Monday, November 23, 2015

Annoying People For Eight Hundred, Alex

Every once in a while we watch Jeopardy!  It's fun and it makes me realize, simultaneously, how much I know, and how much I don't know.  I'm a genius for a minute and then I'm like, "This stuff happened in the world?  How did I not know about that?"

Today I almost couldn't finish watching the show - and it's only 30 minutes long - because of contestant Laura Ashby, a lawyer from Atlanta. Laura, known on Twitter as #JeopardyLaura has such an incredibly annoying affectation to her voice, she was almost unwatchable.

I found this video of her performance. It's short, but you can definitely hear her dragging out the last letter of the word. She did it with numbers too, "Cake Design, one thousaaaaaaaaaand."

She did this throughout the entire show. See another short compilation of video clips here.

I went online to find out more about her and found that not only were other people commenting, there's a Reddit page of people who hate her voice. Apparently this is her second appearance on the show and regular watchers were rooting for her to lose just so they wouldn't have to listen to her on another episode.  So much for that.

This woman is a lawyer.  She went to Yale. I'm sure she's very smart, but I couldn't imagine having to work with her or argue a case against her. I really think I'd have to leave the job if I had to listen to her all day.  I just couldn't do it.

I actually thought she sounded very much like Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of the New York Times,  who I heard being interviewed a few years ago on Alec Baldwin's show, Here's The Thing.  I almost couldn't get through the interview because of her voice, but at the same time it interested me and repelled me, and I had to keep listening. If she was doing it to distract or annoy, it was working.

Laura's voice has an air of pretension to it, like Abramsons, but she didn't do it all the time, which is odd.  If it's there, it should be there all the time. It's rich girl mixed with valley girl. Uptalk and Vocal Fry. It's not southern as we know Atlanta to be, but it's definitely affectation, maybe from her Yale days. I honestly couldn't imagine being her friend, or married to her (she's married), and this not bothering me. Of course, as my grandfather used to say, "There's an ass for every seat."  I'm sure I am just annoying to some people as she is to me.

Except I couldn't be.  Could I?  No.  Please tell me I'm not. Wait...I'm asking Ed right now.

Anyway, while I was watching, I Tweeted. And it was probably my most awesome Tweet ever as far as likes and retweets go.  I got a celebrity retweet!!  OK, so it came from Ellen Cleghorne, an SNL cast member from the early nineties, but still.

As soon as I saw the name, I knew it was someone.  I couldn't place her, but I knew she was famous and as soon as I saw her face, I knew exactly who it was! The chick from Saturday Night Live!

I can't unhear #JeopardyLaura's voice. In fact, I'm talking like her right nowwww.  Ed is getting annoyed. I keep playing the clip, too.  It's like a bad accident, I can't look away. And I keep imagining her in court.

You know, saying that, if you're a Serial fan, she might even remind you a little of Adnan Syed's lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, who spoke the same exact way.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014:  Eddie Needs A New Tuque
2013: Quickly Losing Count
2012: Opposites Don't Always Attract
2011: Shit Eating Grins. And Giggles. And Shits And Giggles.
2010: Waiting It Out
2009: My Life According To Sugarland
2008: EPCOT On Fire
2007: Eddie Full Of Turkey Friday
2006: Crouching Poultry, Hidden Turkey
2005: Is It Really A Sandwich?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Self Service

I caught part of the red carpet before the American Music Awards (which I don't watch) today and I saw Hailee Steinfeld talking about her new song, "Love Myself".  Even though I saw her in Pitch Perfect 2, I had no idea she was an actual recording artist.  She's really not bad, and I'm totally diggin' the song. It's catchy.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Lube 2
2013: Making Mud For The Two Wheelers
2012: Have A Delicious Thanksgiving!
2011: The Boneyard Of The 309th
2010: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things
2009: I’m Only Interested In Breasts
2008: What Price Fun?
2007: True Blue
2006: Hitchcockesque
2005: The Borscht Belt

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Birdwatching Saturday

We've been sitting around for a few days now. First, we were in a Walmart parking lot that offers truck parking near our delivery location, then we went to one of our "secret" spots (no neighbors, screaming fast internet), then two nights in a no-name truck stop, and now we're at a Love's.

Today we spent some time birdwatching. We really didn't have a choice since the birds essentially swarmed most of the trucks in the lot.  Sitting on hoods, perched on hood mirrors, they were everywhere.

