May 2010 Letters

Get with it, New York 
New York is so far behind everything, even though they get a higher fuel tax than most states per mile. New York collects tolls, and New York collects extra mileage taxes above all that. New York diverts transportation money into every other kind of daydream that one or two people would like to see, like fake antique lampposts and trees close to the road, curb islands in the road, and dangerous roundabouts (traffic circles).

New York is the one state where the mile markers are backward. It is one of the northeast states where the exit numbers still don’t reflect the correct mile so directions are more difficult to follow, because the miles don’t match any map or directions. In most states, it’s quite simple – if your drive is exit 43 to exit 243, it’s 200 miles. Not in the Northeast. In all fairness, Pennsylvania recently corrected this on its interstates.

Cut out the waste and pretty little projects and get the road markings up-to-date.

Ralph and Cindy Klemm
Richfield, NY

Tilt that playing field 
The ATA is really getting under my skin. Other than HOS I can’t think of much I agree with them on. They are continually trying to “level the playing field.” Personally, I don’t want a level playing field. I want to tilt that playing field as much in my direction as possible. That’s capitalism – that’s competition.

Owner-operators hold certain advantages over large motor carriers, and if we are savvy business people we exploit those advantages.

ATA is supporting a national 65 mph speed limit for big trucks. OK, I only run 65 anyway so that’s no big deal to me personally; however, I’m sure there are others that like to run faster. 

As a visitor to Ontario, Canada, I have seen firsthand the problem this has created, rolling roadblocks and angry car drivers. 

Now, ATA will disguise this 65 mph limit as a safety issue, but we know from statistics this is not true. They just don’t want an owner-operator to be able to move freight from point A to point B faster than a company truck.

Please, I hope and pray that OOIDA is keeping a watchful eye on ATA’s actions. They are certainly not a friend of the small fleet or owner-operator.

Tom Clarke
McKinney, TX 

Editor’s Note: The next two letters refer to a March 24 Land Line story online titled “Some trucks bought with port money aren’t being used at the Port of Los Angeles.” Staff Writer Charlie Morasch has even more details on Page 46 of this issue.

California’s savvy deals 
“As for only having to maybe pay back $4,000 from a $20,000 grant – Bernie Madoff would love that deal,” Todd Spencer said.

Boy, if California keeps making business savvy deals like this, they might end up going bankrupt.

David Simmons
Houston, TX

Calling out California 
Gee, I wonder why California is broke. ... Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of idiots.

For the life of me, I just can’t understand why companies are deserting California!

Kenneth L. Simmons
Houston, TX

Free lunch 
I wanted to thank you for the free lunch I just received.

 I went to the TA truck stop in Ontario, CA, to say “hi” to a friend who was passing through. While there, we overheard several drivers discussing CSA 2010.

I cannot believe how much misinformation is still flowing about what is driver data and how it will be collected and how long it will be kept. I could not help myself. I stuck my two cents in and was called on it.

I told the driver to bring up on his laptop. There was your article that backed me 100 percent and now informed five others.

To thank me for getting them the correct information, they bought me and my friend a lunch at the Subway. I told them about all the information available on your Web site. I also suggested they join OOIDA – we shall see.

Thanks again for being there. You make me look pretty good.

Cliff Collins
Riverside, CA

Sitting in detention
Getting held up at receivers is happening more and more lately. A lot of the time it’s at places that process food items. You have an appointment time for delivery. When you show up, they tell you to go park – that they are not ready to run the product on your trailer until later.

So there you sit, storing their product for them on your trailer. You call the broker who gave you the load, but he has all kinds of excuses for why nothing is getting done. He does not want to make his customer mad and lose the freight that he has bid so cheap.

He tells you he will put in for detention pay. But after you get unloaded and gone, that is the last anything gets done about it. Before they unload the product, the rate of detention pay should be settled and it should be added to the settlement.

The government can put all kinds of rules and regulations on us as to how we do our job. How about some help on this end of the transportation industry? Sitting there waiting, we have lost hours to drive, lost a reload. We are losing money the whole time.

