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Trucking is also a term used in making films. Trucking is the movement of a camera towards or away from the scene. Trucking In means moving the camera towards the scene and Trucking Back means moving the camera away from the scene. Most of the time the camera is connected to a rolling dolly on a track or to an arm that could be moved in multiple angles. In animation, Trucking In would be used with a multiplane camera to simulate three dimensions instead of a constant flat, two dimensional world.

Trucking is also the art of raiding Ameritech, Ma Bell, Time-Warner or other phone/cable company vans and trucks for fun goodies that are otherwise unattainable. Though I have never engaged in said acts, nor would I tell you if I had, trucking is quite illegal unless you happen to be an employee of the aforementioned corporations.

Trucking probably appeals to phreakers and hackers only. What the hell are you going to do with that stuff otherwise? Trucks can yield interesting hardware such as lineman's tools, buttsets, and hard hats- perfect for next year's haloween party.

You pay your monthly bill, right? Why not get something out of it. Call Ameritech to complain about the static on your phone line. Tell jumpsuit-boy (Ameritech thug) that your main box is in the basement. Skip jollily to the van and rape and pillage. Just don't leave anything valuable laying out in your house. Of course when he says he can't find anything wrong with the phone, throw explicatives and curse violently. Demand a refund for poor telephone service.

Time-Warner is a favorite among Road Runner customers. They left a cable modem and test set laying on a friends kitchen table. TW never even came back to get it.

Happy hunting.

Trucking in simple terms is the transportation of goods in commerce via truck.

Myth and reality
There is usually a gap between public perception of an occupation and what that occupation actually entails. One example would be the career of a fighter pilot. This has always had a high romanticism quotient ala Top Gun. It is an occupation where young men (and now women) are trained to operate multi million dollar machines in life and death situations. They are trained to fly fast, destroy enemy assets and return themselves and their equipment safely to home base. That doesn't address the hundreds of hours spent in classes and flight simulators preparing for the moment everyone hopes never arrives. There's a lot of sheer work involved that is anything but romantic.

Trucking is another occupation that possesses a certain cachet in the public eye. The reality is far from romantic, being a sometimes difficult job which makes extreme demands on the body and the psyche of the driver.

Icon with feet of clay
The public perception is still that of truckers being the knights of the highway, someone who appears out of the evening dark or the morning fog to help the poor old lady change her flat tire. That used to happen frequently which is how the reputation was earned. It's much more likely now that the big rig driver will barrel right past, not so much as pausing much less stopping to help.

There are many reasons for the change in behavior. In the old days, schedules were more flexible. Drivers commonly stopped to help each other out in a breakdown situation because there was no cell phone or satellite communication networks to help summon aid. We depended on each other, expected to help others and to be helped by them when we were the one broken down.

Now, with GPS and other technologies, dispatch knows where you stopped, when you stopped, for how long, when you started to roll again, etc. There isn't as much 'wiggle room' to use for extra curricular activities, whether it be aiding others or sitting at a video poker machine. Driving has become severely supervised in many instances, and it's all about producing miles. Federal regulations give 14 hours on duty before a mandatory 10 hour break occurs. Regulations allow 11 of that 14 hour tour of duty to be used to drive. Stop on the side of the road and change a tire for Granny and you lose about an hour. If your are paid based on mileage, (and most drivers are), you just lost 60 miles at about 40 cents a mile. That's $24 out of the pocket of the good Samaritan.

Another reason is that with the rush and pressure of work we have become more dehumanized. It seems every day people who we interact with come and go in a blur. So many faces, so little time, and each face registers as less and less important on our consciousness. After all, it's easier to drive past and let someone else help.

The stress on the body comes from disruption of the natural circadian rhythms to which our bodies are tuned. Humans like to eat at regular times, sleep at regular intervals, get a certain amount of exercise. Trucking is the job from Hell for people who value the aforementioned items.

Sleep is irregular, often interrupted, and sometimes completely absent.

Food comes when there is time to eat, not when the driver wants to eat. Food is also sometimes limited to what is available, not what may be desirable or healthy. Spend 16 hours stuck in a shipping facility waiting to be loaded and you find the vending machine fare becomes much more desirable than it was in the first hour. The choice is eat the available rubbish or go hungry. I usually opt for eating. When you finally get loaded and out the gate you'll likely find your closest truckstop has a fast food franchise. Oh joy, Subway for the 4th time this week.

Exercise is also a problematic area. You may ask "Why don't you simply get out and walk, get the blood moving, do some exercise?" The driver is usually tired, hungry, and frustrated. Somewhere in that chain of emotion the desire for exercise dies like a campaign promise following an election. Couple that with the fact that you're in a strange area and don't know whether it's safe to walk. An attempt at exercise could end up with the local banditos sticking a gun barrel up your nose as they relieve you of your valuables.

Stress also comes from dealing with traffic, indifferent or downright surly warehouse personnel, and your own company, whose goal is to get the current delivery made so the next one can begin. Truck drivers become aware that in many ways they are a tool to be used, just like the truck they drive. Stop being a useful and productive tool and the company has no further need of your services.

If you ever go into a truckstop, take a moment to look at the older drivers. Their respiration is poor, their circulation is shot, and they are probably overweight. The lifestyle has wreaked havoc on their body.

