Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No rose-colored glasses in trucking

There seems to be a disconnect among a number of fortunate folks regarding the state of the economy, one that probably most truckers and trucking executives don’t share.

The disconnect is phrased like this: “We see planes full, lots of people at restaurants, parking lot at Wal-Mart full … and tons of trucks on the road.”

Sadly, these perceptions are like a David Copperfield illusion – you think you see it, but it’s not really that way. Planes are full because airlines are flying fewer and smaller craft. People are eating out but spending less (and restaurants are ditching those mammoth servings that often go wasted – which may help our national waistline!).

Wal-Mart and other discounters are doing well because of low prices. Sorry, that’s because so much of their stuff comes from Asia. And this week, according to info volunteered by ATA’s member carriers, truck freight tonnage is down 13.2 percent from April 2008 – the lowest tonnage in seven-and-a-half years.

Trucking news has been full of bankruptcies, failures and firms seeking stimulus money to keep rolling. Even allowing for some slack and fat to be taken out, we’re down to the muscle, bone and gristle of the freight business. Folks who dine out, shop and fly on airplanes should really be thanking the truckers who are holding on in order to deliver food, merchandise and jet fuel.

The going is tough, and the tough are still going.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Toga! Toga!

It’s always bothered me, watching weary wheel warriors trudge from their rigs into truck stops, hauling their duffel bags to the showers. Besides your shower gear, you have to carry a towel and a change of clothes.

This summer, though, you might consider investing in one of these to reduce that load. From the looks of it, the Wearable Towel solves two problems at once, and maybe three.

First, it’s something you can use to dry off.

Second, you can wear it into and even out of the shower, saving the trouble of shoving clean clothes into the bag and wrinkling them, and of having to shove the dirty stuff into the same bag after you clean off (which guarantees everything is going to smell pretty much the same after a while, clean or dirty).

Third, evaporation helps produce a cooling effect, so wearing the damp towel should help you beat the summer heat.

I like the toga look the guy has going for him – very appropriate for truckers who are, after all, the rulers of the road. It might even be the basis for some truck stop events – a Pride-us and Polish-us Toga Fest, for instance, complete with an all-you-can-eat spaghetti buffet.

And it looks darned comfortable to drive in, too, though you better step carefully climbing in and out of the truck.