Sunday, October 26, 2008


Ever wonder how truckers cope with things like laundry? Well, I'm gonna reveal some of our not-so-secret (to truckers, anyway) methods. There are, of course, coin laundry facilities in most of the larger truckstop chains, but what if you don't have eight bucks or so worth of quarters? And change can be hard to come by sometimes on weekends -- the only time many drivers have the downtime to do their laundry. The majority of banks are locked up tight on weekends, and they get as many of the bullcrap holidays as the USPS does. Columbus Day?? Good grief! Can anyone tell me why Americans even have a holiday celebrating an Italian, who sailed in Spanish ships, and discovered South America??!!! The Vikings discovered this country, so why ain't there a Leif Erikson Day??

But, getting back to laundry. . . How do you think I dried out my soaked socks and shoes, during the monsoons I endured last week? Simple. Bungee cord hooked through holes in the passenger side step plates. Tuck shoes under bungee, tie laces to it. Drive and let the moving air current dry them in no time flat. And the same for my socks. Wring water from them, then crank down the passenger window a hair. Insert socks through opening in window,then crank window back up, trapping them with the glass. Drive and the breeze will dry them quickly. Okay, okay -- it might look like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies, but it works!!! Poor man's clothes dryer.

I have a younger friend, who drives for another company, and he thought that he had "invented" this little method. Ha! The joke's on him, because I've been doing stuff like that for ten years!! Heck, I've even seen women drivers use this method, and even for their, uh, unmentionables. I had a red Kenworth pass me one night not long ago, and it had a bra and two pair of cute little floral print panties hanging out the passenger window, flapping in the breeze. I couldn't resist -- got on the CB and said something to the effect that the driver was either a woman, or some guy got damned lucky and had one heck of a night!! Female laughter came across the airwaves and the voice of the driver was definitely a sweet-sounding lady. I laughed and complimented her on her excellent taste in undies. She laughed and we had a pleasant conversation for the next fifty miles or so.

Well, I have hung my own "unmentionables" out that window, too, when it was necessary and I'd run out of clean undies. Wash 'em out in a truckstop, or rest area sink (truckstop preferred, because they don't have those insane faucets that cut themselves off after a spurt or two of water). Hang 'em out the window, usually at night, when fewer people will notice and you won't have some smartass teasing you on the radio. In emergency situations, I have dried them in the daytime, and to hell with what anyone thinks. Just turn off the CB and cruise along. You get some weird looks from the cars sometimes, but I just grinned at them and trucked onward.

Where there's a will, there's a way, and when you're stuck in a truck all the time you often have to improvise. We've all gotten very good at that over the years.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Well, let's see how this looks. Testing. Testing. Testing. Writer in search of a font.

Oh -- hi, there!!! Still getting used to things, here in New Blog-Land -- just another AOL Journals refugee, getting used to the new system. Y'all let me know how you like the fonts, as I'll continue to experiment, each week. Then, as usual, I'll pick one I like anyway, but I thank you for your input, regardless!

Don't look like I'm gonna make it home this weekend. Got handed a nifty little 6-stop LTL-style run yesterday and toured EasternWisconsin pretty well. With the last stop in Dixon, IL (Ronald Reagan's boyhood hometown) and winding up, finally, in Bartonville, just a few miles from my company's yard, it took up the entire day. And, just as I'd suspected, as soon as I dropped my trailer and asked for dispatch on another load, I got the "no load" message on my Qualcomm.

Thursday is Rookie Driver Graduation Day at Star Central, and if the class is large enough, they tend to eat up all the loads. And so they did this week. Loads in general have been in short supply at times lately, anyway, and when you add rookie first-loads to the equation, the leftovers can be skimpy, or non-existent. It looks, on this Saturday morning, like most of the newbies have gone on their way already, so I'm stranded here with a few other unlucky late arrivals. Can't afford a motel, and since the one I always stayed in before now has a "smoke-free" policy, I'll decline that, rather than be miserable all weekend. If I have to stand outside half the time, in order to indulge my nicotine craving, then I'm just as well-off in my truck. If you're a smoker and feel threatened, rest assured that you are NOT paranoid. They ARE out to get you!! Quite literally. Bad habit, I know. And I should quit. But maybe -- just maybe -- I would have done so long ago, if I didn't feel like I was being forced into it against my will. There's something about being forced to do something that brings out my most mega-stubborn streak. I think it's a freedom and liberty thing. And we have less and less of that, as time goes on. Sadly.

