It’s Not the Size

Yesterday, I had the rare privilege of experiencing a COVDI-19 test. It reminds me of the last time I got a flu test, only a little more intrusive. A very brusque but nice nurse told me she’d be with me in a minute after she “suited up”. A few minutes later, she opened the door to invite me in.

Her armor consisted of what appeared to be a blue disposable gown, blue gloves, a mask, a head shield, sunglasses, and safety glasses, and I believe I remember seeing blue shoe covers as well. She told me to have a seat. I looked around the room and found that the only chair facing the far corner of the room. It looked like an adult timeout chair. I think I said, “Seriously?”, but I may have only thought it. I know I did ask why it was facing the corner. She explained that since I’d have to take off my mask for her to collect this particular sample, if I sneezed or coughed, it would be toward the wall corner. I guess that’s like a larger version of coughing into the corner of your elbow.

I sat down in the chair pointed away from her as she explained what she was going to do. Asking for a few more details, she showed me a needle thin cotton swab stick and demonstrated how the first six inches would be shoved, excuse me, placed up each nostril. Yep, you heard that right, six inches – the swab stick has a little marker on it. Each nostril gets its own test swab. My eyes widened in shock and semi-panic. I was then given tissues to clear my nose in preparation. Then, I was directed to lean my head way back and told not to scrunch. I said, “What do you mean by ‘scrunch’?” They don’t want you scrunching up your nose as that impedes the trajectory of the swab stick.

As I reluctantly leaned back and the stick went up, she stopped and said, “Stop scrunching, and try to relax your face” I said, “I’m scrunching?” She said, ”Yes, you’re scrunching between your eyes”. “Oh”, I replied and tried my best to relax. As if! I have a deviated septum on that side so this already wasn’t fun for either of us. She told me when she was done with that side (I had my eyes closed) and was ready to start on the other nostril. I asked her to wait a moment, as I gathered my fresh tissue to blot my teared-up eyes. She gave a brief snort, and said, “Oh, I thought you were kidding.” “Not hardly,” I replied. For the other side, I was a little better prepared until she was able to get the whole six inches up, then I was worried about exactly where that swab was. In a brief flash afterwards, I thought she may have reached my brain, reminding me of how I’d heard mummification works and how the brains are scrambled and pulled out through the nose. But at the actual time the swab was pushed through, I’m afraid all I could think or say was a panicked prayer of Oh God, oh God, oh God…

Afterward, I could relax and ask a few questions about my test results. Apparently, the results may look like two or three results under the listing of SAR. Basically, from a layman’s perspective, I’d see whether the test was negative or positive. But as an interesting bonus, if I had contracted this disease any time in the past and built up a few antibodies, this would show in the results as well.

In the meantime, I am to quarantine until my SVT ablation procedure. I admit to being nervous, although hearing from some of my friends about all the other tough things they’ve gone through lately is humbling. I am blessed to have such strong and supportive family and friends and appreciate them so much. So, for now I will pray for peaceful thoughts, strength and courage.

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chocolate Pie 101

I Want Pie
When my son was helping to teach an adult evening class of English as a Second Language (ESL), he found the group largely consisted of women. Mostly moms whose children already spoke English, they now eagerly wanted their turn to learn as well. At the end of each semester a pot luck dinner was always held to celebrate, and Grant wanted to impress the ladies with our family’s favorite recipe of Chocolate Pie.

Teach Me
Once he sets his mind to something, it cannot be changed. Got anyone you know in your family like this? So, he approached dear old Mom and simply said, “I want you to show me how to make our chocolate pie.” I told him great, sure, anytime. But he meant now, for the dinner the following evening. Well, okie dokie then. And so we began…

Is that in the Recipe?
First, we went over the recipe because you always read the instructions before beginning any project, right?  The how-to part of the recipe was particularly skimpy because I’d received my grandmother’s recipe from my mother who basically assumed I’d need little actual instruction. Over the years, and due to my own mishaps, I mean experience, I’d added a couple of notes for myself for clarity. My son had question after question about the instructions and every time I explained something, he made me write it down on the card. He wasn’t taking any chances.

