Today's truckers are paying for the past kindness of truckers everyday at the shippers and receivers by not getting paid for their time at the loading dock.  This is an industry wide issue.  In the past, the hours of service were lax and drivers could easily volunteer some extra time in the dock. 

     The problem is that today we are under strict rules and laws.  This being the case, we cannot volunteer this time any longer, yet shippers and receivers are now expecting the trucks to sit unpaid at their facilities.  As far as I am concerned, this just drives the rate up.  No detention equals another 50 cents a mile at least on long hauls and maybe another $300.00 on top of the line haul on local loads if I even except the load at all.  In addition to this, there should be a stipulation that with no detention pay there is also no guarantee that I will wait on the load. 

The Best Foods To Keep In The Truck

     The best foods to eat in the truck is the stuff that you don't have to worry about.  Soups, canned meat, chips, water, cookies (healthy-ish cookies), and bread are usual standards.  You should develop a routine that you can stick to.

     I like to have a hot pot to heat water, a small fridge or electric cooler to keep cold stuff, and a burton stove or similar 12 volt stove.  Microwaves are good, but not necessary and can speed up the cooking of certain foods.  Hello!  Its a microwave!  Anyway, you need to be able to heat up stuff, and I don't recommend a propane burner at all.  I have seen too many trucks burned to the ground and some of them with the drivers dead inside because they fell asleep.  I like to stay with the heating methods that wont start fires in the even of me falling asleep.  Of course a microwave could start a fire, but use some common sense man!


Finding Your Path

     The best places to get in some exercise on the road is a place that is truck friendly and safe.  Ideally you want a place to park where you have access to a long flat road or a trail.  The Travel Centers of America has been putting trails in at some of their locations.

     You can simply settle for an area that has good sidewalks.  This is easy and there are usually truck friendly commercial areas in most cities since, when you are in the country, you shouldn't have to worry about it as there are good places to park in the countryside on average.  Your main concerns are safety and legality.  Of course you also have to worry about load theft depending on what kind of equipment you are using and loads you are hauling.

     I never advise parking on on-ramps or exit ramps as this is usually illegal and it is very unsafe.  You also don't want to go for a walk on any interstate or major highway as this is not only unpleasant, but very unsafe.  It is best to find a large parking lot that you can get your truck into and stay within sight of the truck while you are doing your exercise.

Going From The Sleeper Bunk To Being Able To Walk A 5K

     So you want to keep on truckin' and you have to lose weight to keep your heart and diabetes under control or your sleep apnea is flaring up.  It is time to get a routine of health.  Walking is the best practice.  Start by getting some decent walking shoes.  It doesn't really matter what you wear because you are just starting out.  I would recommend daily casual wear and a stroll around a trail or local sidewalk.

     Lets start with 15 minutes a day.  Just walk for 15 minutes and you are done.  Don't stop during the walk and be sure to maintain a pace that you are comfortable with.  At the end of the walk, stretch your legs for at least 15 seconds a leg Do this twice for each leg one at a time and then repeat.  You are done!

      You should do this once every day, but every other day if you can't do it every day.  Don't hurt yourself.  If you can only go ten minutes, then that is all you can do, but try to do it every day.  You may not notice a difference right away, but after a few weeks of this, your heart rate should improve and you should notice that you are developing stamina and endurance.  

Eating Healthy In The Truck

     Eating healthy meals in the truck is essential to maintaining a successful trucking career.  "Seriously Ed?" you say.  "Yes absolutely" I say and here is why;  Lets say that you drive a truck for ten years, make excellent amounts of money, meet numerous friends and colleagues, and buy all sorts of properties and vehicles, but you haven't been taking care of your health.  So after ten years you have a stroke, get diabetes, hernias, or any number of other ailments.  Congratulations, you just lost at all of your goals.  In my mind, the trucking business has just officially beaten you.

     I have a tried and true plan to stay in shape on the road and it involves a routine.  A healthy routine of eating the right things and doing the right things.  Mainly it involves light foods and healthy snacks throughout the day so that you aren't starving at every meal.  The list of what you can and can't eat is too enormous to list here, but I have a list that works well.

     The key thing here is that everyone is different.  What works for me, might not work for you.  You should develop a good list of "go to" foods which can last through the temperaments that it will go through in the truck environment.  Canned foods are famously high in salt, but lately there are a number of soups which have low sodium.

Staying Fit On The Road

     When I first started driving a truck, I was 21.  I couldn't gain weight if had to.  I had been driving about 5 years and started noticing some weight gain.  As I neared 30, I gained considerable weight.  I had put on about 40 lbs. since I first started driving.

     I bought two jack stands for use as a barbell workout stand.  Keeping my barbell weights in a milk crate behind one of the seats came in handy as I had easy access to the exercise equipment.  In addition to my bench press set up, I had a forearm bar which I used with a rope.  The forearm workout combined with the triceps exercise and bench press was a very good multiple purpose exercise routine.

