In 12 years as a truck driver, Don Jackson has seen things at truckstops that make him scratch his head. But a recent visit to a Kingman, Ariz., fuel stop stands out.
Jackson, leased to John Christner Trucking, was sitting in his truck when he saw a driver pull his rig into a fuel island. The driver exited his cab, locked the door and walked inside. “He must have been inside for an hour shopping, because he came out later with two bags,” Jackson says. The driver left without fueling.
Truckers typically have strong opinions about the lack of proper etiquette and acceptable behavior at truckstops. After all, they spend considerable time at the facilities fueling, sleeping and eating. On blogs and in interviews, truckers say behavior is getting worse. They blame it on a declining level of civility in society overall, as well as growing frustration by some with the trucker’s job and rocky economy.
Some perceive the declining level of behavior as a generational fault of younger, less experienced drivers who haven’t been taught the right way of acting by trainers who themselves don’t always know how to behave. “Nobody’s teaching them common courtesies these days,” says nine-year hauler Perry Gross, today leased to Landstar. “The older generation seems to know to look out after each other better.”
Truckers see some truck drivers taking the me-first attitude they witness among four-wheelers on the road. “People don’t seem to care about other people anymore,” says John Manning, an owner-operator leased to Mercer Transport and a 24-year truck driver. “You should treat people the way you want to be treated. Try to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes.”
Jackson wonders if those who abuse a truckstop act that way at home. He says truckers should treat facilities as if they were home. “This is basically our home,” he says. “They wouldn’t throw stuff out in their driveway.”
A major complaint is about poor behavior when fueling. Too often truckers see drivers tie up a fueling line to go inside the store to shop, eat and, on occasion, shower without parking their rig in a designated space. Jackson recalls a time when he fueled, went inside to pay his bill and purposely avoided going to the restroom to make sure he could return to his truck quickly to move it out of the way, only to see the rig in front of him still parked. He waited several minutes and even walked back to the trucker waiting behind him to apologize. “He had seen the guy go in and understood,” Jackson says. “You have 15 minutes to fuel to match the time in your logbook. You should be able to fuel in 15 minutes.”
Another pet peeve is trash dumping, particularly pouring out urine bottles. Manning says he watched a trucker urinate from his doorstep. “I’ve seen it happen where a guy was in the fuel lane right next to the building and did it,” he says.
Driving and parking issues at truckstops also raise truckers’ ire. Manning gets upset with bobtail drivers who ignore designated spaces for tractors in favor of longer tractor-trailer rig real estate.
Gross is concerned about how fast some truckers drive through truckstop lots. He notes that many truckers travel with pets that sometimes may wander out from between vehicles. He also says that some truckers get too impatient waiting for a driver to back his rig into a space and pull around before the maneuver is completed. “I’ve helped guys back in, and I’ve had guys help me back in,” he says.
When a trucker is backing into a space next to yours at night, Gross suggests turning on your parking lights to show your bumper and help guide the driver into the space. And when driving through a lot in the dark looking for a parking space, he says to use only your parking lights as a courtesy to sleeping operators.
Truckstop owner’s perspective
Truckstops don’t post rules of behavior at their locations because the vast majority of truckers and others take care of their property and don’t abuse the facilities.
“We’re blessed that they are a hardworking group that has the proper etiquette without us having to force proper etiquette,” says Jay Stinnett, senior regional sales manager for Pilot/Flying J travel centers who has spent 15 years in the business, including two years as a truckstop manager.
Stinnett realizes truckers have a tough job and sometimes are frustrated by a long day behind the wheel. “We understand there are going to be times when they come in and might not be in the best of moods,” he says. “It’s our job to make their life on the road as enjoyable as possible.”
Most truckers expect truckstops to provide clean showers and good food, Stinnett says, and his company tries to meet those expectations by inspecting and updating facilities. Another growing demand is for wireless Internet service, which Pilot plans to enhance this year by rolling out a new network encompassing all of its locations.
Classic etiquette rules
The American original Benjamin Franklin plotted a personal development program by focusing on 13 virtues, a list he created at age 20 to follow the rest of his life. These are in his own words from his autobiography.
Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing.
Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation.
Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.