Greg Note: "Tales From the Road" are some short stories that my father wrote, that I found on his computer when he passed away in 2012. I found them quite interesting and entertaining and wanted to share them here.
Tales From the Road - OTR Trucking
By Bud Amy
Now people, I am going to tell y'all tales I have heard on the road in my role as an OTR driver. It's a new life for me...started doing this about 5 months ago. I've written stories of things I did and saw, heard and smelled and experienced on my motorcycle, but this form of running the roads in a BOT (Big Ol' Truck) or BOBOT (Big Ol', Big Ol Truck) is fairly new to me, so please take that into consideration when you read these. Everything is new to me on the road and many of the things I see and do and write about will be from the eyes of a "worm", an oilfield term for a "newbie".
Now, I have found that the loneliest people I have ever met in my life are OTR drivers. They are a group of people that are driven (pun intended) by many feelings. First is the need to see what's over the next hill and around the next curve. I guess you could call them the modern day version of explorers without the unexplored. A friend of mine up in Oklahoma once asked why anyone would want to be a driver...it was the loneliest, most exhausting job he had ever had. No matter how much money he made, he always wanted to be home. When he did get home, he was usually exhausted and it took a day or two to come down from the road, and after a couple days he was ready to go back out there.
The "lonely" part is the one that I got to in little time. I finally got tired of the CB and the talk that went with it. I looked forward to stopping for fuel, coffee, food and a run to the men's room. But I got to the point that I needed to talk to people...anyone I could find! I soon recognized that same need in all the drivers I met except for the ones that had co-drivers or girlfriends/wives with them. ( I could tell how long they had been on the road together by their need to get some new conversation going with a third party!) In any case, it is a lonely job...hours alone with thoughts, going over past experiences, relationships, present conditions and future plans...all the things that lonely people do. I've spent miles fantasizing (?)...it does help the time go by.
But when I hit the truck stops, I want to talk with other drivers and the conversations always turn to those "loads from hell", satanic sociopathic dispatchers that need killing, DOT, day-long delays waiting to unload, four wheelers and their death wishes, etc. AND war stories...
Now for those of you who don't know what a war story is, a war story is a tale of exceptional events that the teller has experienced or knows about. In trucking, all of the war stories are about trucking. Of course it would be: OTR drivers spend 24 hours a day and many days on end doing just that...trucking. Most of them spend their whole lives trucking...days, months, years on end. What else could they talk about? It is their whole lives...it's what they do.
Now there is one subject that is always discussed by all men, whether they are on the road or out there with the "four wheeler" people. That subject is sex and women. I will try to leave out those tales heard on the road because of the time most drivers spend while driving...fantasizing. (It doesn't looking like it is spelled right that way either. Oh well) So, unless it is a really remarkable tale, I will leave them out. OK?
The first tale I heard on the road, I heard at a truck stop west of Houston, off of I-10, right next to a big plant that builds vehicles for the government. It was an old timey truck stop that has seen better days and was bought by a Pakistanee gentleman. No asphalt parking lots, no parking lot lights on big poles, no Subway/Wendy/Pizza/McDonald/KFC franchised in-store foods. It had a short order cook, tired waitress and plastic table clothes with all of the condiments on the table with a real napkin holder with too many napkins stuffed in the chrome holder so that you had to tear a napkin out. (On those, I always pull out about 10 at a time so that I can get a whole napkin and not just half of one).
Anyway, there were several old time drivers sitting at a few tables close together and there were war stories being told. Most were about DOT, weigh stations, dumb four wheelers, and again DOT. However, in the middle of my making a choice between the chicken fried steak (I decided against it, the cook was Pakistanee and he might be new and not know how to make a good chicken fried steak or the gravy to go on it) and a club house sandwich with fries, an ol' boy started telling a story about Whitey and the dock lock. All the older drivers knew or had heard about Whitey and his exploits and they paid attention. Me, too.
It seems that years ago when the first big warehouses and corporations started building huge warehouses and distribution centers, they started putting in the new "dock lock". For those of you that don't know what a dock lock is, it is a device with an arm that moves up and hooks on to the trailer bumper and keeps the trailer from moving when the van is being unloaded. It looks like a hook that grabs the bumper. It looks like like an apostrophe, kind of. Until it is released from the truck, the trailer is locked in. Don't get ahead of the story now!
