From the book Running Legal Blues. A request from a dear friend to repost this one today.
Chapter Three – Why Truckers Stink
Given the events of the last few days, I had made the decision to take the next week or two off at the house. This gave me time to think back over the years and I remember one trip that always stuck in my mind. One reason for this was that it reminded me of the true dedication that one must have to make it in the trucking world, or was it more of a misinterpretation of pure stupidity. After you read this next chapter, I will let you be the judge of that.
I had just made a delivery in the panhandle of Florida and as usual, I called in to see what was next on the list. Sure enough, my dispatcher had me all planned out with a load out of Quincy, Florida with seven stops in Tennessee and Kentucky. What a lucky guy, a floor load of plants. So I headed that way, stopping at a truck stop to fuel and shower. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed in to pick up my load. As normal, when I arrived, they were behind on their loading.
I did get into a dock, finally, right at quitting time. Talking with the shipper I found out that it was all right for me stay there for the night. If I had left to go to the truck stop, no way would I get a parking spot. It would be a fifty to one hundred mile run to a place to park, so I just stayed where I was. The guy on the dock was nice enough to point out a few things before he left. He said “There’s an old outhouse you can use if you need too” Lucky me. Then he said “It is over there by the old slave grave yard,” which turned out to be about one hundred feet from my truck. Then he said “I’m going to lock the gate so you won’t be able to get out. But don’t worry none, if you hear creepy sounds in the night. It’s probably just the wind… probably.”
I spent that night on an old southern plantation. Every creek, every pop, every shaking of the truck by the wind I found myself looking toward that graveyard just waiting to see what was out there. I’m not one to believe in ghosts, but this was no time to be wrong. The funny thing was with over twelve hours in that truck that night, not once did I feel the need to jump out and go to the bathroom.
Anyway, back to the point. The next day, they began loading four thousand plants on the floor of my trailer. One by one the buggies came in from the fields. Then they loaded the plants onto a conveyer belt that ran onto my trailer. By seven o’clock in the evening, I was ready to go trucking. After a day in the hot Florida sun, I was getting cut loose just as all the truck stops in the area were filling up and no place for me to park. So the only option left was to head north to Memphis, Tennessee. It is a well-known fact in the trucking industry that each and every night, there are about thirty thousand less spots for a truck to park than there are trucks. So after a certain time in the afternoon, it’s very hard to find a spot. I have spent over an hour at times, looking for a spot, just to give up and leave.
After another all-nighter, five hundred miles later, I pull into Memphis, Tennessee at about six in the morning. Receiving starts at seven so I have an hour to get in my eight hour break. Seven o’ clock rolls around and we get started. The load turns out to be drivers assist. That means I have to walk the freight to the rear of the trailer. Four thousand one gallon plants, two or four at a time, fifty three foot trailer, hot summer sun, and seven stops over four hundred miles and finally, I’m done. It is nine o’clock at night in Lexington, Kentucky, and I’m covered from head to toe in sweat and potting soil. Tired like you would not believe, I call my dispatcher to put in my empty call and get the next day’s dispatch.
NEXT DAY!!!! I wish… Can you imagine how far one could travel walking four thousand plants off of a 53 foot trailer? It is after nine at night. No food, no shower, no time to breathe; and I’m already late for my next pick up.
Looking and smelling like I was, they had me dispatched to pick up and deliver over five hundred miles away in Madison, Wisconsin by eight the next morning. I will never forget sitting in the cab with myself, trying to decide between the air conditioning or fresh night air. My body ached from all the walking and bending I was not used to doing, but I made it with some colorful coloring in my comic book (Log Book). At seven thirty the next morning, I pulled into my receiver. As normal, the same words; “Just park over there and we’ll get to you when we can.” Oh well, I am glad this crap was needed as bad as my dispatcher told me it was.
I pulled off around the side, rolled up my windows, cranked up the air conditioning; and I slept. For the next six hours I was dead to the world. Thump, thump, thump. I rose up and stuck my head out through the curtains that divided the cab from the sleeper berth. “Hey Driver,” the receiver yells. “Back into dock four.” Then he walks away. I crawl into the driver’s seat and maneuver towards the dock, jump out and open my trailer doors and then back in.
While I am up, I decide a trip to the bathroom might be the thing to do. I walk inside and get directions. It is not far, through the big door, down on the right. I walk into a break room, cross over the other side and enter the men’s room. As I pass the mirror on the way to the stall, I catch a glimpse of myself in it. I remember thinking, “Is that me?” I had been up for almost three days before I finally got a decent nap. Not even close to a shower that I could get into, and there I was, in the mirror, looking like a walking dead man.
So I enter the stall and have a seat, and keeping one’s self busy, I started reading the walls. All the normal stuff was there; I’m for this and anti that. Call so-and-so for a good time, and then the one that hits me.
“Why do truck drivers stink?”
I thought about that for a while. Then, I pulled out my pen and joined the list of vandals that write on outhouse walls. I simply replied, “So nice clean decent people like you can work the jobs that feed your children.” Then I added, “By the way, you’re welcome.”