By Bob "Cowpoke" Martin, Columnist
I would guess that most of us in the Geezer Fleet know about Red Ryder and Little Beaver. You know – Wild Bill Elliott and his Indian boy sidekick, Bobby Blake, who grew up to be Robert Blake? I suspect the Now Generation, aka Cyber Truckers 2.0, never heard of them and couldn't say it without giggling.
Nothing points out the generation gap to me like our choices of music and entertainment. In my time it's gone from "B" Westerns – where the good guys always won and good prevailed over evil – to movies like "Spiderman" and "Avatar." They must be really good. I've seen grown men shell out $30 for the DVDs.
And country music was just that, country music. Now they have to label it "classic country" to separate it from whatever it is they call country music today.
The gap is there in all aspects of trucking. How about the dress code? If you saw two truckers walking away from you and couldn't see their faces, you could tell the Geezer Fleeter from the Cyber Trucker easily. A number of Geezers still wear boots and jeans and a collared shirt. Many younger drivers like the comfort of an off-the-rack sweat suit, flip flops. Geezers like the duffle, and younger drivers like a backpack. This doesn't apply to every driver, but a good many.
My early trucking was in south Texas and desert southwest. Hot as it was, I can't remember ever seeing a driver in shorts. Maybe there was a reason. I actually broke the code myself when we went on our first cruise in '87. My wife Geri bought me two pairs of Bermuda shorts and a pair of sneakers. She said, "You ain't clonking around for a week on that ship wearing those Tony Lamas and those heavy Levis." It was probably my first sneakers since high school gym class. I've hardly worn boots since.
Everybody smoked back then; I think it was a rule. Rack one up for the Cyber Fleet. I don't have any stats, but I know they don't huff and puff like we did.
Today's modern trucks (they don't look like trucks to me) are all the latest technology. I've never sat in one, so I have to go by what I read. The Cyber Truckers are in a whole different world here. From GPS to electronic motors, cruise control, collision warning devices, Qualcomms, aerodynamic design (that's why they don't look like trucks) and auto shift. And the bunk – the new crew calls them a condo – is equipped with a fridge, microwave, wok, Crock Pot, you name it.
One thing about the GPS: Us Geezers depended on a Rand McNally atlas and a stack of city maps. Now, it's GPS. Neither are perfect, but GPS technology seems headed in the right direction. Although a driver can't just follow it blindly or he could end up trying to knock down an overpass or drive out on a frozen lake.
The pay phones back in the day were really expensive, especially when the call was "operator assisted." We usually had phone numbers for the customer, but the call often went to some corporate office somewhere, not to the shipping office, receiver, etc. We wasted a lot of calls back then.
Us Geezers appreciated it when cell phones came out. The first was the "bag phone." You could park for the night, order a pizza and make a few calls, but it could cost $200. Modern cell phones (and the bill) are a bargain.
I think a good share of us Geezers like being able to talk to the wife and kids and say hi to Fido at length without worrying about the cost. At the same time, the Cyber 2.0 crowd is wearing their thumbs to the nub texting and "Twittering" to friends and family in a language all their own. Not very personal, but I guess it fits the times.
Fast food? It used to be you'd get a short order to go from the truck stop. Now, the fast food competition has put so much pressure on the truck stop restaurants that they gave in. They started including fast food restaurants as part of their operation. In this regard, whether you are a Geezer Fleeter or a Cyber 2.0, I think we have them right where they want us. LL
Bob Martin is an OOIDA life member from Lafayette, IN, and frequent contributor to Land Line. He's been a trucker for 45 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.