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Truckin’

My dear spouse, Randy, has been a trucker for most of his working career.  This page is dedicated to the stories, advise and other things that have crossed his mind. I hope I can do your stories justice, babe!

I Don’t Pay Back- I Pay Forward

Well I am happy, no – ecstatic, that Randy is actually here tonight and writing this blog with me. This is the logo that is going on Randy’s truck. So if you are ever running down the road, and you come across an older white Freightliner  with this saying on the bunk, honk your horn and wave! Randy has had it on his heart for a while to help new people that he meets.  He never knows what the need may be, but it is always something that he is able to do. I am not talking financially, usually, as a dollar does not express the value of a helping hand.

As an example; Before we met, Randy happened to be laid over in a small town in B.C. He spent the weekend helping a couple of old girls paint their fence. He did not want me to include this, but I just wanted to show what a random act can be.

What brought this on? “Whenever you help somebody the word that automatically comes out of their mouth is ‘ How can I pay you back?’. I do not WANT you to pay ME back. For there is always someone, no matter where you go, that is in the same predicament as you were in. I wish that people would pay forward, rather than pay back, as one day I will be in the same spot as that person  that I helped was. I know that one person will pay forward to help me. ”

“So know that paying forward will always help the person you will meet, rather than the person that you have met. All I ask, is for people to pay forward rather than pay back. It would make this world a more comfortable place for everybody.”

Thank you Randy for your thoughts.

 

Not A J-O-B Day

What a gorgeous day! As I sit behind the wheel of these humming eighteen wheels, I am thankful that  I have this job.  Although today it does not seem like a J-O-B day.  You know, those days where nothing gets to you.  People are joking around and smiling.  Heck, even Josie, that crabby waitress at the “J” was in a goofy mood.

Yessir, some days you just want to take in the air.  Take it deep into your lungs and just blow it all out with all the garbage that is stuck inside you.

It was nice spending that extra time with my sweet baby this morning.  That is one of the good things about afternoon shift; just a bit more time to squeeze and cuddle.  It won’t be long before those days are gone, so I’m told, part of getting older and getting on.  I  will take it all in while we still are deep in love.

Hmmm, the traffic is picking up a bit more now.  All these guys heading back home after a day at the office.  I sure could not have become a concrete groover. I know I am in a cubicle, but my scenery changes every minute.  I think I would have been a farmer or run the rodeo circuit if  trucking blood hadn’t claimed me.  Ha – and people call vampires blood suckers!  Whoa! Buddy watch the road, dude!!

OK back to positive thinking.  Well the sun is placing itself  to give us a glorious sunset this evening.  I can see the pinks and purples just starting to glisten on the rims of those big fluffy clouds. It’s funny how….YIKES!  Buddy what is your issue!! Watch around you, that van over there has kids in it!  Jeez!!  Man, I am trying to take in the last moment of the day, DUDE!  OK, OK, I will breathe again, nice and deep. Exhale once again, go back to my happy spot.

There are times when I really worry about running this tanker through the city. I try not to think of the what if’s, but what if?  You get guys like this jerk in front of me driving like he has the road to himself,  thinking he is dodging pylons, not metal carriages with real people inside, and well…JEEZ!  If I have to watch anyone else  swerve while you cut them off, I’ll call the cops!  There are five blinkin’ lanes of traffic going one way, buddy! Oh, thank goodness he is taking the exit. There is a good flow going with him.  Good!

Well crap so is this guy.  You can’t squeeze in there man.  Hell, I’ll let you in, but you’ll need the next ramp.  You won’t make i….NO!!  NO!!!  BABY!!  I lo..

“This is Karen Burkholtz reporting to you live from I-5 in Los Angeles. As you can see there are fire fighters set up along this stretch of  highway trying to control the flames caused by the carnage.  It appears that a driver, who did not survive the fiery wreck,  lost control of his rig when he veered off the road for some unknown reason.  The name of the driver has not been released pending notification of family.  The driver of a Geo was also crushed and burnt by the trailer as it swung over him.  A family travelling in a van was just moments away from becoming entangled in the accident. I will be continuing this story as more details become available. This is Karen Burkholtz reporting to you live. Back to you Samuel.”

