A tanker full of Roses to Big T's Freightliner in Oxnard, California. Last week, I was en-route to San Luis Obispo, Ca. from Wilmington, Ca. with a time sensitive load of Gasoline when I began experiencing a massive air leak every time I applied the brakes. Fortunately, I was only a couple of miles from Big T's Freightliner in Oxnard, Ca. I arrived there a little after 10am and checked in with the Service Advisor Debbie. I informed her of my situation and that I would be unable to drop the trailer because it was a loaded tanker and the landing legs would not support it. She made a space for me to pull in next to the shop and informed me that they would probably not be able to get to me until after lunch. She offered me a free soda or water while I waited and use of their lounge. When I informed her that I would need to stay with the truck because it was loaded and could not be left unattended, she was able to free up a technician before lunch to come get started on diagnosing the problem. After much troubleshooting, the source of the air leak was located- a small six dollar and some odd cents part behind the dash, which fortunately they had in stock. They had me on the road in a little over four hours (after coming in off the street with no appointment, not being associated with a large fleet and them not knowing me from Adam). Now here's where I feel this Service Advisor went above and beyond what you normally see nowadays- a short while after I left the shop, I began having an intermittent problem with the Smart Shift transmission giving me an audible alarm (but no visual warnings). It would stop when I pulled over but then resume again a short time after continuing on. I called the shop and explained my situation to Debbie who put me on hold briefly as she spoke with the technician. After some deliberation, it was determined that as long as there was no visual warnings or power loss it would be safe to continue operating the vehicle. A short time later, the audible alarm stopped. (I suspect that it may have been caused by some of the soapy water the technician was using to find the air leak behind the dash getting into a connector and causing the alarm. Once the connector dried out, the alarm went away). The following afternoon, I received a phone call from Debbie to check on me and make sure that everything was okay. It's been a long time since I have received that type of service from any shop, and will definitely be back there again. So if you're traveling through the Oxnard, California area and need service, please stop in and give these guys the business they deserve. Big T's Freightliner of Ventura 2501 Camino del Sol Street, Oxnard Ca. (805) 983-2408
Sorry I've been a little lacking in the posting department lately. Got some down time today as I sit here at the repair shop having my service truck worked on, so I thought I'd play catch up with the blogs.
Last month truck show season officially kicked off with the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky and this got me to thinking. How many of you all out there attend the truck shows? What are the reasons that you attend? Have those reasons changed over the years; perhaps as your capacity in the industry has changed?
I know my reasons have changed several times over the years. Being basically born into trucking (my Father drove for over forty years) I first started attending the truck shows as a child. Of course back then it was all about the trucks and the freebies. To this day, I still have boxes and bags of all the little freebies that were given out at the booths; pens, pencils, rulers, note pads, etc. You name it, I've probably got it someplace.
Then as I became older and obtained my CDL it was still about the trucks and the freebies but my focus began to shift more towards the latest products and gizmos. As I gained more experience in the industry, I began to look at the shows from more of an educational/informational standpoint. I took advantage of some of the seminars offered to try to learn as much as I could about the issues and regulations that affect me.
Now as an Owner Operator my focus has changed yet again, as I try to stay on top of all the new rules and regulations, environmental issues and such. Staying on top of these issues is going to be the key to survival in this ever changing industry.
However, throughout the years there is one thing that has remained a constant in my attendance of these events. I have met some wonderful life-long friends at these shows. It has become a family reunion of sorts; you may not always run into these people in your travels, but it's a sure bet you'll find each other at the various events throughout the country.
If you've never attended at truck show, I strongly urge you to make it a point to attend one; you'll be hooked.
Until next time drivers, safe travels and maybe we'll see you at the next show.
I just read a news story on my Facebook page that really angered me. I will include the link to that story at the end of my rant for today. We have an epidemic in this industry. It's an epidemic that has just cost an innocent man his life. What is this epidemic you may ask? It's improper/inadequate training. There have been calls for some sort of standardized training requirements for this industry, and yet, these calls seem to be met with more and more resistance each time the subject is addressed.
On Friday, March 26, 2011 A tractor trailer driver was killed in a fiery accident that shut down the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Out of respect, I will not mention the drivers names here in this post. A 48-year-old driver for Fremont Contract Carriers Inc. and his dog were killed in this accident that occurred when an inexperienced CRST driver became disoriented driving in the dark and was rear-ended by the FCC truck. Quoting the news story, "He's a brand new driver; he had only been driving a truck for three weeks...He got disoriented in the dark, going up and down the hills, and his truck was bogging down." According to one of the State Troopers on scene, the CRST driver "thought he was driving up an incline when he wasn't, which is why HE WAS IN SECOND GEAR AND TRAVELING AT 5 MPH IN THE DRIVING LANE even though THE HIGHWAY WAS DRY AND VISIBILITY WAS CLEAR. Now here's what really pisses me off about this whole thing- this NEW DRIVER'S instructor WAS ASLEEP IN THE CAB AT THE TIME OF THE WRECK.
