Truck cleaning 101

user-gravatar Headshot

So we pulled into the truck stop to get fuel and, on the way in, passed a truck — I absolutely couldn’t tell where the paper, trash and unopened mail stopped and the driver started. The dash appeared to be a giant compendium of various wrappers and hamburger grease, and I may or may not have seen three rats and a harmonica in the swirl of disaster. (I really did see a harmonica, but the rats were imagined. Maybe.)

It took me back to my first trip all the way across the U.S., when I was brand-new and still learning basic things about truck stops, trucks, and the vernacular used in and around both.

“Hi! We’re here to clean your truck!”“Hi! We’re here to clean your truck!”

I have never been allowed to put anything on the dash but a sticky pad to rest my phone on. George is a stickler for a clean dash. He swears up and down having a dirty dash will get you the prostate exam of inspections, the dreaded Level 1. He also likes a clean truck, and since I kind of insist on that to stay in it, we’ve never had any issues other than him occasionally giving me a dirty look for leaving my newspaper on the dash.

I started noticing the calls on the CB for “truck cleaning” somewhere outside of Memphis. Honest to goodness, every few minutes, someone would come on and offer cleaning services. I thought it was a great idea, especially for people who don’t like to clean, and I imagined a Molly Maid kind of deal, where the ladies jump out of a little car with their mops and rags and get to work on the grime. After hearing the offer for about the 20th time, I thought, “Wow. If only people knew how wrong they are about truckers being dirty. They even have truck maids, and there are a whole bunch of them in Memphis!”

Later on down the road, we were talking about doing laundry when we parked, and I suggested we get one of the truck maids to come clean the truck while we were inside doing laundry. I was actually kidding, and went on to say that I was going to start my own truck maid business back home. This caused quite an unexpected reaction from George.

“The hell you are!”

And he got real grumpy and I couldn’t figure out why in the world he was suddenly so grumpy.

“I was just kidding about getting a truck maid when we stop, babe. I’ll clean the truck, no need to be so grumpy about it.”

“Baby, those girls aren’t cleaning trucks. You really thought they were cleaning?”

“Well that’s what they keep saying, what else am I supposed to think?”

And he wasn’t grumpy anymore, because he was full-out laughing at me and suddenly, I was the one who felt grumpy. It took him a minute to compose himself so he could tell me exactly what “do you need your truck cleaned” actually means. I felt like a total idiot, and all my mental images of Molly Maids for trucks changed drastically and immediately.

Needless to say, I have not opened a truck maid business back home, but I think the premise (the legal one, not the illegal one) is awesome. Don’t you? I couldn’t sell it to George, either. Sometimes, you just gotta clean your own truck.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the Partners in Business book, updated annually.
Partners in Business Issue Cover