“Josie! Turn that TV up a bit. Where is that wreck?  Damn, that truck is just a burnin’ up!  Poor pity that driver. Wonder if he’s got family?”

“Pete, you want more coffee?” Josie asked, a weak smile on her face.

 

Why Did You Become A Trucker?

Randy has been asked this many times over the years. Well to tell you the truth, it all started when he was just a little boy. Randy is from a small village in the cottage country of Ontario called Emsdale.  It is about one hour south of North Bay  on Highway 11.

The family lived off the highway about a mile and a half. At night, when he was all tucked in, he could hear the throaty rumble of the jake brake as the trucks came down the grade of the highway . He could only  imagine where these guys were heading off to, what sights had they seen, what it felt like to be behind the wheel. This is where it began.

As time went on, Randy felt the need to hook up with the old iron horse. It was through the help of his then father-in-law, that he was able to put his foot through the door of what was to be a dream fulfilled.

Drawback of Solitutde

Sometimes, when a driver is humming down the highways, he has the uncanny knack of being able to rewind his mind to play a scenario over multiple times. I know that we all do this, but it seems that while you are seeking entertainment, more than the gargle of the radio, this ability is hyper-develops. Now this can be a good thing if you are trying to find a way to create bio-diesel for yourself or finalize the blueprint of your new shop. It is not so good when it involves a personal note, such as a disagreement with a family member or friend, can’t reach someone on the phone during normal applications, etc.

Was it the weather? Did they get hurt? Why didn’t they leave a message for me? Did they leave? Are the kids OK? Did the baby arrive healthy? Is my pay what I figured what it should be? You get the idea.

Sometimes you cannot turn it off. Yes, a brief distraction here and there takes your mind back to task, but it is not before the rewind button is hit again. So how is one to stop this from becoming an obsession? I wonder if the astronauts face this as they are living out their stint on the Space Station, or Navy personnel in a sub, Forest Rangers stationed in a remote post.

I do not have the answer to help the mind not play on the person. May be a quote would help?

“The mind itself must, like other things, sometimes be unbent; or else it will be either weakened or broken.”  – Sir P. Sidney

Running Into Old Timers

One of the things Randy likes to have happen, is run into an old-timer during a coffee break. Today was one of those days.

They chat about the newbies that complain about the log book. There was a time when there were no log books. If you couldn’t make the  delivery when the dispatcher said, you were out of a job when you got back. Some dispatchers even had a jar of little helpers to assist you with the journey.

They laugh about the drivers who complain about the rough ride. Oh,  if they could only have had the pleasure of the rubber block suspension,  Henderson springs, Mack camelback suspensions, Bostom seats with low backs, no sleepers, 5 and 4 Spicer transmissions. Oh yes and don’t forget the 235, 300 and 350 engines! How about the bias tires with tubes. The goat paths that were called roads. Yes. the trips were a lot harder and longer especially without air conditioning.

The winter posed a few challenges. A snowmobile suit was standard wear INSIDE the cab of the truck. All the steel in those puppies sure held the cold. But those old trucks did not rattle.

The air wipers posed another challenge. They always waited until you really needed them to work, to stick. They would go about 1/4 travel and stop…rain pouring down, can’t see a thing, tap on the windshield and they go another 1/4″. Tap on the windshield again, and smash there goes the windshield!! Oh yes, that was a great thing.

There was no cruise control. You had to turn out the throttle dial to maintain idling RPM. This was only meant for maintaining engine temperature at night, people, not for driving…right old timers?!

I will post more on this as I collect the tales.

Truckin’ Across This Land But where Is the Shower

One of the things that have added to a preconceived image of drivers is the grubby look. At first glance you may think, man, don’t you know how to clean up? There is a bit more to it sometimes.

Think about the driver who just spent 4 hours trying to tarp his load of shingles in a 60k/hr wind, with no way to stop the stupid thing from flying like a kite just as you descend to try  to secure one strap. The guys in the office window smiling and placing bets as they look down on the situation. You can’t leave until the load is tarped.

How about the cattle hauler who just delivered his load to the slaughter-house. Crap is everywhere. Yes, he had coveralls on, and yes he had to change his jeans before he got in the truck to drive to the truck stop because of the crap that saturated him. The scent lingers.