I decided to feed them.  I had some kettle corn in the truck that had gone stale because I wasn't eating it and thought it'd be the perfect treat for the birds milling around. They loved it.

Based on my research, and the pale yellow eyes, I'm pretty sure these birds are Great-Tailed Grackles
They are iridescent black, and in certain light you can definitely see the greens, blue, and violets in their feathers.  The females were around too, but they're not as pretty - boring brown and half the size of these birds - so I didn't take any pictures of them.
Here's a view from the rear. This tail and coloring definitely seems to match the definition of the Great-Tailed Grackle.
They're obviously used to being around people because they weren't afraid of our voices, or the trucks rolling by. They ate the popcorn out of my hand!
Here are a few hanging out on the trucks parked next to us. 
Once the popcorn was gone, the appeal for me faded. The birds still hung around and hopped all over the truck, I could hear them on the roof of the sleeper.

So there you go, one of the more lame things we do with our down time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Flashback Friday
2013: The Best Kind Of Mob

Friday, November 20, 2015

Delving Deep Into The Nefarious Actions Of A Truck Driver

“…it's a part of an officer's job to enforce the rules and regulations of the road, and that applies to all. Not only that, but crimes are being committed by some operators of these big rigs. Some are involved in narcotics, contraband smuggling, prostitution, human trafficking, kidnapping, and a number of other crimes that require law enforcement action.”

How's that for a second paragraph? They don’t even get into the Stopping Big Rigs article before they say that truckers are involved in some of the more egregious crimes in society today. I’m surprised they didn’t add murder and pedophilia to the list.

Let’s break it down.

No wonder they're scared to approach us.  Once they overcome the fear of the big bad trucker - and think of us as just a "big car" - the first hurdle they have to cross is asking the driver of the "big car" for their license and registration. There’s a scary task.

It seems the reason they're intimidated is because they are anticipating slight of hand and tomfoolery when we hand them a binder with our pertinent papers. 
If a trucker is handing an officer scraps of paper, that’s one thing, but because we’re responsible for keeping track of and maintaining SO MANY PIECES OF PAPER, we think a binder seems like a pretty reasonable solution to keeping them organized. I'm surprised they don't agree.

I'm not sure who's handing law enforcement entire binders, but if a driver does happen to hand them a night neat package of papers tied with a bow, it's not because we’re trying to confuse them. It's not a diversion tactic, it's what responsible drivers do. We can show them anything they need or ask for, but it would be helpful if they actually knew what they were looking for and looking at, since that’s their job.  

Perhaps law enforcement isn’t aware of all the paperwork that’s required to do this job. It’s not just license, registration, and proof of insurance. Those are the basics anyone needs to carry to operate a motor vehicle, but as the article said, what we're hauling depends on what paperwork goes along with the load. That documentation is just the beginning, they also usually check what goes ON the truck - IFTA stickers, inspection stickers, DOT numbers, etc. Being polite to the officer is the best way to handle a traffic stop, and we do know that they often have no idea what to ask for, but it's not our job to do their job. 

“Once you have the proper paperwork in hand you can issue a citation for violations or you can delve a little deeper if you want to.”

Oh, I love that line.  You know what that sounds like to me? That sounds like code, the sort of code every industry uses to not let anyone else know what they're up to. In this case, it sounds like “delving a little deeper” means to look for stuff they can write us up for - legal or not.  You know, maybe something that isn't really a big deal but that will generate revenue for their department. After all, they've got to make the big scary task of pulling an intimidating vehicle over on the side of the road worth their while.

As for the logbook, many law enforcement officers don't even know what they're looking at. I got pulled over once on the side of the road in south Texas - reaallllly south, border south - and told them my log was on my laptop. First, the guy was more interested in what was inside my "really cool, big sleeper", but when I showed the officer the current log on the laptop, he gave it a cursory glance, waved his hand and said it was fine.  It was obvious he had no idea what he was looking at.

“Look for missing hours at a time and unusual layovers in source cities for narcotics like Los Angeles, New York City, or Phoenix.”

Seriously?? This is truly laughable. I can tell you right now, we have hundreds of hours that have gone missing in all of those cities. And layovers that have lasted anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks. Are they serious?? We’re truck drivers. That’s the nature of our work. And FYI, Mr. Police Officer, you're just as likely to find drugs in non-source cities - cocaine in Columbus, heroin in Dayton, meth in Tulsa.  And millions of truckers have missing hours in those cities, too.  

