Since the new hours of service went into effect, it’s become increasingly difficult to find a parking space in a truck stop after 7 p.m. Seven is the sweet spot for shut-down time if you’re driving days and have long miles to cover. You can start again at 5 a.m. and the eight-hour milk-and-cookie break falls right around lunchtime. We’ve been making short days of it, stopping around 5 p.m., so George’s 70 spreads out and we don’t end up with a 51-hour reset. It’s aggravating to have to restrict our time. We now travel in the heat of the day, with a million other people, and hit rush-hour traffic at about the time we start looking for a place to park at night. It’s inconvenient, it’s stupid and it’s in no way safer for anyone. God forbid you don’t make that 1 a.m. shut-down. Your entire schedule is shot if you don’t.
George is adapting, but he doesn’t like it, and it’s most definitely costing us money. He’s certainly not the happy trucker he has been in the past — no one really seems to be. The entire climate on the road has changed so much in the past year and a half, it’s not as fun as it was when I started riding, things are grittier and people are worried. It breaks my heart to watch the government destroy an industry in the name of “safety,” and it makes me mad that we allow them to do so. My Granddad always told me people will only treat you as ugly as you let them, and I feel like it’s time to stop letting Washington treat us ugly.
Anyway, speaking of ugly, I watched a grown man run around a truck stop parking lot in nothing but his tightie-whities the other night. (Honestly, I didn’t know how else to segue into what this post was originally supposed to be about, before I got all pissed off about Washington. I apologize for the confusion.)
As I mentioned before, the truck stops are pretty full at night. There’s a lot of circling, a constant parade of tired truckers, who are all thinking, “If I hadn’t had to take that stupid 30-minute break earlier today, I would have made it here before all the spaces were full.” Consequently, people are parking in more and more inappropriate places, and squeezing way too many trucks into lots. But we’re definitely safer. (This is sarcasm.)
We noticed a couple of guys taking the dreaded end spot, and it wasn’t only the end spot, it was the corner end spot, the one where some idiot inevitably tries to force a rig into the diagonal space in between the corner spots at 3 a.m., usually tearinf the front end off of something. George remarked something like, “Poor bastards, I’d park on the ramp before I’d park there”, and we went to bed.
Sure enough, 3 a.m. rolls around and we hear yelling and commotion outside the truck. I peek out the curtains and am met with the sight of a big, hairy white man in his panties, running after a truck that was dragging his front end away. George didn’t even get up. He grunted and rolled over, leaving me to consider the image of this angry man, charging around the parking lot with his bumps and squiggles hanging out. Suffice it to say, I did not sleep well.
The moral of this story is the people who make the rules of the road should have to witness a grown man running around in his underwear in the middle of the night before they go and make everyone try and park at the same time. That, and never take the end spot.