Anyway, Whitey had a load going to one these new centers and when he backed into the "door", they engaged the dock lock and unloaded his load. He got his paper work and climbed back into the truck and tried to pull out. The dock lock was still engaged, but ol'Whitey didn't know that. So he just put that old Mack into 'grandma", gunned the big Cat and pulled. Well, pull that old Mack and big Cat did.....pulled the dock lock arm along with the mechanism that operated it....right out of the wall of the dock. The story teller said it made a hell of a noise and Whitey just pulled it along until he got to the guard shack, dragging the dock lock with him. The guards had been called and told about Whitey and were waiting. They got Whitey out of the truck and showed him that mess behind him. The bumper on the trailer had been pulled into a "V", with the arm trapped in the inside of the "V" and they tried to knock it out, but it was really jammed in there. Finally, Whitey pulled the pivot bolts off the arm, pulled the other pices of the dock lock mechanism off a side and was going to drive away. The guards and supervisors said he couldn't leave until he paid for the damage.
Old Whitey looked at them and said, "I ain't paying for s***! If anybody is going to pay, it's going to be y'all paying for my bumper! Now open that G**D***** gate or I'll through it!"
With that, he got into the truck, put it in gear and they knew he meant what he said and opened the barrier and Whitey drove off with the dock lock arm still embedded in the bumper. When he got to the local truck stop, it got noticed and a few cracks were made, but the look in Whitey's eyes let them know that he wasn't going to take too much of it. So it settled down to getting a big maul and trying to knock the arm off the bumper, but it was jammed in there.
After a few head scratchings, it was decided that he needed to back up into something tough and bend the bumper back in so that the arm could come out. In the corner of the parking lot was a 20" piece of pipe cemented in the ground and filled with cement. This was a corner anchor for the power line going to the truck stop holding the pole with a transformer up the pole.
Well, ol' Whitey backed up the trailer to the pole and lined tip of the "V" up even with the pipe, pulled forward about 20' and "honked" it in reverse into that pipe. Well, like most good ideas, it didn't work as they thought it would...the "V" hit a little off center and slid the trailer sideways, and caught the corner of the trailer, bent it in and cattywallered the doors and stopped the truck right now.
Now that was not the worse part of the incident. That piece of steel, filled with concrete was holding a corner power pole against the strain of the wires coming to it. When Whitey hit and stopped, he pushed the anchor back enough to let the pole move back a few feet and the wires going to the pole from two sides jumped around and hit! Sparks, big sparks. The wires from the transformer to the truck stop started smoking and caught on fire. In the truck stop, all the lights went out. Everyone out in the lot involved in this thing were holding their arms over their faces, ready to run. A few seconds later, someone noticed smoke coming out of the transformer...a lot of smoke. In a few seconds, the top blew off the transformer and a ball of fire reported to be 100' high lit up this fiasco of Whitey's. Everyone ran like hell and Whitey honked it away from the post, still carrying the dock lock arm. They met by the road with all of the customers, waitresses and cashiers and soon the sparks and fire died down. The truck stop was dark and noone wanted to go back in there in the dark so they decided to head for another place down the road while Whitey tried to explain what happened.
When Whitey, standing there explaining what happened, finished, he left to go to the other truck stop. When he got to the other truck stop, all of the participants were there drinking coffee. Among them was a driver that liked to be called "'Fireball", but drivers being what they are had called him "Furball". Furball was sitting in an old time booth, you know the kind with head high partitions between the booths. When he saw Whitey come in, he called out, "Hey Dock Lock, come sit over here!" Whitey stood there for a second and walked to the booth with the drivers kinda biting back laughs with no success. Whitey walked up to the table and without pausing, planted right hook straight into Furball's mouth and jaw. Witnesses say that Furball's head hit that partition behind him and it sounded like someone hitting a piece of plywood with a baseball bat. Furball's head bounced off the partition and landed on the table and he just lay there, bleeding all over the formica top. The laughing stopped dead and Whitey calmly sat down across from Furball laying there with his head on the table, bleeding from the mouth and nose. Whitey looked at the waitress standing a couple tables down, holding a pot of coffee and Whitey held up a cup and said, "Hey, Honey. Can I get some coffee?"
The waitress kinda stood there for a second and came over and filled his cup with coffee. She looked down at Furball laying there with his head on the table bleeding on the table and asked, "What about him?".
Whitey looked across at Furball laying with his head on the table, picked up Furball's cup, put it on the edge of the table and said, "Yep, you can go 'head and top it off. It's getting cold."
Nobody ever called him Dock Lock again...at least not to his face.
Continue on to "Tales from the Road 2 - 7AM Appointments"