Letters From Readers Like You

| December 12, 2008

Linda Longton’s article on sleep apnea ["The Sleep That Kills," January] caught my attention.

SLEEP APNEA SURVIVOR

Even though I’m not a truck driver, I always wanted to be. Linda Longton’s article on sleep apnea ["The Sleep That Kills," January] caught my attention because I have sleep apnea. I used to get very sleepy behind the wheel of my car after only an hour of being on the road. I would fall asleep at my desk in the late afternoon. I would wake up with severe headaches or I would wake in the middle of the night with my heart pounding. I was snoring so loud that it would wake me up, and my wife would move to the other bedroom.

One day I came across an article about sleep apnea that listed all of my symptoms. It said sleep apnea can increase blood pressure, cause strokes and result in death. My doctor didn’t know much about it, so I found out what I could on my own.

After a sleep study, the therapist recognized sleep apnea and helped me purchase a CPAP machine. All of my symptoms are gone. I sleep soundly. I don’t snore, and my wife is back. I wake up refreshed, and I never worry about falling asleep at the wheel or my desk. And, my blood pressure went down, so I could reduce prescriptions for that. My CPAP goes with me everywhere. It passes through airport security, fits in my briefcase, plugs into the train sleeper car outlets, comes with an AC/DC adapter and keeps me alive.

I strongly suggest anyone who has any of these symptoms should have a sleep study done.

Ron Fitch
Rockland, Mass.


INDUSTRY CHANGES TOO SLOWLY

I have been in the trucking business for more than 30 years, and one thing has stayed the same: Our industry does not move quickly to change. There has always been talk of changing the hours of service, improving work hours, making companies comply with DOT regulations and many more things that have been swept under the rug.

Nothing ever changes in favor of the owner-operator. We are always last in the food chain. We are the ones who are making the money for the companies to stay in business.

But, do we ever get a chance to reap the benefits of what we do? We can make a change, but it will take all of us working together.

Mike McRae
Elkins, W.V.


FIX OUR OWN PROBLEMS

In reference to a letter from David Callin in the January issue: Dave, you comment on four-wheelers “cutting in, failing to use turn signals,” but I’ve been cut off by more trucks than cars.

I agree that four-wheelers are a major problem, but how can we expect four-wheelers to be any different when they see truckers driving badly? Let’s clean our house first, then look to our neighbors.

Roy King
Cottonwood, Calif.


A DAC MISTAKE

The company I used to work for ran a criminal record check on me through DAC without matching the birth date or my Social Security number. They found a Ricky Miller with multiple drug-related charges, and they said it was me. The company fired me immediately.

Since then, I have proved through the sheriff’s department that I am not the same person. I sent the proof to DAC, and they still refuse to remove it from my record. I am unemployed and black-balled from driving again because of a mistake that no one will admit to and fix.

Richard Miller
Kodak, Tenn.


SKIRTING THE REAL ISSUE?

This is in reference to your write-up about the cross-dressing trucker in the November 2002 issue: Peter Oiler, a 21-year old employee of Winn-Dixie, was fired because he admitted he was a cross-dresser while being off duty and non-paid.

Is it safe to assume that a person can pursue activities of his or her own choosing if he or she is not being paid? If a truck driver does not have a scheduled starting and quitting time, the motor carrier, with the help of the Department of Transportation, can control the entire life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of an off-duty non-paid truck driver. This can be done by disciplinary actions or by discharge

In 1980, I was fired by a major motor carrier for chronic and habitual absenteeism because – while I was off-duty and not getting paid – I was pursuing activities of my own personal choosing and not waiting by my telephone. I took the matter through the court system until the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review my appeal, and I was left with no job.

The real question here is: Would Winn-Dixie have fired Mr. Oiler if he had been anything other than a truck driver who was enjoying his off-duty, non-paid time?

David P. Gaibis Sr.
New Castle, Pa.


IMPROVEMENTS ARE AN ILLUSION

While reading Linda Longton’s “Tables are Turning” [December 2002], I thought that I must be on another planet. I’ve been driving trucks for 25 years, and I don’t see anything in this industry improving. I was surprised you found four owner-operators that think differently.

Fuel prices are still a rip-off. Rates are not going up. As for drivers’ wages being up 25 percent – that’s laughable. If there were an increase in wages of 25 percent, most drivers would still have a low income.

Please stop the fairy tales. It’s not going to get better. We have been forced to make way for Mexican trucks.

I am presently waiting for a man to call back on buying my truck and trailer. I am leaving with 25 years of experience, a terrific safety record, no chargeable accidents and one speeding ticket in 15 years. Who will replace me? Will he be as safe a driver as I was? I hope so, but I doubt it.

D.M. Perry
Wanatah, Ind.


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