Another Write-wing Conspirator

Commentary, observations, musing, and ranting from the middle of the road (or just to the right of center. Usually.) featuring The Curmudgeon

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  • Welcome to The Curmudgeon’s lair

    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

    If you see a posting you like and wish to share it with others, by all means feel free to do so. I'd prefer that you send the link to your friends, but you're also welcome to reproduce anything here—as long as you retain my identity on the document. If you have a web site of your own and wish to post a link to this blog (or to a specific post), again, feel free to do so.

    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

    Some of the postings you'll encounter may seem familiar—especially to those who know me personally. By way of explanation… I once had an ongoing relationship with a local newspaper, and had a number of published opinion pieces—some of which may be posted here. My arrangement was for a feature entitled An Opposing View; given that the editorial staff had a generally liberal, left-of-center view, it stands to reason that my "opposing" view would generally be perceived as coming from the right (in more ways than one, in my own humble opinion). These posts will be annotated as having been previously published.

    Comments, of course, are always welcome. You may agree or disagree with me. Doesn’t matter. Of course, I reserve the right to completely ignore you — but, feel free to let your feelings be known, anyway. And if you don't want to comment directly here, my e-mail address is: jimseeber@gmail.com .

    Oh, and…yes, I can spell. That "Write-wing" is only a play on words. So, there. Again.

    Welcome, once again. Strap in and hang on.

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  • About this “curmudgeon” guy…

    Armchair philosopher, politically-incorrect political commentator, raconteur, retired air traffic controller, dilettante truck driver, US Army veteran, recluse, sometime-writer, redneck convert neè Buckeye, ne'er-do-well, bon vivant, unrepentant libertine, unapologetic libertarian, and (of course) curmudgeon…

    Anything else you wanna know—just ask.

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Roadapplettes and Other Gems from the Highway

Posted by The Curmudgeon on November 28, 2010

Relax; common courtesy still does exist—just where you’d least expect to find it.

As some may already be aware, I (the “dilettante truck driver” referred to on this web page) am once again dilettante-ing. Yes, I am — much to the horror of the motoring public — back on the road…and over-the-road, as they say. Departed Dixie and delivered a load in Denver—my first such operation in nearly two years (yes; it did show—at the start of the trip, at least). Just arrived in Denver again on another delivery.

For those who’ve never experienced operating one of these 80,000-pound behemoths…think about some of those movies you’ve seen where a guy is trying to steer an ill-tempered and severely constipated elephant as one would a horse; now you understand why the dude’s all excited and hollering at the elephant: “Turn, Simba! Turn, you beast!”

I felt like that at times during the first week—especially given my somewhat rusty skills. Fortunately, it all came back. Mostly, anyway. Even some of that uniquely frustrating art of backing that fifty-three feet-long hemorrhoid (others call it a trailer) into a loading dock. (I still view backing-up a trailer as a fundamentally unnatural act; had Nature intended for us to run around backward, our toes and eyes would be pointed the other way.)

To be sure, there were some things I’d forgotten about life on the road. There were a few white-knuckle moments (such as controlling something that big and that heavy while descending a 6% grade—without setting the brakes ablaze), and several “Oh, yeah…fergot all about that” re-adjustments to be made, but it’s gone okay. After some initial awkwardness, I settled into it.

One of the more pleasant re-revelations would surprise most folks. In a world where common courtesy has become decidedly un-common, it’s my genuine pleasure to report that it still does indeed exist; one simply need look in what most would consider an unlikely place.

And what might this last bastion of civility be?

A truck stop.

Yes. Really. In fact, every truck stop (and there have been hundreds) I’ve ever been in.

When’s the last time you were about to enter a store, for example, and the uncaring oaf ahead of you let the door slam in your face?

I’ve never — never — not even one time had that happen in a truck stop.

I’ve seen drivers twist themselves into pretzels and nearly fall flat on their faces trying to hold the door open for someone when they realized a little late that there was someone behind them. They’ve patiently waited for me when my hands were full, holding open the door and saying something like “Take yer time, driver; it’ll still be here” when I’ve rushed to take advantage of the seemingly small mercy of making things just a little easier for one’s fellow man. I’ve seen guys open the door for another driver and tell them to enter first. “I’m done for the day; why don’t you go ahead of me? You still got a ways to go.”

How this phenomenon developed is a mystery. I’m reminded of a scene from the story Monte Walsh wherein a rancher tries to explain to an accountant “the way things work” among cowboys. When the accountant protests that he hasn’t seen these rules written down anywhere, he’s bluntly told: “They’re not written down in some rule-book, you ass. They’re lived.”

So it is with much of what transpires in the trucking world.

These men (and an increasing number of women) spend long, grueling hours in the worst traffic, fighting weather, deadlines, Darwin Award candidates (those would be the idiots with whom they must share the road—but who shouldn’t be driving at all), road construction, dispatchers, load coordinators, shipping agents, and the ever-present eye of law enforcement (including the dreaded Motor Carrier Enforcement legions), grinding-out mile after mile after mile, in an occupation perennially listed as one of the ten most dangerous. They endure gridlock, mechanical failures, late-arriving loads, and a whole host of woes that the consuming public doesn’t even realize are there. They’re generally not well-liked by the public at large; big, noisy, scary trucks aren’t welcome in most places—and neither are their drivers. They get cut-off in traffic and have their lives placed at risk innumerable times throughout their typical workday by people too intent on their own agenda to do things correctly.

But they still manage to keep things remarkably civil—in their own way.

Fellow drivers are addressed simply as “Driver”—be it face-to-face or via a two-way radio. Do something special, and that becomes “Truck Driver.” Do something really extraordinary, and you might find yourself addressed as “Mister Truck Driver.”  Routine chance conversations are almost invariably punctuated by an air of civility that seems from a bygone age.

No, they’re not all angels and choirboys. Far from it, for the most part. We can be mercilessly cutthroat amongst ourselves—but only toward those who deserve it. At the end of the day, if there’s one parking spot left in a truck stop and three trucks are roaming around looking for a place to roost, it’s every man for himself. When a trucker makes a mistake on the road or commits what truckers generally consider an egregious offense, the peer review is immediate and brutal (listen in on Channel 21 of a CB radio sometime—but you might want to shield the kids’ ears). Inept drivers who delay everyone else’s comings and goings in a truck stop are bombarded with abuse (rightly so; they’re interfering with people trying to make a living—a cardinal sin). The five words you don’t want to be launched over the two-way radio at you are: “Driver, what are you doing?” The seven words you really don’t want to hear are: “Driver, what the Hell are you doin’ ?”

Find yourself in trouble, though, and you’ll almost immediately receive help. Want to start-up a conversation in a truck stop? Raise the hood of your truck, scratch your head a few times, give the impression that you’re fiddling with something, and put on your best look of total bewilderment; you’ll have company in a matter of minutes as drivers passing by stop to offer assistance and advice.

It’s an odd community, one where talk of genteel topics such as cotillions is unknown; for overall courtesy, however, it’s one of the more civilized environments remaining.

When I first started driving professionally, other drivers asked why I abandoned the white-collar world to drive a truck. I’d jokingly reply: “Better class of people.”

I still give that response.

It’s no longer a joke.

__________

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