Line One
Dashboard Confidential
Blowing smoke with ‘Cowpoke’

By Dave Sweetman
Columnist

 

The other day I was sitting around the campfire, swapping stories with my pal, Bob “Cowpoke” Martin. Actually, we were swapping e-mail, but I’m not sure he wants anyone to know he’s one of those new-fangled drivers with electronic gadgets like computers.

Cowpoke is one of those old-school drivers who had been around for a while before the term “old school” even existed: truthful, honest and an all-American trucker. I always figured Cowpoke was born about a hundred years too late, as he would have made a darn good stage coach driver or cow drover.

The conversation turned to image and all the things we see on the road and some of the things we’ve done. But, more to the point, the things we NEVER did. Like buy big, ugly teeth bugscreens. If that’s your thing and you like intimidating folks and looking like an idiot at the same time, be my guest. Neither of us see the point.

Same goes for chrome-plated bull balls. Cowpoke says he doesn’t see the need to look foolish, but it is a personal choice I guess. But wait. Stop the presses. Here in my hometown of Tallahassee, FL, the state Legislature a while back was working on a bill to ban what they call “Truck Nutz,” complete with a $60 fine for violators. But the legislation was not aimed at big rigs. Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, was quoted as having a set on his vehicle, which he described as “all pimped out.”

Sen. Steve Geller, D-Hallandale, retorts: “I’d find it shocking we’d tell people with metallic testicles on their bumper that this is a violation. There’s got to be better things for us to spend time debating.”

Geller also suggested that the ban also might be followed by prohibiting silhouettes of nude women on truck mud flaps.

“We’re basically going to have the bumper police,” King said.

Neither Cowpoke nor I will be affected by any such legislation.

Another thing we never tried was the small light tube duct-taped to the CB antenna, so when you keyed the mic, it would light up the night. Sounds good if you want to be the CB Savage, I guess, but a lot of guys blew out their radios in the process.

There used to be a cult of folks who placed colored lights on the sides of mirror brackets to glimpse inside passing cars at night. Never tried it and I’ve heard it was a good way to get a ticket. I passed on that brainstorm, too.

Placing golf balls in your tires will balance them going down the road, so I’ve heard. Never tried it and the logic escapes me, but I chalk it up to another truck stop story worth ignoring.

The same goes for tinfoil balls in hub caps. The logic, if you can call it that, is that it scrambles police radar. That one has been around for years, but I never gave in to the temptation, no matter how many trips I made across Ohio.

Along similar lines of trucker fallacy is the use of radar jammers. Several years ago, I was among those in a test of jammers and different types of police radar. Not only did they not work, but they were expensive and very illegal, if captured. I remember one of the engineers comparing the quality of the jammer with the box it came in. Both were equally effective, and the box was cheaper.

Another great trucker trick I have never tried is orange soda. Not for drinking, mind you, but I have had drivers come up to me and tell me that pouring orange soda on a squealing fan belt will stop the squeal. Perhaps adjusting the fan belt is too much trouble, but I would guess it would last longer than the orange soda.

So if you want to pass the time, pull up a seat near the campfire, grab an orange soda and hit a few golf balls. Cowpoke and I pretty much have this trucking thing figured out. LL

 

deeseldave@aol.com.  


Editor’s note: This column was originally published June 2008.

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