We just went all the way across and back again, through what I believe to be the most beautiful country on earth. I’ve been across several times now, and each time I find a new respect and love for our homeland. We live in an awesome place, y’all.
That being said, the roads are pretty much a mess all over. Traffic between Arkansas and Tennessee on 40 will make you want to drive nails into your own eyeballs. I think I was about nine years old when they started the current mess in Arkansas, and I’m 46 now, so I guess they’ll be done with it about the time I leave the mortal coil. I know it’s ridiculous to gripe about the state of the roads, then turn around and gripe about the state of traffic while they’re fixing them, but seriously, what in the world is taking so long, Arkansas? For two years I’ve been a frequent traveler on 40, and I think I’ve actually seen human beings at work twice. Most of the time, it’s just orange barrels for miles, with no indication as to why the lanes are closed. It’s bizarre.
After talking with several foreign drivers who are working here on visas, I have come to understand just how lucky we are when it comes to facilities for truckers on the highways. The roads may be pitiful, but at least we have places with showers readily available, unlike our colleagues who are on the road in Europe. And while there definitely isn’t enough parking available (especially since the new HOS have been imposed), we’re still in better shape than them.
Being that I’m a connoisseur of public showers, I’m frequently asked by newbies on the road where they should stop to bathe. I’ve come to rely on one chain in particular for the most reliable pleasant experience. We stopped using Flying J for a while after the money scandal broke loose, but have since returned to them because something awful has apparently happened to Love’s. It used to be you could pretty much count on a clean shower and a good experience there, but for some reason, in the past year that has not been our reality. Five times in five different places across the country we used Love’s to shower this trip, and four of those times the staff was surly, the shower was dirty and the water was lukewarm.
I’m sure people are going to disagree with me, but it’s been my experience lately that Flying J and Pilot have the best showers and most agreeable staff. I don’t know if they pay more, or the working conditions are better, but every single time we used them this trip it was extremely pleasant and I felt like they really cared about whether or not we were clean and happy.
We’re not paid by anyone to promote their showers or their stores, this is all just a matter of personal opinion. We use our shower credits, just like everyone else, and expect to have a decent place to wash ourselves. I understand how hard it is to remain pleasant and upbeat for $8 an hour; I did it for a long time as a nurse’s aide. I also understand the impact you can make on someone’s day with something as simple as a smile and a kind word. Those are free.
So for shower report 2014, I’m going to have to recommend the ol’ Hook. It was consistently better than average and I can’t even explain how much I appreciate better than average when it comes to showering away from home. Thanks to all the hard working, $8/hour employees out there who care enough to make it a good experience, I also can’t even explain how much I appreciate you. You do a difficult job for little pay and for the most part, you’re rocking it. Keep up the good work.