By Bill Hudgins
Once upon a time, so the legend goes, the well-dressed trucker wore tight jeans, a snappy Western shirt, a dinner plate belt buckle and shiny boots. In an earlier era, many wore uniforms, sometimes with a tie.
Nowadays … not so much. Being cleaned and pressed isn’t easy for over-the-road drivers who barely have time to get mandatory rest, much less do laundry. And iron? Please!
The advent of stretchy fabrics has been a godsend for comfort, if not for aesthetics. Even spandex has a breaking point, which too many folks are pushing. And while grimy, tattered T-shirts emblazoned with Goth images, NASCAR logos and chicken-hauler jokes may go well at “My Redneck Wedding,” they don’t say much positive about truckin’ folks.
Although attitudes about personal beauty are certainly in the minds of the wheel holders, truck builders and truck stops share some blame for the awful appearance of too many drivers.
A sleeper shower should be at least an option, with a government tax credit and weight exemption to encourage installing it. What a comfort on a cold, dark winter night – or at some sketchy travel centers – to clean up in your own rig. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that, though a box of baby wipes like those used by our troops in Iraq might be a useful substitute.
A friend of mine, Bob “Cowpoke” Martin, tells me this tale, which I do not doubt is true: “I was in my truck in a truck stop, and I noticed this young driver dragging a large wheeled suitcase, headed for the showers I assumed. He was wearing a sweatsuit – different colors top and bottom – and flip-flops. About an hour later, he came back, and I would bet anything he was wearing that same sweatsuit. I wondered, “Why is he dragging that suitcase around – to haul his BVDs?”
It’s always bothered me, watching weary wheel warriors trudge to and from the showers, hauling their duffel bags. It seems somehow demeaning, parading past everyone with road-worn eyes and an over-worn shirt.
And it’s clunky: Besides your shower gear – which in some places should include disinfectant, a sponge, face mask and rubber gloves – you have to carry a towel and a change of clothes.
However, earlier this summer I saw something that might reduce the amount of baggage you need to lug, as well as help cool you off on hot nights. It’s the Wearable Towel (www.wearabletowel.com). From the looks of it, the Wearable Towel solves three problems at once, and maybe four:
- First, you can dry off with it.
- Second, you can wear it into and out of the shower room – no more shoving clean clothes into your bag and wrinkling them, or shoving the dirty clothes and wet towel back into the same bag after your shower. (Swapping clean for dirty every day or so guarantees that everything is going to smell pretty much the same after a while.)
- Third, evaporation from the Wearable Towel would help produce a cooling effect, so wearing it while driving, resting in your rig, or even sleeping should help you beat the summer heat without idling. Though I wouldn’t recommend wearing it into the restaurant; the manager might object to the puddle on the seat.
The video on the Web site shows how to drape it like a toga – that’s very appropriate for truckers who are, after all, the rulers of the road. This might be the basis for some truck stop events – like a Roman-themed Prideus and Polishus Toga Party. Heck, you could even buff your rig with the Wearable Towel!
It looks darned comfortable to drive in, too, though you’d best be careful climbing in and out of the truck (it might leave your rear tandems uncovered).
Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL
Bill Hudgins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.