By Bill Hudgins
Needing a break from my routine, I recently hopped a ride West with my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe. After a while, I felt sleepy and crawled into the bunk for a nap, but after an hour I was awakened by rapid-fire jolts.
“Did we blow a tire?” I asked Rufus.
“Naw, we’re in Arkansas. I call it the Magic Fingers State, ’cause that’s what it feels like if you’re in the sleeper and on I-40.”
I laughed and told him about a woman co-driver who liked to quilt while she was off-duty. “Do that in Arkansas, and they call you a blood donor,” she had quipped.
This led to us discussing the various nicknames truckers have hung on states and cities, and we agreed some states ought to have new monikers.
For instance, given how it seems to regard truckers, California could be The Screen Door State, as in, “Don’t let the screen door hit you on your way out.”
Pennsylvania should be known as the Tollhouse State, seeing how it keeps trying to toll I-80 despite clear orders from the U.S. DOT that it cannot do so.
Speaking of overstepping: Minnesota’s new nickname should be the Tired State, in honor of its ridiculous and illegal trucker fatigue checklist.
Years ago, my home state of Virginia was often called the Kangaroo State because of its no-leeway speed laws and “kangaroo” courts. Now that the new governor has reopened 19 interstate rest areas, maybe the Sleep Good state is a better name.
Speaking of rest areas, Arizona has been closing them. After thinking about it, Rufus and I broke up laughing when he suggested calling Arizona the Hold It Till Texas State.
We’re pretty sure that name will stick, since New Mexico’s thinking about shutting half of its interstate rest stops, too. That makes it more the Land of Insomnia than of Enchantment. Since for truckers the lack of stops has a lot more to do with hours of service and rest than with pit stops.
At the other extreme from New Mexico is Vermont, where the legislature’s been talking about banning idling unless the temperature falls below zero. “Reefer State,” Rufus sang out, while I countered with “Zero Tolerance.”
A lot of people used to call Florida the Bikini State, Rufus noted, but with all the retirees moving there, maybe the Viagra State would apply now.
Thinking about Western states, I suggested that Nevada could be renamed the Flying Saucer State because of the long-suspected UFO site known as Area 51. After all, Pahrump, NV, was known in some circles as the Art Bell Town.
And Utah could be designated the No Bars State, because of widespread prohibition under the Mormon Church.
What about cities, I asked? Rufus said most of the nicknames for cities have stood the test of time because the characters of cities don’t seem to change so much. Names like The Big Apple, The Big Easy and Derby City are not just truckers’ slang; they’re names everybody knows.
Rufus also noted that Music City/Guitar Town is almost as well known by the name Crashville, thanks to the seemingly ever-present wrecks on Nashville’s three interstates.
And Rufus had another one: “I’d rename Washington, DC, the Big Rock Candy Mountain, like that old folk song,” Rufus said. “Seems like everyone expects Washington to solve their problems for them.”
As the Magic Fingers’ miles thudded past, I suggested maybe Land Line readers would have some ideas of their own. How about it, drivers?
Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often. LL