Strictly Solo

Tim Barton
Equipment Editor
[email protected]

Sometimes the man with the big radio stops for coffee. He shuts down his big truck but he does not shut down his mouth. Somewhere inside this little pit stop an unsuspecting soul will soon find out everything the man knows about trucking or what’s in the news or maybe just what his dog dug up. Aside from the purring of his Caterpillar, this man likes the sound of his voice more than any other sound.

Today the man has team drivers on his mind. He was one once, but now, he blusters, he has a good job and he doesn’t have to worry about some young fly-by-night rookie fallin’ asleep and getting’ them both killed.

He heard there’s going to be more teams, a wave of the future because companies want their trucks to keep moving. Productivity they call it, he rants, and it don’t cost them hardly any more money to run because what do they have to do but add a couple of cents and the drivers will run around the clock just to make an extra hundred or so a week. Well, some boys like it, that’s for sure, the man blurts out. Says he knows a husband-wife team that does real good. Got themselves a big Western Star with a Constellation condo and run the coast every week.

Motormouth says he read somewhere that teams are safer, but he can’t figure that out. How is a team going to be safer when the man in the bunk is not getting the sleep he needs and the man at the wheel don’t know enough to keep it smooth and steady for his partner? When I’m tired I shut it down and all I see and feel and hear is me sleepin’ and I know I’m going to wake up. Besides, he declares, there’s no truck big enough for two guys, even if there’s two bunks, which sometimes there ain’t.

Me and my daddy drove together for a good while in a little Freightliner we had with the 42-inch bunk, exclaims the mouth. We had plenty of rack time because we weren’t leased to the right outfit. They just couldn’t keep us movin’ which is what you got to do if you’re a team, especially a two-man team. But we managed. Mostly we just got used to each other, which took some doin’ in that bunk . We got to sleepin’ head to toe after a while so we didn’t breathe on each other, he shouts. It was better wakin’ up staring at Daddy’s toes than his nose.

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But you won’t get strangers who will do that and my bet is you won’t get too many relatives, old flapjaw announces, even if you’re young and in love with a woman it wouldn’t last too long. There’s no privacy and even love will die if you suffocate it.

I loved drivin’ with my daddy And I loved it when I taught my lady friend to drive. We got on real good. We had a double bunk, which was all we needed until the road got too long and the hours just seemed to pile up like a load of bricks somebody dumped on your head and she wanted to get off the road. Couldn’t blame her. By that time, I wanted my truck back and I wanted to run hard by myself. Wouldn’t say teamin’ killed what we had but it didn’t do a damn thing to keep it alive, he laments.

Far as I’m concerned, the man says, those outfits with teams ought to do more thinkin’ about how to put teams together. Wouldn’t be too hard to get one of them scientists who put drivers under the microscope all the time to come up with some kind of test to see whether the boys they put together will stay together when the road gets nasty and the nights get longer than the road. Could be there won’t be nothin’ but teams out here one day and that will change everything.

He’s still talking when he leaves, but he’s right about one thing. Some people just wouldn’t make good team drivers.

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