folks from Factor Finders supplied a handy-dandy article and infographic called Gift Ideas For Truckers. Just in time for the holidays!

This article from TheTruckersReport.com called Tesla Semi Promises 500 Mile Range, Safety, and More prompted me to talk about it on the show.

Links in Connor Smith’s article:

Connor Smith from the Big Rig Banter podcast and AllTruckJobs.com shares his article called 5 Top Issues in Commercial Truck Driving and mentions the following articles:

5 Benefits of ELDs
ATA Driver Shortage Report
Nikola One: Driving the Future of Trucking
MIT Technology Review article about Self-Driving Trucks

Links in the blog post section:

The Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA, Study of Adequacy of Commercial Truck Parking Facilities

Late night photo I took of the reserved parking area at the TA in Greencastle, PA. NEED LINK

TD124: The Overweight Axle Debacle

Unboxing of a Casper Mattress

Pilot/Flying J refund policy for reserved truck parking

Links mentioned in the feedback section:

Renae Savage talks about her training and her experience as a trainer at CR England.

Tim Rife tells me all the hyperlinks to the Trucking Company Questionnaire in my book How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job are broken. He’s right. So if you’ve had the same problem, try downloading the book again. They should be fixed by the time you’re listening to this.

Ryan Moede thinks he could’ve easily solved the overweight problem I talked about in TD124: The Overweight Axle Debacle. Is he right? Guess you’ll have to listen to find out. I mention a free PDF called How To Axle Out A Load.

Shannon Holden lost a bet with me and had to send in an audio comment telling me how awesome I am. No way this wasn’t going to make it onto the podcast!

Horrid Genius left an awesome review of the podcast over on iTunes. Thanks, Mr. Genius!

Please consider joining the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group and take the poll.

Show info:

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

Join the Trucker Dump Podcast Facebook Group

Join the Trucker Dump Slack Group by emailing me at 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?

TD123: Advice For New Truckers: Part 2

There are many things new truckers have to learn over time. The goal of this two-part article is to help you learn those things now instead of having to wait. Hopefully this will make your life as a new trucker easier. And in doing so, you’ll make everyone else’s lives better too.

In Part 1, we covered some of the fears new truckers have when they’re first getting started. We also discussed health and fitness issues truckers face.

In Part 2, we’ll be covering more “hands on” trucking stuff. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you might want to jump back and do that. But for now, let’s carry on with my advice for new truckers.

The podcast version (at the top) covers both Part 1 and Part 2.

Don’t get in a hurry

In trucking, few good things ever come from getting in a rush. Here are some common situations where you’re going to be tempted to hurry. Don’t.

Chill out when loading or unloading

One of the biggest mistakes I see that even veteran truckers make is getting impatient at customers. When I first started, I’d constantly be worrying if I wasn’t getting loaded or unloaded promptly. Sometimes I’d even get pissy with the customer. I can tell you from personal experience, that never works out the way you think it will.

I still see this happen all the time. A driver comes in screaming and cussing at a receiving clerk because they’re taking too long. Quite frankly, the trucker may be right. But it only seems to make the
customer move slower. I’ve been in multiple situations when they’ve bumped me up in line and I’ve gotten finished quicker than Mr. Impatient, all because I have a calm, friendly attitude while they’ve got steam coming out of their ears like Yosemite Sam when he’s hopping mad at Bugs.

It took me far too many years, but I’ve learned to stay calm in these situations. There’s simply nothing you can do to speed up the process. You can ask what the issue is, but you need to do it in a
non-threatening way.

Just a few days before I recorded this episode, I went into a shipper late because I had been held up in construction traffic. When I walked in, he was printing up a flyer he was planning to leave on the door telling me that I arrived too late and that I would have to wait until the next morning to be loaded. A hot-head would’ve raved about why it wasn’t his fault and that the shipping clerk was screwing him.

Instead, I chuckled and said, “Well that sucks. I’ve still got 6 hours of driving available, but it is what it is. I know you don’t make the rules.” I stuck around and chatted about the bad construction (which he drove through every day to get to work) and had a few laughs. By the time I was backing into the dock, a loader stuck his head out
and said they were going to stay late and load me. You think that would’ve happened if I’d copped an attitude? Heck, I’ve got a better chance of waking up with a nipple growing out of my forehead.

I might add that this is good for any situation where you find yourself waiting. Whether you just found out there’s a three-hour wait to fix a flat tire, your company can’t find a load for you, or you’re standing in a long line at the fuel desk, just take a chill pill. Getting impatient won’t help the situation. It will only raise your blood pressure and your overall hatred of the human race.

Don’t be pressured into driving in bad weather

NEVER let someone convince you to drive in bad weather if
you aren’t comfortable doing so! NEVER! You have to be the judge! In the beginning you’ll start freaking out as soon as you see the first few snowflakes. But over time you’ll continue to learn more and more about what you and your truck are capable of.

Your dispatcher isn’t driving your truck, are they? Yes, they may have the Weather Channel playing in the background, but they have no idea what the actual current conditions are outside your windshield. I repeat, you have to be the judge.

Sometimes you are your own worst enemy

Here’s an excerpt from Trucking Life that illustrates this perfectly.

One winter, Donner Pass, which is between Reno, Nevada, and Sacramento, California, was shut down due to impassable roads. Yes, this is the same infamous Donner Pass you’ve heard horror stories about. The one where people decided that old Carl’s butt looked a lot like a ribeye. Anyway, the following afternoon, they opened the roads for travel but only to vehicles with tire chains installed.

Now my company wasn’t pressuring me and I didn’t much feel like lying in two feet of snow to chain up, so two days later, we were still sitting there.

As I tend to do, I was eventually feeling the itch to get rolling. After all, I only get paid when the truck is moving. Against The Evil Overlord’s advice, I finally broke down, installed the chains, and left Reno in my mirrors.

About ten hours later, we got to Sacramento. The thing is, it was only a 135-mile trip… but it took ten hours. So was it worth chaining up? Probably not.

That particular night was one of the most miserable times we’ve ever spent in a truck. There’s nothing quite like listening to “I told you so, Dumbass” for ten straight hours. I hate it when she’s right, largely because it happens so often.

As this story illustrates, trucking is not a race. Best case scenario here, I wasted about 7 hours of driving time due to my impatience. Worst case, I could’ve wrecked and had my butt eaten like ol’ Carl. Although now that I think about it, there’s actually no chance of that happening.

The Evil Overlord has shared a bathroom with me for over 20 years and there’s no way she’d go anywhere near my butt with a steak knife. However, a good possibility is that I could’ve easily slid into a ditch and racked up some points on my CSA score (explained in a minute).

The point is, just because you can run in bad weather, doesn’t mean you should.

Always remember: No load is worth your life!

Let up off the accelerator

Listen, depending on your school, you’re probably spending anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks right now learning how to drive a truck so you can earn your commercial driver’s license. So protect it already!

I don’t know if you’ve discussed the CSA in class yet, so forgive me if this is rehash. The CSA, which stands for Compliance, Safety, Accountability, is a fairly new program where they are using points to rate both truck drivers and carriers. This way a driver can use the carrier’s CSA score to see how safe their fleet is and the carriers use the score to decide who is a good driver for hiring purposes. So basically, both drivers and carriers get a score based on their safety record.

