Line One
Roses & Razzberries

RAZZBERRY to the chump who kept a chimp in his big rig and was cited for animal neglect and lack of a proper permit. While in a Kansas City, KS, parking lot, another trucker spotted the 160-pound, 12-year-old female named “Suko” in a cage — riding shotgun. The owner said he’d been feeding Suko, but police didn’t notice food or water in the truck, KCTV Channel 5 reported. It wasn’t the first time the owner had been cited for monkey business. Two other animal control agencies had seized the chimp at one time or another. The semi’s cab now is “sans simian” after authorities took nearly five hours to get the animal to a shelter in nearby Lee’s Summit, MO. Ray Waggener, the California trucker who found the chimp, recalled the incident: “I see some eyes looking at me, nose, mouth, and looked up, I said, well, ‘How ya doin’ there bud?’ I thought (it was) some idiot (dressed up) … for Halloween.” When Waggener got a closer look, he called the police. “They all came out laughing, like what have you been smoking? I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink on duty, you know. The officer got up there and looked, and he said, ‘There is a (chimp) in there,’ and I said, ‘yeah’.”

RAZZBERRY to the National Institutes of Health, which won’t say how much funding it provided for a study on sexual issues related to truckers and their role in getting and spreading sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections. Emory University is conducting the four-year study, “Trucker Networks, Drug Use, and Disease Transmission.” The school’s Web site says the following: “With primarily male heterosexual truckers at their center, trucker risk networks include such diverse groups as: men who have sex with men including “truck chasers” and sex workers (CB hustlers, “buffaloes”); female sex workers (CB prostitutes, “lot lizards,” “traveling ladies,” American and Mexican brothel workers, motel sex workers, street walkers/hustlers); female “truck chasers;” drug dealers/pushers/runners and pimps; “polishers,” “lumpers,” homeless, and hitchhikers; trucking company and truck plaza employees; home setting social and risk contacts; and other sexual and drug contacts on the road.” Why are truckers singled out? And lumpers? What were they thinking? Why not base a study on offenders we frequently hear about in the news — basketball players, politicians and some members of the clergy, for example.

ROSE to Woodbridge, CA, firefighters and nearby truckers who pulled driver Edwin Moses, 40, from a burning truck in late October. The rig, carrying 100 bales of cotton on two flatbeds, caught fire after it overturned near Highway 99 at Jahant Road near Lodi, CA. Some 10 to 15 truck drivers at a nearby Jahant Food and Fuel stop rushed to the accident with fire extinguishers in an attempt to keep the flames from spreading. Soon thereafter, firefighters for the Woodbridge Rural Fire Protection District arrived at the scene. The victim was trapped inside the cab of a 1992 Peterbilt — one helper using his finger plugged the diesel fuel leaking from a hole in the tank until officials could get Moses out. Nevertheless, once extricated from the cab, Moses was found covered in fuel, which was in his eyes and mouth. According to the Lodi News-Sentinel, the driver sustained minor injuries, including a broken leg and abrasions.

ROSE to 13-year-old Heidi Grover, Rathdrum, ID — her father, Wayne, is an OOIDA member and professional truck driver. Heidi wrote a letter to the Coeur d’ Alene Press. In part, she said: “Before my father became a professional truck driver, I was just like the majority of America today. My thoughts on truck drivers were simply, ‘Oh, they drive big trucks. Big deal.’ … People do not realize the work and stress that comes with driving that truck. They do not realize that the food they eat, clothes they wear and every single thing they use each and every day was transported to them by a truck … Americans should feel ashamed that the majority of their country could care less about the hardworking men and women that spend so many hours behind the wheel … So anytime you see a truck driver, please show your appreciation for their hard work.”

ROSE to Mark Wiesemann, school resource officer at Missouri’s Lee’s Summit North High School, who recently headed up Red Ribbon Week, a unique effort to teach students about the real possibility of death when people drink and drive. The program uses Fatal Vision goggles, which simulate the effects of being under the influence of up to 2.0 percent alcohol content. Students while wearing the goggles ride on golf carts and try, unsuccessfully, not to hit orange cones set up in the school’s parking area. But first, they try to walk wearing the goggles. “I couldn’t tell where the line was, and I had no balance. It was difficult to feel where you were going,” said Freshman Lindsay Hank. “It was like walking sideways. I don’t think I would ever do drugs or drink alcohol, but now I know that I should stop someone before they get behind the wheel.” Wiesemann told The Blue Springs Examiner he felt students would benefit more from “hands-on” experience than a lecture.

—by Dick Larsen, senior editor Dick Larsen can be reached at