By Donna Carver
For that truck drivin’ man of mine.
Chapter Page 1. Alligator on the Zipper 3
2. The Road 12 3. Big Boys with Big Toys 24
4. Bears 31
5. Truck Stops and Pickle Parks 41 6. Jokes 49
7. Truckers Slang 66
8. Trucker Cities and National 10 Codes 81 Chapter one
Alligator on the Zipper We were riding north on Interstate 95 in North Carolina.
The sound of the big diesel engine vibrated through my head as I
watched the white dashed lines slip by on the dark road ahead. I had been riding as a passenger in this semi truck for only a few
days at that time and it was an exciting new adventure for me.
It was so different from what I had imagined. Riding high above the road, I looked down into the cars that we passed. It gave me
a whole new perspective on everything. I saw people doing all
kinds of crazy things while they were driving. People reading newspapers or writing notes, and talking on cell phones, women
putting on makeup, businessmen juggling coffee and biscuits.
There were people changing clothes or flossing their teeth (steering with their knees) and even having sex while driving in
“Break one nine!” The voice on the CB radio broke into the cab of the truck. Don grabbed the microphone that dangled from a
bungy cord attached overhead. ”Come on break!” he said.
“Northbound,” the driver came back, “You got an alligator on the
zipper at the 129 yard stick.” Don grabbed the mike again and said: “Preeshaydit southbound. You’re looking good back to the
line.” Now, I was raised in Florida and it wasn’t too uncommon
to hear about alligators roaming around in neighborhoods or on highways but this was North Carolina in the middle of winter!
“Did he say there was an alligator on a zipper up here?” I asked, some what confused. Don looked over at me and grinned. “It’s
not a real alligator, it’s the rubber off of a recapped tire laying on the zipper, which is the white striped line in the
middle of the road.” “Why do they call it an alligator?” I
asked. “Well, if that thing gets caught up under your car or truck, it will chew up everything it hits.” He said. “Well,
where is this alligator?” I asked. “It’s at the 129 mile
marker.” He said as he pointed to a small road sign on the side of the road. This one read 120. “You see,” he started, “most
highways have mile markers or “yard sticks” that measure the
distance from beginning to end of the road in each state. They start at 1 at the south and east ends and run higher as you drive
north or west.” We were headed north which meant that the
“alligator” was nine miles north of us. I watched the mile markers as we pass until I saw 129. Just
ahead, straddling the striped line in the middle of the road lay
a large jagged piece of rubber. One end of it curled up in the air, looking very much like an alligator poised to strike. A
few minutes later, we saw a big truck pulled over to the shoulder
with his emergency flashers on. Don took the mike and asked: “You OK over on the side driver?” A voice came back: ” Yes sir,
I just hit that gator back there and it took out my break line.
I got help on the way.” “10-4” Don said as he let the mike go. “Those alligators are dangerous!” I said. “They cause hundreds
of accidents and hundreds of thousands of dollars in vehicle damage every year.” Don said as he shifted to another gear. “Why
don’t they outlaw them?” I asked. “Lots of large companies use recapped tires to save money. They have lobbyists in Washington
who make sure that recaps aren’t banned.” Then he added: “It’s a
money thing.” As I listened in to the conversations on the CB radio, I
soon realized that I didn’t understand half of what was being
said. I learned that since the 60’s, truckers have used Citizens Band or CB radios for communications and over the years, they
have developed a colorful language all their own. Truck drivers
generally monitor channel 19 on the CB or “Sesame Street” as it is sometimes called because of the childlike behavior that is
sometimes heard on that channel.
I was glad to have Don as an interpreter. He literally grew up in the trucking business starting behind the wheel on his
daddy’s knee and driving by the time he was thirteen. Yes, he is
a driving machine. The man even drives in his sleep. Every now and then in the middle of the night while we are sleeping, he
will reach around and grab one of my breasts and start shifting
gears. Those first three or four gears are bad enough but when he shifts into high gear I have to put on the breaks.