Lessons in Cooking
Everything you take for granted when handling food, ingredients, cooking utensils, and yes even bowls, should be thrown out the window when teaching someone from scratch, because they usually don’t know ANYTHING. Once you get past that realization, it’s all gravy from there. Unfortunately, I came to this insight late in the game.

First I asked him to assemble the ingredients and get out a large pan for the stove. Grant asked me what bowls we needed and I told him none, we assemble everything in the pan and then cook it. He looked at me aghast and said he wasn’t sure he was that sure of his skills yet. I gave him a long look, agreed, and had him retrieve a large bowl. It turns out he didn’t know where any of the ingredients were so Mom pulled these together while the son measured out what was needed.

Unfortunately, while he was measuring the dry ingredients into the bowl, he accidentally mixed up the cards between the pie recipe and the pie crust recipe and added a full cup of flour into the bowl.

The Big Idea
Anyone who’s made a pie knows how this will turn out, so I got this bright idea for him to learn a new lesson in how to fix the problem. Since the cup of flour was somewhat mixed with the other ingredients in the bowl but with a large portion still on top, he decided to look up how many tablespoons are in a cup. This way he could sort of back out his generous flour donation, leaving behind the approximate amount he should have originally added. The answer is 16 by the way.

The rest of the lesson went pretty well, with a bit of side fun when learning to break the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. His crust came out perfectly and the pie looked good except for one thing. After he poured it into the crust and started to spread it out a bit, the pudding actually separated from the crust like some big chocolate ball of silly putty. Our eyes grew large at that astounding trick but in scraping the pan, we knew it was tasty so we shrugged and went on.

I Meant to Do That
All you can really do is hope for the best and if it turns out all right, act like you knew what you were doing and accept the praise. If it turns out all wrong, you have an amusing story to relate to women who’ve been cooking all their lives and will find you adorable anyway. But as it turns out, Grant’s pie was a big hit and everyone loved it.

He learned many things about cooking that he still talks about today when we cook together, and I learned many things about my son. His persistence, resilience, and the way he handles adversity, just inspire me.

Lesson learned.

Posted in Cooking, Family, Journal Post | Leave a comment

Being Thankful

Do you have any idea how hard it is to be quiet, not talking, not whispering, when you’re a person who really likes to talk?

On Wednesday evening, we went to choir practice to rehearse the pieces we are going to sing in New York next week as we join other talented choirs at Carnegie Hall to sing Handel’s Messiah. We’ve been preparing and dreaming about this for most of this year and being invited was such an honor. It’s been especially challenging as we were unfamiliar with some of the songs we’ve been tasked to learn.

It was a good practice with everyone in good voice and I was pleased I hit all the high notes with ease. Then Thursday morning came and I stopped in shock as I croaked goodbye to my hubby on the way out the door. Just a little sinus trouble, I thought, that’ll be gone by this afternoon. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Although I continued to force my voice and talked throughout the day, to my dismay, it only got worse. Added to this, my constant coughing and sniffling had my coworkers worried I’d share, resulting in my being asked to keep it at home the next day. Friday came and went with no change. However, my wonderful friends and relatives were ready to share their best helpful remedies with me – yes, social media is sometimes pretty great.

Backtracking a bit, a week ago or so, a church friend passed. I am sad to say I didn’t know him well, but I have come to know, love and respect his sweet wife, and we’d made plans to attend his service today. I’m so glad we did. You see, Roy couldn’t speak. After only a few years of marriage, Roy was diagnosed with throat cancer and he wasn’t able to speak for the last 35 years. He also had what the family called “bad feet”, which is putting it mildly, that prevented him from entering the service, but didn’t hold him back from doing whatever he chose to do. For instance, as a young man, he once hitchhiked from Michigan to California so that he could go to school to become an architect, an occupation that led him to meet his fabulous wife. At his service we also discovered he enjoyed playing tennis and golfed frequently. His wife says he also enjoyed dancing with her, although not very good at it, she confided with a smile.  All this, with no voice, at least not the kind you can hear.