“See if his fuel receipts match the locations in his logbook.”

First, if you pay cash, you have no record (like your name on a credit card slip) of getting fuel, where it was bought, or what time you bought it. Second, if you don’t keep your fuel receipts in the truck - like we don’t - you won't have any fuel receipts to show anyone. And last, every major truck stop that I’m aware of, doesn't even print times on the fuel receipts, so the locations can match but times may not.

In addition, a lot of the truck stops have a desire to decrease the mounds of paper they get buried under and will even offer to email the receipt to you. Many drivers record the information at the time of fueling and then download the transactions from Comdata every month. Yes, there are drivers that don't properly maintain their log, but you'd have to be a real fool to not log your fuel if you’re keeping the receipt with time and location printed on it, in the truck with you. 

Let me also ad that many of these law enforcement officials don’t know how many gallons our tanks hold or how far we can go on the fuel that fills those tanks. It’s likely the math would take them more time than they’d be willing to spend to figure out if we could conceivably get from Point A on the receipt to Point B where they pulled us over, on the amount of fuel that we bought.

"All big rigs…carry shipping papers or what’s called a bill of lading with them."

Sometimes we don't even get a bill of lading. What we most often get is an email containing the information we need on the shipment. I keep a copy of that on my computer and print the bills - that I have to create myself - when necessary. The regulations (49 CFR 375.505) don't specifically say you must carry a printed bill of lading when hauling regular freight, although it's true that most people do. HazMat's a different story, with that you need all kinds of documentation kept in a certain order in an easily accessible location, but regular 'ol freight? Nope, not required.  

“Look for handwritten bills of lading or handwritten corrections. Because everything is computerized these days this could be a sign of something suspicious.”

So many shippers are so sloppy and unorganized, that many drivers are given blank bills by their carriers that need to be filled out because the shippers don't provide them. And not everyone has the ability to make a computer generated bill like I do, so they write them out by hand, old school trucker style. Also, handwritten corrections might be made because someone made an error in the name of the item being shipped, or the count of the items being shipped, or the address the items are being shipped to. There's nothing suspicious about handwritten bills.

Sure, there are suspicious behaviors to keep an eye out for – the gold chains are a little odd - but handwritten bills, Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, and flip-flops aren’t necessarily the best indicators of truckers hauling blow. It is true that the stereotypical trucker has a certain “look”, but this is 2015 and we have a new crop of young drivers. There are guys out here in shorts and flip-flops, track pants and t-shirts, pajama pants and slip-on shoes, much to the chagrin of the old timers whose uniform was jeans, boots, snap-button cowboy shirts and trucker hats. If not looking, dressing, or acting “like a trucker” is a red flag to law enforcement, then I’m in a shitload of trouble.

“Don’t be alarmed if the driver doesn’t immediately pull over. The driver is more aware of his vehicle’s peculiarities than you are.”

This is true, we try to look for the best and safest places to pull over, but when I see some of the places trucks are stopped, I think they may have been intimidated by a law enforcement officer to pull over sooner than is safe for them to do so.

I’m glad to read that the officers understand most of us are hardworking souls, and I do agree that drivers do commit traffic infractions and get involved in criminal activity, but the tone of this piece suggests that we are hiding our activities – by handing an officer a binder, hanging out for days in big cities, or having handwritten bills.

And I'm concerned about their delving.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Delivering In The District

2013: Loving What's On The Inside
2012: When You Walk Like That, Talk Like That, Look Like That...
2011: Like And Loathing In Las Vegas
2010: Get Fresh With Me…Please!
2009: In The Blink Of An Eye
2008: Duck, Duck, Drake
2007: The Lady And Sons
2006: The Department Of Mindless Vegetables
2005: Ooo Rah Johnny Cash!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Coastal Trees

Ed took a photo of a few trees on the North Carolina coast just before sunset.  I like the way the sky slightly goes from baby blue to baby pink as it gets closer to the tree line.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: BuffaSNOW
2013: The White Dove Of The Desert
2012: A Beautiful Listen
2011: The Music Of The Night
2010: There’s No Better Place On Earth
2009: Getting Tanked In Al-Nahar
2008: Bracing For A World Of Mouse Ears
2007: At Least He’s Up Front About It
2006: Aten HUT!!
2005: Be The Player

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Not Everything Is Lost


After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye, b. 1952


My father made a version of this cookie, not the stuffed ones but walnut ones.  He called them Walnut Crescent Cookies.  They're delicate and buttery and melt on your tongue. He rolled each one by hand, bending them into teeny little crescents, then dusted them with powdered sugar. I think I'll be making them for Christmas.

