Tuesday, May 24, 2016

‘Granny Glitter’ and her heart of gold

Saturday, May 21, in Nashville, Tenn., was uncommonly cool and breezy, but there was no lack of warmth at the newly christened Candy Bass Travel Center as more than 100 people gathered to salute this 41-year trucking veteran.

Nicknamed “Granny Glitter” by radio personality Marcia Campbell for her love of the twinkly powder, Bass left sparkling pixie dust patches on everyone she hugged. And there was a lot of hugging going on at the event held under a tent behind the travel center building.

OOIDA Life Member “Candy” Bass, center, with family, clockwise from bottom - son-in-law  
Christopher Taylor,  daughter Anita Taylor, Rachel Davis, wife of grandson Cody Davis who is kneeling.

“I call all of you my grandchildren!” she declared as she “adopted” someone she’d just met.
Originally from Nashville, Bass, an OOIDA life member, adopted the downtown travel center because she’s spent so much time there during 41 years of trucking. The emcee for the event was Homer Hogg, who is now technical development manager for the TA Truck Service and Petro:Lube Truck Service business. Years ago he was a mechanic at the travel center who spun wrenches on Bass’ truck.

Homer Hogg, tehcnical development manager for TA & Petro
makes some remarks at the ceremony honoring Candy Bass.
Hogg first met Candy when he was a mechanic at the Nashville TA.
“Back then a lot of mechanics wouldn’t work on a woman driver’s truck,” Bass said. “They didn’t
think we belonged out here and wouldn’t take our word for it when we said something was wrong.

“But Homer told me, ‘I’ll work on your truck. A truck’s a truck to me, no matter who’s driving it.’”

The presentation opened with a three-song set by recording artist and Highway Angel Program spokesperson Lindsay Lawler, which included her signature song, “Highway Angel.”

During the presentation, travel center chefs grilled mounds of brats and burgers for the cookout lunch. Also on hand were OOIDA Life Members Buz and Laurie Scutt with their NASCAR simulator.

Among her many charitable and service contributions, “Grandma” Candy has been involved with Trucker Buddy International, sponsored a Special Olympics swimming team, and been active with Truckers United For Charities. In addition, she was inspired to found a charity, “Hats for Heroes,” a program that provides baseball caps to veterans who have head injuries or burns.

Associate Editor Greg Grisolano contributed to this report.

It’s all in the game

Here comes the latest trucking buzzword – gamification.

According to Merriam-Webster, gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.”

I’ll definitely catch flak for saying this, but at its core gamification attempts to make inherently boring things less boring.

In trucking, gamification applies almost exclusively to drivers. It’s possible because of the avalanche of tell-all digital technologies that include GPS, cameras, and all manner of onboard measuring devices. Management can know virtually everything you do and how well you do it.

In simple gamification, those performance stats – your fuel mileage, driving habits, and who knows what else – are compiled and displayed so you can note your “score” and try to beat it next time out. Some incentive programs offer prizes for good performance, things like gift cards, for example (money would be more meaningful, but let’s not go there right now).

No problem. Everyone should try to improve at what they do – all the more so for drivers where safety is concerned.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Citizen Driver honoree Jon Osburn all about helping others

If you’ve ever spent any time around Jon Osburn, you know he can talk to pretty much anybody about pretty much anything. Unless you’re trying to get him to talk about all the things he does to be of service to his fellows.

Greg Grisolano, Land Line Magazine
Jon Osburn and his wife, Vicki, outside the newly rechristened TA in Boise.
Osburn, an OOIDA Senior Member from Boise, Idaho, and the “skipper” of the Association’s Spirit of the American Trucker tour truck, is a 2016 TA Petro Citizen Driver honoree. At a ceremony on Friday, May 20, to rename the TA in Boise the J.D. “Doc” Osburn Travel Center, the normally gregarious driver kept his official remarks rather brief.

“I tried to do stuff in my life where I was not in the spotlight, so this is kind of uncomfortable,” he said during the dedication ceremony.

Fortunately, his family, friends and even the folks at TA Petro were only too happy to share their thoughts on Jon’s legacy of service, and what makes him deserving of the award.

Fellow OOIDA Life Member Rene Guenther has known Jon since 2006 when they met at a World’s Largest Convoy for Special Olympics. She said she considers him to be “part of my family.” She and her mother, Dee Lindsay, both of Kingman, Ariz., were there Friday to help him celebrate.

“He’s always there for other people,” Rene said. “He wants to educate the drivers, he wants to do things for the kids … he gives more than he receives.”

Dodging a different kind of danger on the highway

Recently, Land Line’s online website polled readers, asking if their truck had ever been shot at or had rocks thrown at it? Of those who responded, 51.72 percent said yes; 31.03 percent said no; and 17.24 percent said they thought so, but weren’t sure.

The rash of random rock-throwing and shootings on our interstates has become a growing concern of truckers, motorists, law enforcement and, well, everyone who spends any amount of time on our nation’s super slabs. All drivers – and passengers – are at risk, but when it comes to who spends the most time out there, truckers win hands down. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A ‘good question’ that deserves an answer

It started out as a relatively simple idea: Let’s put together a list of the locations of shelters along the highways and interstates so our readers will know where to go if they find themselves caught in the path of a twister in “Tornado Alley.” It is storm season, after all.

But my colleague Tyson Fisher and I quickly found out the project wasn’t going to be nearly as simple as that. Sure, Texas and Kansas – the two states that recorded the most tornadoes in 2015 – have shelters available, but none of the other states we talked to had any sort of hardened storm shelter for travelers who might need refuge.

The common refrain we heard when interviewing state DOT officials or emergency management workers was “That’s a good question.” And the lack of safe spaces raises a pertinent follow-up. What can we do about it?

Consider this: There are more than 3,200 miles of interstate in Texas alone, or roughly 170 miles of interstate for every shelter. That doesn’t include U.S. or state highways either. Kansas has 30 shelters along the 236-mile Kansas Turnpike, an average of one shelter about every 8 miles. But the Kansas Highway System totals more than 10,299 miles (not including the Turnpike), and the total number of storm shelters for motorists on those roads is a big, fat zero.

Now it’s true that the likelihood of having a monster tornado cross directly in front of your path may be relatively small. But it certainly makes sense to have shelters available, particularly as in Kansas where state employees at toll plazas may need a safe space to go to when severe weather strikes. It seems reasonable to think that states could add some shelters to scale houses or other places where employees would surely want to have them. Keeping them open for motorists would be an added bonus.