So why would you risk losing your newly acquired license by speeding? Besides, tickets for traffic violations in trucks usually cost about twice as much and as when you get one in your personal vehicle.

I say it again, you need to protect your CDL! Without it, you can’t earn any money. And how can you buy Cheetos without money? Now I can hear some of you thinking, “But I may have to speed to deliver my load on time!” If that’s truly the case, then I say your company is crappy at dispatching.

The way I see it, a carrier’s inability to plan loads properly has nothing to do with me. It’s truly not my problem if they assign me a load that simply cannot be delivered legally. I’m not going to drive more hours than I have available because of their incompetence, nor am I going to go over the speed limit to deliver on time.

Here’s a great tactic. If a dispatcher ever tries to make you run illegal or belittles you because you aren’t willing to run in bad weather, tell him to transfer you to the safety department. That will end that conflict quicker than a squirrel all hopped up on Red Bull.

Keeping with the subject of speeding, if you take nothing else out of this entire blog post please listen closely to this next topic. This one little thing will save you lots of frustration and it will pretty much give everyone in the world one less reason to hate truck
drivers. (honk)

Don’t be a turtle racer

Turtle racing is when two speed-limited trucks are trying to pass each other on the interstate. In case your driving instructor hasn’t mentioned this yet, many carriers have installed speed-limiters on their trucks. Most of them set it somewhere between 63–65 mph. That can make it really hard to pass other trucks when you can only go slightly faster than the other driver.

Since the vast majority of governed fleets are set a 65 mph, me and my lightning-fast 64 mph truck deal with this a lot. You can see that I am always having slightly faster trucks trying to get around me. Now back when I was a rookie, I was stubborn just like you are going to tend to be. My thought was always, “If you can’t pass me faster than that, then that’s your problem.”

This is precisely the wrong attitude to have. And it’s something I still hear quite a bit on the CB when I’m trying to pass some donkey head who stubbornly refuses to let me around. I went into a lot of detail about turtle racing and how to avoid it in TD 66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing, but I’ll try to sum it up quickly for you.

Everything I do in my life, I always try to run it through the golden rule. In case you had horrible parents who never taught you this rule, it basically states that you should treat others as you would like them to treat you. Now let’s put this in the context of turtle racing.

If you were an automobile driver or even another trucker being held up by these two jerk faces blocking both lanes, how happy would you be? Wouldn’t you wish they got out of the friggin’ way so
you could go about your business!? Golden rule, folks.

Now put yourself in the place of the slightly faster big rig trying to get around the slightly slower trucker. It’s taking you forever because the slower guy is being stubborn. Wouldn’t that piss you off? Of course it would! And yes, I understand the word “forever” is a bit of an exaggeration. But trust me, when you’re out in the fast lane holding up traffic for 3 to 5 minutes, it feels like forever.

Here’s my logic on this. Why should a faster trucker have to go slower than he is capable of, simply because some stubborn turd-flinger won’t let him pass quickly?

I am probably in this scenario at least five times a day. Trust me when I say that your load is not going to be late if you tap the brakes to let someone slightly faster get around you a bit quicker. To be fair, your delivery probably won’t be late either if you ease off the throttle and stay behind the slower truck for the next 9 hours, but why should you have to do that? It literally takes 10 to 15 seconds
to let the other driver pass and then you are back at full speed as they’re slowly pulling away from you.

There are two things wrong with you being a stubborn bungmunch. First, you’ve got a semi with an irritated trucker riding alongside you for a long time. And mark my words, the second he gets past you here’s going to nearly take your front bumper off by pulling back in
front of you too soon. Second, you are actively pissing off all of the automobile drivers and the other truckers who are you holding up. Please don’t be a turtle racing bonehead. Simply tap your brakes and let the other truck around.

Sitting there being stubborn about “winning the race” only makes you madder about the situation. You feel it’s the other guy’s fault for blocking all the traffic, when in reality you can put a stop to it by one little tap of your brakes.

Trucker Etiquette

I’m going to finish up with some trucker etiquette that every new driver should start doing to make this industry a better place to work.

Truck stop parking lot etiquette

This “don’t hold up traffic” thing even extends into the truck stop parking lot. One of these situations involves something you newbies are probably scared spitless of right now; backing into a parking spot at a packed truck stop… at night… with other drivers watching. Don’t worry, you will get better at backing. But for now, your goal is to minimize the reasons more experienced drivers have to complain about you.

Parking

When you’re setting up for the backing job, look around you. Is there another truck behind you that you could let around before you start? Simply stop in front of the spot so they can’t steal it from you and
turn on your 4-way flashers. They’ll get the hint that you’re letting them around and they’ll always be thankful for your thoughtfulness.

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I see a driver whip out into a 45° position when they’ve got four or five other trucks behind them who simply need to get out of the parking lot and back onto the road. You may be a rookie, but you don’t have to be stupid.

Be courteous

Remember the Golden Rule! Here are 4 rules to live by when parking at a truck stop.

  1. Don’t let your pets piss or
    crap where other drivers have to walk.
  2. You should follow this rule
    too. If you don’t believe me, email me at TruckerDump@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you
    a photo. Ugh.
  3. Keep your pets quiet. I once was awakened by a yapping dog. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I looked out at the truck next to me where a dog was barking at absolutely
    nothing. I got dressed and grumpily knocked on their door. A woman answered and I asked if she could keep her dog quiet so I could sleep. She said one word to the dog and it shut up. No apology whatsoever. So basically, just remember that while you may be deaf to your best friend’s barking at the wind, other drivers aren’t. Put a muzzle on that mutt.
  4. Keep in mind that truckers sleep at odd hours. Just because it’s 2:00 in the afternoon doesn’t mean you can back into a spot and crank up your Milli Vaniili. This has happened to me a
    few times and each time I had to get dressed and go knock on their door. One of those times, the driver peeked out at me and refused to acknowledge me standing there. I stood there and steadily pounded on his door for a whole minute until he finally rolled down the window. He actually had the nerve to get pissed at me when I asked him to turn the music down!

I have no shame in saying I called his company to report him. Yes, I’m a big fat tattle-tell. And an unrepentant one in this case. Similar to loud music, don’t carry on long, loud conversations outside your truck with another driver. You may be talking right beside someone’s head while they’re trying to sleep.

Fuel island Etiquette

Another situation where you need to be mindful of other drivers is at the fuel island. I know this is going to come as a shock, but fuel bays are meant for fueling. They are not meant as a parking spots for people who want to go in and shower. They are not places to take your 30-minute mandatory breaks. And they are definitely not places to wash your entire truck with a tiny windshield squeegee. Trust me, I’ve seen all of these things numerous times over the years.

Time is money in this industry, especially with the advent of electronic logs. When you pull into a fuel bay, you need to do your fueling and then immediately pull up so the driver behind you can get started. After you pull up, there is about enough time to run inside to grab your Mountain Dew and Cheetos (obviously), but that’s about it.

Pull up when finished fueling

One of the most frequent things that happens is drivers pull up and park in front of the bay like they’re supposed to, but instead of making a quick trip in and out, they go order food at Wendy’s or stand in line at the ever-present Subway. Next thing you know,
you’re standing in line being picky about how much mustard the sandwich artist is using, while the driver who was fueling behind you is forced to do one of four things.

