Sunday, April 5, 2009


Glad You Asked That (reader comment response)

To M88:

First off -- no, your question isn't stupid at all. It's a very good question and if more motorists would ask us truckers about these things, there might be fewer car/truck accidents in the future. You're doing the right thing by getting past the truck as quickly as possible and not hanging out in the "No-Zone," as it's called. The right side of any truck is called the "blind side" and for very good reason -- there are many blind spots on that side of a truck; the driver is seated on the other side and can't see out the window over there at all, leaving him only his mirrors to see what's over there. The most dangerous spot of all on a truck's right (passenger) side is when a car is right up next to the cab door, or right beside the truck's hood. The car will be totally hidden from the driver's view in these locations, and not visible in the mirrors at all. My truck has a "bus" mirror on the right front of the hood, but the way I adjust my seat for my height, I can't see that mirror over the dashboard without leaning forward. And that mirror is worthless at night, as it picks up nothing but glare from my own headlamp! So, be extra cautious at night, when you're on a truck's blind side. You're even harder to see then.

Yes, flashing your lights is a standard signal to a trucker that his trailer is clear of your vehicle and that he can safely move over into the lane you're in. Just be sure that the trailer is well clear of you before signaling him!! You don't want your bumper chopped off. Truck mirrors have a very narrow field of view and a driver has to pull out way ahead of a car he's passing before attempting to return to the proper travel lane. The standard rule of thumb employed by truckers here is "don't change lanes until you can see BOTH the headlights of the car you're passing." For that reason, you shouldn't hug the shoulder, either, trying to give the truck extra room; this makes it even harder for the driver to see if he's clear of you. Helping him out by flashing your lights is always a good idea and many of us will blink or flash a "thank you" with our 4-ways or marker lights.

Jackson, Georgia

Sitting in a Flying Bankruptcy (Flying J) truckstop here this weekend, instead of schmoozing it up at the Dawg House, as usual. This well-known travel center chain has been in Chapter 11 reorganization since last year, thus the pet name I hung on it. It's run by a group of Mormons out in Utah and I think that when Mitt Romney blew so much of his money in his presidential bid last year, that it also pulled the rug out from under the Flying Hook as well. I don't see many signs of reorganizing here, if this location is any example. Same-ol', same-ol', by the looks of things. So, I suppose all that Chapter Elevening is happening out in Salt Lake City, or Provo, or some other Home Office location.

How I came to be stranded here is another story for the annals of this blog, however. It was because of another blinkety-blank, freakin', [EXPLETIVE DELETED] shuttle run that I was saddled with on FRIDAY, of all the lousy days it could have been. Pardon me a moment, while I catch my breath and calm down a bit.

Ahhhh -- that's better. Now then, where was I?

Oh, yeah -- the shuttle run. I hate shuttle runs. They suck. I call them "One Day Wonders," because you have to pick up a load and deliver it on the same day, usually after you've driven all night and slept like crap and are half-past tired to begin with. And, of course, since these runs almost always involve our top customer in some way, they want the load to get delivered at least two hours before you even pick it up. Get the idea? They RUSH you to death, otherwords ["Lone Ranger Theme" in background here]. So add that together: Tired, sleepy, saddled with a load that has to deliver the same afternoon, and forced to bust ass through everything to get it there. Ah, yes -- that should be the formula for a good, safe truck driver on our highways!!! Just be glad that I'm experienced and fully qualified to drive in my sleep. Been doing it for years and no major accidents so far. I just put my brain on Autopilot Mode and go. That goes right along with the Cast Iron Bladder that all truckers have to develop over the years behind the wheel.

The run was from a plant 40 miles south of Atlanta, up to a customer in Welcome, North Carolina -- a distance of some 330 miles. Somehow, I always felt welcome there in the past. Wonder if that has anything to do with why they named the town that? So, got loaded in no time flat and motored my tired butt on up the road toward the destination. Everything went well until I hit the 5 P.M. Charlotte Crunch. Moving like molasses on I-85, for more than 18 miles, through all the suburbs and closer surrounding towns. Average speed -- 8 mph. "Oh, yeah," I commented to myself, sarcastically, "like I really need this shit right now!!" All that wonderful afternoon rush hour traffic, with cars running amok all over the place, and making a trucker have to be ten times extra cautious to avoid squashing someone. I just wanted to get my load there and find a place to crash out for a week or two, but I was going backward all the sudden. I was less than happy, but resigned to it.

I made it through it, eventually, and managed not to kill anyone, or terminally damage any 4-wheelers. I got to Welcome unscathed. I hadn't been there, probably, in five or more years and I promptly turned on the wrong street. Fortunately, I was able to loop back around and came right back to where I'd started. Found the right road this time and arrived at the customer. There I learned that I'd be dropping my loaded trailer, hooking to another loaded one at their dock, and hauling it right back to the same plant in Georgia. I hadn't been there in so long that I'd forgotten that this was a Merry-Go-Round Shuttle and now I faced the other end of it. I kissed goodbye the idea of getting home, or at least of getting any time to spend there at all.

It didn't surprise me at all that the customer knew more about where I'd be going than dispatch did. Dispatch's typical relationship with drivers is a case of the blind leading the blind, usually around in circles. Wanna drive a dispatcher crazy? Put him in a round room and tell him to go pee in the corner. Know what's long and hard on a dispatcher? Third grade. Anyway, I got dispatched on the return load, got hooked up to my new load and blasted out of there. I drove back toward Charlotte, the traffic by now having calmed down, found the closest rest area, parked and was sound asleep before my body plopped down on the bunk.

I had it planned out well yesterday, heading out in time to fuel my truck and get back south of Hot'lanta again, to the same Big Customer's plant. When I got there, right on time (as usual), I was told by security that the receiving department was closed on Saturday and that I'd have to deliver the load bright and early Monday morning. I duly informed dispatch about that -- something else they should know, but didn't, apparently. Well, they do now, don't they? I drove four miles down I-75 and here I am, publishing my thoughts to all of you once again. Be nice to see home again, when and if I ever do!!!

1 comment:

M88 said...

Hey thanks for answereing.
I try to stay out of the truckers way on the highway.