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Trucker's Journal

I've been a trucker since November, 2004. Before that I was an accountant for many years. I'm having fun and actually making more than I did before. Go figure....

Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Some pet peeves

Everyone has some irritations in his or her life which can be extremely annoying even though they are relatively small things. We know these as pet peeves. I have many related to my truck driving job and I'll list a few of them here. If you as a four-wheeler are guilty of any of them, please think about changing your habits. These are in no particular order, so don't think number 4 isn't as bad as number 1 or vice versa.

1) I'm cruising down the interstate at the speed limit and a four-wheeler passes me, quickly darts into my lane in front of me, then just as quickly moves right into the next lane over or the exit lane. What would it hurt if you just stayed behind me and took that extra second or two to move over?

2) As above, I'm doing the speed limit and I'm passed on the left and then the vehicle moves in front of me. He or she suddenly realizes that the speed is too high and slows down to below what I'm going. Of course, I then have to disengage my cruise control or otherwise slow down. You may not know it, but once I lose speed, I can't regain it nearly as fast as you can. If you aren't going to go faster than I am, or at least the same speed, please don't pass me.

3) I'm coming up to an entrance ramp and see that you are entering and that there's nothing near me to the left and I move over a lane to be nice. You enter the right lane and match my speed exactly or nearly so, trapping me in the left lane so I can't move back over. Most areas have laws and sometimes explicit signs posted keeping trucks in the right (or 2 rightmost) lane and I'm technically in violation because of your speed. Please either slow down and heed my right blinker or speed up so I can move back over.

4) I'm in a city and need to turn right at a fairly tight intersection and you're coming from the direction I need to turn and you're in the left turn lane. You have moved up past the white line and are eagerly awaiting the color change of the light. I begin my wide right turn and it comes to the point where I don't have enough room to complete the turn. You will notice when a truck/trailer combination turns, the rear trailer tires always follow a smaller radius circle than the steer tires on the tractor. Perhaps there's a fire hydrant or utility pole right there which I will knock over or hit if I come too close, so I have to go wide. Back to the story, you're in front of the line (which is placed where it is solely for this purpose) and I get to the point where I can't go any farther without hitting your vehicle. Please back up, pull over to the right, do something so I can finish the turn. I will just sit there until my way is clear, blocking several lanes of traffic. I was at a particularly tight intersection several months ago when this happened. A driver was fully in front of the line and I got about half-way turned and waited for her to back up. The vehicle behind her was well behind the line and left lots of room for her to get back far enough so I thought everything was OK. She put it in reverse and started backing, watching only the front of my tractor, not looking behind her. Oops, she just "rear ended" the car behind her after backing much too far. He didn't see it coming in time to avoid it. Usually when a rear-end collision occurs, it's 100% the fault of the driver in the rear. This time, I'm sure he didn't get the citation. Yeah, I indirectly caused that accident, but I wasn't involved and wasn't at fault in any way. I continued on my way, leaving them to sort it out by themselves. When you see that white line, stay behind it and please be prepared to move slightly so I can turn.

5) Passing on the right is usually wrong, but I'm forced to do it when you're in the middle or left lane and insist on driving too slowly. If you want to view the scenery or look for an exit sign, please get over in the right lane and do it. It makes everyone happier that way.

6) I'm coming up on a vehicle going to slowly and desire to pass on the left. I put on my turn signal indicating a lane change to the left and you, driving in the left lane far behind me decide that you don't want to be behind me and speed up to the point that I can't change without hitting you or forcing you off the road to the left. I'm forced to slow down. Here again, I don't like to slow down so please don't force me into this situation.

I'm sure I'll remember more later, and when I do, perhaps I'll write another entry about them.

I also have other pet peeves related to shiping/receiving clerks and/or dispatchers, but that's another whole story :)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

CB Radio

I had an email from a reader asking if truckers still use CB radios. Yes, indeed, they do. But I don't. I have one and used it for a while, but it raised my blood pressure more than it helped me, so I just didn't re-install it in my new (well, different) truck when I changed companies last year.

Most of what you hear is one liners like "Come on back in, you're clear of my front bumper now," or "Look at the seat covers in that VW!" For those who don't know, seat covers are females seated in a four-wheeler. When you see that VW go by, you don't know until you look if that enticement from another driver was an invitation to feast your eyes or prepare to vomit.

Most of the truckers or companies where I pick-up/deliver who use CBs are amazed when I tell them that I don't have one. They all wonder how I get along without one. I will admit that there are times when I do wish I had it installed, such as when you see a "brake check" ahead (all lanes stopped and red brake lights showing on everything) and wish you knew which lane to get in to avoid having to merge into another lane later, or whether or not you need to be in the right lane because there's a weigh station ahead and you can keep cruising in the left if it's closed. But, I've found that all in all, the plusses for having it don't outweigh the minuses.

If you really want to know how most truckers think and act, get yourself a CB and sit near a truck stop for any length of time and just listen to channel 19. You will hear literally everything you can imagine, from sexual propositions to items for sale to invitations to fight. The first is usually called "commercial company" and is scorned by most. The derogatory name is "lot lizard". They are almost always old and ugly. I hate judging people by sight alone, but let me tell you that I've seen none in truck stop parking lots that would even get in the back door of a beauty contest, let alone be a contestant. As for items for sale, many truckers live from paycheck to paycheck and will sometimes come up short and wish to sell their road atlas, their refrigerator, their CB amplifier, etc. I've heard that you can buy some good items for next to nothing that way, but I always wondered when I heard them selling if they weren't just ripping off some of their cargo and I'd be discovered in the possession of stolen merchandise if I bought. Sometimes you hear strange things like "I have 6 cases of frozen lemonade concentrate at $5 a case. Come see me at the reefer (refrigerated truck) next to the back fence." What has probably happened in that instance is that the BOL (bill of lading) said there were 300 cases and when they unloaded, there were 306 cases. You're stuck with the extra 6 cases to dispose of as you wish some of the time when that happens. Third item: fights. "Your momma......" "Don't you talk about my momma like that." "Yeah, I'll talk about your momma any time and any way I want." "Come to the red Pete (Peterbilt) behind the garage and say that to my face." And it goes on and on.

Yeah, it's entertainment more than it's worth having, but that's just my opinion. Who knows? I may yet decide to dig it out and install it one more time. But until then, I'll listen to my CDs and my Sirius radio when the commercial radio isn't worth listening to.

Hope that answers the question to your satisfaction. If not, then remember: you got what you paid for :)

The email address is longhaul48statetrucker@yahoo.com if anyone out there wants to email me. I don't check it every day, but if you write, I'll eventually see it.