  1. They sit there and impatiently wait for you to return. Don’t be surprised if you get a dirty look when you get back. You deserve it.
  2. They risk backing out of the fuel island, which is never a good thing. I’m sure your instructor has already taught you that you don’t back up unless you absolutely have to. Backing is one of the leading causes of accidents, you know.
  3. They want to back up, but another driver has cued up in line behind them, which now means you’re pissing off two drivers. You are now officially a pinhead.
  4. They decide to go into the truck stop and take care of their own business instead of waiting on you to move. Now they’re keeping someone else from fueling. When they finally come back out, you’re already gone but the driver behind them is now pissed at them. Nice going starting a chain reaction there, D-bag.

Now it is possible to get your food and get back to your truck before the other driver is done fueling, but you need to use the Golden Rule here. Would you want to be held up? Nope. So if you’re demanding fresh curly fries, go back out and move your friggin’ truck or at least make sure no one has pulled in behind you. Yes, I’m serious. I know it’s inconvenient. But inconvenience yourself, not someone else you selfish jerk. Golden rule, man. Live it.

Taking a 30-minute break on the fuel island

As for taking your mandatory 30-minute break on the fuel islands. The only time I consider that acceptable is if it’s late at night and you can’t find anywhere else to park. Even then, be mindful of the other drivers. Here’s how you do this properly:

  1. Pull through the fuel bay so you aren’t keeping someone from fueling.
  2. If someone pulls in to fuel behind you, wait until they are done and then pull around and go back through another open fuel bay.
  3. If your elogs won’t allow any movement whatsoever without ruining your 30-minute break, then it’s quite simple: DON’T PARK ON THE FRIGGIN’ FUEL BAY IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

For more detailed information about all
this, check out TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule.

So there we have it. I hope these things will help you jump start your career with the right kind of attitude. I would like to leave you with a personal request.

Don’t tarnish the reputation of truckers

Trust me, it’s bad enough as is. You can pretty much accomplish this by keeping the Golden Rule in mind. If you wouldn’t want another driver keeping you awake, not letting you pass, blocking you at a fuel bay, stepping out of your truck into a puddle of icky urine or stinky cigarette butts, then don’t do those things that will put another driver in that position.

I hope you have a great trucking career ahead of you and if you have any questions, please feel free to holler at me on Twitter where I’m @ToddMcCann or reach out to me at TruckerDump@gmail.com. Or you can join the Trucker Dump Slack group by emailing an invitation request to that same email address.

Now get back to out there and learn to drive that stinkin’ truck. Grind some gears. Take 30 painstaking minutes to back into a wide open parking spot (while only mowing down a couple of orange cones.. HEY, THEY WERE CONES!). Whatever works to give your instructors heart palpitations. After all, every doctor says that raising your heart rate on a regular basis will increase your life, right? Well, if that’s the case, I guess your instructor will never live forever. They should be thanking you, right

Please share your advice to new truckers by leaving a comment below.

Podcast Show Notes:

TD110: Jabbering With Jared includes an interview I did with nephew Jared after he rode in the truck with me. Some good laughs here!

Jewel Jones is @JewelJonesIRL on Twitter

Check out the videos from trucker BukWildTrucking on YouTube

Australian country artist Jayne Denham performed at the TA/Petro truck parking community at GATS. She sang her #1 hit, Addicted To The Diesel as well as her new release called Stacks. Check out the links for the YouTube videos.

I was interviewed at GATS by Rachel Folkenroth from AllTruckJobs.com.

The interview aired on Episode 7 of a new podcast called Big Rig Banter, hosted by Troy Diffenderfer and Connor Smith. It’s a fun podcast from AllTruckJobs.com that is informative and very well produced. Check it out by following the links above.

AllTruckJobs.com put out a funny 80s-style workout video for truckers. You don’t want to miss Troy Thunder BRING THE THUNDER!!!

Check out this story from The TruckersReport.com of a 23-year-old trucker who wiped out a 6-ton historic bridge.

Check out the photos and read the story of a trucker who destroyed a 3-ton bridge in his 30-ton truck.

TheTruckersReport.com story of mandatory speed limiters being scrapped. Thank God!

@OhTruckThat tweeted this excellent video from OOIDA (Owner-Operator’s Independent Driver’s Association) about the effects of speed limiters

FleetOwner.com did a story on platooning.

Ice Cold Justice is a story from TheTruckersReport.com about a thief who was locked inside a refrigerated trailer. Serves him right!

Check out my YouTube video rant about an anal retentive customer.

It’s not too late to enter the drawing for the Meritor jacket!

TD100: What Makes The Evil Overlord Evil? explains how my wife got her nickname.

TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing goes into great detail about how you can keep from impeding traffic out on the interstate. It’s one of my favorite episodes and something that every trucker should hear.

TD107: The Fuel Bay Golden Rule covers the proper etiquette for the fuel bay area.

Links in the feedback section:

An anonymous ex Over-The-Road trucker (email said Bluegrass Cellular) writes in to thank me for producing the podcast. You’re welcome, man!

Fullofit (Steve) has been binge listening and comments on a range of topics. So you can blame him for the next few links.
TD74: Doing Dallas
TD67: The Road To Smutville
TD31: Is Forced Dispatch Forced?
TD66: Truckers Go Turtle Racing

Renae Savage is one of the newest members of the Trucker Dump Slack group. She has comments on
TD93: The Driver’s Seat Phenomenon, but she’s also started her own blog at Truck Driving Woman. She finishes up by asking me why I write books, blog, and podcast if I’ve been trying to get out of trucking forever. I answer as best as I can.

My singing isn’t as good as it used to be, but I still have fun on Singsnap.com.

Show info:

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?

TD109: Coping With Rookie Truckers

[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
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There are approximately 3.5 million truckers in the US, so naturally that means we can’t all be seasoned veterans. We drivers probably encounter at least one trucker per week doing something that would only be done by a rookie. We shake our head in disgust, but what do we do about it? From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of us do absolutely nothing… or worse.

As is typical with the Trucker Dump blog, most of my ideas come from things that have recently happened to me, which begs the question how long I’ll be able to continue doing this blog if I can ever escape the trucking industry like I’ve been trying to do for the last decade. But I guess we’ll cross that crusty, old, underfunded bridge when we get to it. But for now, let’s continue with the story that prompted this post.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Fort Smith, Arkansas wondering how my company was going to get me home. I’ve been working for this company long enough to know that they didn’t have much freight moving north from there, so things were looking about as good as a naked 80-year old. Luckily, this was a Thursday and I wasn’t due home until the weekend, so at least they had some time to work up a miracle.

Still, I was flabbergasted when I got a message telling me to pick up a load in Joplin, Missouri, some 140 miles away. The sucky thing about it was that I would be driving right past my house in order to go pick up the load. Isn’t it funny how trucking companies don’t have a problem eating the costs of 140 unloaded miles to pick up a load, but they’d rather put live kittens in a blender than to deadhead a driver home at half the distance. Well, at least that’s the way my company is anyway. Quick! New subject before I get pissed.

The other annoying thing about it was that the load didn’t pick up until the next afternoon and the guy who would be relaying it from me wouldn’t come off his 10-hour break until late that night. Oh well. This happens sometimes, so I’m used to it. Yes, it blows chunks to sit at a truck stop less than 50 miles from your house for half a day when you should be home, but it’s the price you pay for living out in the boonies. Well that, and the whole lack of indoor plumbing thing.