And celebrating that not everything is lost.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Hairspray Is Gross

2013: Breathing Retro Life Into The West End Of A Miracle Mile
2012: A Little Bit Of Wyoming
A Franchophile’s Paradise

2010: 10 Things I Learned On My Vacation In Italy
2009: A Beautiful Deep Fried Pocket Of Cornmeal Dough. Or, My Mom.
2008: A Foxy Furry Little Friend
2007: The One That Got Away
2006: Don’t We All?
2005: Miss Singular

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Birthplace Of The King

Elvis Aaron Presley was born in this house - 306 Old Saltillo Road (now called 306 Elvis Presley Drive) - in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935 at 4:35 am. 
It's a small, two-room shotgun style house built by his father, Vernon, grandfather, and uncle with $180 Vernon borrowed from his employer. You can see the layout here. When Vernon could no longer make the payments on the house, they had to move.

In 1948, when Elvis was 13 years old, his family moved to Memphis. That's where he launched his music career from, in 1954.

That's also where he died in 1977, at 42 years old, pronounced dead at a local hospital after being found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of Graceland, his last and most famous home.

His birthplace home stands in its original place and the grounds surrounding it are part of The Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum and Chapel. There's a museum, the actual church he attended as a child, a bronze statue of Elvis at 13 years old, the "Walk of Life" with facts about each year he lived in Tupelo, and more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A Whole Big Lot Of Love

2013: When A Pig Wraps Himself Around A Chicken Deliciousness Ensues
2012: Let The Stockpiling Begin
2011: From The Island To The Desert
2010: The Town I Was Dying To See
2009: Gleaming Curve
2008: Color Me Casual
2007: Eddie Goes Running Friday
2006: Forever Yours
2005: Home Away From Home

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Vive Le Frank!

Frank in Paris, France - August 1944

Today would have been my stepfather Frank's 94th birthday. He passed away in October 2011.

In honor of his birthday and in support of the people of France after yesterday's terror attacks on its capital city, I am posting this photo of him in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, during World War II.

Vive le Frank and Vive la France!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: Dangling Consonant 
2013: The Best Sound Is Sometimes No Sound At All
2012: There's No Mistaking He Was The Guy In Charge
2011: The Final Curtain
2010: Happy Birthday From Agerola!
2009: You’ve Gotta Be A Good Fighter To Make It 88 Rounds
2008: Eddie Working In Paradise Friday
2007: 86 Going On 8
2006: A Fine Cargo Of Experiences And Memories
2005: 84

Friday, November 13, 2015

Television On A Stick

Photo: alistdaily
I'm a night driver. And one of the things on my driving pet peeve list is digital billboards.

Bright lights in general are a problem - lights from businesses located on the side of the interstates or roadways that shine directly into traffic, construction zones where no workers are present but where they leave the portable light towers on pointing directly into oncoming traffic, other drivers who insist on using their high beams - but nothing bothers me more than digital billboards. Insanely bright, often changing advertisements, sometimes even flashing, they're blinding and distracting.

As a side note, I don't understand businesses that advertise on billboards along the interstate and don't include the local area code with the phone number they're displaying. That's just an annoyance to me, but when I started Googling digital billboards, I found that they've been written about many times.  The New York Times wrote about them in 2010, USA Today in 2013, Huffington Post in 2014, FairWarning in 2015.

Studies have been done - one by the Federal Highway Administration - that said digital billboards don't pose a safety concern and drivers aren't distracted by them. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America was obviously thrilled by those results, but I think it's bullshit.

Studies may not be able to prove they impact safety but I can tell you they are extremely distracting. They cause drivers to take their eyes off the road for longer than is safe, often utilize video and animation, and some of the flashing ads (changing every 6-8 seconds) cause people to look more than once at the same billboard. 
Some of them are SO bright that they alter my night vision, making it hard to see the road and other cars on it just ahead of me.  I try not to look at them when I pass, but some throw so much light, it illuminates the entire roadway. My eyes can't adjust quickly enough.

The Huffington Post article said, "The human eye is hard-wired to look at bright, moving or flashing objects. It's an evolutionary feature that protects all animals from potential threats. When something moves quickly, your eyes automatically look towards it." I agree.