We never knew all this about Roy’s life until today. Listening to his story put me in a contemplative and grateful frame of mind. As our choir continues to prepare for our performance, I’ve been worried I won’t get my voice back in time to sing with my friends. Feeling particularly disheartened lately, I can’t help feeling I was meant to hear his story today. Roy didn’t let anything hold him back from pursuing his dreams and the life he was meant to live. What a wonderful example to live by.

Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings. We have so many we are thankful for at our house, even in times of trial. Here’s hoping you recognize your blessings and wishing you a wonderful season of thankfulness.


Posted in Holidays, Journal Post | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matters of the Heart

Hillsong’s “Each Beat of My Heart”, Bon Jovi’s “Every Beat of My Heart” or from the movie Coco “El Latido de mi Corazón” – each paints a picture of the human heartbeat. When we fall in love, we feel our hearts race. When we see a baby born, our hearts swell. When we see a child fall, our heart skips a beat. When we lose a love, our hearts are broken. We sing the songs, write the sonnets and create stories about the human condition involving the heart.

The normal range of heart rate for an adult is anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). This number varies depending on age, size, health and the activities you are engaged in at the time. If you are athletic, your pulse could run from 40 bpm to 60. While I was in college, I needed oral surgery for the inevitable wisdom teeth removal event. My pulse was 47 bpm and the doc asked if I was athletic. Oh please. “Not really,” I replied. As he asked further questions, it came out that I’d just lost my father to pancreatic cancer and the stress caused the lowering of my heartbeat. Funny, you never know what will impact your health.

For the next few weeks, I get to wear a monitor to record my heart rate. A stinky ol’ monitor. Something that is supposed to go everywhere with me except the shower. Unless I rebel. Monitor schmonitor. It’s a good thing my kids are grown or I would not be a very good role model for them right now.

A friend suggested I get my doctor’s office to show me how to wear the equipment. I tend to be very left-brained about things like this, so when I looked at the instructional diagram, I noticed it showed a drawing of a male. No offense intended, but I really needed to see how a female should be placing the electrodes. We are, after all, built a bit differently. Including a bit more detail in the drawing would have helped. It was NOT anatomically correct.

After my Echo today, I asked about this at the front desk and they said, “Didn’t you read the instructions included?” “Uh huh,” I replied. (Not really, just glanced at them.) They nabbed a nurse who took me back to a room for privacy and as she began taking everything out of its box and wrapper asked me, “Didn’t you read the instructions included?” “Uh huh,” I replied. 🙂 She got me hooked up and I was on my way. Later, when I got ready to call the monitoring company, you can be sure I read each instruction sheet cover to cover before I phoned. It just wasn’t in me to give one more “Uh huh.” Luckily for me, the monitoring company rep was extremely patient with all my embarrassing questions and even shared some of the more colorful questions she’d gotten in the past.

Well, like anything else, I know this too shall pass. Adulting is hard.

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Frustrations of a Recent Empty Nester

Baby on Computer

Parents are helpless. When our children are born, we think we are in full control. We decide what they will wear and where they will wear it. We decide what to feed them and where they will sleep. We decide who gets to hold them and care for them. We must decide when they need to go to the doctor. We get to make many decisions for our babies, but then something happens. They begin to grow and start showing their little personalities. Then they’ve got us. Gradually, we are taken over, like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and before we know it, they have stolen our souls, not to mention our hearts, so that we do whatever they want us to do. We find ourselves doing anything to make them happy. This doesn’t really stop until after they graduate and move out. Oh wait, it doesn’t even stop then.

During the teen years, that frustrating need to exert control sometimes ends up as a battle for control. Once they hit adulthood, it sort of morphs into the need to extend “advice”, even when it’s unsolicited. For so many years, they looked to only us for answers, as the ultimate authority on all important matters. Now it really bites to find out they no longer need us since Google must always be right and our experience counts for nothing. Okay. Sorry. I’m back. Taking a breath.

