Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rearview: Rufus Sideswipe counts his blessings

Editor’s note: We’re looking “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year-history. This week, we bring you a 2010 report from columnist Bill Hudgins, who reports that his old friend Rufus Sideswipe has found the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe had just parked his vintage Corn Binder for a week at home when Mrs. Rufus came bustling out of the house, carrying a suitcase.

“I’ve got to go to my sister’s,” she called to Rufus, who was relieved to hear he wasn’t being ditched again. “Her house is getting a makeover on that new TV show ‘Clutter Decontam’ – you know the one sponsored by Clorox bleach and the EPA? Anyway, she needs moral support.

“And you need to get the house ready for Thanksgiving, because it’s your family coming over. I’ll be back Thursday morning. Your list is on the kitchen counter. Bye!”

Her car was already in the street before Rufus could choke out,

"Huh?” When he finally processed what Mrs. R had said, he thought,

"What could be so hard? She never seems that busy.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

So, about that trucker in Oklahoma

Perhaps you’ve seen the story floating around on social media about how an unknown trucker used his rig to force a man suspected of driving under the influence off the road, and then allegedly used a gun to keep the man from fleeing the scene on foot.

According to a report from News On 6, 33-year-old Tyson Schunk, of Tulsa, was arrested at 2:15 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22, by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Schunk was booked on charges of aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

The initial report raised more questions than answers, so we decided to reach out to OHP for some clarification, like how exactly did the trucker force Schunk off the road, and why the heck did he pull a gun on him?

According to Lt. Mark Roach of the Will Rogers Turnpike Division, OHP received a 911 phone call from another motorist who was traveling behind Schunk’s car, and reported him driving erratically down the turnpike near Catoosa.

From there, Roach says some of the details are fuzzy at best. For starters, the trucker was nowhere to be found when law enforcement showed up to arrest Schunk, although the motorist who made the initial 911 call was still on the scene. The motorist was the one who informed police about the trucker’s role in getting the vehicle off the road.

He also said the witness gave no indication as to why the trucker pulled a gun on Schunk, and that Schunk himself was reportedly too drunk to know what was happening and told police he had no memory of the events.

“At this point, we don’t know if the driver said something belligerent that made the trucker pull his firearm or what,” he said.

Depending on the circumstances, the trucker could have potentially faced criminal charges himself. For starters, Oklahoma is technically an “open-carry” state for firearms, but only if the person carrying the handgun is licensed under state laws. In order to be licensed under state law, among other things you must be a resident of the state, pass a background check and an eight-hour training course.

“We want people to participate in getting drunk drivers off the road,” Roach said. “But we don’t necessarily want them (physically) running people off the road. Your assistance is reporting, and staying a safe distance away while we execute the stop.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

A unique look at relieving stress

In the October issue of Land Line, we ran a special column written for us by’s Buck Black, LCSW, LCAC. A licensed therapist, I knew who he was before I got to know him through the St. Christopher Fund. We are both on the Board of Directors. I asked him to write something for us on stress and by the response from our readers – it was a topic that hit a nerve. 

Here’s Buck on stress in the lives of truckers.

Stress is something that cannot be avoided. We all know that feeling of having too much to do or simply feeling like we cannot relax. Some stress can be positive, because it helps us to wake up on time, to respond to important tasks, and to better ourselves and our families. When stress becomes overwhelming, it slows us down, increases the rate at which we make mistakes, and even makes us sick and unproductive.

It is my fear that truckers will develop stress-related problems at a greater rate as more and more regulations are imposed upon them. It is understandable there is a need for regulation in the trucking profession. However, when rules and regulations go too far, this causes stress, which becomes counter-productive.

It is important to point out that feeling powerless is also a stressor. Many of my clients are describing the feeling of powerlessness and high levels of stress as they worry about current and future regulations.

