Chicken Dinner News
Wheelies, tweets and stowaways

By Sandi Soendker
managing editor


Not a day goes by here at OOIDA headquarters that we don’t meet or hear from members in a way that catches our attention and makes us want to share their stories. As old newsroom hands used to do, we call these notable bits, anecdotes and interesting stories “chicken dinner news.”  This month, we’ve got a worthy and maybe slightly wacky collection. 

Oh Deere. Member Mike Hagan, Whitehall, MT, called OOIDA recently with some interesting news. Mike is the world record holder for the longest wheelie on a farm tractor. He was recently honored for the feat. Mike reports that Ripley’s was there.

Twitter. OOIDA and Land Line have had a presence on the popular social networking Web site Twitter since November 2008. It’s like having a police scanner or CB base in your office. It’s always a treat to be able to put a face with a tweet. We had that opportunity when OOIDA member Dennis Dearborne of Wilmington, NC, visited recently.

Dennis is a self-proclaimed computer geek and goes by HiTech_Trucker on Twitter. When he’s not behind the wheel, he’s behind a keyboard working on his own Webzine where he blogs and writes reviews of computers, software and gadgets.

Re-nerved? Darwin Bratcher is an OOIDA member from Louisville, KY. In April 2008, he thought his days behind the wheel were over when he injured the radial nerves in his left arm. He got a lucky break in August of that same year when Dr. Sunil Thirkannad and his staff of therapists – Ann, Kim, Paula, Walt and Dottie (she’s the one in the photo) – performed surgery and physical therapy on Darwin’s hand. He credits their skillful work with saving his career in trucking.

In fact, in their honor, Darwin named his 2001 Freightliner Columbia show truck “Re-nerved” and included their names on the side. “Re-nerved” recently won third place in the Paul K. Young Memorial Truck Beauty Championship during the Mid-America Trucking Show in March  2009 in the Working Bobtail 2001 and older class.

Tired of the hooey. OOIDA Member Bob Stanton of Batavia, IL, has a problem with people getting trucking issues all wrong. Rather than just gripe about it, he takes action. Recently, he participated in a panel discussion about sleep apnea and commercial drivers.

Stanton, a company driver who keeps a CPAP machine in his truck to treat his apnea, re-arranged his work schedule so he could drive to Seattle for the early June “Sleep 2009” conference.

Conference organizers told Bob he was the first patient they’d heard from. Bob spends much of his free time reading research about sleep apnea.

“Sleep doctors often misinterpret studies involving transportation due to a lack of knowledge of the trucking industry,” Stanton told Land Line. “I wanted to be able to discuss the research from a truck driver’s point of view.”

Stanton said he pointed out other issues affecting truckers that the medical community aren’t aware of, like a lack of truck parking, and pressures caused by shippers and receivers that make drivers wait before dropping off and picking up loads. Way to go, Bob.

Vickie Thomas’ nutty day. We did a story recently about illegal immigrants sneaking onto trucks to ride them across the border. OOIDA member Vickie Thomas, Mound Bayou, MS, almost had it happen to her.

She was inside the Pilot Travel Center in Laredo, TX. When she returned to her truck, another trucker held a handwritten note up to her window that said, “Call the police. … There are two Mexicans on top of your cab.”

Vickie said she called the Laredo police department, and they sent out two officers. And sure enough, on top of her Kenworth – under the windbreaker that goes on top of a T-2000 sleeper – two gentlemen had stowed away where she couldn’t see them.

“They were down in there real well,” says Vickie. The two men were taken into custody by border patrol agents. Rocky Sarinana, a spokesman for the Laredo Border Patrol office, told Land Line Now that it’s a common occurrence for illegal immigrants to hide on top of tractors.

That wasn’t the end of Vickie’s nutty day. After the Laredo deal, she pulled up to a checkpoint on 59, just outside Freer. She says they normally just ask if you are a U.S. citizen, and a drug dog runs around a bit. This time the officer wanted to get up in Vickie’s truck and take a look. When the dog got up there, too, her feisty Chihuahua-pug, Tuffy, wasn’t having any of it and sank her teeth into the canine cop.

Vickie said the only thing she could think was “Oh Lord, don’t let me go to jail for my Chihuahua-pug Tuffy nailing their drug dog.”