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Roses & Razzberries

Imagine this TV commercial from a Coca-Cola Company rival touting the relaxing effects of its new soft drink: A child swigging a Coke sees a puppy in the road and without thinking, darts in the street to save the floppy-eared creature. Meanwhile, a wild-eyed driver while downing a Coke and listening to a Black Sabbath CD bears down on dog and child. The picture goes black and we see a billboard that says, “Why are Coke drinkers so frantic? Cause there’s cocaine in it, and too much sugar!” Would the corporate Coke folks complain about grievous, inaccurate stereotyping? Would they sue the rival? Would they say children shouldn’t cross the street without looking first? You bet they would. So here’s a RAZZBERRY to the Coca-Cola Company for its Mello Yello commercial. The “Short Trip” television ad depicts a speeding 18-wheeler, horn blaring, as it careens down a residential street, bearing down on a puppy. A “heroic” youth who was demonstrating how to be smooth and save the day. Balderdash! This exploits truckers as reckless speed demons. The very notion that a professional trucker would zoom down a narrow residential street is ludicrous. Coke has delivered a slap in the face to hardworking professionals, and consumers, including their own drivers. We suggest Coke ad makers read the next couple items, which describe typical truckdriver behavior.

ROSE to Bob Hataway of Fort Worth, TX, a Baptist minister and former trucking executive who delivers injured truckers to their homes and families and also doubles as a chaplain. The hurt truckers travel in Hataway’s AmCoach, a $350,000 bus that’s custom fitted to transport truckers across the country. Hataway bought the bus in 1999 and equipped it with an adjustable bed, bathroom, kitchen and couches. Most recently, he drove 70-year-old Freeman Bowser to his home east of Pittsburgh, PA, after Bowser’s truck flipped on a median on Route 59 near Houston. Bowser is now back home in Mt. Lebanon, PA. He spent about a month in the hospital — no one else was hurt. Special air charter flights can charge up to $10 per air mile. The AmCoach does not charge for its services as it is operated through contributions. TransAlive wants every driver to have access to the AmCoach and return home when needed.

ROSE to 24-year-veteran truckdriver Harold Scott Jr., who operates out of Tulsa, OK, for Arrow Truck Lines. It was sunset May 2 as Scott drove Virginia’s I-495 looking for the exit to I-66. A “detour” sign said, “66 ramp closed,” so Scott followed the road and eventually saw a stopped car surrounded by four adults. Scott immediately called 9-1-1, but did not leave the truck. About five minutes later, two county police officers showed up. Turns out the “detour” sign was fake. “The officers told me these guys were probably planning to hijack cars,” Scott said. “They took ‘em off to jail.” The rest of the story? The four were held 48 hours and then released. No charges were filed. The officers said they simply didn’t have any evidence. Meanwhile, thanks to Harold for stopping what could have been a serious crime.

OOIDA member Bruce Bjorkland sends a ROSE to Sapp Bros. in Salt Lake City, UT. During a recent trip, Bjorkland stopped at the truckstop for a meal and ordered clam chowder. Later, Bruce’s stomach sent him on a roller coaster ride that stopped at a Nevada hospital. Dehydrated, he had an IV administered. When he got the OK to get back on the road, he received a $479 hospital bill. On his next trip through Salt Lake, he visited the truckstop to discuss the chowder. Bjorkland was told to file a claim with the truckstop’s insurance company. A couple of weeks later, after confirmation of his hospital visit, Bruce had a check for $479 in hand. “I’ve eaten there since and I will continue to go back,” said Bruce. “I just won’t eat the clam chowder.”

RAZZBERRIES to the American Red Cross for their ad that incorrectly said a tractor-trailer was involved in a near-fatal accident. According to the ad, Becky and Lizzie Nimmich’s car was crushed by a tractor-trailer causing them “serious internal injuries requiring multiple surgeries.” However, a Baltimore Sun article about the Nimmichs revealed it was a pickup truck rather than a big rig and the pickup driver was not even cited. The organization responded to complaints by revising the wording, saying, “The Red Cross is always interested in ensuring information in its advertisements is correct.”

ROSE to Oregon farmer Arie Jongeneel for providing what might be the most unusual roadside attraction in the United States. Jongeneel, a dairy farmer for 32 years, heard happy cows are more productive ones, so he ordered 80 waterbeds to accommodate his Holsteins. According to AP, the cow beds have been used in Europe for seven or eight years. They began appearing in the New York and Pennsylvania area and in the Midwest about three years ago. Jongeneel told AP, “the cows like it right away, they laid right down and were comfortable.” We don’t want to milk this story for more than it’s worth, but if you happen to be driving near Mount Angel, OR, and see a bunch of cows resting on waterbeds, your imagination isn’t playing tricks on you.