Friday, August 19, 2011

Taking My Lead...

Remember earlier this week I posted about writing lengthy comments on others blogs and then, grumbling that I coulda/shoulda used that as a lead to my own blog and some posts because I have often left comments that could have easily -very easily in fact -been used as a full blog post which I often have said the mere thought of doing a post at times sends me straight into the realm of being totally brain dead!

Well guess what? Today I'm sorta gonna do that -take my lead from posts I read today!

I'm gonna start with my blogger friend, Bud, over at Older Eyes whose posts I thoroughly enjoy. Today, he mentioned his age -which I won't mention here but you can find it when/if you go visit his place -and that age is almost the same as mine but I'm not quite there yet, within a bit under two months of attaining that level though. And with the mention of age, he points out that being "on a roll" at this stage in one's life often doesn't last all that long. And that caused me to laugh at the truth of that statement but also to think about how, for the past couple of weeks now, I have been on a proverbial "roll" so to speak. All this work I've been doing, all the time I've been putting into trying to get this cookbook ready to submit to our chosen publishing company, has had me on a high that has been almost the equivalent to some one bi-polar being on a manic high. Yeah, I've been on a really good roll there, folks. And ya know what? It's been so nice to have a feeling deep inside that I am finally doing something that is, yes, really worth the effort! The pay does suck on this job -no two ways about that, since it is all of a volunteer nature but so much great stuff has come to me through the work and effort I've poured into this project. It's been a long, long time since I did something that made me feel like I had some value to put out there -towards our women's group, towards this project and yes, for myself, as things slowly began to come together a little bit more each day.

Actually, the last time I did something that left me this excited and happy to be doing something I felt was really worthwhile and which even a few other people thought good things about my efforts too, was a few years ago when I was involved in doing some writing for a now defunct little local monthly newsletter publication. Boy, writing the pieces I did for that thing really gave my ego one hell of a wonderful boost as often people would stop me at the local grocery store and compliment my efforts in this or that piece I had written.

A little bit of stroking folks does indeed go a long, long way, ya know!

So anyway, one of my other favorite bloggers is a guy who is new to my reader list and one who I met via a really "Small world" type situation and gee, believe this or not, I met this guy and "picked his blog up" via the aforementioned blogger, good old Bud!

Now if you've been reading my drivel here for any length of time, you'll probably remember on several occasions I have mentioned and also blogged about one of my all-time favorite things which is those things that happen and we label them as being in the "small world" category. But that is exactly how I came to pick up Rick's blog through Bud's place.

It happened one day not too long ago when I went to leave a comment on a post Bud had done and a comment left earlier on that post said it had been left by a blogger named Rick Gleason. Now, I had just, not too long before that, seen the name Rick Gleason on several messages that were showing up on the Clearfield County Genological Website so just for the heck of it -after all what were the chances that the Rick Gleason the blogger would be the same person as the Rick Gleason, the researcher of family tree stuff from the same county where I live -but I clicked into Rick's blog that day and lo and behold, to my surprise, here he was, the same person as I'd read queries that he'd posted to the local geneology site! I read more of his blog, liked the style with which he wrote and added him to my reader then and there.

And this morning, when I logged into my reader and it wasn't operating the way it should -which is nothing really new for me because it's been doing strange things to me for quite some time now but I have learned to adjust to those weird things -there by Rick's blog it said that he had thirty -yes, you read that right -30 new posts on there.

Needless to say, I was more than a bit shocked to see a figure that high. I know I had been lax the past two days because I've been so busy, so wrapped up in stuff for this cookbook, that I hadn't been checking my reader but 30 posts, in no more than a 2 day period? Well that was crazy, just plain crazy in my book.

But I clicked in to his blog and then I saw why the number was so high. Seems good old Rick had just transferred 30 blog posts over to what is apparently his current blog and I decided after being intrigued by the first of those 30 posts that I would soldier on and read all those posts before continuing on trying to clear my reader for today.

Seems that good old Rick had, a few years back, taken training to become a long-haul trucker, studying for that necessary CDL license, going through the driving training involved and well, the whole nine yards to make a career change in his life.

And, reading his words about that time, the training, the tests, then driving with a co-driver for about 6 weeks time and finally, getting on the road with his own truck, really brought back a lot of things in my own lifetime to me.