So anyway, I picked up the load and nabbed a spot at the Flying J in Joplin. After a quick call to The Evil Overlord, she had grudgingly decided to get out of bed and meet me in Joplin so we could hang out in town instead of me spending all day in the truck. Luckily, she didn’t need to after all.

The relay driver called me shortly after and told me he’d be there within a few hours. This made The Evil Overlord especially happy because she wouldn’t have to crawl out of bed in the middle of the afternoon; heaven forbid. Apparently the driver’s satellite hadn’t updated in quite a while, which lead my dispatcher to believe that the driver was in the middle of a 10-hour break, when in fact it was almost over. Sweet!

Actually though, the relay driver said “I think my break is almost over.” You think? You think? How does a trucker not know when their break is over? This was my first indication that I might be dealing with a rookie. But I let it slide and asked him to get there ASAP.

Well, he showed up about two hours later than what he said he would so apparently he had figured something wrong, which is odd considering my company uses e-logs. I’m guessing he must have been doing an eight-hour split sleeper berth, because otherwise the e-logs are very good at telling you when your break is over. Ours still suck at splitting though. Still, I wasn’t going to complain about his tardiness since I really hadn’t expected him to get there until late that night.

Further evidence pointing to him being a rookie came almost immediately. He rounded the corner and stopped when he saw me. I waved to let him know it was me he was looking for. He then started to do a blindside back directly across from me! What the…?!

Now had this been late at night I might have thought he didn’t want to risk losing the parking spot by driving around the lot to set up a proper driver-side back. But the lot was only about three quarters full! There were lots of places where he could’ve found an easier backing job, including one just a few spaces past me. I honestly don’t understand this. When I was a rookie, I’d have rather licked a leper’s sores than do a blindside back! I simply cannot imagine anyone doing one unless they had no other choice. And there is almost always a choice not to.

But instead he went ahead and got himself all jammed up between me and the spot he wanted. He got to the point where he could barely move. It reminded me a lot of Austin Powers trying to turn around in that little cart. LOL As soon as I had enough room to escape, I went ahead and pulled out from my dropped trailer so he’d have some extra room to maneuver, which was exactly what he needed to get back into the spot. By the way, I’ve done this for experienced drivers too. It takes less than a minute for an experienced driver to drop a trailer and the gesture will always be appreciated.

Now I will admit during this whole time I was sitting in my driver’s seat watching this train wreck happen. What I should have done was get out and help this poor guy. But how exactly do you help in this situation?

Personally, I have never been a fan of getting out and helping a driver back into a spot.

I have been known to be an extra set of eyes if I see someone really struggling, but I’m really not a fan of the type of driver who stands there and tells the driver which way to turn his wheels. This is mainly because there are more than one way to do a proper backing job. And I have no idea what this guy is going for. More on that in a bit.

As a side note, if you’re a driver trainer, don’t do this to your student. I’ve watched countless times where a student is looking at the trainer while backing instead of watching what the truck and trailer are doing. You aren’t teaching them anything! Except how to watch you maybe. We learn best by trial-and-getting-stopped-by-trainer-just-before-error, you know.

Well all said and done, this whole backing and swapping process took about 20 minutes. While he was unhooking from his trailer, I walked the paperwork over to him and told him I had expected him to get there a couple of hours ago. No, I’m not a jerk (well, not in this case anyway), I said this all in a teasing manner. He looked at me sheepishly as I asked, “Are you new?” “Yep.” “New to this company, or new to trucking?” “I’ve been out of driving school for one month. My trainer just dropped me off and I just got my truck.” Wow. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to remember what that’s like, isn’t it?

He then started fumbling about as to what satellite messages he was supposed to send after doing a relay and asking what paperwork he needed to send into the company. I explained all the procedures to him as quick as I could since I was eager to get home. I then hooked up to the empty trailer, got back in the truck, and looked over at the guy awkwardly hooking up his gladhands. Remember when gladhands were hard, drivers? Now I think we can do them in our sleep, which is something I’m pretty sure I’ve done before when The Evil Overlord used to wake me up to do that kind of stuff. Frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t regularly drop trailers to the ground with the landing gear still up!

I think God must’ve spoken to me at that moment, because although I was itching to get moving, I felt a bit more compassion for this guy than I normally have in my cold, dead heart. I sighed and stepped out of the truck. I walked over, and with a friendly smile said, “Hey, man. I’m not trying to be a know-it-all, but can I give you a couple pieces of advice?” I’m sure some arrogant rookies would have passed, but to this guy’s credit, he smiled and said, “Please.”

I began, “First, don’t EVER EVER EVER do a blindside back unless you have absolutely no choice. At a truck stop, always drive around the lot until you can line up a driver-side back. And if you’re trying to get to a customer’s dock off a street or something, circle a couple of blocks if you need to. Listen; you will have to blindside back sometime in the future, but it’s always dangerous (even for experienced drivers) and the more you do it unnecessarily, the more chances you have of hitting something. You really don’t need that this early in your career, do you?” He replied with a truly grateful, “Thanks. I’ll remember that.”

I went on. “Now see that Werner truck up there between those other two trucks? (Picture back-to-back  parking where the two trucks facing us are one spot apart and when you look between them you can see the back of the Werner truck facing the other direction.) Don’t EVER try to nose in between two trucks like that to park where Werner is right now.”

I went on to explain that no matter how far he got over, he would be extremely lucky if he could pull that maneuver off. It can be done, but it fails more often than not. I explained to him that I had been delayed for a whole hour one night at that very location watching a guy who got himself all jammed up trying to do that. In that particular instance I had actually broken my normal practice by getting out and telling the flustered driver which way to turn his wheels to escape the situation. To be quite honest though, it had less to do with me being a super nice guy and more to do with him blocking the way out for me and about five other trucks. And again, I was trying to get home, so I was pretty motivated that time too.

In the end I had to wake up the driver next door and ask him if he’d mind dropping his trailer and moving his tractor so the guy could go ahead and pull through. At first he was acting like he wasn’t going to do it, but he changed his mind after I said, “Listen man. This guy is freaking out over here. He’s been stuck like this for an hour. You can either drop your trailer or you can have your fender ripped off. Your choice.” I even told him that if he would pull his trailer brakes I’d be happy to unhook everything for him. He took me up on it, so the lazy bum never even had to leave his cab. So that is eventually how we got out of that Lindsay Lohan-sized mess.

So anyway, back to our current rookie. Before I left I made sure that he understood that he could rescale the load for $2 with the weigh ticket I had given him, as long as it was within 24 hours and it was the exact same location. I assured him that they never check to see if the truck number matches. All they need is the reweigh number on the ticket. I thought he probably knew this already, but I was wrong. He was grateful for the advice (and saving him $8.50) and I pulled out ready to head for home. In hindsight, had I chosen to keep my advice to myself, I wouldn’t have a second half to this story. Oh well. Nice guys finish last.

Just as soon as I pulled out feeling all good about myself, another driver down the way had just started to back into a spot. It was two spaces wide so I figured it would go pretty quick. As The Evil Overlord likes to tell me so often, “You’re wrong.” And just as often, she’s right. Just as I was this time.

