August 2001

Have it your way, but not this way

A former cook at a Burger King on the New York Thruway was convicted of felony food tampering for spraying oven cleaner on a trucker’s hamburger.

The trucker, his palate not yet completely destroyed by bad road food, returned the burger uneaten, complaining that it smelled funny.

A co-defendant who pleaded guilty testified that he and his sidekick not only laced sandwiches with cleansers and spit, they also “skated” across the floor on frozen burger patties before broiling them. The chef now faces a special order of four years in the cooler.

New careers after trucking

Virgil Randall of McRae, Ark., a former Wal-Mart driver, now tours the festival circuit with 14 racing and diving pigs, whose names include Arnold Schwarzenpigger, Jean-Claude Van Hamme and Hammy Swinenette. “I invented the diving pig,” Randall says. “If you want to train a pig to dive, you train them in hot weather, because it’s naturally what they’d do.”

Jasmin Fazlovic of Fargo, N.D., a Bosnian immigrant who drove a truck his first two years in the States, now owns the Bosnian House restaurant, where he serves kebabs, cabbage rolls, hard-boiled eggs and pitas filled with beef, cheese, and spinach. There’s music and dancing on weekends. More than a thousand Bosnian immigrants live in North Dakota.

Mark Micienko of Tinley Park, Ill., left trucking after patenting the Bathroom Buddy, a combination magazine rack, paper dispenser, radio and telephone holder that hangs near the best seat in the house. He says he got the idea while sitting … well, you know the rest. “People bought the Pet Rock,” Micienko says. “Why not buy this?”

Getting a bang out of your drive

Truckers and four-wheelers alike on I-27 in Lubbock, Texas, were alarmed June 28 by the sound of gunfire, but there were no guns – just bullets.

Police spent three hours picking up nearly 1,000 bullets, most of them .22-caliber, strewn across the northbound lanes near State Loop 289. They went off as vehicles drove over them, but no one was hurt. Police have no idea where the bullets came from.

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An Alabama truck driver stripped naked and ran amok in the TA truck stop on
I-20/59 in Meridian, Miss., damaging television monitors and scaring people, police say. Lorenzo Mathes of Phenix City was charged with indecent exposure, disturbing a business and disorderly conduct.

He wasn’t the only trucker this summer to choose his birthday suit for a uniform, police say. An Oregon trucker smashed an 18-wheeler loaded with ceramic toilet parts through a fence at the Long Beach, Calif., airport, sped up and down the runway, rolled the truck and, emerging from the wreckage, likewise stripped off his clothes, police say. Nathan Eugene Woods was charged with hit-and-run driving and assault with a deadly weapon.

Boogie time

Truck Driver’s Boogie: Big Rig Hits Vol. 1 1939-1969 is a new CD from Diesel Only Records in Brooklyn, which calls it “the most ambitious CD reissue of truck driving songs ever assembled.” The oldest of the 20 originals is “Truck Driver’s Blues” by Cliff Bruner & His Boys, from 1939; the most recent are both from 1968, “Truck Drivin’ Cat with Nine Wives” by Jim Nesbitt and “Big Rig Rollin’ Man” by Johnny Dollar. The package includes a 24-page illustrated booklet written by Diesel Only owner Jeremy Tepper. For more information, visit

Somebody squealed

Some thieves steal money or jewelry, but others prefer a prize with a little more taste. Like pigs’ feet. Charleston, S.C., police arrested former trucker Joseph Lawrence Smalls Jr. and charged him with felony possession of stolen goods, namely a refrigerated trailer full of 52,000 pounds of pigs’ feet, street value $35,000.

Police were tipped off that someone in nearby Mount Pleasant was trying to sell pigs’ feet from the back of a truck for $10 a case.

This was not the first time Smalls made off with meat, police say. At the time of his arrest, he was out on bail, facing charges of stealing – from the same former employer, B.W. Mitchum Trucking – a trailer of frozen chicken wings.

Logging fewer calories on the road

Chicken-fried steak with a side of home fries can seem as inevitable on the highway as crossing time zones, but Dr. Joanne Lichten’s new book, How To Stay Healthy & Fit on the Road, attempts to change such unhealthy habits.

“When you have to eat out, there are a lot more exciting things to eat than just a grilled chicken sandwich,” Lichten says. “You just have to know what to ask for.”

Lichten’s book offers menu suggestions at Arby’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Applebee’s, Chick-Fil-A, Subway, Jack in the Box, Boston Market, Olive Garden and other chains. It also covers getting enough exercise and sleep while traveling.

The pocket-size book is available in bookstores nationwide and online.

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