Speakout: A trucker’s copilot and guardian

As the wife of an owner-operator, I always read Overdrive.

I loved the story about having a dog in the truck for companionship [“Joy ride,” October], as my husband does. But DeSoto, named for the city where my husband’s company is based, is not a fluffy little dog: She is a very large Great Dane!

She has been in the truck since she was 6 weeks old and loves it. Now she is almost a year old and weighs nearly 100 pounds.

She keeps my husband company and guards the truck and him, as well as keeping him warm at night because she sleeps in his bed. She goes everywhere with him and has even made a few trips to Canada.

He gets irritated sometimes because she helps herself to snacks in the cab and takes part in keeping the log books by taking a bite out of them. But he would really be lost without her. She is his copilot and his guardian.

My husband has suggested that truck stops should reserve a space for drivers to let their dogs run and be safe away from the parking lot.
RCMJ Trucking
Schertz, Texas

“We need a renewed economy. That’s why I’m seeing so many of my friends in Michigan –
Democrats, Republicans and independents – putting aside their difference to join this campaign.”
– Teamster and former car hauler Roy Gross, of Detroit, speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Dogs good for protection, exercise
My dog has riding with me for a long time. She has been coast to coast and has been in Canada. She loves to ride and is one hell of a good watch dog. Yes, she is a heavy 12-pound Maltese-chow mix. But she has a lot of love. Walking my dog, Angel, around the parking lot is good for her and good exercise for me. Angel sends her thanks for the column.
St. Cloud, Fla.

Plan well to survive
For an independent trucker such as myself, only one economic law applies: supply and demand. Right now there’s plenty of trucks in supply and not much demand for them. The result is many trucking companies will be forced out of business. No shipper cares how much fuel costs a trucker or what his other costs are. The shipper cares only about how much he can get a truck for. And you can be sure the federal government or the states won’t do anything to help. As Linda Longton correctly points out in her column “Be a survivor” [Viewpoint, June], owner-operators better figure out a way to survive.

What part of trucking are you most thankful for?
“Just getting to see new places and meet new people.”
Byrdstown, Tenn.
Neal Lumber Co.

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“My family’s understanding.”
Martinez, Ga.
American Ramp Transit

“I love driving trucks. I’ve wanted to do it since I was a boy. It’s something I get up every day to do.”
Cayuga, Ind.
RL Carter Trucking Inc.

“Not being tied in an office. Being able to travel and see the country.”
Purdy, Mo.
Hammen Trucking

“Just to be able to travel to see part of the country I otherwise wouldn’t see and different nationalities.”
Conyers, Ga. | BAH

“Seeing the beautiful world God’s created.”
Richardson Trucking driver-in-training

Mitchell, Ind., resident WILLIAM CONLEY recalls delivering the “most high-dollar freight” of his 39 years hauling hazmat and high-security cargo: poker chips. His dispatcher told him that chips had to be loaded into his dry van , near Bridgton, Maine, because no Brinks trucks were available that day. “You would have thought you were going up to a prison when you got there,” Conley says of the barbed wire atop the manufacturing facility. He hauled the chips to Caesar’s casino on the Ohio River near Louisville, Ky.

Teton Transportation company driver PAUL LEDFORD, also known as Walks With Wolves to his fellow Cherokee, says that his Native American heritage makes traveling through Oklahoma special. He appreciates the kinship of other Native Americans, who, were sent to reservations on the 1938 Trail of Tears. Traveling westward “You come to the Cherokee first, then the Choctaw and then the Seminole,” Ledford explains. “The people make you feel welcome there, and that’s the way the Nations are.”

Rookie DUANE JOHNSON, a Newport, Tenn., resident, says he “learned to ask stupid questions” on one of his first deliveries with USA Trucking last December. After delivering a load in Lafayette, La., he received two seemingly conflicting dispatches. Ten hours and hundreds of miles later, he realized he had misunderstood instructions.

What is your idea of the perfect truck?
“Something like a Peterbilt, with 10-gear transmission. Something that doesn’t smoke too much. . . . A white truck.”
Hopewell, Va.

“One with a bathroom. Nothing fancy. Just nice on the inside. Comfortable seats, comfortable bed. You can’t drive well without a good night’s sleep.”
Memphis, Tenn.
Southern Refrigerated

“I’d like to have a decked-out Peterbilt 369. There’s nothing prettier than a black truck when it’s clean with lots of chrome.”
Jacksonville, Ala.
Sunbelt Transport

“A mattress, a good, working sleeper, a comfortable seat. I’d be partial to white myself.”
Pearl, Miss.
Atlantic Industrial Services

“I’m not too big on the fancy things. . . . So my idea of a perfect truck is no chrome, no payments, plenty of room inside.”
Noble, Okla.
J.B. Hunt