Well, I watched that driver trying to back in for 10 minutes. Forward. Reverse. Forward. Reverse. Often with very little change in what he had done before. He started with a wide-open driver-side back and kept going until he eventually ended up in a blindside back. I’m still not really sure how he managed that. Every time he’d try to back in, the driver next to him would lay on his horn, which naturally brought him to an abrupt stop. I could see this was going nowhere good and traffic was backing up behind me, so I hopped out, signaled the other waiting drivers what I was doing, and walked over to scope out the situation.

The guy had gotten himself into a 45° blindside back. His trailer tires were already between the lines and the doors had already cleared the mirror, but he was crooked. I could see that he could probably make it with one little correction. I walked over and told the honker dude I thought the guy could make it if he would quit honking at him. The guy yelled at me, “He’s going to hit me!” I said, “Well I don’t think so, but if you’re convinced of it why don’t you go over and pull your mirror in so he won’t.” The hothead shot back, “I shouldn’t have to do that! He should pull out of the spot and go find someplace else to park!”

Well, I confessed to him that he was probably right about that, but I also explained that at this juncture it wasn’t really an option with all of us blocking him in. He had nowhere to go. I’ll have to admit that the stuck driver (which I found out later was in his first year of driving) wasn’t letting Sir Screams-A-Lot affect him. He was smiling at the whole situation, even though he probably shouldn’t have been. I kinda respected the guy for not letting old weiner head get to him. Still, he was stuck and he knew it. That’s when he pointed at me and then to his tractor. In broken English he said, “You do?”

Okay. Now before you old-timers tell me how stupid this is, let me say that I’m well aware. If I hit someone, he could blame me. And I’m sure the little green lizard’s employers would have a field day with it too. But hey, I wanted to get home. Besides, Captain Crabby Pants had finally gotten out of his truck to make darn sure no one was going to hit his precious mirror. So into the cab I climbed. Thankfully, I’m not a germaphobe, else I’d have been freaking the heck out. That truck was nastier than a Nicki Minaj video!

Anyway, He-Who-Must-Be-Paranoid seemed a bit more confident when I got behind the wheel. Still, he insisted on directing my every move. He had me turning my wheels this way and that with about 4 pull-up adjustments. At that point I stopped, looked at him, and said, “Oh come on, man. I can’t even see that side, and I can tell I’m nowhere close to your truck!” I knew that if he’d just hold his tongue for a second, I could swing the tractor back under and finish the job. But I admit that it would’ve meant that the front of the trailer wouldn’t crossed into his “no-zone” for a brief moment. So instead I chose to let Mr. Alpha have his way. We did get the job done, but thanks to him being a complete anus, it took about three moves longer than it should have. Oh well. Like my trainer taught me, “A good back is one where you don’t hit anything. Doesn’t matter how long it takes.” Wise words. So naturally, you know they didn’t come from me.

So here’s the thing, drivers. You have experience. Great. But let me take a second here to remind you that there was a time when you were a rookie too. We all were. Not one us had a grip on the air-powered umbilical cord as we floated from 4th to 6th gear into this world. Even if you did learn to drive on the farm when you were twelve, I’d be willing to bet you screwed up a time or two… or fourteen. And before you make that claim, give me your dad’s phone number. I’ll get the real story.

So what say we remember that the next time we’re confronted with a rookie who is having a really crappy day? The last thing they need is some irate driver screaming at them or belittling them. Nor do they need to hear your snide remarks on the CB. What they need is tolerance. What they need is a helping hand. What they need is an extra set of eyes. What they need is a driver who’s willing to offer some friendly advice. And if you’re not willing to give these rookies what they need, then what those rookies really need is a set of brass knuckles to punch you right in the kisser. Now let’s see you try to scream at him with a mouthful of broken teeth.

*So how do you treat rookie drivers? Why? Got any good stories about it? Please share your thoughts below.

Additional links from the podcast version:

Check out fiverr.com for all your little needs. I’m betting someone over there can help you for $5.

The Trucker Country CD by Erich McMann winners are SFC Sapper, Kevin I., and Eric M. Check out the 5:25 min video showing how I chose the winners using Random.org, a random number generator.

If you didn’t win you can always find out more about the Trucker Country CD on Facebook, the iTunes Store, or Google Play. And don’t forget to follow him on Twitter.

Short clip of Austin Powers in his cart. LOL

In the feedback section:

Brian from Australia chews me out about being lazy

Long Duck is back after listening to TD96: The Feedback Show, but before that he totally grosses us all out.

Finally, Justin shares his thoughts on TD106: How Will Amnesty Affect The Trucking Industry. And he does it in our favorite form; a rant.

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

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

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?

TD99: 4 Ways To Be An Awesome Trucker

[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.
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Used with permission by Bruce Outridge Productions

Used with permission by Bruce Outridge Productions

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s January of a new year. For some odd reason, we puny humans associate this with being able to make a new start in life. As if we couldn’t do it at any other time of the year. But for a change of pace this year, why don’t we aspire to something that we can actually do. I mean really, what are the odds that you’re actually going to learn Mandarin Chinese? Face it. When the Chinese take over the world, they really aren’t going to care whether you know how to ask them where the toilet is. So instead, let’s lower our standards and work on 4 ways to be an awesome trucker.

Awesome Trucker Goal #1: Get healthier

Okay. I decided to do this one first because I’m expecting about 95% of you to skip on down to the next topic. But before you do, hear me out. I’m not saying that you should set some lofty goal that you’ll never be able to reach. Let’s start out with something simple; your food.

Reduce your portions

I was in a Hardee’s not too long ago when they asked me if I wanted to upsize my meal. I said, “No thanks. I don’t want to look like the rest of these truckers out here.” That got two of the employees talking about how disgusted they are with some truckers. One of the ladies said, “I just don’t get it. These huge guys walk up and lean over the counter, completely out of breath. Wheezing they say, “Give me a Monster Burger meal, and upsize it to a large.” They usually get a dessert too! Some of these guys have black and blue legs from diabetes! What are they thinking?”

The fact is, no matter how big your gut is, the human stomach is only about the size of your fist. When I eat fast food, I almost always stick with the small fries and drink. We don’t need more than that, we want more than that. And when you’re ordering that value meal, be sure to do this next thing.

Lay off the soda

Experts say that cutting soda from your diet can cut 24-35 pounds per year. So go with water or unsweetened tea if you’ve got the option. If you just can’t handle unsweet tea, make a compromise and mix a little bit of sweetened into it. It doesn’t take much to give it a hint of sweetness and it’s a heck of a lot better than going with full sweet tea. That crap is too sweet anyway! No wonder you southerners don’t have any teeth! 😉

Replace your snacks or cut them altogether

The only time I have snack foods in my truck is right after Christmas. I blame my mother entirely. Thankfully she went lighter this year and stuffed my stocking with more healthy stuff than candy. Despite this, I’ve put on 5 pounds since after Christmas. That’s why I don’t keep any snacks in my truck. But if you’re a snacker, just replace your Cheetos with almonds and your M&Ms with raisins. And toss in some apples and bananas while you’re at it. You’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel when you cut the junk food.

Get some exercise

Once again, I’m not suggesting you start training for a marathon. Start with something like walking around the truck stop parking lot a few times. If that’s all you can manage, well you’re still better off than you were before.