In other news. . . I'm sick of freakin' rain!! That's ALL it's done, where I've gone, for that last three or four days. Sick of soggy shoes, soggy socks, soggy pant cuffs, and soggy jackets that I have to drape across my sleeper cabinets, to dry out. Sick of water on my glasses. Or, in my glasses! Has anyone ever figured out why, when a raindrop splatters on your eyeglasses, that it always manges to land on the inside of the lens??!! GRRRRRRRRRR! Maddening!! Next rain trip I make, I'm gonna pack my biker goggles!! I guess it beats snow, in that you can drive faster on it (assuming you can get the 35 mph scaredy-cats in the cars out of your way), but snow rarely, if ever, soaks you to the skin the way rain does. They're both differing forms of misery.

Sick of mudhole trailer lots, too. The back of my tractor looks like I've been in an off-road endurance race in a swamp. Dried mud, slung up there by my spinning, sliding drive tires, at least two inches thick. Absolutely sick of backing under a loaded box, opening up my door, and finding that I'm parked in the middle of a 3-foot-deep mini-lake!! Double-GRRRRRRRRR!! Splop-splot-splash! Hook up the trailer. Splop-splop-splash! Crank up the dollies. Splop-splop-splash! Adjust the tandems. Get back in truck. Remove shoes and socks. Wring half-gallon of water out of socks. Pour other half-gallon out of shoes. Set all aside to dry out. Drive in my sandals. Stub big toe on pedals. Curse fluently and frequently. Q$X&X#X#-ING RAIN!!!! Dump the cluch in the mini-lake and blast off with a pretty nice "rooster tail" from my spinning drives. Hell, yeah -- CLEAN the bottom of that trailer!!! Freakin' rain!!!

It actually looked like in might clear off while ago. The sun (remember it??) came out for a short time. But it was "just kidding," I guess, because it's reverted back to solid overcast again now. Hasn't rained a drop, so far, though. Just looks like it wants to. And it probably will, if I have to walk any distance at all. That's Murphy's Law, y'know??

Saturday, October 18, 2008



1. A bike doesn't get jealous when you look at other bikes.

2. A bike is ready to go anywhere you want to go, anytime, instantly.

3. A bike will never wake you up at 3:00 A.M. and ask you what you're thinking.

4. A bike will never ask you if the new saddlebags make its rear end look too big.

5. You can ride a bike all you want to, without spending a dime on it.


1. Ride a dirtbike under a neighbor's clothesline (actually happened to me, years ago).

2. Come home drunk at 4 A.M., miss the turn into your driveway, plow into dew-sodden grass, riding on street tires (might as well be on ice).

3. Stop on a steep incline and absent-mindedly put your foot down on the downhill side!!

4. Put your foot down in an oil puddle at a gas station pump.

5. Try to pop a "wheelie" to impress a girl and lose your grip on the handlebars.


1. Marlon Brando/Lee Marvin: The two stars of The Wild One -- the movie adaptation of the Hollister, CA incident, in 1947, that gave biker gangs (and bikers in general) a bad reputation, largely undeserved. Both actors actually owned and rode motorcycles in real life. Brando, in fact, rode his own personal bike in the film, a Triumph TR6 model. While the Harley that Marvin rode in the film was supplied by the film studio, he actually owned a Harley-Davidson of his own and rode quite often in his personal life. The main riding scenes in the film were shot with the actors actually riding the bikes, not stand-ins or stunt riders.

