If you ever want to explore the life of a trukker, here are some suggestions to help you blend in:
- Wear a pair of older, slightly soiled jeans and a tee shirt from a 1977 Sturgis, South Dakota, Harley-Davidson rally.
- Don’t wash your hair for a day and comb it so that one part looks mussed.
- At the truck stop, go to the restaurant. Eat from the buffet if available, for maximum effect. If no buffet, order from the menu any item that makes your arteries pop just reading the description. No matter what you order, including a salad, ask for gravy on the side.
- Take a phone call while eating and use the following phrases liberally:
o “You’ve got to be kidding!”
o “That barely pays my fuel bill!”
o “43,580 pounds is my limit!”
Then hang up, roll your eyes, and say, “Dispatch!” (A mild profanity won’t hurt you at this point.)
- Tell the following story, inserting whichever details you want:
“I was on the interstate in (state) during a (severe weather condition) when I (lost air pressure, blew a steering tire, hit a moose) and I had to pull off the road. My (Co-Driver, student) was in the sleeper and I was about out of hours. I called Dispatch and they told me to (call a service truck, wait for the spring thaw, take a long nap) so I did. After an hour of sitting, here comes Smokey, and he’s all over me about (my DOT bumper, being over-length, wearing a Yankees t-shirt) and does a (expletive) Class 1 inspection. Right there in the (see weather condition). Of course, the load was late and they (docked my pay, fired me, took my first-born). I told ‘em they could (anatomical action) and left the tractor (on the side of the road, in Haiti, where the sun don’t shine) and the trailer still full of (ice cream, sacks of manure that somehow split open, National Enquirers). Then I went to work for my uncle hauling live pigs and never looked back. Got me a nice little dedicated run and I’m home every weekend.
Hey, Sweetheart, you can take my plate. Just need some more gravy and top off my coffee please, darlin’.”
We were given a load to New York City. It took us nearly two hours to drive the final twenty-five miles into the city, and nearly as long to get back out, so we were exhausted. As we jostled and bumped along the narrow, crowded streets, dodging taxis and other motorists, the following conversation occurred:
Me: “They could make street maintenance so much more efficient by attaching bags of asphalt to the rear bumper of cars and letting some of it spill out to fill potholes.”
Harry, thoroughly disgusted with some of the rude New York drivers, thought I used the better halves of the words as-phalt and pot-holes and I was suggesting we drop THEM on the roads: “That’s a great idea, but how would you spread them out?”
Me: “Easy. Just put it in a sack and let it spill out as you drive along.”
Harry: “I don’t think they’d fit in the container.”
Me: “Sure it would. If each person driving let a little go, eventually all the holes would fill up.”
Harry: “It would sure make the city less crowded.”
Me: “Huh? How would spreading asphalt cut down on the population?”
Harry: “Oh, you said as-PHALT!
When I pass through Virginia, I try to picture the Civil War battles that were probably fought on the land next to the freeway. Did young soldiers run across those meadows, dodging bullets? Did they sit in the shade of those trees, eating a meal or trying to rest? Did some young man worry about his family and home; did another know he had neither left to fret over? Maybe they were right there, a few feet from our truck, and didn’t know it was their last day of life. How can anyone travel through this part of our country without thinking of that? It seems I can’t be frivolous here; it is far too serious a place…. Then we get clear of the wooded areas and get back in civilization and it becomes about time, traffic, and finding a Walmart because we need paper towels. But we try to remember that we have been on hallowed ground.