If you want to move up a step, take a look at a free app I’ve been using on my iPhone called the Gorilla Workout app (also available on Android). Now I’m far from being in shape, but I look like Olive Oyl compared to most of you guys. Now don’t be afraid that it’s going to be too hard. The Level 1 workout starts out with really easy workouts like 1 wall push-up, a few sit-ups, and a few squats. For the most part, it builds slowly so you can keep up. All of these exercises use your own body weight, so you don’t have to buy a lot of equipment either. These workouts don’t take very long either, so that’s always a plus.

If you’re ready to move up from there, check out my workout videos called, How To Do a Full-Body Workout Inside the Cab of a Semi. Of course, you can do most of these exercises outside if you choose. I just like to do them inside so no one bugs me. Another great resource for all things trucker fitness is The Healthy Trucker Web site. Remember, anything you do to make yourself healthier is making you more awesome. Even the smallest of things.

Awesome Trucker Goal #2: Truck stop etiquette

Oh my. This is a long one. I’ll make this as brief as possible. Cue the bullet points.

  • When you’re driving through a truck stop parking lot, go a moderate speed. I’ve heard people say 5 mph, but that’s just too stinking so unless there’s a chance of a pedestrian or another truck popping out suddenly. But hang on, speed demon. 30 mph is too fast even in a wide open lot. There’s a happy medium in there. Find it.
  • Before you pull up to back into a parking spot, let other truckers go around before you block the whole isle. Actually, this rule is in affect everywhere. I had a driver do this to me last night. At a shipper, he made like he was going to back into a spot but instead got out and opened the trailer doors, effectively blocking me from my trailer. Now I realize some places force you to do this due to limited space. This was not one of those places. Uncool, man. Uncool.
  • When you do get parked, make sure you’re between the lines. If I have to explain why this is a good thing, do me a favor and smash your fingers in your cab door the next time you get a chance. Thanks.
  • The fuel bay is not your drive-thru window. If you can get your food without delaying the driver behind you more than a couple of minutes, have at it. However, if when you go inside you see that the line at Subway is longer than the shower wait at a Love’s truck stop, go back out and park your truck. Or if you’re one of those finicky people who insist on fresh fries every time, please oh please just go park it first.
  • When in the fuel bay, actually give a damn where you’re squirting the water hose. That is all.
  • Be considerate of other drivers when parked. Just because you’re awake, doesn’t mean everyone is. I once had a trucker wake me up with his loud music when he pulled in. It was around noon, but I had driven all night. I had to get out of bed and go pound on his door. He peeked out and promptly ignored me. I stood there pounding for another 2-3 minutes before he finally turned it down. By the way, if this happened to you at the Flying J in Walton, KY, I’m the guy who called your company and reported your inconsideration. Cheers!
  • Control your mutt. I typically hate dogs for a variety of reasons. The first of which is dodging dog poop as I walk into the truck stop. Here’s a rule to live by. If there is a direct line between any truck and the truck stop, don’t let your dog poop there. I’m pretty sure even dog-lovers don’t like picking dog crap out of their Adidas treads with a plastic spoon. Secondly, if your dog barks all night, I officially hate your guts. Make him shut up for Pete’s sake. And if not, please leave Fido tied up outside so I can “accidentally” run over him when I pull out in the morning.
  • Stop flirting with the staff. This one is for the dudes. Not only are you holding up progress with your lame attempts at humor, but you’re also more likely to develop a super-power than you are to impress any of these ladies. Let it go, man. Accept that they don’t think you’re the least bit funny… or cute… or even remotely interesting for that matter.
  • If a driver looks occupied, don’t talk to him. It’s amazing how many drivers will interrupt me while I have a movie playing on my computer and I have earbuds in. Call me stupid, but I just can’t remember the last time I stuck in my earbuds thinking, “Man, I sure hope all these truckers don’t think I’m being unsociable.” I AM BEING UNSOCIABLE! GO AWAY, JERKFACE! And for the record, I’ve tried the ginormous headphones that make me look like Princess Leia too. It didn’t help a bit.
  • If there is a shower wait, hurry the heck up! As I said earlier, I’ve been doing the Gorilla Workout lately. I usually do this in the shower room before I shower. But here’s the rule. If there is a shower wait, I skip my workout. Not only is it the considerate thing to do, but it’s also an awesome excuse to skip a workout. It’s a win-win! So that’s it. If people are waiting, do what you have to do and get the heck out.
  • Ah, the truck stop bathrooms. I have four simple rules that will make the truck stop bathrooms a better place for all humanity: 1) No grunting, wheezing, heavy breathing, or groaning. Unless you’re crapping up one of those giant worm things that invade your intestines, there is no need to make noises while you’re doing your business. 2) All poop and poop-related accessories go in the toilet. 3) Flush. Need I say more? 4) Don’t make or leave a mess. Actually, this leads nicely into our next topic.

Awesome Trucker Goal #3: Conservation

Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? So exactly what does conservation have to do with leaving a mess? Well, it starts off with a pet peeve of mine.

Water consumption

Folks, water is a valuable resource. Why are you wasting it?

It happens all the time, on various levels. The worst offender is the driver who walks in and the first thing he does is turn on the water full-blast. Then, with the water going full-bore, he gets some paper towels, wipes down the counter a bit, sets his manly-man grooming kit down, forages for his toothbrush and toothpaste, and finally starts brushing his teeth. When he’s done brushing, the water stays running while he shaves, washes his face, fixes his hair, and generally admires himself in the mirror. About 90% of that 5-10 minutes he wasn’t even using the water. Grrr. The only guys who make me madder is the germaphobes who leave the water running and walk out of the restroom. Sheesh. If you’re OCD about germs, just say so and I’d be happy to turn it off with my tongue.

Now I may not be awesome at lots of things, but I do excel at water conservation. Whoever you are, I encourage you to examine your morning ritual practices. I’ll bet you a peanut butter and jelly sammich that you’ll see ways you can conserve more water. Here’s my ritual. Observe my awesomeness!

  1. Don’t turn on the water until you need it. Get the toothpaste on the brush and then give the spigot a quick turn on and off. Ta-dah! Your brush is wet!
  2. Brush until you need to spit. Well… spit already. Give the spigot another quick turn on and off to wash your nastiness down before it has a chance to stick to the sink. Oh, come on! It isn’t that hard to turn it back off. Your hand is already on the handle for crying out loud!
  3. Repeat until your teeth are pearly white. Okay, I guess a dull yellow will have to suffice. Turn on the water only long enough to clean your brush and the sink afterwards.
  4. To finish up your ritual, if your hands, face, or comb isn’t requiring water at that precise moment, turn it off.

I often find myself wanting to say something to these water-abusers, but I never do. Why not? Stay tuned for Awesome Trucker Goal #4. But first, let’s finish up with conservation.

Paper towels

If they’ve got an air dryer, opt for it instead. If you aren’t a fan of those you can still take it easy on the paper. I saw a TED talk video (only 4:32 long) about paper towel usage last year and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s a simple method of shaking your hands (in a controlled manner) and folding the paper towel to maximize its absorbency. Yes, I realize that sounds like a hokey Bounty commercial, but it seriously works. I kind of make a game out of it to see how little paper towel I can get by with. You’d be surprised how little it takes. So no more excuses for you guys who rip off 5 or 6 paper towels and barely use it!

Littering

Not much to say here except to knock it off. I once watched a guy at a fuel bay crawl up onto his running board, grab his little trash can, and dump it on the ground by his truck. It all fell at his kid’s feet, which just so happened to be about 3 feet from a trash can. It stayed there when he left the fuel bay. Nice parenting, dill-munch.

