Dashboard confidential
I learn something new every day

By Dave Sweetman, contributing columnist

I sometimes think the reason many of us stick around this business is to see what will happen next. Some of it good, some, well ... that's trucking.

  1. Rolling back to my freight and grocery warehouse days, having a nice, neat palletized load always means spending the next four hours hand unloading because it is stacked in the wrong tie configuration.
  2. If it's a nine tie, stacked six high, they want it on a different-size pallet in an eight tie, five high. Been there, hated that. Every time I go to the supermarket, I always think "Bless your little pea-pickin' heart," for getting it there. Thanks, drivers.

  3. The load that's ready to go means a three-hour wait.
  4. The load ready in three hours will actually be ready in eight hours.
  5. The load that's ready in eight hours really means, "Come back tomorrow." And driver? We don't give you eight more hours to make the run. If you are not there, the plant shuts down.
  6. Busting your butt, skipping dinner, rolling on to get the hot load delivered on time guarantees you are met by a cranky warehouseman who delays you four hours while he moves 26 pallets of the same product they say they were out of.
  7. Spending any amount over $25.99 for a tractor wash guarantees rain or snow within the next eight hours. There is something about the movement of the hands that summons the rain gods every time.
  8. Construction zones always end at the bottom of the steep upgrade, ensuring a slow creepy crawl until you reach the top. Been across I-80 in Wyoming lately? See what I mean?
  9. When you are on the road, you can't wait to be home. When you are home, you can't wait to be on the road.
  10. Regardless of time or day, the Dan Ryan Expressway, Santa Monica Freeway and The Cross Bronx are a parking lot.
  11. Aliens really do inhabit the Earth. Don't believe me? Take a peek at some of the creatures at the coffee counter in any truck stop. How many of these critters were actually born on this planet? I'm just sayin'.
  12. Those "good old days of trucking" really weren't. Fond memories of my '65 Crackerbox GMC with a shelf for sleeping and an ear-splitting drainpipe for an exhaust; or my long-hood Brockway that took five acres to turn around (I loved that truck); or my GMC Astro with a hunger for HVAC fuses makes me appreciate today's creature comforts of the new "breed" of trucks we drive. And let us not forget the bias ply tires that loved to eat tubes and valve stems.
  13. That unwelcome knock on your door is usually a cop or lot lizard. They usually have the same thing in mind with similar price schedules. Either way, you could be about to lose some money.
  14. The CLOSED sign at the scale house actually means, "Coulda Loaded On Some Extra Deliveries."
  15. Telling any adult at a party that you drive a truck is met with mixed reviews. They range from contempt: "One of you guys cut me off yesterday," to total misunderstanding: "How can you live cooped up like that?" to even genuine envy "I always wanted to ride cross country in a semi." In most cases, I would be happy to compare paychecks with them. I am still amazed we are held in less regard. Perhaps a name change would help; Transportation Specialist, Motivated Product Mover, or even Professional Poultry Relocator.

This trucking stuff is still so much fun, I'll stick around a while. Maybe dust off an old Brockway, fire up that 318 Detroit, and tune up my old EF Johnson 21-channel radio and talk some skip. On second thought my new long-legged Kenworth feels pretty darn good, so I'll settle for a Dave Dudley CD, set the cruise for warp speed, and head on out.

Seven-thirds, I'm back out. LL