When I was young, I remember my Grandma taking me and my cousin along to visit elderly friends. I remember Grandma impressing upon me the need for the elderly to feel needed. That sometimes, feeling useless made them feel down and giving them some of your time and really listening helped in some way that was important to the spirit. Now that we’re empty nesters, I get glimpses of how that can happen.

Please don’t get me wrong. Our kids are great and always make us feel wanted. But, there are times in between the holidays and family celebrations that can make you feel a bit down and miss at least talking to your kids, even when their lives are so busy. I’m probably just getting maudlin because I’m not feeling well right now. Those are what I call my “weak” days.

In any case, watching my youngest daughter with her sweet baby boy made me realize that she too will be going through all this in the years to come. Welcome to parenthood, sweetie. It’s a big club with a whole lot of members to keep you company when you need sympathy.

Peace out.

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Letting Go


Our youngest has flown the coop, off to teach English on the other side of the world. Yes, we are officially empty-nesters. Wow, it just doesn’t seem that long ago they were all small children. It was tough enough when the oldest moved to her first apartment. Next, we adjusted when the second moved out of state for college. Now, with the youngest leaving for another country, I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to feel. At times, I feel bereft, roaming around the house, sitting in his room, just plain missing his face. At other times, I feel excited for him, happy and proud that he was brave enough to take this step, following one of his dreams. Hopefully, we helped him feel the confidence he needed to make this journey.

We’ve been preparing for this day for some time now. After all, he’s been talking about it for a few years. I’ll never forget the first time he asked me to watch Running Man with him. First off, he never asks us to watch programs with him, usually enjoying them on his own unless it’s a family holiday movie or going out to a theater. So, I joined him on that first evening, which turned into weekly, struggling through the subtitles but enjoying it all the same, partly because of the show but mostly because of my son. His laughter became my laughter.

You know how it is? As you watch your children grow, you begin to notice what brings them joy and that becomes your joy, too. I still remember my oldest’s first tap class. She really loved that class. Watching her get excited made me excited, too. The middle gal loved tumbling and we cheered her as if she were in the Olympics. Then tap became acting, tumbling became photography, etc. And oddly enough, all three of our children are excellent writers. Our son’s always been interested in people and different cultures. I hope he documents this journey he’s on. I hope they all do. Like any mom, I hope good things for all my children. And okay, so I hope he doesn’t forget us and wants to someday come back, all right? I can admit it. 🙂 Right now, he is beyond our touch, but not beyond our reach. Thank God for video chats and messaging!

On the other hand, my spouse takes every opportunity to remind me of all the things we can do now that we couldn’t do before. I’m sure it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out some of his suggestions. You know, I could actually use a little extra closet space…

Posted in Journal Post | Leave a comment

Making the Cut (Wedding Cake Blues)


A little over a year ago, my eldest daughter got engaged and asked me to make their wedding cake. Due to allergies, her diet is pretty limited: no processed foods, nothing with preservatives, no soy and no dairy. When I asked what flavors, style, etc. she wanted, she had only two requirements: no fondant and diet-friendly. She tells me “I don’t care what it looks like as long as I can eat it.”

Getting Psyched for the Big Day
When the kids were small, I made all their birthday cakes. I really enjoyed making each one fun and unique. Sometimes I even let them help decorate. Of course, this stopped the day they put “Happy Birthday Booger Mud” on their brother’s cake. Did I mention the girls were all grown up at the time? But I digress. The point is, I really wanted to make something special for the wedding. I figured I’ve got a year; that’s plenty of time. What could possible go wrong?

The Big Plan
As an avid fan of the Great British Baking Show, I dreamed of adapting these cool new recipes for my own kitchen. In one season finale, the winner baked this amazing wedding cake! My inner child baker did a happy dance. It was a beautiful cake made up of three tiers. One tier was a ginger cake, another had carrots, apricots and pistachios, and another was lemon cake with almonds. The whole thing was decorated with what looked like autumn leaves, but were actually oven dried slices of pineapple, sweet potato and mango. It was ideal.

