Line One
Dashboard Confidential
Dave doesn’t know $#&! about trucking

By Dave Sweetman


The other day I was cruising peacefully down I-95 in the Carolinas. Grossing right at 80,000 and in no real hurry to get to my Florida destination. Cruise control set to 64 mph and enjoying my favorite satellite radio station. Traffic zooming past.

Pulling into the Florence, SC, Blue Beacon for a quick wash, I noticed the truck next to me was one that had passed me earlier in North Carolina and again about 10 miles back.

It was noticeable because of the little cartoons on the rear of the trailer. At my wash bay, which had the window to view the wash process, the other driver asked me about my motor.

“C-15 Cat, 475/500 hp,” I replied.

“Which is it? Can’t be both,” was the answer I got back.

“Multi-torque C-15,” says I. My new friend was a disbeliever and said so.

“What kind of fuel mileage do you get,” he asked. I replied that “if I keep it around 64, it’s usually around 6.5, but if I run like you do, 5.3.”

I smiled, but it was wasted because he looked at me as if I had insulted his manhood. I pointed out that he had passed me doing close to 80 just before our wash bay encounter and here we were 20 miles down the road, side by side. I asked him about his mileage.

“I get about 5 miles per gallon but I’m a produce hauler and I gotta go, so I keep it in the wind,” said my new truckin’ pal.

For the next five minutes I heard all about bad rates, high fuel prices and the trucking industry going to Hades in a handbasket.

I was saddened to hear this news. Not because it’s not been said before, but because the poor, pitiful guy is a victim of his own illusion of what trucking should be, or at least what trucking used to be before OPEC ruled the world.

I attempted to tell Mr. Hammer Down perhaps it’s time to rethink his operating methods, adjust his speed to a more fuel friendly mph, and go for a profit instead of the image of the left lane cruiser. I got a look as if I had insulted Mom, apple pie and Dale Earnhardt.

I was then told that I “don’t know $#&! about trucking.” Fortunately, my wash was done and it was time to go. But still, I wonder about the guy.

I wonder how much longer he will be in business. I wonder how far behind he is in payments, trying to make ends meet. I wonder when the last time was that he bought his wife a new dress.

None of that is any of my business, of course, but I wonder if he will learn that the key to some extra money in his pocket is under his right foot. And that ticking sound is the clock running out on those like him who will not change with the times.

As for me, I plan on learning a lot about the trucking industry at the Granddaddy of trucking shows, the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.

It’s as much of a social event as it is a learning center, and a showcase of new vehicles, parts, pieces and shiny stuff.

Technology and seminars to be better business people, carriers to work for, it’s all there. MATS is the mecca of trucking. And did I mention the poke chop sammiches?

Then there is the Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Contest out back. More than 100 of the best-looking, innovative and creative working show trucks to be found.

And believe me when I tell you I know how much work goes into making them shine for the judges. Plus, I have the honor once again of giving my “Diesel Dave’s Award” to a victim of my choice. Look up “Too Much Fun” and it’s in Loo-uh-vull.

Who knows. Since I don’t know $#&! about trucking, it would be a great place to hone my craft. Might even learn a thing or two. LL

Dave Sweetman can be reached at