These companies have got to stop running student/trainer trucks like they're teams. A brand new driver that has only been driving for three weeks HAS NO BUSINESS BEHIND THE WHEEL WITHOUT THE TRAINER NEXT TO HIM IN THE JUMP SEAT, especially going up and down hills in the dark.
I want to know what you all think about this. As professional drivers, we need to start holding ourselves to a higher accord. If the industry won't mandate these changes, we need to take the lead and do it ourselves. I know everyone is always up in arms about "big brother" telling us what to do, but there has to be some kind of standard. How many more drivers (and motorists) need to be killed because of senseless horseshit like this before we all wake up and get behind this?
Here's the link to the story:
In Memory of Jack McClain
Copied from 10-4 Magazine April 2011 Issue
Jack F. McClain (83) of Charles City, Iowa died on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Jack, who was a veteran truck driver with almost 65 years of driving under his belt, was found dead in his truck after he didn't make his delivery appointment. On Monday, March 7, Jack's last drop in Anaheim, California was rescheduled for the next day. He went back out to his truck, called his wife Sheilah, and told her that he wasn't feeling very good and that he was going to lay down. He had laid down with his beloved dog Sammy next to him but, sadly, never woke up. He was found the next day, with Sammy still by his side. Jack always said he would retire "when they pulled my dead body out of the truck" and that is exactly what happened. You might remember that we [10-4 Magazine] did an article about Jack back in 2007 when he celebrated his 80th birthday. It is amazing that he was still driving at 83 years old - and he did not drive a lame old truck - he had a cool 1999 Peterbilt with a matching 48' spread-axle reefer. Mark Smith of Morrison, Illinois went to California and picked up Jack's truck and brought it, along with Sammy, home. Jack's funeral was held on March 16 at the Hauser Funeral Home in Charles City, Iowa. The next day, a small caravan of six or seven tall trucks, led by Jack's rig with Mark Smith at the wheel, made a 250 mile trip south, together, in a procession to Promise City, Iowa, where Jack was then laid to rest with his first wife and a son that was killed at 19 in a car accident. Jack leaves behind many family members, including his wife Sheilah, two daughters, two step-sons, a brother and three sisters, and several grandchildren. For many years, right up until his death, Jack hauled meat from Iowa to California and then produce back almost every week. He died doing what he loved and all of us who knew him will miss him dearly. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
First, let me start by saying this- while I definitely want to see a lot of comments on here, I do not want to see any insults, foul language or gender bashing. Please keep the comments clean and on-point.
That being said, here's the question for today: Why do y'all think people have such a propensity for not following the rules? Whether it's obeying the speed laws, lane restrictions, move over law, hands free cell, etc. it seems as though the majority of the folks out there go out of their way to not follow the rules. Why?
I see this every day on my regular run back and forth over the Grapevine from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. The big Large Cars suddenly decide that they don't need to obey the speed laws or lane restrictions. They're out there in that number lane screaming up the hill at well over the posted speed limit. And very few drivers move over for someone on the shoulder. I still see a lot of folks running in the rain with no lights on. And while we're at it, don't even get me started on the handsfree cell phone law.
The hand held cell phone ban has been on the books here in California for well over a year now. Yet very few people follow it. And from my observations, it seems to be more women than men that for whatever reason refuse to use any type of handsfree device. Whether it's a blue tooth, corded headset or other handsfree system, it doesn't seem to matter. I was unloading at a Valero station in the City of Industry a few weeks ago and the Sheriff stopped a young lady and issued her a citation for talking on her cell phone without using a handsfree. I couldn't hear the conversation from where I was unloading, but it was obvious that she was arguing her point to the officer as much as she could. Which brings me to my next statement. We're all adults here. If you're one of those ones who chooses to not follow the rules and you get caught, put your big boy (or girl) pants on and accept the punishment; don't sit there arguing about it or crying that the officer was unsympathetic to your ignorance.
So what is it folks? Why this propensity to disobey the rules? Is it ignorance of the rules themselves, or some kind of rebellious thread within us? I want to see what you all have to say on this. It's one of those things that I always wonder "where's their head at?" when I see it.
You all be safe out there and remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
You know, that saying used to be kind of a joke on the CB, especially around the truck stops. The "CB Rambos" would be getting into it with each other and then someone would key up and say "can't we all just get along?" Then the "Rambos" would usually turn on them.