Really folks, do we have to go over this? Trash goes in the trash can, preferably without full bottles of piss. And if you dog owners want to pick up your dog’s poo, well I’m sure the trash bin will accept that too. Man, I may as well wish for Warren Buffett to adopt me while I’m at it.

Fuel

Okay folks, if you need to idle your truck to stay cool or warm, buy all means do so. But if you’re going to be out of your truck, why does your truck need to idle? Granted, I know there are exceptions to the rule, such as faulty starters, a sleeping co-driver, and cold temperatures that cause fuel to gel. But if you’re running in for a shower, why leave it running? Not only is it spewing fumes into the air, but it’s also sucking fuel at a rate of about 1 gallon per hour. So not only are you saving money for yourself or your company, but you’re also helping to stick it to the man.

So that’s it for conservation. Trust me here. I love trees, but you’ll never seeing me hugging one. I just see that God gave us this great planet and he told us to subdue it and use it. I can only assume he meant to use it wisely. And being wise makes you awesome.

Awesome Trucker Goal #4: Take a chill pill

Chill pills are great for your well-being. They take stress from your life. They cause you to relax. And, as I’ve already mentioned, they keep you from confronting water abusers. (Side affects may include: dizzyness, nausea, crazy bone tweaks, shin splints, cooties, and bleeding from the ears, rectum, and peehole.)

At customers

Ask yourself this? When was the last time yelling at a shipping or receiving clerk accomplished anything? Any experience trucker will tell you that the louder you bark, the slower they move. I listened to a guy cuss out a forklift driver the other morning. Guess who got finished first? Him or me? Righty-o. So not only are you not being professional, you also aren’t helping your cause any. Time to pop a chill pill, man.

If another driver takes your dock, try to assume someone made a mistake. With a calm voice and a smile on your face, ask the offending driver if he was told to take that dock. Better to assume that than to accuse him of cutting the line only to find out he was just following the confused directions of an overworked shipping clerk. Now if he’s one of those jerks who is well aware that he’s cutting the line, take it up with the shipping clerk, again, with a pleasant tone. If neither refuse to correct the issue, take another chill pill and overdose on calmness. It’s really not worth the stress of an intense argument, or in a worst-case scenario, a beating and/or an all-expenses paid trip to the hoosegow.

With other drivers

Once again, when another driver does something stupid or just plain mean, pop a chill pill. Getting your blood pressure boiling is going to accomplish jack squat. Here’s an example of both right and wrong behavior.

I was in the fuel bay at the Pilot in Marion, IL. The team drivers in front of me took forever to fuel (even with two of them), but they had finally pulled up. I pumped my fuel and waited for them to move. They weren’t in their truck, so I went back to my cab and waited. A few more minutes and I took a chill pill. I thought, “I’ll just run in and leave the toilet a big present while I’m waiting.” I did. Afterward, I came out and they still hadn’t moved. I went in and had them paged. Finally they come walking out at a leisurely pace. But they still weren’t moving. That’s when I saw them walking to the McDonald’s next door. I ran toward them hollering that they were f*$%ing jerks, which is pretty harsh for a guy who doesn’t normally cuss. Well, clearly my chill pill had worn off. But what good did it do for me to get my panties in a wad about it? If they heard me, they did a good job of pretending they didn’t. I was all wound up and they couldn’t care less. This was a giant failure on my part. Granted, they were jerks.

But a couple of nights ago, I made up for it. I was at a shipper with limited space. I saw a local driver unhooking from a trailer, so I crowded him a bit so I could scoot up and let another trucker get off the street. Well, when he pulled out, the poor guy had to do a three-point turn in order to get out… in a bobtail. The horror of it! Well, he just so happened to catch me walking alongside my trailer when he drove by. He laid on the air horn, which was deafening right beside my head. I’m sure he expected me to react, but I didn’t. I actually had a smile on my face while he blasted away. Win for me! Now could I have flipped him the bird or yelled at him? Yes, I could. Did he deserve it? Yep, he sure did. But again I ask, what good would it have done? I forgot about the whole ordeal in a few minutes while I bet he was steaming out the ears for a good half-hour. HA! Who got the last laugh, punk?!

In short, jerks will be jerks. And unfortunately there really isn’t anything we can say or do that will change them. Old Solomon summed it up pretty well in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The Bible says Solomon was the wisest man in the world. Hard to disagree with that here. Have you ever tried to argue with someone who refuses to argue? It just takes the wind out of your sails. And when you can be the bigger man (or woman), that’s awesomeness personified.

To sum up…

Well, I hope you find a way to implement at least some of these things into your daily life. If you’re an underachiever, just make getting a prescription of chill pills your priority. Once you start letting other people’s meanness and stupidity roll off your back, you’re on your way to having a better year. And if you’re going to remain a fat, grunting, water-wasting trucker who lets his dog poop in my path, well, you’re going to need all the relaxing you can get to ease your guilty mind. 😉

TD92: Honor Among Truckers

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Truckers have to trust each other every day

Truckers have to trust each other every day

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

Now let me get one thing straight here. I’m not saying truckers in general are an untrustworthy lot, but let’s face facts. Some of the characters out here don’t exactly look like you could trust them any more than you could trust a pit bull while wearing a meat scarf. The odd thing is, for the most part, we drivers do it all the time. Trust, that is; not wear meat scarves. We smell bad enough as is. Today, we’re going to discuss three of these situations:

Honor Among Truckers Scenario #1: Parking

Truckers have to park every night in cramped spaces. Whether it’s a truck stop, a rest area, or a crowded exit ramp, we’re constantly leaving ourselves to the mercy of other drivers. Nearly every night at the truck stops, you’ll see drivers sitting behind the wheel and staring off into space. You’d think that we’d all be paranoid that someone is going to hit our truck while backing into the parking spot next to us. Yet we aren’t. Under normal situations, most of us just sit there and let the other driver do their thing. We trust that he or she is capable of doing the job without taking out our front fender. That’s Honor Among Truckers. Granted, this doesn’t mean we trust everyone equally.

Even a non-experienced driver can see when a fellow trucker is having trouble backing into a parking spot.

I've got $100 that says that ain't Gatorade

100 bucks that says that ain’t Gatorade

That’s when we toss our trusting nature into the trash bin along with all the piss-filled milk jugs (photo). We all know that there are times when it’s not only wiser to get out and guide the other driver, but it’s also the friendly thing to do. That being said, I think many times these well-meaning guiders are doing more harm than good. Listen dudes and dudettes; unless this troubled backer is a total rookie, they really don’t need you to tell them which way to turn the wheel by making giant circular motions with your arms. Seriously, you look like you’re having a conniption fit, so just knock it off. No, what most drivers need in this situation is for you to simply stand by the parking space and give a shout if they’re about to hit something. But again, the point is; if they don’t need help, we just sit there and trust that they’ll accomplish the task without smashing one of our mirrors.

Then again, this Honor Among Truckers can sometimes jump up and sock you in the Adam’s apple.

Case in point. A few weeks back, I parked at a Flying J in Missouri to run in and grab a shower. I did so for two reasons. One, because I’d been wearing a meat scarf, and two, I was trying to avoid the torture that is the inspection bays at our company shops. You see, I was heading home and the last thing I needed was for some overly zealous mechanic to find something wrong with my truck that would inevitably keep me there overnight. Been there. Done that. Wasn’t gonna risk it.