Don had been driving trucks for more than twenty years when
I met him and was well versed in “Truckers Slang”. There is trucking slang to describe almost everything and I have listed a
collection of over 400 truckers slang words and phrases in the chapter titled: “Truckers Slang”. I have also listed “Trucker
Cities” and the National 10 codes. The list of trucker’s slang is by no means complete because new words and phrases are being
born everyday but I hope you will refer to it and enjoy it as you
read this book. Most drivers have a “handle” or CB name. Generally, a
driver will use a handle rather than his real name in order to
protect his privacy and anonymity. Most handles are cute names that distinguish each driver’s radio personality. Handles like
“Leadfoot”, “Fast Lane”, or “Speed Buggy” might describe a fast
driver or maybe a driver that just wants to sound like he’s fast. I’ve heard many handles such as “Spanky”, “Corn Cob”, “Skid
Mark”, “Side Pocket”, “Wild Man”, “Corn Flake” and “Mattress
Monkey”. Female drivers also have some cute handles like “Big Momma’”, “Wild Flower”, “Little Momma”, “Queen Bee”,
“Soggybottom Sal”, “Precious” and “Shake-n-Bake”. My handle is
“Sweet Pee” and Dons’ handle is “Bloomer Snatcher”, which might tell you a little bit about him.
A typical CB conversation might sound like this: Driver 1:
“How bout ya’ Rain Man? This is Desperado. You got your ears on?” Driver 2: “This is Rain Man. What’s your 20? Come back.”
Driver 1: “I’m headin’ northbound at the 35. Where you at
Desperado?” Divers 2: “I’m on your front door about two miles. Where’re you headin?” Driver 1: “I got two drops in the Motor
City. Then I’ll have to call my travel agent to see where I’m goin’ after that.” Driver 2: “10-4, I’m headin’ for the home 20
for a few days and spend some time with the other half, roger?” Driver 1: “I hear that. I haven’t been home for about three
weeks now and the warden is getting pissed. Roger?” Driver 2:
“I copy that.” Driver 3: “Brake one nine.” Driver 1: “Come on brake”. Driver 3: “You got a major cluster fuck on your side at
the 73 yard stick. Both lanes are blocked up for about five
miles.” Driver 2: “What happened up there driver?” Driver 3: “A roger ramjet hit a pregnant roller skate and caused a thermos
bottle full of go juice to go greasy side up and spilled motion
lotion on the blacktop. They got a meat wagon up there making a pick up and a dragon wagon pulling off the wreckage. The haz-mat
crew is mopping up the mess but it’s going to be a long while
crew is mopping up the mess but it’s going to be a long while
4?” Driver 1: “I hear that driver. Well, thanks for the heads
up. You’re lookin’ good back that way. The chicken coops are
open and checkin’ the tension on your suspension. 10-4?” Driver3:“I copy that, driver. Don’t tense around that break
Now, just in case you didn’t follow all of that, I’ll explain. The first driver, Desperado, asks Rain Man if he has
his radio on. Then the second driver, Rain Man, asks Desperado
where he is located. Desperado tells him that he is front of him about two miles and asks Rain Man where he’s going. Rain Man
tells Desperado that he has two deliveries in Detroit and that he will have to call his dispatcher for his next destination.
Desperado is on his way home for a few days to spend some time with his wife. While Rain Man is talking about his wife being
angry about his long absence from home, a third driver brakes in
to give them a warning about a bad traffic accident involving multiple vehicles ahead of them. The accident was caused by a
speeding car, which hit a Volks Wagon and caused a tanker full of
fuel to turn over and spill diesel fuel on the highway. The ambulance is on the scene and a tow truck is picking up the
wrecked cars. Firefighters are cleaning up the fuel spill but it
will take some time to clear the road and the driver suggests that they might want to find a way around the accident.
Desperado thanks the driver for the warning and tells him that
there are no police ahead of him and that the scale house is open and weighing trucks. The driver acknowledges the road report and
tells him to take it easy around the accident ahead.
“Break one nine for a radio check!” This is probably the single most used phrase on the CB radio. There are literally
thousands of CB radios in use by truck drivers alone and they
check on their equipment regularly. “Break one nine for a radio check!” … “Yeah, come on” … “ I just got this radio and had it
tweeked out. How’s it sound?” … “You’re treetop tall and wall to
wall, driver. Just like my girl friend, she’s puttin’ out all over town!” A “Mud Duck” is a radio that sounds weak or garbled.
