Truckin’ Across America

Click on the following link to hear backdrop music Dave Dudley in “Six Days on the Road,” a truckers’ song; then come back and read the story….

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Even the trucks are beautiful in Barrington, Rhode Island.  Here’s ‘Empty Pockets,’ a cobalt blue Peterbilt  (and yes, that’s the way to spell it), all fitted out with running lights, parked in a library lot recently, its drop-frame trailer holding a bulldozer.

As for her name etched on her shiny side (click on the lower picture to see how pretty ‘she’ is close up)…That’s what truckers do–they personalize their trucks.  Some say truckers are every bit like the cowboys of the Old West; only thing is their ‘horses’ are their trucks.  Stands to reason: Just like then– Each depends on the other for survival.

Yes, anyone who questions the value of trucks and truckers to our daily lives, just look around your home:  Every article has been trucked in, at some point.  That’s right:  The TV, the furnishings, the building components of your home, your food, clothing, medicines…everything (except you) has been packaged, fork-lifted, loaded, holed-up in containers, and shipped via the thousands of men and women who work the nation’s highways every day.

To get a clearer picture of the size of this army, pull over, and stand on a highway overpass, looking down, on any given day, and note the trucks passing through.  The thundering herd are comprised of all shapes and all sizes, big lumbering giants who keep our economy going:  straight trucks (cab attached and all one unit), 18-wheelers ( cab and trailer are two separate units), reefers (refrigerator units), Haz-Mat tankers (their hazardous material sign’s clearly marked; they use special routes, on occasion)……………

And their job’s a tough one.

If they’re long-haul  independents (they own their own cabs/tractors at a cost of $150,000 without the trailer), they usually lease their equipment and service to others.  Their job requires them to:  Give quotes to potential customers (they ‘do the math’); package the cargo in boxes and load it all up, maintain their rig, by servicing and fueling her up; keep the log book for each point in the journey (“10 hrs. driving” mandates “8 hrs. rest”); unload the freight at destination (sometimes they hire help at this point); collect the money. 

The long-distance haulers are in frequent communication with their dispatcher who sets up their return trips, maximizing efficiency.

But the ‘independents’ are those most affected by rising fuel prices, and when diesel fuel hits stratospheric prices, it eats a sizable chunk out of their profits (I wrote a Providence Journal Op-Ed a few years back regarding the impact on truckers nationwide as they’re squeezed by skyrocketing diesel fuel prices.)

What doesn’t the public know, too, about truckdrivers?  Their job requires they know the laws of every state through which they pass (if they miss the signs on 95 North over the Pawtucket Bridge, in Rhode Island, the fine is $3000!) 

In addition, they need anticipate and outmaneuver every fool on the road (you know–the ones who swerve in and out or jump in front of another and slam on the brakes.) 

Try doing that with a loaded rig weighing 75,000 lbs.!

Probably their toughest competitor?  Fatigue.  That’s why they keep the airwaves cluttered with chatter on their CB’s.  One thing’s guaranteed, however:  They’re generally not texting.

Now, your turn:  How do you think you’d do as a trucker? What do you think are the positives of this lifestyle, as well as the challenges? (I’m hoping truckers check in to give their first-hand accounts). But, I want to hear from you others as well….”What’s your opinion of truckers?”

P.S.  If you like Biddy Bytes, please put www.biddybytes.com on a sticky (or any note) and put it close to your computer, to remind you to “Check in.”  I post separate stories on Mondays and Fridays with provocative picture (or similar) on Wednesdays…Tell me, too, if there’s something you’d like me to cover…as long as it meets the criteria of “something positive” or something you wish were positive….

Below is Lady Trucker, Vanessa Gonzalez, just one of the wave of women truckers now on the road…She shares long-haul driving with her husband (they go Florida to Canada) and whiles away time at the computer while hubby sleeps (see below–space allocated for beds behind the cab of white truck.) Red truck is ‘straight truck’–all one unit of cab and trailer.  This one has reefer unit in front (refrigerator unit.) Reefer trailers are unique in that they resemble quilted aluminum rooms pulled behind cabs/tractors.

Now that I’ve given you this Trucker Tutorial, go out and thank a trucker.  They live a tough lifestyle so ours is a lot more comfortable……………..

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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