A Slight Detour from My Objective
I got busy. Regrettably, I wasn’t busy with baking cakes. Instead, my days were filled with other life events and you guessed it, time got away from me. With two weddings and a baby shower in the same year, among other things, there was just a lot of stuff going on.

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Mom
After re-reviewing the (count ‘em) 11 pages of ingredients and instructions for the “dream” cake, my plan moved to a more simple 3 tiered cake. I figured, three different flavors in various sizes stacked on top of each other. It sounded simple in my head, where, by the way, many great thoughts have gone to die painful deaths.

Math Doesn’t Always Add Up – Test #1
For my first trial, I opted to make a smaller sample size cake with no tiers, and hopefully no tears as well, just to practice for flavor, layers and fillings. This was supposed to be the perfect tasting wedding cake with Italian cream icing, along with a raspberry filling. Next, I calculated ¼ of each recipe and finally got cookin’.

The result: the cake was okay but seemed a bit dry. While the icing spread well, the filling kept getting absorbed by the layers like water-based paint on concrete bricks.
Conclusion: Mathematically reducing a recipe only works in theory.

A Wise Women Takes Advice
It was time to speak to an expert. I managed to corner our church semi-pro baker who listened patiently to my testing and plans, then emphatically recommended I not go with a tiered option and suggested I look up “cake wrecks”. Also, when I mention this is for 22 guests, she gaped at me and explained that my current plan would feed 150. Who knew?

Have Your Cake and Eat It 2
For trial #2, I chose a “best white cake ever” recipe that was actually quite complex. For this test, I went simple with only buttercream frosting for both the filling and frosting.

The result: my testers, or rather coworkers, enjoyed the flavor (maybe because, hey, it was free cake). However, my daughter didn’t care for the frosting.
Conclusion: Back to the drawing board.

Mama’s got a Brand New Plan
My new plan: make a sheet cake version of the lemon pound cake I made for the Bridal Tea plus a layered 6” strawberry cake for the couple’s topper. My order of what I thought was another 6” pan turns out to be five thin 6” pans.

With all the wedding preparations, test #3 becomes real-deal #1. First, I make a strawberry cake with my new pre-layered pans, along with a strawberry filling adapted from the raspberry filling I made in test #1. Ever cut your kid’s hair and find yourself making it shorter and shorter just to make it even? Leveling the layers is just as tricky and I finally stop before ending up with wafers.

No Face Smashing Please
The lemon pound cake turned out well and set on a display board hubby and I created, thanks to instructions from my cake expert. With the cakes iced and displayed, the wedding over and the party in full swing, the time had finally come to cut the cake. One look at my 5 tiered strawberry creation and my youngest daughter whispers, “That looks like strawberry pancakes.” The look I gave her must have clued her in, “Oh,” she draws back, “Did you make that?” “Yep,” I say. “Looks good,” she smiles brightly. But the best was when the bride and groom traded bites, turned to me and pronounced it delicious. Mission accomplished.

Posted in Cooking, Holidays, Journal Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Hair Day

breast-cancer-awareness1 - Copy (2)

Do you fight your hair every morning to beat it into submission? I know I do. Each morning I wash my hair it’s a battle. After years of taking a brush and whip to it, we’ve finally reached an unspoken agreement that if it’ll just mind me a little in the front, it can do whatever it likes in the back.

Seems like when you’re not happy with your hair at the beginning of your day, it all just goes downhill from there. Have you ever noticed that each little thing that goes wrong seems to make your hair look that much worse? The other day was an especially hairy day for me if you’ll pardon the expression, and each time I went to wash my hands I saw my hair sticking up just a little bit more until by the end of the day I resembled Albert Einstein, only without the mustache, possibly.