CB radios come quipped with FFC regulated frequencies and basic microphones. But, drivers often have technicians’ work on
their radios to enhance sending and receiving capabilities. There are plenty of radio accessories available to dress out
radios such as: high power microphones and antennas, audio
features like echo, reverb, prerecorded responses and much more. Generally, an average radio signal can be heard for three to five
miles in either direction. If the traffic is heavy and several
drivers are talking in the area, they can “Walk on” each other causing distortion of signals between trucks. If a driver has
his radio “Tweeked out” with power boosters and high-powered
antennas, the driver can “Walk on” or interrupt transmission for other radios for miles around.
Some things you hear on the radio aren’t very nice. For
instance, when occasional fights break out over the radio. One driver may have pissed off another by driving too fast or too
slow. He may have cut the other driver off in traffic or it
might just be that a driver has had a bad day and just likes to start trouble on the radio. Bantering back and forth, they call
each other all sorts of derogatory names like: “Harvey
Wallbanger” (reckless driver), “Juvenile Delinquent” (someone pretending to be a truck driver), or a “Good Buddy” (a
homosexual), as well as the usual four letter words one might
hear in a heated argument.
“How bout ya’, covered wagon. Why don’t you get that dragon
fly (drags uphill and flies downhill) out of the hammer lane and quit blockin’ traffic?” “Back down, windjammer (fast moving
truck), I got a fat load (heavy load).” “Well, quit knuckle draggin’ (going slow) and put your foot in the gas hole and do it
to it, good buddy.” “OK, bumper sticker (driver following too
close), how about you eyeball me (meet) at this pickle park (rest area) up here?” In this instance, the language isn’t too bad but
in some cases, it gets pretty nasty and is hard to listen to.
Personally, I prefer to use “cussin’ cusins’” or words that sound like swear words. When the language get real bad on the radio,
you just have to tune them out or turn the radio off until you
get out of range.
Most drivers use clean language on the CB. Only small
minority of drivers use fowl language and they may give the
impression that all truck drivers are rough ridin’ tough cowboy types. But for the most part, these men and women are average
hard working people doing a hard job and often under difficult
conditions. Often, drivers will listen to the CB to help them stay
awake. If you’ve ever been on a long road trip, you know how
tiring it can be. So, imagine driving for eight to ten hours with few breaks before climbing into the bunk for a few hours of
sleep. Then, after you jump right back into the drivers’ seat
and run straight into a traffic jam. If by some miracle, you arrive at your destination at the appointed time, you find out
that you must still wait in line to be unloaded even though you have an appointment. Then you must unload forty or fifty
thousand pounds of freight or pay a “lumper” or dock-worker to unload the freight for you. After it has taken the lumpers
three hours to do twenty minutes worth of work you can collect
your paperwork and jump back into the drivers’ seat. Now it’s time to call your dispatcher sends you two or three hundred miles
to pick up another load that has to be a thousand miles away by
the next morning. Try repeating that sort of routine day after day and tell me truck drivers got it easy. It’s no wonder that
they get a little “testy” sometimes.
After long hours on the highway, drivers can get a little board and some will pick up the microphone to try and engage
another driver in a conversation. Generally, the conversations
are fairly dry but some drivers will take the opportunity to vent their frustrations about their jobs, the road, wives or girl
friends and just about anything else. Some drivers will even try
to pick a fight with another drivers just to pass the time.
There is still another breed of CB’er who doesn’t have
anything to say on the radio but feels the need to broadcast “something” for his fellow drivers on the road. I call them
“Truckin’ DJ’s” because they key their mikes up in front of their
stereo speakers. It makes most drivers mad because the DJ’s usually plays music the other drivers don’t like and as long as
the DJ keeps playing his tune, no one else in the area can use their radios because of the interference.
“Southbound, you got a female pedestrian on the shoulder up hear and I think she’s lookin’ for a ride.” Hitch-hikers can a
problem at times because you can never be sure what kind of
person might be climbing into your truck. Allot of drivers make it a policy to never pick them up but occasionally they do. One
day, Don picked up a young couple who seemed to be down on their
luck. He said that when they got into the truck he noticed a bad smell and that within minutes he had to pull the truck over and
make them get out. There was a woman down in Florida a few years
back who would try to get rides with truck drivers, eventually killing and robing them. She was eventually caught but, there
could be others like her. Chapter Two
The Road I have seen and heard many crazy, horrible, and wonderful
things on the road. Each day brings something new as you watch
the sun rise and set in a different place everyday. My since of time and place became distorted as we rolled past the rugged
mountains and through the valleys then onto the plains of this
country. I couldn’t help but be in awl of its’ great beauty. The only thing that seems to spoil it all is what man has put
here. It broke my heart to see all the trash along side of the
highway. Most truck drivers are pretty good about not littering and some states are better than others about keeping things
picked up but everyone should do their part.