I am so used to scanning the road for deer or other animals when I drive at night, that when I see a flashing brightly-lit billboard, my eyes are instantly drawn to it. It's really bad in metropolitan areas where there can be miles of billboards, brightly lit, some flashing, some flipping, and all vying for attention.

Distracted driving - texting, talking on the phone - gets so much attention these days, as it should, but this highly visible external stimuli which causes drivers to repeatedly look away from the roadway doesn't seem to cause as much of a stir. I believe it's just as dangerous.

I suppose if it were to cause someone to crash, suing the billboard company and/or advertiser is always an option.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
One Last Fling

2013: I Drive With A Soundtrack
2012: Who Doesn’t Love A Sunset?
2011: Personally Yours. But Not Mine.
2010: Sheltered Madonna And Child
2009: Breaking A Leg Doesn’t Always Mean Good Luck
2008: Showing Its True Colors, Even On The Cloudiest Day
2007: Priorities
2006: It’s All In The Cards
2005: A Blond Moment

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Going Nuclear

"Incompetent, Stupid, Lazy Motherfuckers."

Those are the words of a truck driver friend of mine talking about the people we interact with in our industry.

The reason such profanities escaped his lips is because when he arrived at the shipper, he discovered he was picking up radioactive material to be delivered to a nuclear power plant on the other end, and the agent hadn't given him all the information he needed. I felt his frustration.

The transportation of hazardous material requires us to follow Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations set by the United States Department of Transportation.  You must display specific placards on your vehicle, have a route plan, and in some cases, arrange for special routing. Some cities don't allow movement of your freight between certain hours. Or on certain roads. All of this requires advance planning.  And to plan in advance, you need information. And he didn't get the information he needed from the agent that gave him the load.

I talked to my friend Marlaina about this and she said, "The trucking industry makes a big deal about safety, but the reality is, the more significant the security of the freight, the more lackadaisical they are about it."

Boy, if that isn't the truth. We've been in the very same position. And so have many other drivers I've talked to.

A few weeks ago, we met a driver who was telling us about a hazmat load he recently had on his truck. After loading, he noticed his paperwork wasn't right so he went back into the office to have it corrected. The girls in the office told him they'd been sending out the same loads all week and had no problem with any of them. If he didn't want the load they could take it off his truck. He made them take it off the truck.

Ultimately, no matter what the freight is that you're hauling - from hazardous materials to million-dollar aircraft engines - the drivers are the ones responsible for making sure it's transported safely and the ones who are penalized if it's not. The shippers, receivers, agents, or even trucking companies really don't give a shit. Once it's literally and figuratively out of their hands, you're on your own.

In the situation of the "incompetent, stupid, lazy motherfuckers", the driver was given no information other than the name of the place he was picking up and the name of the town he was delivering to.

No actual address. No directions. No information about the freight. No definitive weight - he was told it was "legal", which is a favorite word with agents - no dimensions. Nothing.

This is not uncommon. It happens on almost every load. It's so rare that we get what is laughingly called "complete and accurate dispatch". I almost always have to do my own research and get my own information. Phone numbers, addresses, directions

Thank God for Google and the fact that I have a brain.

I've even had agents tell me "Sorry, we can't give out that information." when I ask for a phone number or contact name.  What??  You can't give me the phone number for the place I'm picking up the freight??

See, the thing here is, the customers don't want to be bothered by truck drivers. Many of them don't want to deal with them directly. The want the drivers to come in, get the freight, and leave. Some places really limit any interaction. Ed told me that when he was a company driver, he was often denied access to rest rooms at the facilities he delivered to. They wouldn't even let him in to pee. WTF?

We've been told we can't park on a customer's property the evening before a pickup.

Some places don't let you idle your engine if you're close to the building.

Other drivers have told me they've been told to get back in their trucks, keep their mouths shut, and they'd be called when the load was ready.

Talk about being treated like a second-class citizen.

We had an nuclear power plant experience many years ago. When we got to the gate to pick up, they told us they were going to do a truck search (no big deal, since that's not unusual) and that only one driver was allowed in. Wait, what?? We are both drivers.  It's a team load. What was I supposed to do, stand outside the gate swatting gnats? I told them I didn't plan on getting out of the truck, that Ed would be loading, and that I'd just stay in the sleeper.

No dice.

Ed went in and I was directed to a waiting area with a plastic chair and a vending machine. There was no telling how long the search process would be and then no clue as to how long it would take to load.  In some places it takes hours. I'd be half-way through the candy bars on Row E in the vending machine by that time!