The sad fact of it is that a lot of the "CB Rambo" mentality has now spilled over into the social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This was suggested by one of my Facebook friends earlier today when he made an innocent post on his own status and it ended up turning into an ugly attack by some of my friend's friends against my friend Heather (Trucker's Voice) and later myself for defending her.
When are we going to realize that we are all on the same side? It has been suggested many times that you'd be hard-pressed to get two truck drivers standing next to each other to agree on what color the sky is. There is no longer any unity in this industry. There are a lot of people in this industry that are all about the fame and notoriety. You hear them on the various trucking radio shows all the time. Their calls usually start out with "look what I did" or "I just talked to so-and-so" or "I just emailed my whatever." It's always "I." When someone else comes with a good idea, instead of saying "hey, that's a great thing you're doing, how can we get involved?" They choose to attack the person because they're jealous that they did not come up with it first. Or they try to steal the idea and claim the credit as if they came up with it.
And when that doesn't work, they attack. They show their lack of intelligence and professionalism by cursing, name calling and throwing wild, factless accusations around to try to discredit this person's efforts. And the sad fact of it is that the ones that end up getting hurt by all of this childish bickering are the ones that need the help the most.
You know, I may have only been driving Commercially for fifteen years, but I have been around this industry my entire life. My Father just recently retired from over forty years on the road and several million accident free miles. I remember riding with him as a child in the mid and late eighties. I remember how it used to be. The comraderie is all gone now. Drivers nowadays don't even have respect for themselves, let alone for anyone else. They speed, tailgate, don't move over for vehicles on the shoulder (which is now the law in many states). We keep screaming that we want to be treated like professionals, but we can't lead by our own example. If you want to be treated like a professional, you have to act like one. Not just on the highway, but in social media as well. On every site there is a delete button. If you don't like what's being offered, simply remove yourself. There is no need to curse or degrade someone because you don't agree with their views. There's no need to bash and slander them behind their back. My parents taught me years ago that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. There's a lot of cliche's on this- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, Don't start nothing, won't be nothing and so on.
Bottom line is this folks- nothing in this industry is ever going to change if we can't find a way to get along. All the bickering and in-fighting might be funny to those doing it, but in the grand scheme of things, it is extremely counter productive and serves no purpose.
We need to lead by example. We need to conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times; even in the face of stupidity. Until we do this, we as an industry are never going to be taken seriously and we are never going to regain the respect that we so richly deserve.
Regardless of whether you are involved in the trucking industry this is an important message that needs to be spread. This piece was written by my friend Rusty Wade and published in the current (February 2011) issue of OOIDA's Land Line Magazine. Many of my driver friends are familiar with Rusty who goes by the handle of Yoda.
Trucker Perspective: Women Truck Drivers Are Unappreciated
By Rusty "Yoda" Wade
My wife has been driving a truck for the last 17 years. She has watched the number of women involved grow, but the treatment they receive has changed little.
Women are met with ignorance and derision by drivers. But worse than that, they are met with mistreatment by the very vendors who make their living feeding drivers, or fueling and repairing the trucks they drive.
At customers' shipping docks, and even more at restaurants, fuel desks and other locations that women drivers encounter - they should be treated with dignity, but are treated like dirt.
I know truck stops where a woman alone, or in a few cases even accompanied by a male driver, may be accosted walking from the restaurant to her truck by security or even law enforcement personnel demanding to see her CDL [Commercial Drivers License] as if saying "prove to me you are not a prostitute."
All too often I myself have interrupted a waitress or clerk who was ignoring a woman alone - only to be told "I don't wait on her until her husband sits down" or "this is a fuel desk and I am waiting on people who are buying fuel." As if no woman would be fueling a truck?
My wife was in a truck stop one morning. When she asked the waitress why she was being ignored, she was told, "I don't wait on lot lizards." (for the folks not connected with trucking, "lot lizard" is a term used to describe truck stop prostitutes). This is a symptom of a prevailing misunderstanding and a poorly managed business that apparently has not bothered to accept that there are many women alone driving trucks.
Customer docks and repair shops are seldom much better, with women who are alone being ignored or even told to "go get your husband. We want to talk to the driver of the truck."
When will these things change? When will people who claim to be working to resolve gender issues in this industry address real issues instead of specious ones? When will they be willing to talk truthfully about problems rather than smooth them over to curry favor with potential sponsors of their organizations?
Meanwhile, women will continue to rack up millions of safe miles moving the goods of America from point to point and will continue to be mostly ignored by those who need their business and their efforts.