2. Steve McQueen: Ever seen the classic WWII film, The Great Escape, and the sequence in which McQueen's character is trying to cross the German/Swiss border on a motorcycle?? That was actually Steve McQueen on the bike, doing his own stunt work in the movie. McQueen was a successful motorcycle racer before he became an actor, so he had plenty of chops to do the job in the film. The bike he was using to jump over those barricades was in reality a 500cc Triumph, which had been cosmetically disguised, to make it look like a WWII-era German military machine. One of Steve McQueen's personal bikes, a pristine vintage Indian machine, is on permanent display today at the National Motorcycle Museum, in Anamosa, IA.

3. Peter Fonda/Dennis Hopper: The two stars of Easy Rider were also both real-life bikers, as well as actors. Both actors also did all their own actual riding in the film. Fonda's "Captain America" chopper, as well as the Harley bobber that Hopper rode in the film, were commissioned and created especially for the film and the American flag-themed chopper has since become legendary among motorcyclists all over the world. It currently resides in the National Motorcycle Museum, in Iowa.

4. Kyle Petty: The son of NASCAR legend, Richard Petty, is a long-time biker as well as a NASCAR star in his own right. His annual cross-country charity ride draws riders from all over the country, as well as from other nations. The younger Petty owns several motorcycles, mostly Harley-Davidsons, including some vintage machines. All proceeds from his charity events go to the camp he created, which gives aid to disadvantaged children.

5. G. Gordon Liddy: Radio talk-show host, actor, and Watergate "plumber" Liddy owned five Harleys at one time. His wife, Frances, made him get rid of all but two of them, as he related to listeners on his popular show awhile back. Liddy makes his pilgrimage to the huge rally in Sturgis, SD, every summer, and his show has been broadcast on location from there most years. An avid motorcyclist, Liddy also attends several other rallies during the season every year. Look for his famous "G-Man" helmet, if you go to rallies; you might just get a chance to shake hands with him sometime.

6. Jay Leno: The Tonight Show host and comedian has an extensive collection of classic and performance cars, as well as a motorcycle collection. Another avid rider, Leno can often be seen on the streets of L.A., riding one of his Harleys, or custom bikes around. He also shows up regularly at Sturgis, as well as many other rallies around the country. He was seen most recently in Milwaukee, WI, at Harley's 105th Anniversary celebration back in August.

7. Henry Winkler: The Fonz character he portrayed on the TV show, Happy Days, was a biker, but nothing could be further from the truth for the actor himself. "They (motorcycles) scare me," Winkler told an interviewer one time. And so, "The Fonz," who recently had a statue unveiled in Milwaukee, will always remain a fictional biker.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've been trucking around the Eastern U.S. since 1998. Ten years. In that time, I've learned much, although I'm not fooling myself into thinking I know it all. By no means do I; there's always more to learn. My sense of humility keeps my ego under tight control all the time and the"big head" has never been one of my vices. I am not perfect -- far from it. I make mistakes. Not nearly as many as in my rookie years, to be sure, but I still err from time to time. And when I do, I usually pull out all the stops and screw things up royally. No sense in doing a half-assed screw-up. Hell, let it all hang out, I say!!!

And I surely did so this week -- just yesterday (Thursday), in fact. This was a certified ten-story, ten thousand pound blunder of massive proportions. It cost me half a day of time and likely had dispatch and customer service tearing out their hair by the roots and cursing me thoroughly. But they couldn't have ripped me any more than I ripped myself, because I pulled the stupidest and most embarrassing stunt that I've ever pulled, in my entire ten years.

It began when I got dispatched Wednesday evening, in Griffin, Georgia. I had just delivered a load to our top customer's local warehouse there and I was SHOT, to put it mildly. As in "very fatigued," or "worn-out," or "exhausted." I hadn't slept worth a hoot the night before and then I drove myself silly, getting the load there on time. Seems like I drove at least 3,500 miles on that one trip, although I'm sure it was a considerably shorter distance. That's what driving more than ten hours when you're already tired is like; NOT fun!! Eat your heart out, Parents Against Tired Truckers!!! Shi -- uh -- stuff happens.

