Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Johnny Cash, Hurt, trucks, etc

What a helluva 48 hours.

A major national account. A team that lives in their lease truck, with their dogs and her lip glosses on the dash and their 'home' bagged in plastic on both the upper and lower sleeper bunks. This couple has pet dogs they love, and the woman enjoys silver earrings. A dream catcher hangs above the cab.

Add in Oakland -- far worse than you could imagine. A city as 3rd world as any in Africa. As 3rd world as in Border-state Mexico. 

God, it's all corruption, isn't it?





Monday, February 27, 2012

1977: The Year Star Wars Was Released

1977: The Year Star Wars Was Released

After your teen watched Star Wars, did he shrug and say, “What’s the big deal? The prequel is way better.”?

Try the Black Hole antidote. This entirely forgettable Disney film was released in 1979, a year and a half after Star Wars changed everything about sci-fi films. (Okay, I’ll add a shout-out to Close Encounters, which also came out in 1977.) BH was melodramatic, sterile and cheesy in the tradition of sci-fi flicks. Until SW came along.

1977
1.      VHS tapes were introduced in the US. The VCR player sold for $1280, over $4500 in today’s money.
2.      Most homes had ABC, NBC, CBS, and Public Broadcasting. That’s it. If lucky, maybe a local channel or two. If luckier, the new satellite-available Ted Turner (see#3) or fledgling HBO channels.
3.      This was the second year of the first nationwide basic cable network. What did it carry? “Old movies, situation comedy reruns, cartoons, and sports.”
4.      The first personal all-in-one computer (the Commodore PET) was introduced, as was the Apple II. (The Macintosh wouldn’t arrive until 1984.)
5.      Jimmy Carter became president.
6.      The Seattle Mariners played ball for the first time.
7.      Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Silver Jubilee. (Her Golden was in 2002. Her Diamond in 2012.)
8.      Anita Bryant and her crew of bigots led a successful repeal of a Miami-Dade County gay rights ordinance.
9.      200,000 protesters in San Francisco marched against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay slurs and the hate-inspired murder of a gay man.
10.   The Son of Sam was murdering/getting arrested in NY, and the 25-hour New York City blackout wreaked havoc – tense tense times. (Not much changes when it comes to that.)
11.   The first oil of the new Trans-Alaska pipeline reached Valdez, Alaska.
12.   Hell, the Walkman cassette player didn’t come out until 1979.
13.   Elvis died.
14.   The first video piracy resolutions were announced – that’s those warnings you ignore on your dvd’s today.
15.   Small Pox was eliminated. The last case was found in Somalia.
16.   Harvey Milk was elected, the first openly gay official of a major city. (Okay, I've mentioned gay rights events 3 times -- '77 was a big year for gay rights. Crazy-late to the civil rights party, huh?)
17.   The Internet, btw, was still in its sperm-meets-egg infancy. There wasn’t even a fetus with fingernails there.
18.   Women were first allowed into the regular Navy. (Before that, they were in a separate status as WAVES, ie Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. Whatever.)
19.   Orlando Bloom, Shakira, Chris Martin, Kanye West, Tom Brady, Ludacris, and that douche ‘my penis is a Nazi’ John Mayer were born. Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson were the young studs of the day.
20.   It was the year of Smokey and the Bandit, Oh God!, Annie Hall and the fabu hockey strip-tease moment in Slap Shot. Haven’t seen it? DO. Notice the absence of special-effects mind-blowers in that list?

There it is. A teen in 1977 got 3 channels, no computer, no internet, no cell phone, no smart anything, probably no vcr. And those channels? They went off the air late at night. Maybe he had a boom box that weighed 10 pounds. If so, he was the cool kid. That kid saw his friends at school and in the neighborhood and he maybe had a pen pal (corresponding via real pens and snail mail). And he’d better not tie up the phone with those friends (no call waiting and no cordless phones) or he’d get his ass handed to him.  … Is it any wonder Star Wars blew our socks off?

So, okay parents, we get that things are way better now. Would you want to go back to 1977? (Be honest.) Still, that’s no reason to let your teen dis on the not great, but great for its time, Star Wars.

Oh and don’t try to tell me it’s a great film. You’ve seen the bar scene, same as we all have.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Finger

I got the finger today from a 20-year-old Barbie in her mom's Cadillac Escalade. Too late, I thought of our outlet supervisor, the fab Ms T, who always crows, "That's right, I AM number one!"  when she receives the bird.

God, I love driving and drivers. And our warehouse folks. 

I was coming out of a store's parking lot, today, making a right on a busy street. I didn't have a mambo-trailer behind me, but still, I would have been prudent to use the two lanes and meridian-turn lane in front of me in order to make my turn. I'm always prudent.

I was taking up the driveway, waiting for traffic, worrying about lunatics behind me who might tuck themselves into various blind-spots and inconvenient 'holes'  ... when young Barbie with her well-manicured middle finger and her mama's pearl-white SUV pulled into the meridian. She wanted to make a left into the drive after I had already pulled into the driveway, effectively blocking it.

I waited for oncoming traffic and began gesturing for 'young-platinum-girl' to move her vehicle forward. "Move on down. Move on down," I chanted as I gestured on down the meridian. Using the index finger, not its neighbor. 

Imagine my surprise when she threw up her cheer digit! In 20-20, I wish I'd given her a double-number-one gesture, right and left in unison. Or jumped from my rig and explained to her in detail, with pictures and crayon-maps she might understand, the prudence behind asking her to move on down the road so that my 35 ton rig might make a safe right turn onto the boulevard. 

Instead, I gestured again and repeated, "Move on down. Move on down." So much for thinking on my toes. I did, at least, smile at her in a smirking, amused, elder-woman way.

