By: Dalene Davies-Smoot
Truck drivers seldom write on social media about how much fun they had on any particular day. If they do, it’s usually with a sarcastic tone and an unseen yet realized shake of the head.
There are those moments when humor can be found in trucking. Sharing those moments with drivers who are having a very bad day can often change the momentum from lousy overload to not too bad capacity.
We had a driver named B who was short, thin as a rail, and determined. He had been dispatched to pick up a load of Anheuser-Busch non-alcoholic O’Doul’s beer out of St. Louis and deliver it on the east coast at a specified time. He called Bob and was livid – in his nasal-y voice he screamed at Bob, “That damn J – she knows I don’t haul no damn beer!” Bob said, “But it’s non-alcoholic, B”. “It doesn’t matter! My mother will move to Europe if she knows I hauled a load of anything with an Anheuser-Busch label on it!” By this time Bob was rollin’…but as usual, Bob switched loads for B so his mother wouldn’t move to Europe. A few days later we were in the office and I saw the shadow of a small-ish cowboy walking up to Bob’s desk. (Nasal-y voice) “Hello Bob.” “Hello B” B became Bob’s alter ego through the years. “Damn it, Dalene (plugging his nose), you know I don’t eat no damn eggs! My mother will move to Europe!” As much as I shook my head, it always made me laugh….
And then there came a call one day from a truck stop employee saying our driver was huffing fumes. Bob called him, driver denied it, Bob said, “Listen to me, you were seen doing it so denying it will only cause you more trouble.” The driver told Bob, “I’m always misunderstood.You of all people should know me better than that.” Bob, as always, calmly stated, “Then do tell me how this lady misunderstood.” The driver paused and said, “I was checking the fuel level.” Bob put his hand over the phone and was laughing hysterically. “You were doing what???,” he asked. “I was checking the fuel level, Bob.” Bob said, “Well, you learn something new every day! I could have sworn that what the fuel gauge was for.” Driver said, “Bob, I don’t have time to look at every gauge….”
You gotta laugh….(and just for the record, the driver was let go, but as per Bob’s usual nature, he assured him that when he got help he would have a job.)
We had a bull hauler apply one day and he was a runner from the old school outlaw days. Great guy, we loved his work ethic, and wanted to hire him in the worst way. Drug test came back negative…good…ready to go….good…DAC report…not good. “Unauthorized use of livestock.” YIKES!!! Oh Lordy…Bob said to me, “Why don’t you take care of this one, dear?” I said, “Not on your life.” So Bob proceeded to call him and tell him about the charge to which the driver replied, “I ain’t never put my head through a fence or kept a sheep from going through one!” Bob was rolling on the floor! “Well,” Bob said, “How do we figure this one out?” Driver said, “I don’t know Bob but I’m not into animals!” Oh my…Bob didn’t sleep much that night in despair over what he hoped and prayed was an obvious mistake on the report. Next day I did research for him and discovered they left a very important word out on the report: TRAILER. UNAUTHORIZED USE OF LIVESTOCK TRAILER. Oh my goodness what a laugh we had! And the driver took it all in stride – in fact, every time he or Bob would ask how the other one was their standard answer was, “Not baaaaad.”
And who can forget V, a popular Bosnian driver that followed Bob from one company to
another. A recent over-the-roader, V was so anxious to get his new truck and start “trucking America!” as he called it. He ran like a trooper and was ready for his first run on toll roads when Bob got a call from him. “Bob?,” he said as called in on his check call – “I do not know about toll roads. I have no money Bob so I just drive on through. “Bob started yelling at V, yet laughing hysterically. “Are they coming for you?” “Yes, Bob, but I have no money.” So V called a few minutes later and said, “Bob I guess I need to have money at all times.” Bob said, “Yes, and you knew that.” V said, “You Americans are so literal! I wave my hand next time and smile for the camera and say ‘My best boss Bob will take care of this!’” He knew Bob all too well.
Trucking is difficult and tedious work with long hours and with rarely enough compensation. I wouldn’t want to do it; Bob certainly didn’t want to do it, and I believe those that do drive are a special gift to those of us who take for granted what they do. What those of us who admire the tenacity of those good drivers willing to do anything to help another, can do to give back just a little of what that truck driver did to get our goods to us, is to offer a good word, make a positive comment, take an experience and make it a laughable example of what life hands us all – lemons….and teach even the toughest and roughest driver how to make lemonade accompanied by a side of laughter.