BEEP! Went the Qualcomm. Load info. Looked at it. Picked up in Macon, Georgia, about 70 miles south of Hot'lanta. Requested and got directions to the shipper. Same exit and roads to a place I'd been to once before. When I saw those directions was the moment my brain expelled its flatulence. I somehow got it into my head that I was going to that same shipper again. I couldn't remember the name of the place, nor the street name it was on, but I knew a short-cut into it, because you have to weigh in and out at a public scale up the street from the place. I wrote everything up and plopped into my bunk, asleep almost before I hit the sheets. The address of the shipper just didn't register on my numbed mind at all.

Next morning, I ate a quick bite, the drove the rest of the way into Macon. Never bothered looking at the load info again. I exited I-75 in town, turned onto the main road that led into the area, then took my short-cut when I passed the moving company where the public scale was located. Went to the front office, signed in, and got my ID badge issued to me. Then gave my badge number to the guard and went around back to the dock area. Again, it never registered at all that the name of this place and the name of the shipper on the load information were different. Places change their names all the time. Ask any truck driver and they'll tell you. It's all too common to have the actual name of the place turn out to be different from the information that you have. Somebody at the trucking company neglects to update the change in names, so the old name stays on the load info for quite some time, in lots of cases.

Told the Guy In Charge there where I was supposed to go (Chattanooga) and he nodded and told me to go over to the scale and weigh in empty. I left to do that. He didn't question the destination I told him -- a major gaffe on his own part. Got back with my weigh ticket and backed right in after a short wait, while they loaded their own company truck. Spent about two hours being loaded with big bales of what looked like fiberglass scraps. Some kind of extruded plastic fiber, at any rate. The loader brought my bills out and I signed them, then began to write the weight and quantity on my "dummy bill" -- the little delivery ticket that I actually get paid off of. It was at that point that I noticed the destination was in South Carolina, not Tennessee. Well, duh!!! "What we got heah is a failyah to commun-icate!" to quote the evil deputy in Cool Hand Luke. Somebody got something very wrong. I took the bills and went back inside, to hunt the loader.

I found the guy and told him that -- uh -- that the destination on the bills was just slightly different from the one on my Qualcomm. A different state, in fact. Hmmmmmmm. "Come with me," he invited. "I gotta make a call!" And so he did and I waited about twenty minutes before the Guy In Charge whom I'd talked to at first reappeared. "Chattanooga??" He made two quick calls. Nope. Load went to South Carolina. A sense of dread was enveloping my brain then. I mentioned the name of the shipper on the load info. He grimaced. "They're down the street. You're at the wrong place and now we've already got you loaded!" My face hit the floor. Famous Last Words: "Oh, shit!!" I had really done it this time!! Gone to the wrong shipper altogether. Well, now -- that sure explained why the names were different, didn't it?? Yessiree -- it ALL made perfect sense now; and I was like the lady in that commercial, when she has something in her eye and winds up in the men's room -- "Wanna Get Away???" Yep, I certainly did, at that moment. How the hell am I ever gonna live this one down?? I had no clue.

So, that explains why I'm in South Carolina today, instead of in Chattanooga, two hours from home. After a dozen phone calls, and having to face dispatch with my self-made dilemma, it finally all got straightened out. The loads went through a logistics outfit and another carrier was really scheduled to pick it up that day. I did his job for him, it seemed, but that kind left the load I was supposed to get hanging in thin air. The logistics outfit worked out a switcheroo between my company and the other carrier. I would haul this load to South Carolina, and their driver would pick up and deliver the load I was supposed to get in the first place. The Guy In Charge took part of the blame for it himself, and told my dispatch as much. He should have caught on when I mentioned Chattanooga, and he somehow failed to realize that they only had ONE load for my company that day -- and that driver had gotten loaded and left before I even got there. So, I wasn't the only one asleep at the switch yesterday, and that softened the blow of my stupid stunt a little.

Now, if I could just buy a little time at home!! Second week in a row I've had one of my Fifteen-Minute (TM) weekends. Even less time this week than last week, as my load don't pick up until tomorrow, and I have to be in Wisconsin Monday morning at dawn. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to do more than look at Velvet, in my garage, and wish I had the time to ride her!! Getting tired of "wish-riding."