Change = Stress is the equation.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rearview: On the trail of the Capitol Christmas Tree

Editor’s note: We’re looking “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year-history. This week we bring you a 2012 story by Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker about the Capitol Christmas Tree’s stop in her hometown of Independence. Find out about the details about this year’s Capitol Tree with our coverage here.

So I am on assignment Saturday night in my hometown of Independence, Mo., on the town square for the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree whistlestop event, on the tree’s way to D.C. The drivers of the Mack trucks pulling the Christmas tree really wanted to see the Truman Home.
Land Line Editor-in-Chief Sandi Soendker
and U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree drivers,
OOIDA Life Member and former U.S. Sen.
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (left), and Duane
Brusseau (right) at the Truman Home in 2012

Independence is my hometown, and I live there still. I knew it was too far for a quick walk, so I thumbed at my car, parked just across the street. They accepted, and I drove them to a place I know well.

The big white home at 219 Delaware St. is timeless and unpretentious yet elegant. It’s kept spotless and looks like Harry and Bess just walked out. It’s tended to and guarded by the National Park Service. It was about 4 p.m., the gates were locked, and the park rangers were closing for the day. We parked and got out anyway.

Me to the rangers: “Locked? Oh man. Can’t you make an exception? These guys are the drivers of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree; they are parked up on the square for tonight’s event.”

We asked if we could just get a photo of them on the porch.

Ranger looks at the truck drivers: “Sorry.”

Me to rangers: “Would it make a difference if I said this guy is a former United States Senator?”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Rearview: OOIDA salutes its veterans

Editor’s note: We’re looking “in our rearview” to bring you some of our favorite stories, columns and items from Land Line’s 40-year-history. This week, in honor of both Veterans Day and the OOIDA Truckers for Troops telethon, we bring you a collection of stories and photos from staff and contributors about their time in the U.S. Military. Come for the awesome throwback pictures; stay for the moving stories.

You would be hard pressed to find a group any more loyal to the military or more respectful to veterans than truckers. And it’s real respect. It’s not buttons or T-shirts with placating statements – it’s genuine, sincere and deep.

The pride and earnest admiration for those who have served in the military is awe-inspiring – so much so it’s hard to describe or even comprehend at times.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, however, that truckers and veterans are so connected. Estimates vary, but some reports anywhere between 30 to 40 percent of active truckers are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Monday, November 9, 2015

OOIDA Member ‘88 Mike’ takes top honors in first ChampTruck racing series

The road that led OOIDA Member Mike Morgan to the points championship of the inaugural Meritor ChampTruck racing series had more twists and turns than the typical racetrack.

A diesel technician at the Mack of Nashville dealership by day, the Wartrace, Tenn., native spent his off time spec’ing and racing his very own “big, black Mack” during the Meritor-sponsored Class 8 diesel truck race series. His handle, “88 Mike” is a nod to the military term for truck driver, which he chose in tribute to his family members and friends who have served in the armed forces, and for his favorite NASCAR driver, Dale Jarrett, now retired.
Mike Morgan poses with his son Mikey alongside his
ChampTruck "Mackvader," a 1999 Mack with an MP7 engine.
Morgan, an OOIDA member from Wartrace, Tenn., won the
points championship of the inaugural Meritor ChampTrucks
World Series Class 8 truck racing.

The championship race was held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Going into the final weekend, Morgan was in a three-way battle for championship with small fleet owner Allen Boles’ Jupiter Motorsports and Hungarian racer Krisztian Szabo’s Truck Race Team USA for first place.

“The points race was up for grabs for sure, but we went out with a game plan to get pole position,” he said. “I figured if we could get pole position, we could get out front and we could hold it. We had a fast truck and we just wanted to keep it there (in front).”

Morgan won the first race of the season in April at New Jersey Motorsports Park, and consistently finished around the top five throughout the season’s other eight races. In addition to winning the series on driver points, his team, Power Shift Racing, finished first on the team leaderboard.