R. Anderson
Columbus, NE

Sign of the old times 
I loved Dave Sweetman’s article on signs (in the December 2009 issue of Land Line Magazine).

I had to add one that has to be my all-time favorite. I wish I could recall the exact location. I just remember coming across a river into southern Illinois on a two-lane state highway, I believe from Kentucky.

There was a little Sam Drucker-looking old country store that had been converted to a restaurant. Being close to the river, they also had a bait shop. I couldn’t believe the sign out front, which read “Eat Here and Get Worms.”

I looked all over to find a place to turn around; I really wanted to get a photo.

Scott G.B. Sargent
Holmen, WI

Improving health odds 
I enjoyed the article “Against all odds” about trucker health (in the February issue of Land Line Magazine). My master’s degree thesis was titled “The Recreational Pursuits and Health Habits of Long Distance Truckers” (1986).

When I got my CDL in 1985, I went into truck stop management. There were more limited food choices for drivers back then.

Food becomes comfort (when alone), companionship (when with other drivers), and complicated (when working under strict, irregular and stressful schedules).

I’ve been a distance runner for more than 30 years and treat it as my “insurance” for good health. I always wanted to put fitness centers in truck stops, but was told repeatedly that the insurance risks were too high.

Not doing something is risky, too. I applaud those who recognize their condition and decide to do something.

Lynn Bolster
New Oxford, PA

‘Good old days’ 
I drove a 1954 GMC with an automatic transmission and a six- cylinder gas engine. It was a four-speed transmission with a “dog leg” shift lever to change into four lower gears on pulls. It would outrun most stock diesels of that day, but would fall behind in the mountains.

Next was a 1955 GMC with a four-banger engine (156 horsepower) and a five- and two-speed axle. You could make fair time with it, but you had to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and one on the gearshift.

Next was a 1964 GMC “Crackerbox” with a 12-speed Spicer tranny. If you forgot what gear you had preselected, things rapidly became fun when you shifted.

Next was the 1965 “Crackerbox” with a 238 Detroit. Also drove a 1965 Dodge with a 220 Cummins and a 10-speed Roadranger. I had it set up in Kansas City, and it did a good job on my run to Rochester, NY.

The company also had a 1957 H model Mack. I think it had 183 HP. The old man that drove it had it set up so that you would set a load of hay on fire from the stack flame if you weren’t careful.

I changed jobs and drove IHC, Whites, Fords, Peterbilt, and Freightliners until 2000. Rides, noise levels, radios, seats all improved as newer models came along.

Kenneth “Kiwi” Kidd
Afton, VA

In memory: OOIDA Life Member John Rutgers 
Last year, after a five-month fight to battle cancer, I lost the most important man in my life – my dear dad, a lifelong trucker.

John Rutgers was 72, born in Holland. As soon as he was of driving age, he started to drive a truck. In 1980, he and mom (Diana) moved to Canada.

Dad was very young at heart, so when he turned 65 there was no way he wanted to quit driving truck yet. But with the economy getting too tough, mom and dad retired after driving truck for 53 years.

But Dad never really got to enjoy his so deserved retirement.

He stopped driving truck in October 2007, and the following July he had a pain in his shoulder. After lots of tests, he was told in November that he had cancer and only had four months left to live. Our world forever changed on that day.

On March 31, he lost his battle with his three girls by his side. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the blood. One of the side effects is that it makes holes in your bones, and they just snap. 

After Mom and Dad retired, they worked like crazy on fixing up the house, selling it and moving near us girls. I had always hoped that when dad retired we would finally be doing all kinds of family stuff together and enjoy his retirement together, but time had run out.

I’m wishing that you all will try to spend more time together, or as my dad would say “smell the coffee.”

As for my sweet dear dad, on March 31 he went on his last trip by himself, destination Heaven. Knowing dad, he will be waiting for his three girls with his truck running, the coffee on.

Monique de Roos
Beamsville, ON

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