Archive for May, 2008

MYSTIQUE OF THE LONG HAUL TRUCKER

Sunday, May 25th, 2008

What happened to the bull whacker of old? With the evolution of the automobile and the truck, the “freighters” (Conestoga wagons) of Santa Fe and Oregon trail days, pulled by teams of oxen and urged on by the bull whackers, evolved into today’s eighteen wheelers. Interstate highways gradually replaced the bull whacker’s muddy, rutted trails. But that drover spirit has never died; it lives on, in the heart of today’s trucker and any kid that yanks his arm up and down coaxing a blast from the air horn of a passing big truck.

What is it that makes you abandon some hum-drum factory job…or a job flipping burgers that’s insidiously sealing you into a smoky cloud of desperation? It’s the same thing that drew the bull whacker to the trail–a simple, pulsing call of adventure–the call of new places; the “Call of The Wild”, the WEST! Ah, the West…

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NBC Checks In…

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Every now and then, I catch a national news show on my favorite local TV station (an NBC network affiliate) knocking the trucking industry via the evening news. The other night was no exception, the segment on trucks commencing with a terrifying scene–POV the side mirror of your car, as two big trucks roar around your vehicle and race off into the distance. The subject, supposedly, was the high cost of fuel.

What was the connection, I wondered? Any eighteen wheeler knows that over 55 mph his mileage starts dropping, and with diesel approaching $5.00 per gallon, why waste fuel…especially if you’re an independent trucker, and the rig is yours? Maybe they were delayed in loading and were short of delivery time (miss your delivery appointment and maybe lose a full day waiting for your next load). Or just maybe, the point was something more sinister….

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SHADDUP WITH THOSE AIR HORNS!

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

What’s got those damned truckers so upset they’re laying on their air horns? Bunching up in truck lots, cruising through Washinton, D.C., or just plain shutting down? Truckers are having a huge problem with fuel costs, that’s what! It’s now running over $1,000 every time they fill up their saddle tanks with diesel. (A big truck gulps a gallon of fuel every five miles.)

When fuel was running a buck something a gallon ten years ago, pulling onto the fuel island of any truck stop was no excuse to whip out the antacid tablets. Now that it’s $4.00 a gallon, independent truckers cringe when they check the posted diesel price. It’s enough to make a guy yearn for another way to make a living. No joke, my friend… They may represent a minority of the rigs on the road, but independent truckers carry most of the meat and produce you’re planning to put on your table tonight.

Well, you say, why should any driver give a hang about fuel prices? Aren’t most of them company drivers? They aren’t personally paying for the fuel; it’s charged to their companies. The point you’re missing, is that most of the carriers of fresh produce are independents (personally owning only one, or just a few trucks) and those fuel costs come directly out of their family business budget. An even greater portion of single rig owner-operators are leased to larger transport companies with contracts that don’t keep them ahead of the game when fuel prices spiral higher. (The cost of fuel has been rising faster than readjustments can be negotiated.)

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