Friday, November 6, 2015

If truckers were as rich as everyone thought

I’ve seen my fair share of ways all levels of government have tried to get into the pocket of truck drivers. While this one is not a new gimmick, I just couldn’t get over how obtuse at least part of one city government’s leadership appears to be.

Let me set the stage.

There’s a California city, which like most cities, has some abandoned lots inside its borders. And, like a lot of cities, if the property isn’t posted, truckers park their trucks there while at home or maybe even when waiting to deliver the next morning.

Suisun City, Calif., doesn’t have a parking ordinance prohibiting trucks from parking at home. The city has the typical sampling of weight restrictions on some roads, no parking for more than two hours in posted zones, basically the usual stuff.

But, according to the Daily Republic, there have been a few truck drivers who have taken to parking overnight behind the post office on an abandoned lot.

Behind the post office. On city-owned, undeveloped land. That’s not posted. Overnight.

Now, like a lot of cities, Suisun City is looking for ways to raise money to make ends meet. Hard times, yo.

Here’s where it a takes a turn to dull-witted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Finding ‘hidden treasures’ gets trucker moving

We hadn’t quite walked all the way to the green dot on the GPS display when veteran geocacher Jason Fostier spotted the small “treasure” chest fastened to the trunk of a tree. Inside, we found some modest trinkets like a cigar wrapped in cellophane and a small notebook, which he signed his name in and dated, before leaving a package of Halloween candy inside for the next intrepid explorer.

What’s a geocacher? Someone who participates in a “real-world outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices” according to the official explanation from the website

Fostier, an OOIDA member from Somersworth, N.H., stopped by OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo., on Oct. 30, intent on hitting the geocache hidden at the nearby park. We walked out there together Friday afternoon, while he explained his hobby, which is basically a never-ending scavenger hunt.

Fostier says he likes having a reason to get out of his cab and walk around. When not behind the wheel, he said he enjoys hiking and biking. He said a dispatcher at a company he used to work for introduced him to the game.

“We were just walking, and she said have you ever heard of geocaching?” he said. “You go out and look for things. The first one I found was right outside my mom’s house.”

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trucking Ubers keep coming

Move over. Here come two more Ubers for trucking.

One is called Convoy, the other Next Trucking. They both do pretty much the same thing as Truckerpath, Transfix, 10-4, you name it. There are differences among them, but all are built around the Uber idea of smartphone apps for drivers. Uber connects auto drivers with fares. The trucking Ubers connect truck drivers with loads. 

Of the two new entries, by far the biggest splash is being made by Convoy. Like all the others, it was born more of technology than transportation. But its backers are making headlines.

According to Bloomberg Business they include some of the most prominent names in the world of tech: Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Marc Benioff of; Pierre Omidyar of eBay; Drew Houston of Dropbox; Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks; and even a co-founder of Uber, Garrett Camp.


Friday, October 30, 2015

How I got behind the wheel

For me it was simple, like a light coming on. There was actually a job that wouldn’t make me hate getting up in the morning. I discovered it about a year after high school. I remember the moment.

My first job in 1960 was at Marty G’s Donut Shop where I cleaned toilets and filled jelly donuts -- not necessarily in that order. I also washed windows with ammonia and crumpled up newspaper. This is not something you want to do full time. Marty was a nice guy, but I developed a permanent aversion to donuts.

So I left Marty for the Huffman & Boyle warehouse where the work was monotonous and the days endless. I wheeled pieces of crated furniture on a hand truck from the warehouse to the delivery platform or from a railroad car into the warehouse where shafts of light from tiny windows illuminated the floating dust. Back and forth, back and forth. Every once in a while there would be nothing left to hand truck, and I was handed a broom to excite the dust on the floor back into the air.

Is it break time yet? Can I sneak a cigarette in the boiler room? I’ll be an old man before it’s time for lunch. My ‘47 Ford will turn to rust in the parking lot before quitting time. Five o’clock Friday felt like repatriation from a prison camp. Every single day was its own eternity.