Line One
Letters to the Editor

Filling those empty seats

I would like to comment on your article about bringing in foreign truckdrivers to fill empty seats. Given time, I surely feel some trucking companies and industry officials will find many more so-called empty seats.

As a small one-truck owner-operator I try very hard to make a good living for my family and not go up in arms over every law that is passed. But I really get upset over deals like the one in Richmond, VA. Some fast-talking law firm has found ways to help them (foreign drivers) get in. So, I guess when they succeed many more will follow. Bottom line: In the future, we will all work for less or not work at all. It's a good thing OOIDA is working for us because it seems no one else is. Let's help ourselves for a change.

Joe Long
Knoxville, TN
Life after trucking

I read the article "Coming to America," regarding driver shortage. I find it very interesting that there are a lot of people unemployed that are capable of driving trucks and would probably do so if the companies would deliver what they promise. I have been driving OTR since 1984 and have also changed employers quite often. My biggest complaint was the fact that the companies would promise to get me home every four weeks with four days off, but when it came down to it they would keep me out for six to eight weeks. Then, when I would get home they would be calling me within two days to go out again. I finally got fed up with their chicken-sh- ways and decided I would get off the road for good even if I had to pick up cans and bottles along the road and out of the trash to make a living. I have yet to go out and pick up cans.

Mike Williams
Baker City, OR

Lease/purchase agreements

My son had a lease on a truck he thought he was buying. After paying on it for more than a year, he was involved in an accident. Another truck went left of center and hit my son head-on. This totaled my son's truck. Luckily, everyone walked away with only minor injuries.

My son contacted his carrier about the accident and they said they would take care of everything. After not hearing from them for two weeks, he called the insurance company. They told him they had already settled with the owner. He asked why he wasn't involved in this matter. They paid off the claim at $27,000. This was $5,000 above what he owed. So, he called the carrier to find out about the money. They said it was all theirs because his lease was written as a lease/rental-type contract. Since the truck was totaled before the last payment was made, all the money belonged to them. He then contacted a lawyer who told him the company was right. The lawyer told him if it had been worded lease/purchase, he would have received the balance after payoff.

Now he's out of work and the carrier got $1,200 a month for a year and $27,000 from the insurance company. All you drivers out there, be careful when entering into an agreement to buy a truck. Make sure it is worded properly so you don't end up like my son.

Donn Matthews
Tiffin, OH
America's working class

I just read the article "Coming to America," in the April issue. Mr. (Paul) Spillenger made a very good point when he said, "This country has always found a way to get immigrants to do the work we don't want to do." Why would the government want to take those on welfare, those receiving money for drug addiction and those who would work (but no one wants to give them a chance), when they can bring in the cheaper labor to do the job? That way, the working-class part of America can continue to foot the tax bill (we are already taxed to death) for those too damned lazy and sorry to work.

A few years back, many of the larger companies started moving their operations into Mexico and other low-wage countries due to "low wages." People began to bitch and complain about what those companies were doing. As I travel to various destinations each day, I have noticed that some of those companies figured out how to keep the jobs in America and still receive the "low-wage" workers. They import the workers and call it "Jobs for Americans." I have come up with my own saying as follows: "It's not the color of a man's skin or what country he comes from that defines that man, but the integrity in himself and his job."

J. Crawford
Cheraw, SC

Paul Abelson's pre-trip inspection article

I just read the article on "Pre-Trip Inspections" (March 2000) and I believe you were very thorough in your approach to the article and the owner-operators will get a good "refresher" on what they should be doing before pulling out of the lot. There is one point in which I believe you may have given the reader a false sense of security. You state that "with more and more trucks having automatic adjusters, it (brake adjustment) is becoming less of a problem by the day." You must have the statistics to backup this statement, but it is my impression from talking to drivers and fleet mechanics that there is still room for improvement in the reliability of the ASA's automatic slack adjusters. Additionally, I note that at least one automatic slack adjuster manufacturer just introduced an ASA with a built-in stroke indicator. This would seem unnecessary if the ASA was working as I understand them to work.

I believe we should not be telling the drivers to check their brake-stroke adjustment less (especially if it is "the most frequently found violation at roadside inspections"). Instead, we should be continuously telling them the importance of checking the brake-stroke adjustment and to operate safe vehicles to avoid roadside inspection fines. (See the letter to the editor from Robert Bishop, "All about Pocket Change" in the same issue of Land Line).