Most of the time, drivers spend seemingly endless hours driving down the road with little more than the drone of the
engine ringing in their ears while the world passes in front of
the windshield. But, they never know when they might see or hear something that will make them laugh, cry, or just plain mad. The
beautiful scenery that gently drifts past the window can quickly
change into concrete and steel with the rush and hurry of the people who live there. A seemingly easy ride around a bypass or
a beltway can turn into a multiple car pileup where people are
hurt or even killed. A ride that should have taken thirty
minutes may delay the driver for hours costing precious time and money.
One of the first and worst accidents I have seen on the road was down in Florida. It started raining suddenly and we watched
as a small four-wheeler a few cars in front of us slammed on breaks. The car went out of control and slid across the median
“comedian strip” and into oncoming traffic. A man in a green
Caravan hit the little car and the man was ejected from his vehicle and onto the road. The Caravan came down on top of the
man, cutting him in half. Mean while the car that had crossed
the comedian strip hit yet another passenger car. We heard later on the CB that a young woman and her three children were killed.
One spring day as we road south through the mountains of
Tennessee, we heard a warning on the CB that there had been a terrible accident on the road ahead and that the southbound lanes
were blocked for ten miles. We looked at the road atlas, a must
for any driver, and found an alternate route on an old highway that paralleled the interstate and would bring us out past the
accident. We exited the interstate and began driving on a narrow
winding road full of hairpin turns that wound around the side of the mountain. On the drivers’ side of the truck, the side of the
road dropped off sharply. We looked down and saw a beautiful
white-water river winding along the side of the road. The water swirled and foamed as it washed over the rocks and boulders. A
man in high waders stood on one of the larger rocks holding a fly
fishing rod. He gracefully sent his fly back and forth over the water. It was like seeing a Norman Rockwell painting in motion.
Driving conditions can add still another factor to the driving experience. I had seen Don drive through all kinds of
weather. A clear calm day is ideal but that doesn’t happen everyday. As we drove through a violent storm with blowing
winds, I realized that the trailer we were pulling was acting
like a large sail and we were being blown hard. Don struggled with the steering wheel at times trying to keep the truck on the
road. While many four wheelers were pulling off to the side of
the road to wait out the storm, we had to go on to make our appointment.
White and glistening thick on the ground, the snow was like
a creamy white icing on everything. It was wonderful to see, especially for a Florida girl who hadn’t seen much of it. But as
we continued north the skies grew gray and it began to snow
heavily, almost completely obscuring our view of the road. Don said he hoped that we didn’t have a “whiteout” when it gets so
bad that the road completely disappears. We saw where many cars
and trucks had slid off of the road and into guardrails and ditches.
When we got off of the interstate, the roads hadn’t been
salted and plowed as much as the main highways and it became more and more difficult to drive. Even driving at very low speeds we
were very nervous. As we approached an intersection, we saw the
light was changing and Don prepared to stop the truck. He slowed the truck and as he checked his rear view mirror he said, “My
trailer is sliding around.” I looked and could see the back of the trailer sliding forward on the icy road. It looked like it
might come around to meet the front of the truck. I could feel the cheeks of my backside grabbing the seat a little harder as
Don pulled the trailer back into to place and brought the truck
to a safe stop. I was thankful that there was so little traffic in the area but then again maybe only crazy truck drivers try to
drive around in conditions like that.
We were in Texas last spring, sitting in a truck stop café. I could overhear the driver in the booth behind me talking to his
wife on the phone. “Yeah baby, I know it’s been six weeks but I
gotta’ go where they send me. I’ll try to get my travel agent to send me your way but you know I can’t make any promises.” I
could hear the frustration in his voice as he talked. “OK, put
Jimmy on the phone. Son, You’re the man of the house till I get back so, you help your mother take care of things OK? Yes, I
know your mother says that she’s in charge but she still needs
your help. No, son, I’m sorry. I won’t be there for your birthday next week but maybe I can be home for the Forth of
July.” It was the middle of May!
