February 2002

BEWARE ‘THE BLOB’

A yellow-green ooze that stinks like rotten eggs is seeping out of I-65 near Hobart, Ind.
The source seems to be a bad batch of foundry slag, often used as road filler in the industrial Midwest, but no one is sure what the gunk is or how to stop it. The state is pumping, sopping and damming as best it can while it awaits lab reports. In the meantime, don’t use the stuff to polish your rims.



AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR PAYMENTS WERE ENDLESS

A former executive of USA Truck of Van Buren, Ark., pleaded guilty to stealing $102,000 from the company. The judge sentenced him to prison and ordered him to pay back the money in monthly installments of $100, which will take … let’s see … 85 years.



RADIOSHACK BLURB CAUSES STATIC

A jab in the New Year’s RadioShack sales catalog (at right) angered many truckers. “It’s just pathetic,” says Charles Delzer of Cascade, Md., an owner-operator leased to Landstar Inway. He says he’ll never shop at RadioShack again.

“I told them what I thought of their ad,” says Lynn Strand of Shell Lake, Wis., an owner-operator leased to Knudson Trucking. “It was a cheap shot at truckers for the sake of selling a phone.”

Owner-operator Sylvia Murray of North Stonington, Conn., told RadioShack to strike her from its mailing list. To her, the ad is another example of “the bad press that truckers seem to continually receive.”

The electronics chain, which peddles CBs, antennas and many other products used by truckers, soon saw its mistake: “We sincerely apologize to members of the trucking profession … In the future we commit to showing more sensitivity.”



IF ONLY THEY COULD DRIVE WHILE DRIVING

Annoyed during rush hour by a driver ahead of him who was flossing her teeth, columnist Doug Robinson of the Deseret News in Utah called Howard Reynolds at Pride Transport in Salt Lake City, who listed things his truckers have seen four-wheelers do while driving.

“We’re amazed by what we see,” Reynolds says. “They cause trucks to stop or shift loads or swerve, and they never even know it because they’re so oblivious.”

Robinson writes: “Utah legislators are considering banning cell-phone use in cars, but that’s just a basic, rookie-level skill. The veterans of the road are the drivers who read stock reports and apply mascara while driving with their knees.”

Here are some of the things Pride Transport drivers had seen four-wheelers doing:

  • Shaving
  • Brushing their teeth
  • Removing curlers
  • Watching television
  • Trading places with a passenger
  • Changing clothes (“Not just a sweater, but the whole outfit.”)
  • Typing on laptops
  • Reading books
  • Having sex


  • WHEN CHILIS SALUTE, PAY ATTENTION

    The state of New Mexico is installing windsocks along I-25 and other roads to alert truckers to wind gusts, which can be hazardous to big rigs in those wide-open spaces. The windsocks will be decorated to look like 6-foot-long chili peppers.

    Red chilis vs. green chilis might be a burning issue in New Mexico diners, but for visibility’s sake, all flying chilis will be bright red.



    THEY’RE ALL HEART, THOSE DISPATCHERS

    When the first winter storm of the year hit the Cenex Travel Plaza in Willmar, Minn., the week after Thanksgiving, surprised truckers, shivering in their light windbreakers, waded through waist-high snow to get inside and buy disposable cameras to prove they were stranded. “The dispatchers didn’t believe them,” explains Cenex employee Christine Just.



    QUOTABLES

    “I have a whole new respect for truck drivers. It’s a lot harder than you think.”
    – Student driver Russ Yanda of Denver, a former dot-com millionaire

    “This just underscores that Tennessee is first in asphalt and last in schools.”
    – Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, on Tennessee’s No. 1 ranking in the 2001 Overdrive Highway Report Card survey

    “We can take a shower over at the truck stop, but that costs $5 apiece, and we can’t afford that.”
    – Glenda Morgan of Eufala, Okla., whose water had been cut off

    “I moved to Las Vegas because they told me they never get snow.”
    – Trucker Oscar Teran, stranded by a snowstorm at the Alamo Truck Stop on I-80 in Sparks, Nev.

    “He missed a few.”
    – Sheriff’s deputy Wilfred Dodge, after a shifted log sticking out the side of a logging truck decapitated mailboxes along two miles of Route 150 in Maine.

    “I think he is not really totally here. He’s already thinking about other stuff.”
    – Kansas legislator Carlos Mayans on Gov. Bill Graves, who has announced he will lead the American Trucking Associations when he leaves office in January 2003

    “This is just my way of getting back the pay that I don’t receive.”
    – A Wisconsin beer-truck driver’s justification for stealing 40 cases, according to police

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