Each division of the industry has its challenges when it comes to hygiene.  Some of the things that can add injury to insult are the three-hour line-ups waiting for a shower. Just think about it for a moment. You have just worked 13 hours, you are beat, want to have some shut-eye, would love to go to bed smelling like a rose, but three more hours??? So you opt for a sponge bath of sorts.

Have you ever walked into a washroom and saw someone trying to discreetly wash? It is tough, both to do and to watch. Some people don’t care and just go about their business, but I know that I was shy. I would go out wet the wash cloth, bring it back into the stall, wash what I could, get dressed again, go back to the sink, well, you get the idea. For guys, try to shave in the public washroom!

Then there is the sanitation issue. Twice I have gone to take a shower and found the cleaning staff neglected to remove the turd that was in the middle of the stall. Seriously.

Security is another point.  Theft can occur when the person is in the shower and have their things in the room. Sometimes in the computer generated systems, they dispatch a shower room that is not empty. OOOPPPSS! Sorry about that dude! 😦

So as you can see, sometimes, some days do not allow these  dear people opportunity to shower daily. Please cut them some slack. Someday you may not have water all for a few days. 🙂

Truckers Philosophy

No matter how bad a day you may be having, greet someone else with a smile. They may be having a bad day too, and you may have given them just what they needed.

This is something that Randy always tries to put into place when ever he gets out of the truck. He tries very hard to treat people the way he wants to be treated. It works when meeting the shipper, the receiver, the waitress, the custodian, the Border Officers and fellow drivers. So I had best learn to smile, smile, smile! (People may think I am a lunatic, but oh well :p)

Sleep Aids I

Picture yourself stretching those stiff muscles as you slide the driver’s seat back and swing your legs to the side. It has been a long day. You run your hand over your face, trying to decide if you want to rummage through the fridge to find something to eat. The bed is calling your name. You decide to heat up the meatloaf and perogies that were lovingly prepared for you.While that is warming, you light up a smoke and sit back in the driver’s seat, watching the traffic around you settle in for the night.

The skies open up and the rain starts to fall. So soothing. The microwave has beeped its final signal to remind you that your supper is waiting. Once again, you move your tired body to the bunk, reach inside and grab your meal. The radio is still playing, but your mind is slowly asking for release from the day. You mechanically go through the motion of ingesting the plate of food in front of you. Your bed is calling.

One bottle of water, another quick smoke and you yield to the sleep call. As you slide between the covers, the rain is echoing gently within the cab of the truck. So serene. Mother Nature is tucking you in tonight, with her gentle pitter patter. Good night world, sleep well and peace with you.

Sleep Aids II

With the recent change in both time and a beautiful break in the winter, this sleep aid will soon be forgotten until late fall.

There is nothing like being in the mountains, having the temperature hovering around zero (32 F), and snow lightly falling around your truck, and getting ready to hit the sheets. Better still,  you have found a semi-secluded (no pun intended) spot, where you know that the peace of moment will not be disturbed by traffic.

As you turn the lights off, then the truck off, you are hit by the wall of complete meditative silence. You watch the flakes slowly twirl, you remember how privileged you. This is special – being able to see and feel what Mother Nature provides for our senses. A deep breath in and slowly released. Suddenly the stress of the day melts away. Sweet release, sweet sleep is on the immediate horizon. Good night world. Peace be with you.

3 comments on “Truckin’

  1. A little bit more on respect. One thing that has become common practice is to assume that the driver is just going to spend his day in a truck stop shooting the breeze. With this thought pattern, some shippers and/or receivers have no problem making a driver wait, at times for hours, before addressing the reason why the driver is there. Have you heard the saying – if you got it, it came by truck? Well it’s true. Without the guys and gals behind the wheel, doing their best to get the product to and from one place to another, you would have nothing. So when they are put on a hold pattern, they are losing time that they have to somehow make up, while trying to keep their logs legal. So please, respect the fact that their time is worth something too. You would not work for 6 hours for nothing, would you?

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  2. Good stuff Randy and Liz, I tweeted it on.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    Like

  3. Hi Lady,
    I love reading these short excerpts about you and Randy on the road. Paying it forward, really touch my heart, because I believe in paying it forward.
    Great stories all of them and I so hope that they one day because a book.
    Missing you and your wisdom that I so enjoyed learning from.
    Take Care.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

    Like

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