Line One
Downshift
Night of the living bejeebers

By Bill Hudgins
columnist

 

I love October. The leaves are turning, the weather is cooling off, the World Series is in full swing and college football is getting interesting. There are fall fests, Oktoberfests and beerfests everywhere. Christmas is still just far enough away that you don’t have to really think about it, but Halloween is close enough that you can be excused for sampling candy.

Speaking of Halloween, my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe has decided to go trick-or-treating this year. He’s picked out an intersection with a bunch of truck stops and plans to visit each one. Instead of candy, he’s planning to ask for shower tickets, customer club points, logo’d caps and cups – the kind of giveaways we all get a bit silly over.

Rufus planned to decorate his vintage Cornbinder with lighted skulls, bats and jack o’ lanterns, a big set of fangs, and a sign on the front – in reversed type so motorists in front of him can read it in their mirrors – that says, “Some days you’re the bug.”

I convinced him not to use the sign, because so many people still remember the demon trucker from Steven Spielberg’s “Duel.”

Skulls and bones don’t scare many people (unless they are members of the secret society by the same name), and the gore that frightens a lot of us is a former vice-president obsessed with the environment. So I got to wondering, who’s the real bogeyman for truck drivers today? Here are some likely suspects hiding under your tractor:

Creatures from the black gold lagoon. Oil speculators, and most anyone else who has anything to do with producing, shipping, buying or selling petroleum can be pretty scary. As I write this in early August, oil prices are falling and speculators are shrieking in agony and terror as their paper profits are ripped to shreds. Don’t count them out. Like Glenn Close at the end of “Fatal Attraction,” they’ll be back to screw us again.

NAFTArators. Like Ahhnold in “The Terminator,” the proponents of cross-border trucking just won’t quit coming after us. Despite the will of the people, and action by Congress, FMCSA just pulls itself back together and stalks on over us.

Idlecula. This monster sucks. Sucks diesel out of your tanks. Sucks money out of your pocket. Sucks good air out of the sky. Mostly, it attacks when you are asleep and defenseless, when your only other options are to shiver or sweat it out. Anybody know where I can get a good deal on a garlic chicken-fried stake?

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Broker. Unless you’re careful and watch out for telltale signs, you’ll never know just which of these is picking up the phone when you’re searching for a load. The nice one can put money in your pocket; the bad boy can leave you owing money.

The Shining. Now, I like a pretty truck as much as anyone else, but chrome and lights can eat you alive, money-wise and time-wise. Shining starts out small and innocently, but before you know it, it’s consuming you. Keep this fact in mind: Chrome does not pay.

Cheapfreighter. These are the “Aliens” of trucking. Their thirst for any load is a monster gnawing at the heart of independent trucking, ripping the life right out of that part of the business.

Fortunately for you, OOIDATRON has your back when it comes to most of these hideous critters (you’re on your own with the chrome-and-lights blob). Surely you have seen enough horror flicks to know that you shouldn’t go through a door alone? Same applies to going down the road. You just don’t know what might be waiting out there. In the dark. Crouched. Mean. Ready. Hungry …

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL

Bill Hudgins can be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

March/April
Digital Edition