And she Did move on down. 

Trucker, one. Number one, that is. ... Barbie, zip.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trucker Tans and Prufrock

"I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." So lamented one J Alfred Prufrock in TS Eliot's poem. The shrinking, the diminishing, the awkwardness of aging. The props.

I have new reading glasses. Gawd, what a difference. No more holding the page arm's length away. No more squinting at my paperwork.

And I have a trucker tan. Tan, you say? 'Good, you.' Ah but this is no ordinary tan.

Left arm considerably more toasty than the right, until mid-bicep where each are equalized by my tee-shirt's protection. You can imagine what happens at the point where neck meets collar, as well.

And I'm wearing shorts! for the first time in my professional life. One one hand, I hear your approving, 'Yay, you.' So cool. So comfy. On the other hand, extra brown knees and milky-white below the boot line.

As Prufrock lamented, 'I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.' ... but I'm okay with that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Say Hey

M'goodness, it's been over a month since my last post! I've been uninspired, maybe, or nose-grindstone-en.

Here's a fun one you may not know. While the etiquette is being lost (as is etiquette in all facets of society), many a big rig driver will greet a peer on the road in a relaxed nod and an easy wave sort of way. We head bob and do a 'say hey' sort of deal.

My favorite is a reverse-three-finger wag. I swing up my left arm, nonchalant-like, my palm facing inward, and raise my thumb, index and middle fingers. The other two remain loosely curled. Accompanied with an easy 'wha'sup' nod.

I'm also fond of the guys who do the 'wagons-ho!' wave. They begin their swing at the shoulder, fingers starting in the curled position, then straighten as the wave arm thrusts forward towards the windshield. Or horizon. Ho-ohhhhh! John Wayne, you flutter things in me that oughtn't-a flutter.

No finger wagglers to-date. Drivers are too cool for finger waggling. No frenetically-friendly wavers either. That would just be pushy. No, it's always a relaxed, coooool sort of greeting, an acknowledgment that we're peers. We're a club. We're different from the road-remoras who flit and flow around us.

Can you imagine sending even a nod-eyebrow-lift greeting to the soccer moms and tie-wearers on the road with you? Sending even the most brief of messages that says, "I know you. You're one of my kind," to them? Hah! Get ready for soccer mom to send you a single-finger message of her own. (That's right, I am number one! ... or so I tell my bird-flipping friends.)

The art of the brief-greet across highway lanes is dying I'm told. Still, retro-grrrrl that I am, I'm working on my  say-hey and head bob, in hopes of a trucker-etiquette renaissance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't Tread on Me

Okay, so that pun was so obvious, it's a groaner. What's coming? A post on ...tires!

What to do about the common occurrence of  nails in the tires? (Remove 'em, spray soapy water, watch for bubbles. Call the tire guy if you see bubbles.)

How about various tread wear patterns? Flat spots across the entire tire -- probably from locking up the breaks. Wear on the outsides of the tires -- often under-inflation, maybe an alignment problem. Wear on the inside of the tires -- over-inflation. Cupping, as in occasional flat spots around the entire wheel -- a variety of causes, such as an unbalanced wheel or alignment problem. And never underestimate the impact of bad drivers.

But the answer as to what to do should be easy. As a driver, you aren't paid to think. Certainly not to process cause-effect. You do a pre-trip; you do a post-trip; you record what you see; you give the record to your boss.

Your boss thinks. Isn't that brilliant?

I love that.

I don't have to think when I look at wear. I just have to pull out my tire tread depth gauge (or a Lincoln penny). On a steer tire, I need a minimum of 4/32nds of an inch; on a rear tire, 2/32nds of an inch.

Now, of course, driving for a small company without an on-staff mechanic in a county without a scale house (with its threat of inspection) requires an extra skill-set many-a-driver may not need -- one must be able to repeat, over and over, "California law says..." "California law says..." "The CHP says..." "The CHP says..."

Not much thinking involved. When the resident warehouse 'expert-in-all-things' wants to talk about tread depths and what's safe versus what's in the Commercial Driver Handbook, what's 'real' versus what's bureaucratic BS, you can say, "But the CHP says..."   ... Then clock out and go home at the end of your shift.

I mean, really. Tread depth rules are yet another government conspiracy? Don't you think the government is awfully busy covering up other frauds, like the lack of cheese in American cheese?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top Ten

It ain't funny or quirky, but I recently learned that I'm in a field that regularly shows up in the "top ten most dangerous jobs in America" lists. Often above police or fire fighters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, drivers were 9th. In 2010, we rose to 7th.

(from msnbc.com, with the 2009 numbers) "Miners and police officers face many dangers. In 2009, the most recent year for which we have statistics, 101 miners and 97 police officers and security guards died on the job, making for a roughly similar fatality rate of around 13 deaths per 100,000 workers. 

But neither cracks the top 10 on our list of America's Most Dangerous Jobs. Going by fatality rates, workers have more to worry about in such seemingly mundane professions as roofing, farming and sanitation."

Forbes.com slideshow: America’s most dangerous job

... and apparently, commercial driving.

In 2009, police officers weren't in the top 10; in 2010, they were listed10th. Firefighters in 2010 were 13th.

When I think on it, it makes sense that drivers/transportation workers face high fatality (and injury) rates. We all know how dangerous the roads are -- and commercial drivers are on them 40+++ hours per week. We also don't have the training, societal awareness or support that our brave (and aware) public servants have.

We get on down the road. I've said it before and I'll say it many times, I imagine, "If you bought it, I brought it."

My point? Give those rigs a break. and love your trucker.