Just this week, I saw an old friend’s Facebook post showing a picture of her with her family surrounding her. Seeing her bright smiling face coupled with the fact that her hubby had just shaved her bald headed, seemed a little incongruous unless you know her. We went to school together from first through third grade, as well as all during high school, then later our children attended the same tumbling class at the local community college. In all those years, never have I seen her without a happy dimpled smile on her face. Yet here she was ready to kick breast cancer’s butt. What an amazing testimony. Each of her family members had smiles just as big as hers. Such support.

It made me remember watching my sweetie pie auntie go through her journey with breast cancer, the mastectomy, the treatments and dealing with the aftermath of those treatments. For years. I began thinking about other family members and friends who braved the fight with this disease over the years, some winning, some not. My own brush with the same.

Sometimes, when things are beyond our control, we really struggle to make sense of things, feeling helpless. Recently, my pastor encouraged me to look for the blessings in the midst of challenges in my life. I think I’ve just found one. All these women. Their positive outlook, their courage, their determination and their grace. They give me hope.

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Cops and Tired Truckers – Part 2 – A Trucker’s View


Yesterday, I shared a former law enforcement official’s viewpoint on why big rigs and other commercial vehicles sometimes get pulled over. Today, we’ll take a look at this through a trucker’s perspective.

A truck driver of hazard materials, who was also a former jailer, provided me with the trucker’s point of view. Coincidentally, he is from the same small town as my law enforcement contact. I think this gives him a sort of unique perspective.

How Load Can You Go?
The first thing I wanted to know about was weight checks. Getting pulled over for weighing is sometimes a dicey proposition. In my source’s opinion, if you are pulled over by a State Trooper, it is usually a regular safety check and you just have to be patient and cooperative. However, getting pulled over by local patrols are another matter. Some appear to be solely motivated by generating income for their department, nitpicking until they find some infraction such as issues found with weight balancing between the axles.

Two Logs walk into a Car…
Although less scrupulous drivers could be running two driving logs with the older rigs, the newer trucks have an electronic log built in, eliminating that issue. Maintaining the electronic log (elog) can be a challenge, working much like a time sheet, and logging something incorrectly can result in a ticket. For those still keeping up a physical log, the driver has to retain 2 weeks of logs on hand, then turns them over to their company who is required to hold on to them for a set number of years for record retention. If the company is audited and a problem is found, they can be assessed fines. If this happens, they get a grace period to get the issue fixed, then get fined if it’s still not fixed, which sometimes means fixing the behavior of the driver. Missing logs is the most typical issue found.

Braker Breaker
While there are Federal regulations and safety codes that need to be followed, truckers can be pulled over for something as simple as checking the brakes or other maintenance matters. If your commercial vehicle’s lights are out or flickering or the vehicle is smoking, then you are probably going to get pulled over. Those that neglect their truck are most vulnerable for pull-overs.

State Troopers – 1, Local Patrol – 0
My source said he’d rather be pulled over by a State Trooper than by local police, who are all about the revenue. State troopers “know the score”, and if you have a clean truck and you are courteous, they will usually talk to you a bit and then let you go on your way. They aren’t jumpy and anxious when they approach the cab like some of the locals are. The reason for this is because they are used to dealing with criminals and try to keep a position of authority at all times.

Was that a Truck Stop Back There?
When asked about the long hours a trucker puts in and how that affects them, he shared that a driver can be on the road for up to ten hours straight, and can sometimes zone out during the trip. However, if you drive conservatively, and take breaks every few hours, you can get there on time. It just takes careful planning. There are some drivers who are on duty for up to 70 hours, so they need to be conservative about how long they drive per day. Then, there are some who don’t understand the laws and don’t know how to do it differently and are always out there speeding, going through the truck stop. These drivers have never been shown proper techniques and are probably the ones getting the tickets and complaining about not making any money.

Always Be Prepared…Just Don’t Gargle
Asking about other types of things an officer can inspect, I got some surprising news. Truckers can have zero amount of detectable alcohol on their breath. So they really shouldn’t use mouthwash with an alcohol base. They must also carry safety items like fire extinguishers. They also have to carry a white sheet in the truck at all times in case of a fatality. (I could have gone all day without that piece of information.)

