R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Vroooom (page 1 of 2)

Friday Photo: 10/13/17


“Stopped by a Train on Truitt Street”
LaGrange, Georgia – 9 August 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Snapshot from a Truck Driver’s Life

OTR (over-the-road, also called “long haul” or “nationwide”) truck drivers are expert travel planners. They can figure out the fastest, most direct way to get from Point A to Point B—and sometimes Point C to Point D and back again to Point A. They also know how long each leg of the trip will take, and whether they have enough hours left in their daily driving allowance to make the delivery on time, safely, and legally.

OTR truck drivers also know what kind of construction delays, confusing detours, rest stations, burger joints, and truck stops lie along their routes. This is thanks to the humble CB radio. In spite of its practical origins and relatively low-tech equipment, the CB remains important for truck drivers. In some ways, it is the trucker’s internet.

After all, you can’t simultaneously check Facebook and downshift through 15 gears coming into the I-10/I-610 interchange in Houston. (Not if you want to live, anyway.) The CB radio was social networking long before Mark Zuckerberg arrived. And where else can you find a real-time, almost-in-person restaurant recommendation? “Y’all, there’s this country buffet on US 431, south of Roanoke, Alabama. If you come through there, pull over. I like to have split my damn pants, I ate so much.”

Generally, truck drivers also know how long they’ll be away from home. As a result, they tend to be masters of strategic suitcase packing. They know just how many pairs of clean underwear and socks to bring along, and how many changes of clothes they’ll need. Just like many tourist guides suggest for civilians, OTR truckers will “recycle” an outfit or a pair of jeans if the items aren’t yet so dirty they can stand up and walk all by themselves. And they make great use of those month-at-a-glance medication containers, too. When you know you’ll be away from home for at least three weeks, you make sure to take a full supply of pills with you.

Sometimes, though, drivers’ schedules get screwed up, and they end up staying out longer than either their stash of clean clothes or their medications will last. In the case of the former, many truck stops and company depots have laundry facilities, with detergent packets in wall-mounted vending machines just like you see at the laundromat. In the case of the latter, drivers have several options:

1) Stay out a couple more days and do their best to cope without it until they can get home;
2) Find a CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, or other pharmacy and stop in for an emergency refill; or
3) Ask the company dispatcher to route them close to home so a family member can meet them somewhere with the medication.

My stepfather, Steve, generally chooses the third option when he has more days than pills left in his Pill Minder. He had the good fortune to get a West Coast run, loaded both ways; truckers are generally paid only for “loaded miles,” or miles driven with something loaded into the trailer at Point A that will be delivered at Point B. That’s a juicy paycheck, once you add regular short runs to 5,600 loaded miles. Although it would mean his being out for several more days, Steve said “hell yes” and pointed the truck westward. Never look a gift dispatcher in the mouth, the old saying goes. Or something like that.

So he delivered car parts near San Diego, and then hauled a load of electronics to Minneapolis, making his way back Southeast once he realized he was nearly out of meds with four more days to go on this trip. Mom and I met him at a Waffle House north of Atlanta. We had breakfast, and brought Steve enough medication for the Florida-Louisiana-Texas-Tennessee jaunt he had to make before returning home for a week off.

While we ate breakfast, Steve asked me to give readers some advice: Buy a quality headlamp. Even if you don’t drive for a living, it’s still great in case of nighttime car trouble. Steve bought his super-bright LED setup at a truck stop years ago: “Ain’t like I got three hands, you know.” He says it paid for itself several days later, when he was looking for a map he had misplaced somewhere under the bunk. It paid for itself again when he had to crawl under the truck at 3:30am to investigate a clicking noise.

Seriously: AAA should employ retired OTR truckers as travel advisors.

Photo: “Mom and Steve at the Marietta Waffle House” (Marietta, Georgia – 15 July 2017)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 9/20/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 16”
Anniston, Alabama – 12 August 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 8/16/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 15”
Kansas City, Missouri – 16 June 2017

R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 7/12/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 12”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/30/17

“Mosaic Bluebird, KCMO”
Kansas City, Missouri – 18 June 2017

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 6/28/17

 

“Waiting on a Train, Part 11”
Kansas City, Missouri – 13 June 2017

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 6/9/17

“Red Truck Reflection”
Marietta, Georgia – 25 May 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 3/29/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 6”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 3/22/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 5”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 3/15/17

“Waiting on a Train, Part 4”
Denver, Colorado – 1 March 2017

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Friday Photo: 3/3/17

“ARUX Danger”
LaGrange, Georgia – 20 November 2016

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 1/25/17

“Freight Bandit: You Never Knew, You Never Will (3/13)”
LaGrange, Georgia – 23 April 2015

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 1/18/17

“Fuel Door, Age 38”
Heard County, Georgia – 26 November 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Hillside Monday: 11/7/16

toycarwithcarpetandwall_copy_2016-09-01

“Toy Car with Carpet and Wall”
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 September 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 9/28/16

NeitherOnTheRoadNorInTheWay_COPY_2015-08-24_15.26.15

“Neither on the Road Nor in the Way”
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 August 2015

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Permanently Parked

PermanentlyParked_COPY_2014-05-15

Heard County, Georgia – 10 May 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Mile 61

Track61_COPY_2016-06-23

Thanks to W. B. Walker for identifying this as a railroad mile marker sign!

Anniston, Alabama – 23 June 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

Wednesday Photo: 5/18/16

IAlwaysWantedToLiveInAnOldCabooseX755_COPY_2016-04-30_11

“I Always Wanted to Live in an Old Caboose”
Pine Mountain, Georgia – 30 April 2016

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

 

‘Til His Wheels Fall Off

YesItStillRuns_COPY02_2014-05-15-09

Let me tell you something: I like a man with a hundred thousand miles on him. I like a man who’s been cross-country again and again on the long haul, on the short haul, down interstates and dirt roads. I like a man with a few scrapes along his fenders. I like a man whose windows have deflected a quarry’s worth of rocks, whose slightly busted windshield bears a long, wandering, starry thread running east to west.

I like a man with some wear and tear on him. I like a man who’s been in an accident or three, who doesn’t mind trading a little paint—a man who sees no reason to fear a bucket of Bondo. I like a man who isn’t so concerned for his delicate paint job and fancy chrome details that he’s too scared to roll down the driveway. I like a man who, when he really is too scared to roll down the driveway, puts on a new air filter, intakes a deep breath, and rumbles out anyway. I like a man who knows how to fix himself, who values what he’s learned by hammering out his own dents.

I like a man who’s run hot, spewed smoke, blown a gasket. I like a man who knows the metallic growl of his own stripped gears. I like a man who’s found himself coming down a 6% incline outside Monteagle with his clutch completely gone and his trailer brakes on fire and no emergency pull-off in sight. I like a man who’s been stuck in the mud up to his wheel wells, who’s had to sit there with the shame of knowing that he did it to himself. I like a man who recognizes, sitting there in the mud, that there is no shame in letting someone with a little more horsepower—and a 12,000-pound bumper winch—drag him back to solid road.

I like a man whose axle bearings sometimes sing high and ghostly of too-heavy loads, of too-light grease. I like a man who’s somehow wound up at the edge of the yard, as far from the house as possible, with FOR SALE, OR TRADE FOR TRACTOR scrawled across him in white shoe polish. I like a man whose odometer tells me that he has been driven, that he has been broken, that he has been repaired—that he has been loved.

He’d rather be scrap than admit it, but he wishes he were shiny and new. I don’t. Give me crumpled rusty panels, a short in the eight-track player, a hiccup under the distributor cap. Let me tell you something: I’ll drive him ’til his wheels fall off.

Photo: “Yes, It Still Runs” (Heard County, Georgia – 15 May 2014)

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

NOTE: I first posted this piece on 16 May 2014.

 

Older posts

© 2017 R.S. Williams

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