Have you ever peed in a Pilot bathroom? If you answered “yes,” you have at one point thought about — or come CLOSE to thinking about — the American trucking industry. And you might be interested in today’s post. (Even if you answered “no,” would it kill you to keep reading?)
Truck drivers are the [insert appropriate medical analogy here] of our national economy, endlessly traversing our country’s highways to deliver merchandise we use on a daily basis. Those Bratz dolls and Fuji apples we take for granted? Only there because a trucker drove them there. They work almost invisibly, their deliveries completed out of sight (or before business hours) such that we hungry consumers don’t interact with them directly. So they’re not only [insert medical analogy here], but also tooth fairies and Santas and whoever does the dishes in my apartment. (Read: They’re magical, possibly fictional beings.) To study them in their natural habitat — the road — presents an uncommon opportunity for us to learn more about these mysterious creatures.
Trucking is boring. I have no first-hand — or anecdotal — evidence with which to back this up, but OBVIOUSLY. You’re at the helm of an 18-wheeler for an unhealthy number of hours inching along a highway that looks the same in Lafayette, IN as it does in Greenville, AL, with only an Alice in Wonderland DVD and the Sirius-XM “70s” channel to keep things on an even keel. And so it makes sense that a trucker would look for any possible distraction to give the drive some recreational kick.
Over the years truckers have developed a number of driving techniques to screw with passersby. Take the picture above: the BOX-IN. This is when a group of two or more truck drivers synchronize their speeds over two lanes, preventing passenger cars from accelerating. (Did someone say TAG TEAM?) For those times when they REALLY want to watch you squirm, the drivers turn to FROGGER: offering just enough room between trucks for you to barely sneak through, and fast. Just a fun thing to do sometimes! After the third or fourth time one of these guys STAR DESTROYERs your ass (passing hard on the right — when you’re going plenty fast in the left lane — to demonstrate their sheer mechanical power), you come to understand that trucks are TRANSPORTATION BULLIES: swirly-giving pituitary cases of the road just living to screw with anyone smaller than them (which is everyone); “Stop hitting yourself!” with 18 wheels. This run-on sentence is a direct result of how mad they make me.
Like school bullies, though, if you take the time to reflect on why they are the way they are…it all begins to make sense. Ever been to a Love’s Travel Stop? A veritable trucker’s paradise for the number of hauling-related supplies they carry. The Slim Jims. The John Cena movies. Of course that stuff’s expected. What’s more interesting is the row of hot plates for sale (which were somehow approved for use while driving?) or the local team-branded blankets. The domestic items. And suddenly it’s as clear to you as a grease-soaked napkin: those trucks are their homes. With Yosemite Sam mud flaps.
It’s because of truckers that our Targets are fully stocked with miniature tents and the local Wegman’s brimming, always, with non-regional fruits like papaya. They’re responsible in no small part for our everyday purchases — and beyond — and to imagine our country functioning without them…well, you really can’t. Automated hoverboards don’t have the carrying capacity yet. Trucking is a lonely profession, one without end, and it can’t be easy spending the bulk of the year — the bulk of your life — staring down a mostly empty road counting down the miles to the next destination. Could you do it? I sure couldn’t. What I’d say to the truckers of America is “thanks for all you do to keep our country moving.”
“…But, you know, you don’t have to be a jerk about it.”