He’s got a Ticket to Ride
Although my two sources agreed on some things, there were definitely some strong opposing opinions about other things. On a final note, if you are a trucker and get pulled over and you don’t get a ticket, your insurance company just might give you a discount. The patrolman gives you a form either way… just hope it’s the good kind.

A special thank you to my sources, the two patient gentlemen who put up with all my endless questions. I hold you both in the highest regard, and as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would say, “And, hey! Let’s be careful out there.”

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Cops and Tired Truckers – Part 1


Have you ever noticed police cars pulling over 18-wheelers on the side of the road? Seems strange somehow. I once took a class where I had to travel about 45 miles each day and you get to observe a lot on those trips. On my way back home, there was always this one area where the traffic slowed down to about 10 miles under the speed limit. This was because we all pretty much knew there would be at least two police cars ahead trolling the area.

Sometimes I would forget and be zipping down the fast lane lickety-split. Then, I’d find myself so surprised to have one of the patrolmen pass me without even blinking in my direction. Oddly, I only ever saw them pull over the big rigs. I’ve always thought cops had a sort of professional courtesy thing going on with truck drivers. Truckers usually have a heavy load and a long haul. It takes a lot of engine and torque to pull that weight and get up to speed, and with all that momentum going on, it takes a lot to stop the vehicle. But strangely enough, hardly a day went by that I didn’t see a cop with a trucker pulled over on that five-mile stretch of interstate.

Curiosity finally won out and I decided to do a little digging. I was fortunate to know two great sources kind enough to enlighten me. One, a former deputy chief of police and the other, a truck driver and former jailor, and these guys were able to give me the scoop from two different perspectives.

Cop Shop Talk or My Way or the Highway
First, I spoke to my former deputy chief friend, who retired recently after a long and illustrious career with a local police department. As it turns out, there is no special courtesy extended to truckers. However, they are expected to be better drivers than non-commercial drivers, and that expectation is always there, regardless of whether or not they are on the job. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. This is because commercial drivers are more highly regulated and a hit to their personal license impacts their commercial license as well.

Calling Adam 12?
Also, I was totally off-base about these being regular patrol cars pulling these drivers over. In our state, truckers are pulled over for violations or safety checks by one of two types of patrols. The State Highway Patrol can pull them over, or the local police department may have a special Commercial Vehicle Patrol just for this purpose. Which totally explains why my inadvertent lead foot was overlooked.

It’s all about that Base
One of the reasons a trucker is pulled over is for a Safety Check. These are important for a lot of reasons and commercial drivers are heavily regulated. These patrols carry special portable scales that measure the weight of the vehicle, and if it’s over the weight limit, they can lose stability, causing them to lose control and endanger the public. Being overweight can also tear up the road, making driving conditions more hazardous for the rest of us. What I found interesting is, if the truck is determined to be overweight, the driver can’t continue his journey and has to call for someone to come help him offload until his weight is brought down within limits. Don’t you sometimes wish you could call a friend to come help you offload some weight? Sounds pretty appealing to me. However, for the trucker who tries to push his luck, it only causes costly delays.

If You Broke It, You Bought It
Other things these truckers get cited on include: unauthorized cargo, hauling hazardous cargo on a road they shouldn’t use or exceeding the number of allowable driving hours. The Department of Transportation dictates how many hours they can drive per day and sometimes unethical drivers will attempt to keep two sets of books – one they show the trooper and another they keep for billing. Or, since they pay for their own fuel, they may attempt to shave miles off their trip and take a shortcut driving down roads they shouldn’t. Bad behavior for these drivers can result in tickets, fines, losing their license or having to wait for hazmat folks to be brought in and thus experience trip delays. There is actually a national database now, so if you lose your commercial license in one state you can’t get it in any other. However, my sources tell me that most are law abiding and just trying to make a living, although there are a few out there who try to cut corners.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 – A Trucker’s View

Posted in Journal Post | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment