Saturday, February 28, 2009


From The Rumor Mill:

Latest rumor has it that your Dawg *may* just have a new lady friend who lives in a neighboring state. I can neither confirm nor deny this rumor at the present time, due to certain circumstances. Stay tuned to this blog for future developments.

All About T.W.I.C.

Commonly referred to as "TWIC," the new Transportation Worker's Identification Credential is the latest in unfunded official U.S. government red tape that truckers have to deal with. It's an active ID card, similar to a military ID, which identifies truck drivers, longshoremen, and other personnel who work around U.S. ports and allows them access to the secure areas of those facilities without having to have an escort. This is a great convenience when picking up or delivering a load to a port terminal, which is why truckers who go to port facilities are required to have one. Applicants for a TWIC must pass a comprehensive background check by the local cops, state police, FBI, CIA, NSA, Scotland Yard, and Interpol, I think, to insure that they aren't the sort of person who likes to blow things up and watch them go "boom." The card is issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the program is administered by the TSA (Transportation Screw-up Administration), and you make the money order out to Lockheed-Martin, an aircraft company. It's your government at work, so go figure! The whole gang's in on the act, seems like.

I got TWICed this past Monday, in Chattanooga, the closest local port to where I live. Knoxville is also on the same river, but it's NOT a port -- hmmmmmmmm. Interesting. Wonder what all those tugboats and barges DO, down on our local riverfront here? I applied for my new "security clearance," took a loyalty oath, promised not to tell anyone, on fear of torture and death, and so on. The lady (very pleasant and friendly) told me to check the website in 4 weeks or so, to see if my card is ready to be issued. Then I have to drive down there again, live and in person, to get it activated and finally put the thing in my wallet. It's good for five years and then I'll have to do the same stuff all over again, if I'm still driving at that time. My company DOES reimburse us for the card, and that's the good thing about it, at least. Danged thing set me back $135.00. I pay for my own gas, down there and back, of course. You can't have everything.

Whole application thing took about 20 minutes, fingerprints and all. It's all electronic now -- just stick your hand in a box and she clicks her mouse and voila! Your prints are now in TSA's computer system. This begs a question: Why do you have to do it all over again in five years?? Like your fingerprints change, or something??!! So far as I've ever known, fingerprints are forever! Always stay exactly the same. They already have them on file, so why can't they just pull them back up, run a new check, then renew the freakin' card if everything's okay??

[Offstage Whisper] "Because it's the government, dumbass!!"

Oh, yeah. You got that right! That'd be way too simple for Uncle Sammy and his bureaucratic pencil-pushers in D. C. Logic goes right out the window when the Fed gets involved with anything. Oh, well -- I may go to a port once every two or three years, on average, but by golly, I'll HAVE that thing the next time I pick up a brutally heavy load of tire retreading rubber from Indonesia in N'awlins!! Nope, this Dawg ain't no terrorist, to anything other than mice, rats, and bratty eight-year-olds.

Nagging Trucker Habits

Anybody ever hear of a "ghost trailer?" Well, I pull one behind me, every now and then. This happens most often when I'm bobtailing, but has also occurred while driving my own personal pick-em-up truck. I'll pull all the way out into the middle of the intersection, or opposing turn lane, so that the invisible trailer behind me won't run over the curb, tear a power pole down, or total someone's parked car. On the interstate, this also manifests itself in the form of passing a slower vehicle and continuing on for an eighth of a mile or so, before returning to the right lane again. Don't want to squash any 4-wheelers with that ghost trailer!! ALL truckers have done this at times and any of them who claim they haven't is a damned liar, and I'll call them that to their face! This ghost trailer driving is pure habit, caused by that fifty-three foot boxcar on wheels that follows you around everywhere you go. A good habit, actually, although it may look a little strange to observers who are unfamiliar with trucking.

A common newbie driver habit which afflicted me when I was in my rookie years is speed perception. The larger the vehicle you operate, the less sensation of speed you have. If you've ever stood next to a semi rig, you know how BIG we are. Thus, you don't feel your speed in a Big Truck as much as you do in your SUV or car. Adjusting from one vehicle to the other can take time, and if you also ride a motorcycle, fuggitaboudit!! Climb on that bike (the smallest vehicle on the road) and you feel like you have a rocket strapped to your butt, compared to a car or a semi!

I still fondly remember the first time I got back home for the weekend, after my first full week out on the road. I grabbed my stuff, tossed it in the bed of my Chevy, and headed to the Dawg House. I hit I-75 and motored south, toward town. I held it at a speed which felt the same as the 65 mph I averaged in my Big Truck. Didn't take me long to notice that I was passing an awful lot of other vehicles. "Damn, why is everyone going so slow today?" I asked myself out loud. Then, I looked at my speedometer. Ninety. Er -- uh -- well, I --uh -- guess I'd better slow this thing down a little, before I lose my then-new CDL!! I slowed to a more reasonable 65, watching the speedometer meticulously from then on. Felt like I was doing about 40. Takes some getting used to, let me tell you!!

1 comment:

M88 said...

I never see any of your companys trucks bob tail down I-90 in Northeast Ohio haha.

Being a truck driver you must meet and run into and know alot of diffrent people.

I really like your blog yours is the best. No other person tells it like you do. I really learned alot about the trucking industry from you. Pretty much every thing I know. Keep up the good work.