It was a good article, but I hope in the future that Land Line can do an article on the importance of checking the brake-stroke adjustment automatically and manually.

Ron Hudnell, president & CEO
ARMI Enterprises
Winston-Salem, NC

Price for pallets is up

I read with interest your "Roses & Razzberries" column of March 2000, regarding Sysco of Riviera Beach, FL. I deliver there fairly often, but last week just frosted me. I had my usual LTL and five pallets were to come off there. The whole load was loaded pallets sideways and the receiver said he would unload as soon as the one forklift was available. I waited. A half an hour later he came with the lift and started pulling my pallets off. He had taken two off when his supervisor came over and read him the riot act for tying up the lift and gave it to one of the lumpers on the dock. I stood there until two other trucks were unloaded and then the lumper graciously took my last three pallets off.

I could have hired the lumpers in the first place, but $45 for the five pallets seemed a bit steep. Looking back, I guess I should either put the lumping company or the supervisor on my payroll.

Name withheld by request

Praise well deserved

My grandfather owns and operates his own trucking business. My family and I were afraid the rise in fuel prices might affect his business. We have been keeping track of all the news and updates about this situation through Land Line.

My family and I watched the trucker's rally in Washington, DC in March. CNN did a wonderful job covering the rally. I am glad to see there's enough people in our political system concerned to help our independent truckers who are also our family members.

Praise is well deserved for everyone at OOIDA! I would like to say thank you on behalf of my grandfather's business, Stephens of Sedalia Trucking.

Christina M. Stephens
Sedalia, MO

No whine with his cheese

The price of fuel jumping is not a crisis. We just finished seven years of good freight and good rates. If a driver can't make it through three or four months of higher fuel, it's his or her own fault. Maybe they should try saving a little fuel by slowing down or shutting their trucks off while parked.

No one praised President Clinton when oil was $9 a barrel, so why should he be blamed when it is $34 a barrel? Supply and demand will take care of the cost of fuel, so let it run its course. We were lucky to have seen $1 a gallon again. We have money for road repairs and have seen considerable improvement since Clinton was elected. Leave the taxes on the pump and the plans to continue the repairs in place. Pennsylvania has never seen better roads.

P.S. And while they are parked, they can pick up some of the trash they throw out, including urine bottles.

Bud Moore
Johnson, NE

Pointing the finger...

I read, with humor, the caption regarding Cracker Barrel in the April "Roses & Razzberries." This came complete with a photograph submitted by OOIDA member Janis Bruhn from Woolwich, ME.

Please inform Janis, and your readers, if we are to point the finger at one company, then let's get them all. If one ever asked, you would learn why Cracker Barrel posts the signs. It comes from a history of trucks entering their properties and running over curbs, shrubs, trees, etc. and tearing up asphalt. My wife and I, in 17 years of driving, have stopped in almost every single Cracker Barrel ever built with our 240" wheel base tractor pulling a 53' trailer. We have not once been asked to leave or even had a remote comment about us parking there. We have parked overnight. We were courteous and parked out of the way so as not to inhibit or interfere with the business of the facility.

The list is endless of businesses that post "no trucks." The fact is you can come and go as you please provided you use common sense and courtesy. Many, many drivers today possess neither of these qualities. We park anywhere we deem necessary to conduct our business whether delivering, eating or shopping. In 17 years I have only once been asked to leave a property and that was in New Jersey. I have also received two parking tickets for parking on private property, but still was not asked to leave. We have driven in all 48 states and Canada. If your skill and professionalism is of the highest caliber then it speaks for itself and the public and private sector respect that.

Ray Bell
Roanoke, VA

Life gets easier

This letter is in reference to the letter that a lady wrote about being married to a truckdriver for four years. I just wanted to let her know that it gets easier in time. I know because my husband has been in the trucking business for 26 years and we have three children.

Every time he gets ready to go back out it's hard, but we know he will do his best to come back home to us. When he calls and says he is on his way home, the children and I can't wait to see him and we count the hours until he walks in the door. I grew up in the trucking business for 33 years. Now when my husband tells me where he is going, I can almost tell how he will go and when he will get there.

You will get stronger and it will get easier in time. I also want her and the wives of truckdrivers to know they are not alone and never will be. It's like this: When he comes home it's like getting ready to go out on a date and the love in your marriage gets stronger.

Brooke Decker
Arnold, MO

California members offer "heads up"

I have information for any drivers that haul into Costco in Mira Loma, CA. On March 23, the street leading into Costco was posted "No truck parking." Costco has 400 to 500 deliveries a night. Their staging area only holds 30 trucks. They cannot enter the staging area more than 30 minutes before their appointment time.

All trucks must be present for their appointments. If there is no room in the staging area for them, they MUST wait on the street. They cannot leave the area. The guard shack must be able to reach them by radio or by foot. If they leave, they lose their appointment and it will be rescheduled in 24 hours. 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. is the heaviest parking on Costco's street. Anywhere from 20 to 40 trucks on average. There are no deliveries to Costco after 11 a.m. As of March 23, they can no longer wait on the street for appointments without the chance of getting a ticket. "No truck parking" is posted from Ettiwanda to Wineville. Costco is at Riverside Drive and Wineville. This area is industrial only.

Residents are trying to pass a county petition to create a restricted truck parking zone. My husband delivers to Costco. They told me that he would not be able to wait in the street for his appointment time.

Drivers need to know before they get to Costco. Riverside County Transportation said they didn't have any complaints about this area. The decision to post Ettiwanda to Wineville was made by Supervisor John Tavaglione from Riverside. That posting makes it very difficult for us. The local truckstop (TA) does not have enough parking for Costco or for any of the dozens of warehouses in the area. There are no other truckstops for nearly 100 miles.

If anyone would like to make complaints, please direct them to Supervisor Tavaglione's office at the Riverside Department of Transportation.

Bruce and Deborah Reed

Editor's note: The address is John F. Tavaglione, supervisor, District 24080 Lemon Street, 14th Floor, Riverside, CA 92501. Phone is 909-275-1010.

Cold showers, warm smiles

We tend to buy most of our fuel at Flying J because of the availability of their truckstops and the services they provide.

As a general rule, they have the most decent shower facilities available. That wasn't the case at their location in Carneys Point, NJ, where the water was barely lukewarm. We arrived there on a Monday evening and this problem existed then and into the next day. It did result in quite a few very irate drivers but each and every employee was pleasant, kind, courteous and extremely friendly. This is one Flying J, cold showers or not, that I hope to be able to frequent again.

Miles & Carol Carter
Grand Junction, CO


You spelled my hometown wrong. I am a big fan of your magazine.

In your March 2000 issue, in your member profile about Fred Faerber you misspelled my home of Kingston, NY. I just thought you would like to know.

Joseph Schoonmaker, (age seven)
Kingston, NY

Editor's note: Apologies to you, Joseph, and all residents of Kingston. Thanks for reading Land Line.

Super Nike watch

Having been in the trucking industry for close to 13 years now, I have seen many commercials about big trucks and the way they are portrayed. This (Nike) commercial is no exception. It is the latest Nike commercial which features a bicyclist being run off the road by a big truck. All this is to show the toughness of their new watch. To make matters worse, the truck ends up swerving from side to side and then locks up the brakes and crashes through a guardrail.

Robert R. Ruszel Jr.
Portage, IN

Volvo feels "wishy-washy"

I was interested in reading the recent article (April 2000) concerning problems with the late model Volvo trucks. My wife and I drive team (I have been an over-the-road driver for more than 16 years and she's been running with me for almost two). Recently, we had to drive a brand new 2000 Volvo 770 for two months. I was not impressed. The "motor home" style sleeper is nice, but useless to a team that runs. But what I couldn't stand was driving it! It felt very "wishy-washy" and somewhat unstable. Very scary on snow and ice. The dog house doesn't allow enough room to stretch out much on the longer runs to the point my knee and hip were killing me after only a few days in the new truck.

What is most interesting to me though is all of the supposed "accolades" being given the new Volvos. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the people doing all of the praising for all of the supposed awesome engineering are not truckdrivers but fellow automotive designers and engineers! Go figure, they don't have to drive them.

Ken Casebolt
Nampa, ID

No surcharge, no service

January 2000: We invoiced a surcharge; they didn't notice. February: They called and asked if we raised our prices? I said no, it's a temporary fuel surcharge. They complained. I said make your check out the way you choose. Rate back to zero. We no longer haul for them. They were late in paying and always complained about something. To hell with them, I said, get someone else to put up with your bull crap. We give good service to companies and don't need them. We will find another slot to fill in their place. We already have. We run three units, one flat, one van, one dump. Service is our leg to stand on.

Bill DeRemer
Conneautville, PA