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Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

Good Buddy, My Ass

Reference 8 Yellow Snow’s trucker rant:

Almost all truckers are paid by the mile. Mile hauling cargo, that is. They don’t earn a cent dead-heading home, waiting for assigned loading dock times, sitting idle in blizzards or bumper-to-bumper traffic, stopping for meals, filling out paperwork and log books, or pulling over for mandatory rest periods. They can’t do much about the first three situations, but they can do something about the last three. They can eat while they’re driving. They can write or enter data while they’re driving. And they can cheat on the rules governing hours of driving and rest. Sure, they get inspected, and sure, getting inspected is a disincentive to cheat . . . but many do, and odds are they’ll get away with it.

The truck drivers you share the road with aren’t just driving: they’re taking instructions from dispatchers on SATCOM or cell phones; using the CB to monitor traffic, road conditions, weather, and law enforcement (and bullshit with other truckers); and steering with their knees while they drink, eat, and type log entries onto their laptops. Downright scary. In fact, what could be scarier? This: about 25 percent of these multi-tasking truckers are dead tired, nodding off, or actually asleep at the wheel.

This past summer, I delivered motorhomes for a major West Coast RV dealership. The job required a commercial driver’s license and we had to comply with CDL rules, just like any truck or bus driver. But motorhome delivery drivers aren’t inspected, and no one audits the log books. The result? Cheating on rest is standard operating procedure.

As in the rest of the trucking industry, our drivers were paid by the mile, but only when delivering the motorhome. On a one-way delivery, you got home on your own dime. All the more reason to get there and back home again as quickly as possible, in order to bag another delivery. Some of these guys – and I am not exaggerating – would routinely drive 16 to 20 hours at a stretch.

Because I was a new driver, our dispatcher would send me on trips with other drivers, operating in caravans of multiple motorhomes. At first, I stayed in trail with the other drivers, but one night, after driving 14 hours straight, a kangaroo leapt across the road between my motorhome and the one in front of me. Since I was just south of Bend, Oregon at the time, I figured I was hallucinating, and decided then and there to quit cheating on mandatory rest. After that I refused to drive more than 10 hours straight, and made sure I got adequate rest – one good thing about delivering motorhomes is that there’s a comfortable bed in back!

Anyway, 8 Yellow Snow, and all the rest of you drivers, here’s my advice: be afraid and drive defensively. That truck driver you’re about to pass might not just be distracted by a cell phone call, he might be taking a nap.

© 2005 – 2006, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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3 comments to Good Buddy, My Ass

  • 8 Yellow Snow 11/04/05 3:15 AM

    Oh, yeah, and they may also be making a piss bomb — pissing into an empty Gatorade (or such) bottle to later be thrown along the roadway — to, again, save the time of stopping for a coffee download. Hopefully, they throw it out the passenger side and not out the driver’s side as you go passing by.

    Now, just so truckers don’t get the idea we are picking on them, let’s talk about drunk airline pilots.

    ON ON
    8 Yellow Snow

  • Flying Booger 11/10/05 3:34 AM

    OMG, I forgot about piss bombs!

    Back in 1982 or so, I led a four-ship of F-15s across the Atlantic, from Soesterberg AB in The Netherlands to Eglin AFB in Florida, where we were to participate in a live air-to-air missile firing exercise.

    During the 10-hour flight, I filled up four piss bags. When we landed, ground control directed us to stay in our aircraft, canopies down, until US Customs arrived to inspect us.

    It was hot, Florida hot – 90 degrees F and 100% humidity – and the minute we shut down our engines I decided this was cruel and unusual punishment, especially since we were all wearing poopie suits – full-body rubber undersuits designed to keep you alive in cold water just long enough to pull yourself into a liferaft – so I motioned for everyone to open canopies. We did, and then we all deplaned to stand in the shade under our jets’ wings.

    Two US Customs agents came racing up in a little white van as we were peeling off our poopie suits, shouting at us to freeze. One of the agents climbed up the ladder to my cockpit and triumphantly held up one of my piss bags, saying “What’s this?”

    “Uh, it’s a bag of urine,” I answered. He dropped it like a hot rock, and it burst open on the concrete apron. All four of us were on the verge of losing it – it was all we could do to keep straight faces as the Customs agents read us the riot act.

    One of my proudest moments, that was.

  • 8 Yellow Snow 11/10/05 4:00 AM

    Great story, Flying Booger.

    There was actually a piece about truckers’ piss bombs recently on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” I love that show. It’s a great way to piss away 30 minutes, and I usually laugh so hard I piss myself while John Stewart is pissing off the conservatives.