I felt bad for that driver and his family and as I looked around at the other drivers in the truck stop, I wondered how
many drivers, both men and women, had to be away from their homes
and families, missing all those important birthdays and holidays. They literally watch their children grow up in photographs. “The
infidelity and divorce rates must be pretty high for truck drivers.” I said after the man left. Don looked at me and
nodded. He had already been through it with a previous marriage and children. He knew exactly what I was talking about. He told
me that there is a wide variety of trucking jobs out there. In
some of them, the driver will get to go home every night and in others he may be away from home anywhere from two or three days
to two or three months and for some much longer. There are even
drivers who live in their trucks driving year round. Now that I’ve been married to a truck driver for a while,
I’ve experienced what most truckers’ wives go through. We hadn’t
been married long when Don had to go out and leave me with the house and kids. Watching him drive out of the driveway, I
realized that there was a chance he might not come back. My
heart sank like a lead weight. Truckers die on the road everyday and I waited each night for his phone call telling me everything
was all right. Meanwhile, I had to take care of the household
and deal with the kids’ problems alone. I spent many long anxious nights wondering how I was going to deal with his
absence. Once the kids were grown and moved out, I decided to go
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into as I
climbed up into that truck. I am an average woman, well educated with a fairly normal upbringing. I had raised children, worked
and taken care of the house for more than twenty years. None of
that prepared me for the adventure I was facing. I hadn’t traveled much so and I was excited that I was going to get to see
some of the country. Although it’s not the typical first class tour, I can honestly say that I have seen a side of this country
I never knew existed and challenges that I never expected.
There were several construction “destruction” zones along
the entire stretch of highway on I40 in Arkansas and it made for a very rough ride. As soon as we hit that road, the truck
started bouncing up and down. I was already suffering from PMS
and my breasts were sore. With very bounce, the pain shot through my breasts and I held my arms across my chest to keep my
breasts from flopping around.
At the time, I was wearing an under wire bra. After driving 280 miles across Arkansas on that washboard “boardwalk”, I was
tired, my breasts were very sore and the wire in my bra had
worked it’s way out of the bra on each side poking me in my ribs. So much for that new under wire bra! I cringed a few days later
when I found out that we would have to drive right back across
Arkansas. I decided that I should have a good supporting bra. I ended up getting a sturdy sports bra. It holds my breasts in
tight. The next trip across Arkansas was a lot better. No more
flopping around for my girls! Another problem I had in the truck was the lack of a
bathroom in the truck. Bathroom breaks are few and far between,
especially when you’re fighting a deadline, “on a mission”. I
solved part of the problem by putting a large plastic jug in the truck to pee in. One with a handle and wide-mouth opening is
easiest to use. Although it’s difficult to use on a rough road and it has to be emptied and cleaned from time to time, it sure
beats trying to hold it till we get to a bathroom.
We were driving in bumper to bumper traffic around the Washington beltway during rush hour traffic on a Friday
afternoon. We were doing about ten miles an hour and at times we
came to a complete stop. We were fighting a deadline and like most of the drivers in that break check, we were getting pretty
frustrated. “Break one nine!” A voice came in on the CB. “Come
on break.” Don answered. “What’s the #@&*# is the problem up there northbound?” the driver asked. Another driver answered,
“Well, there’s a guy in the middle of the road up here trying to
shove butter up a bobcats ass with a knitting needle and he’s having a hell of a time.” The vision in my head was too much. I
had to laugh.
Along almost every major highway are small white signs that read: Slower Traffic Keep Right. It seems that a large
percentage of car and truck drivers completely ignore this sign.
At times this can present a real problem not only for truck drivers but for car drivers as well. A car or truck in the
second lane traveling slower than the traffic around it forces
drivers behind him to pass on the right. If there are vehicles in the right lane who are also traveling at a slower rate of
speed it can cause a backup in the flow of traffic. This creates a “rolling road block”. An opportunity for accidents is created
as cars and trucks begin weaving between the lanes trying to get around the slower vehicles. A good way to know if you are
traveling in the right lane of traffic is to see if drivers are
passing you on your right side. If this happens, you should move into the left lane of traffic and drive the speed limit. Let the
other guy get the ticket.
Don has had his share of breakdowns on the road and has encountere