I sat on the stupid plastic chair, watching employees go in and out of the turnstile and metal detectors, scanning their wooden faces for some sign of emotion. They filed out like prisoners. Then I got antsy and started pacing. That's when the guy manning the waiting room told me there was a lobby area in the main building that was a lot nicer. I followed his pointed finger and wound up in a beautiful, air-conditioned lobby with cushy leather couches.

Sometimes it pays to be a girl.

I'm sure they wouldn't have given a thought to a male driver sitting there, who could stare at his steel-toed boots all day long for all they cared.

The lack of communication, the unconcerned attitude of some agents and customers, the mistreatment of drivers, that's what real truckers talk about after they're done bragging about their Harleys, talking about their fuel mileage, and blaming Obama for everything that's wrong with the world. They'll talk your ear off about being screwed out of their time at shippers or about being overtly or covertly told to ignore the rules. And on this kind of thing, they're right.  It's rampant and no one seems to really be doing anything about it.

The problem with the nuke plant, or the hazardous materials, or the high-value loads is that you'd think the agents, shippers, and receivers would be more organized and take into consideration the type of freight it is and what kind of information is needed to load, transport, and unload that freight safely and securely. Because you know, it's a nuke plant. Or hazardous material that can contaminate (or decimate) an entire community. Or a painting, machine, or product worth more than them and their entire families make in a lifetime.

I can't exactly prove what I'm going to say next, but it seems the lack of safety and security comes down to money. No ones wants to pay for the number of people it takes to do these things properly.

So they use our time to do their jobs. We spend our time to track down contacts, or get directions, or find out what the security procedures are. We spend our time waiting when they're not ready to load. Our time calling five different departments to track down the guy who said he'd be there to unload us but isn't. Our time to drive around at two in the morning when we're turned away from the parking lot that someone else said we can "absolutely" park in until morning. And we're expected to do it all with a smile on our faces.

I smile because I love doing this job. I don't smile when I have to do someone else's.

Especially if I'm not collecting their paycheck.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My Kind Of Weather
2013: Pick A Plate And Go
2012: Just In Case You Were Wonderin'
Life Is For Living
2010: These Sure Would Look Snazzy On The Feet Of A Trucker
2009: There’s No Whey In The Way Of This Delicious Treat
2008: O Canada!
2007: Ladies Night (And Day) Our
2006: The Queen Is Bleak
2005: Literacy In The South

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembering A Veteran

My step-father Frank took this photo during World War II.  On the back of the photo he wrote, "An LST unloading at Green Beach on D-Day.  Notice how calm things look."

Green Beach was a section of Omaha Beach on the coast of Normandy, France where the troops landed on D-Day - June 6, 1944.

USS LST 49 is a Landing Ship Tank created during World War II to carry vehicles, cargo, and troops landing directly on the shore.

Frank never talked about the war. He didn't want to be called a hero. He was modest. Sometimes I thought I could see memories flashing in his eyes.  I wanted to know more but if you asked him specifics, he'd deftly change the subject.

World War II definitely had an impact on him.

Let's remember those who served, but if you're going to thank them for that service, think about why you're doing it.  

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Freebie Time!

2013: Reaping The Harvest
2012: It Doesn't Take Much To Keep A Marine Happy
It’s Not Just Time On A Digital Clock Display Anymore

2010: Roman Glow
2009: Let There Be A Lesson In The Words Of Mark Twin, Who Seems To Have A Handle On Who Is The Real Patrio
2008: Sometimes The Nights Just Fly By
2007: Who Thought Putting These Two Words Together Was A Good Idea?
2006: We Would All Go Down Together
2005: Missing Me?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fashion Plus Beauty

Illustration by Jeanette Getrost
Project Runway's 14th season had a lot of fantastic designers as usual, but my favorite from the very beginning was Ashley Nell Tipton.

Plus-sized and super-cute with lavender-colored hair, she was my choice for the win.

And win she did.

She's not just a plus-sized woman herself, but she is the first designer on the show who wants to specifically design clothes for plus-sized women. She designed for straight-size models during the show, and those designs were beautiful too, but in her final show at New York Fashion Week, she showed her plus-size collection and used plus-sized models on the catwalk. It made history for Project Runway.

See some of the winning designs HERE.  They're gorgeous.

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2014: I Can't Even Explain
2013: Same Love