One of the most steadfast rules of living in the truck with George has always been keeping the dash clean. That and staying out of the side mirrors, not gasping or saying “Oh my god!” unless I suddenly discover a member of the Taliban in the bunk with a grenade launcher, oh and no polishing my toenails — pretty much the only parameters he set from the beginning.
Of course, as time wore on he added stuff like: no magic markers, crayons, or otherwise melty things, which technically included lip gloss, but we all know I ain’t goin’ nowhere without my lip gloss, so we had to compromise a little on that one. But you get the picture. He’s always been very tidy and kept a clean truck.
Now, I don’t ride all the time, but in the almost six years I’ve been riding with him, he has never once been pulled around to the back of the scales. The closest thing he’s ever gotten to an inspection (when I was on the truck with him) was at a federal facility we delivered tank parts to, and that didn’t have anything to do with the DOT — it had to do with the aforementioned Taliban, and various other bad guys, who thankfully weren’t found anywhere near our bunk.
Appearances really do matter. If your dash looks like a McDonald’s trash can exploded on it, you’re not only increasing the risk of being inspected, you’re presenting a pretty gross image to the general public. And please, for the love of God, stop rolling down the dang road with a Helen Keller pretrip. Lord have mercy, I have seen some trucks with wires dangling, pieces hanging off, sparks flying off dragging metal connectors … and these are fleet trucks. No wonder people are scared of big trucks, about half of them on the road look like they’ve been wrecked 27 times, probably because they have. (Don’t tell the public.)
Fact is, we’re fighting some very public battles as an industry these days. It never hurts to spiff up your image a little while engaging with the press, or the public, or the shippers and receivers, for that matter. The point has been beleaguered, I know, but I’m sitting here in traffic right now, watching a fleet truck limp along with bald trailer tires, half the side fairing hanging off, the other half bound on with a bungee cord. Either some of us didn’t get the memo, or some just don’t care.
Which one will you be today?