     I ran for 45 minutes a day, did aerobics for 30 minutes, and lifted weights for an hour.  I did these exercises alternately on different days.  One day I would run, do aerobics, and do bench press, then the next day I would do triceps, run and aerobics.  Everyday I would alternate everything and do different exercises every day.  I did this for a year and lost the 40 lbs. that I had put on and then some.  Exercising in the trucking world is not natural.  You must work out whenever you can and wherever you can.  You have to get it where you can.  If your time off is in the morning, then that is when you work out.  If it is in the evening, then that is when you workout.

     Diet is also important.  You need to drink lots of water, eat lots of vegetables, and lean meats.  You should mix it up and throw in some healthy energy bars and healthy snacks during the day.  Good healthy snacks include nuts, fruits, sweet peppers.  I would try to eat small meals spread out over the day.

Movies In The Truck

     As you might suspect, movies in the truck are a usual past time.  The state of Minnesota started asking commercial truck drivers if they cared to take a survey about the inside of their sleeper compartments.  In this survey, they were asked if they had such things as televisions, vcrs, dvd players, video game consoles, books, etc.. etc. If you answered yes to having a few of these items, you were put out of service and detained in the scale house parking lot.  Of course OOIDA broke the story for all of us to learn about and as usual it came in very handy.  OOIDA took the state of Minnesota to court for violating our fourth amendment rights to privacy and won.  Now the state of Minnesota can no longer invade our private sleeper compartments with their intrusive surveys.  So go ahead and enjoy your movies and truckers, you worked hard today and you earned it.    Thank OOIDA for protecting your rights and keeping the powers that be in check.

Living In A Truck 2

Life as a trucker is different. Having your necessities in a small space is essential. Ideally you must be able to gather your clothes and personal hygiene stuff in a small pack so you can quickly take a shower. Sometimes you only have a short window to take a shower in the truck stop. You have to take advantage of this time so you can eat, shower, update your log book, inspect your truck, and then go to sleep, relax in front of a book, watch a show on television, or in my case, update your blog.

Most trucks can easily accommodate a small refrigerator, a tool kit, a laptop computer, a few changes of clothes, and some miscellaneous personal things all for two people. If you are only one person then you will have plenty of room for just about all you will need and then some.

Living In A Truck

Living in a house is what we are all used to. If not a house, then maybe an apartment, treehouse, boat, rv, or cardboard box. Where you call home could be anywhere, but most likely it was stationary. With a few exceptions, most of us grew up on land under a roof of some kind with running water. When you live in a truck, you spend most of your time in a moving vehicle. I say "live" in a truck because although you maintain a household like the ones listed above, you will be on the road most of the time delivering freight.

Since I started trucking, I learned to make do with what I had and what I had was minimal. The smaller the space the less stuff you have to deal with. In fact, I did have an apartment at one point where I had only 450 square feet of space and then a storage shed with about 100 square feet of space which I kept filled to the brim with boxes, memorabilia, and accumulated miscellaneous crap. Once I rid myself of the crap, I found life a lot easier. Less stuff means less maintenance. I like less maintenance. I like less stuff. I find that the more room you have to store stuff, the more useless stuff you accumulate.

The more stuff you accumulate, the more time you have to spend worrying about it. You have to worry about where to put it, how to take care of it, if it will get ruined in storage, etc. etc. When you are on the road as much as I am, you have to dust everything when you get home. More time spent doing something you don't want to be doing. So now it is time to pare down. I recommend a small apartment that is safe and secure which has little taxes due and little maintenance. Ideally you want a place that is inhabited by someone. Family, friends, maybe a rental house or cabin on someone's land where it is watched and frequented. This is handy for many reasons. Security and someone to recieve your mail for you when you aren't there.

You could use a postal service that receives mail for you. This is handy along with maybe a post office box. I like the mail receiving places because they hold your stuff. Ideally I would like some modern robot that could receive the mail and let me see it in real time. I am sure some Rube Goldberg machine could be made just for this purpose.

When To Park And When To Move On

After a long day on the road, I like to find a place to park. Ideally a pre-trip inspection along with a pre plan for the trip will yield a stopping place for the night. In reality you won't be able to just park at a truck stop after your trip. Even late at night, you can expect to find little or no truck parking.
The fact is that when you plan to park somewhere for the night, you must first consider where you are going. In particular I am referring to regions of the U.S. If you are going to deliver to the North East, you will run into the most trouble when finding parking. The best plan is to arrive early in the evening. If you cannot arrive early, then the next best bet is to stay outside of the region and leave very early in the morning or even late at night to arrive at the customer at your appointment time or when they open. The best situation is when the customer has a place where you can spend the night before unloading.
The fact is that truck parking is dwindling down because of ignorant land owners and ignorant truck drivers. Heavy trucks damage parking lots and ignorant truck drivers damage vehicles and spread garbage in parking lots. It is no longer of benefit for land owners to allow truck parking in their shopping centers and malls. The days are over when shopping centers catered to truckers. If you cannot find truck parking in a truck stop, then you may park in a shopping center for a few hours, but you must leave before they open and never leave your truck unattended.

Driving A Hard Bargain

Lately I have been kicking the idea around to write some short stories and post them on here from time to time. I don't know how long to make them, but they will be short. I have numerous ideas about what I want to write about.

The first idea is almost like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but not really. Some stories have to be told. Some stories need to be told. Some stories don't need or have to be told, they just get told anyway whether you like it or not.