Hey, this ain't rocket science we're doing here!
Everyone should be aware that truck driving isn't rocket science. It's a bit more complicated than driving your Subaru Outback but not outrageously different. If you are a skillful 4 wheeler driver you can probably become a proficient big rig driver. The difference comes from the necessity of being aware of and implementing the host of regulations which govern trucking. Dispatch may want you to be 900 miles away from your present locale by tomorrow morning. It is obviously impossible to do so legally or safely. If you get stopped by the police or DOT enforcement officers and you're non-compliant with the regulations, you are the one who will be cited, not your dispatcher. You're caught between a rock and a hard spot. On the one hand you can refuse the load and dispatch makes sure you spend the next 2 weeks running short hauls, making very little money. Or you can throw the regulation book out the window, run the 900 miles, make dispatch look good and take your chances at getting away with it. Either way, as a driver, you lose.

So, we know truckers don't get paid for their skills, as the skills are attainable by almost anyone. Why do they get paid more than Joe Schmo who works down at the local factory? In my opinion, truckers get the money they are paid for their willingness to be away from home. It's hard to find people who are willing to do that for an extended period of time. It sounds romantic and exciting to pack up and blow town for a few weeks, right? But what happens when you do the same thing for months, then years? Truckers have one of the highest divorce rates of any occupation. It takes someone with a special attitude to be on the road all the time. It also takes someone special to stay home and maintain the long distance relationship. Most people just can't cut it and either the driver quits and goes home or the marriage ends in divorce.

Things have changed a lot but most truckers are still men, and most men still want to at least maintain the illusion that they wear the pants in the family. That sounds sexist, I know, but trucking is one of the last bastions of sexism in the US. Imagine the wife of the driver who has to wear the pants for the days and weeks her man is away. She pays the bills, calls the plumber, handles the kids, and mows the lawn. He rolls up and instantly assumes the role of big boss man. Can you see where there might be just the slightest hint of resentment inherent in the dynamic? The driver wants his or her significant other to be assertive and handle things while they are on the road, but then they want the other to submit to their leadership upon their return. It doesn't seem very fair, does it? No, it's not fair, but it is reality.

The distorted view of popular culture
The romantic notion comes in large part from the popular culture. Everyone has seen Smokey and the Bandit, the late 70s frolic which involves running a hot load of beer to deliver by a certain time. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed lead poor old Jackie Gleason on a whirlwind chase trying to arrest them. It's all good clean fun, and it's all bull crap of the purest ray serene.

Movin' On was a very popular TV series in 1974. It featured a couple truckers (played by Claude Akins and Frank Converse) who always were there to help out some little lady in distress. They had a high old time, usually got kissed by the ladies, but they didn't deliver much freight. In real life, they'd have been flat busted in about 2 months.

Another popular TV show ostensibly about trucking was BJ and the Bear, a 1979 series starring Greg Evigan. He played a trucker who accompanied by his pet chimp traveled about in the company of a number of beautiful women righting wrong. I don't recall BJ delivering a single pound of freight. I know I don't have time to care for a pet chimp, much less address the wants and desires of a bevy of lovelies. That aside from the likelihood of my wife simply shooting me for a fool.

The mythos
Trucking shares a long history and mythos as being somehow romantic. In olden times, the traveling troubadour was viewed as a romantic figure. The ladies of the village found him exciting because he was different, a face they weren't confronted with every day of their drab lives. He represented an opportunity for adventure, a chance to rise above the banality of their everyday existence.

The seafarer also shared the mythos of the adventurer, the one who had been places and seen things unknown to most people snug in their little village or town. The tales they told of strange people and places were a magnet for ears that hungered for different fare.

The cowboy of the American West was also a figure cut from broad cloth. He spent his time on the range battling rustlers, rattlesnakes, and the elements. He possessed an iron will thrust against all manner of opposition, a hero. No one remembers the busted bones or the arthritic joints earned by the life on the range. Hobbling about with arthritis and a ruined body isn't very romantic.

Truckers have been called The Last of the American Cowboys. That is supposed to be a homage to them as a dwindling brotherhood of free spirits, doing things their own way in a hard world. The only part true in that statement is 'it's a hard world'. Most trucking companies want robots who will do as instructed, ask no questions, make no waves. The company has a computer program that tells them how to route the trip, when to stop for fuel, how many hours it will take to complete the run. They neither want nor desire your input. Leave your brain at home but be sure and pack enough clothes for 3 weeks on the road.

One of my favorite forms of entertainment is watching westerns, both old and new. One of my all time favorites is Tombstone, the version with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. In that film there is a scene where Val Kilmer (playing Doc Holliday) asks Kurt Russell (playing Wyatt Earp) what he wants out of life. Wyatt replies that he just wants a normal life. Doc responds with the gem of wisdom "There ain't no normal life. There's just life, now get busy livin' it." Ain't that just the freakin' truth.....

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold
And they'd rather give you a song then diamonds or gold
Lonestar belt buckles and old faded Levi's each night begins a new day
And if you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probly just ride away

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
And them that don't know him won't like him
And them that do sometimes won't know how to take him
He ain't wrong he's just different
but his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks
Make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such

lyric, Moma, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, by Willie Nelson

Truck"ing, n.

The business of conveying goods on trucks.


© Webster 1913.

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