So I needed to kill a couple of hours. An extra-long shower took care of most of that time. I killed the rest of the time watching NCIS in the trucker’s lounge. But when it was finally safe to roll toward the yard, I found a surprise waiting for me by my truck. There was debris all along the driver’s side of my trailer and there was a 6-foot section of the lower side rail that was totally demolished. After I picked my jaw up off the peelot, I went back to look at the rig that was parked beside me. There wasn’t any damage on the rear of their trailer, so I went up to see if I could find a note on my truck somewhere. Nope. It was a hit-and-run. Probably some owner-operator who didn’t want his insurance rates to skyrocket. I asked around, but just like in NYC, no one claimed to have seen anything. Didn’t matter much, as my company just asked a few questions and never said another word about it. Guess it happens more often than we might think. Makes you think about trusting other drivers so much, huh?

Honor Among Truckers Scenario #2: Driving

Professional truckers are called that for a reason; we’re trained to drive defensively. Rarely do you see a trucker do something completely unexpected. Like the parking scenario, we just trust that the other driver knows what they’re doing. When a trucker switches lanes beside you, you just assume he knows you’re there. For the most part, you don’t feel the need to honk, flash your headlights, or swerve like a slalom skier to get away from them. You sure can’t say that about 4-wheelers. They’re always freaking out like we’re going to come into their lane and reenact the opening scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Likewise, we just assume a trucker entering a freeway on-ramp knows what to do. Again, not so much when it comes to 4-wheelers and their cell phones.

But just like the parking, sometimes driving trust can backfire too. Early in our careers, The Evil Overlord and I were tooling along on I-10 near Ontario, California. As any trucker knows, those lanes aren’t all that wide. We were cruising along at 60 mph in the second lane when we felt a jolt and saw pieces of our passenger-side mirror go flying. Another trucker had clipped our mirror as he flew by us at about 70 mph. Before we could get pulled over to the side of the road, the other driver took the next exit ramp and vanished through a truck-sized wormhole. Now had that been a shiny orange truck, we could’ve reported it and my company would’ve given Schneider a call. But this was an indistinguishable owner-operator. I’m sure this was a quickly-realized factor when the driver made his split-second decision to do the right thing or hit the exit ramp. So yes, trusting others truckers can suck sometimes, but what are you gonna do? Just like the hit-and-run, this was a freak accident. That didn’t mean that I didn’t trust the next driver who passed me. I did, albeit looking in my one good mirror a bit more often.

Honor Among Truckers Scenario #3: Thievery

Honor among truckers in action

Honor among truckers in action

Any time you see trucks in a truck stop, you’ll also see lots of empty trucks. Every trucker out there knows that these trucks have all sorts of valuable stuff in them; computers, TV’s, iPods, GPS units, video and photo cameras, and even game consoles like Playstation and XBox. So any trucker could have a field day out here. Most of us know that trucks aren’t all that hard to break into either. We know this because many of us have locked our keys in our trucks at some point in our careers. With a coat hanger in hand, we could’ve been back in our trucks in 10 minutes if we hadn’t spent those minutes cussing and questioning our intelligence level. So what’s to stop a driver from cashing in? Honor Among Truckers.

Personally, I’m kind of amazed at the amount of trust we have. Now I’m a trusting person by nature, but being married to The Evil Overlord for almost 20 years has caused some of her paranoia to rub off on me. She was raised near a big city, so she doesn’t trust anyone. While I’m content to lock and deadbolt our apartment door, she goes even further by locking our bedroom door and keeping a loaded .44 Special on her nightstand.

So that means that I’m possibly a bit more cautious than the average trucker. For example, here again we come into all the truckers sitting in their driver’s seat at the truck stop. Many drivers sit there with their laptops propped up on their steering wheel as they busy themselves with email, watching movies, surfing the web, or, as most of us can attest to; watching porn. Everyone can see this. That’s just waaaay more trust than I can muster.

My thief magnet

My thief magnet

Any time I’m on my computer, I’m always in the bunk area. Now during the daytime, I do leave the front curtains wide open to let some light in. But at night, I shut them tighter than a frog’s bunghole. Why? Take a look at that picture. That’s why. As many of you know, I gush on-and-on about my beloved MacBook Pro. God is #1 in my life. The Evil Overlord and my Mac are fighting it out for the #2 spot. Anyway, I’m not about to prop my glowing-like-the-full-moon Apple up on my steering wheel where everyone can see. That’s because even Apple-haters know that Macs are more valuable than the average PC. This is not Apple fanboyism. This is fact. At some point, I’m going to have to get out of the truck for something. And some trucker who is watching is going to know it. I faced something similar to this the other morning.

I was at the Flying J just north of Houston, TX and I was jonesing for a shower. I pulled my front curtain closed, packed my shower bag with fresh duds, and headed towards the truck stop. As usual I could see truckers who saw me vacating the truck. Some were in their trucks while others were walking about. That’s when the crazy-eyed guy approached me.

He was a thin black man in his late 50’s. He was dressed kind of ratty and he had that eye condition where you couldn’t tell what he was looking at. His left eye appeared to be fascinated with the cloud structure over my right shoulder, while his right eye appeared to be checking to see if my shirt had pit-stains under my left arm. He pointed at my truck and said, “Did you just come out of that truck?” Since I knew he just saw me get out of it, I warily said, “Uhhhh… yeah.” He went on, “Do you need any help today? I can help unload trucks and stuff.” My thought was, “Yeah, I’ll bet you’ll unload my truck.” I politely declined the offer and we went our separate ways. Just as Journey had. sings – How we touched and went our Separate Ways.

Well, like I said, The Evil Overlord has rubbed her non-trusting mojo onto me. Normally, I like it when she rubs on me, but not in this case. 😉 I soon paused, hidden by the nose of a Peterbilt. It wasn’t hard to remain unseen, as you could hide a moose behind one of those friggin’ hoods. I watched him as he walked off. He kept glancing backward and all around. Was he looking for someone else to help, or was he remembering where my truck was? He finally vanished around the end of the line of trucks. I started to walk on in to the truck stop, but I paused. Something was nagging me. I couldn’t get over the thought of having all my crap stolen when I could have prevented it. What if this were the time that I was too trusting? So I did something I rarely do. I went back and packed up all my valuable crap. And since my fully-crammed shower and computer bags weigh about 90 tons and I was parked in the back of the parking lot, I’m counting that as a daily workout. I have gone to this extreme a few other times when some seedy-looking character was walking around the parking lot. I like to say; trust, but don’t be naïve.

Well, in the end, I should have trusted old crazy-eyed Joe. I later saw him approaching other drivers outside the doors of the truck stop. If he had broken into my truck, at least he was nice enough to lock it back up and leave my clothes and my ratty old tennis shoes behind. That was very thoughtful of him.

Personally, I’m kinda baffled about this whole Honor Among Truckers thing. On one hand, it gives me the warm pink fuzzies to know that we truckers trust each other so much, especially considering the circumstances that we’re in. It shows a trust in our fellow man that doesn’t exist in this world much nowadays. But that still doesn’t mean I’m going to trust anyone that might even remotely be eyeballing my MacBook Pro. You can have The Evil Overlord though. There. Priorities set. 😉