No, I was never a truck driver but I sure have known a whole Hell of a lot of drivers and most of those acquaintances came about during the seven (7) years I worked as a waitress at a truckstop about 14-15 miles from where I live!

That truckstop/restaurant back in the 80s was known quite well by most of the truckers who then traversed Interstate 80 through Pennsylvania! It was frequently referred to by truckers -usually on their cb radios -as being "The Shoe" and it is still operating although on a somewhat smaller scale now than it was when I worked there. Back in those days, they ran a 24/7 operation and closed down only (if I remember correctly) at 6 p.m. or thereabouts on Christmas Eve and reopened then the day after Christmas and the same thing also then applied to New Year's Eve too. I think the last year I worked there they changed and stayed open on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day too.

There were times when I worked there and some things that were regular happenings or events, that I absolutely HATED! I despised deer season -especially the first day of deer season!

Why would being in that job cause me to develop this strong emotion about deer season you ask?

Well, because for openers, when I started working there and for about 3-4 years of my time at that place, I worked the midnight shift and that meant from about 3:30 a.m. on in the morning of the first day of deer season, every freaking hunter -or darned near that many it seemed -would be coming into our establishment, each one probably carrying a thermos bottle they wanted filled with coffee and each hunter's thermos also seemed to be one they had bought to compete with every other hunter's thermos to win the award for the largest thermos bottle ever made title, you see. In addition those people who lined up with their thermos bottles at the counter area, there were also deluges of other hunters who came in, more and more at a clip too as daylight approached, and those guys all would sit in the dining room, filling every available table, ordering breakfasts -usually big, hearty breakfasts too -and each one wanted their food ready and delivered to their table in a matter of five minutes, at least, before they had actually arrived there!

To say they could be a really super demanding lot of people would be definitely a bit of an understatement. Actually, probably the understatement of the year would be more appropriate.

The last 2-3 years I worked at that establishment, I came to hate deer hunters even more when they returned from their hunt each day because then, there were specific groups that came to the area, year after year, and I would have sworn some of those guys must not have bathed very well too from one year to the next based on the smell they usually had when they came in for supper! I eventually learned those guys were the ones who must have been spraying deer urine on themselves as some kind of a weird drawing card to let them get closer or some such to the deer and thus, hit it lucky for themselves or for the group from whatever camp they were affiliated with at that time.

Anyway, I really disliked waiting on those people -or the majority of them at any rate.

Another trait they tended to have too was that all too often many of those hunters would also come in late at night -at the tail end of the afternoon-evening shift or in the beginning hours of the midnight shift and then, frequently many of them would be pretty darned inebriated too and for some reason or other, large numbers of those same individuals coming in to eat at that hour and in that state, often thought it would be a wonderful idea for the whole group of them to order stuff involving ice cream -milkshakes, sundaes or heaven forbid, hot fudge sundaes or banana splits! And I absolutely loathed, abhorred and despised getting one order involving ice cream much less orders from anywhere from 6-10 (or sometimes more) people at the same table all order ice cream stuff. (Most waitresses in restaurants such as this one was, which is to say truckstop/family type food/service, will tell you more often than not the same feelings apply to them as I mentioned here pertaining to those kind of food requests. They are things the waitress has to prepare by herself and are, for just one type of those things, quite time-consuming but to have to fix that many of those things at once, you're off the floor and busy in the back for a good 10-15 minutes and that's time that people will, thanks to Murphy and his law, coming flitting in and sit at a table in your station--usually a table that has just been vacated and not cleaned up and reset too -and they will be highly jacked because no one was there, standing over that table to greet them as they would sit down!)

I tended to be a really picky waitress when it came to the customers I preferred to wait on, you see. (That doesn't mean I wouldn't wait on the people or types of people I disliked as customers, just that I would do one hell of a lot of bitching about them to the rest of the staff though.)

I did however, generally, get along very well with the majority of the truckers who came into that place and I knew oodles and oodles of them too! If I didn't know them by their first name (often I knew their full names, what company they drove for, and a lot of information about them too) I knew them by their cb handles. At one time, I remember just for the heck of it, I took the time to sit down (at home) and made a listing of every single driver that I could put a name or cb handle to their face and had that listing done up by every trucking company -of the major freight haulers that frequented that place and I had well over 1,000 different drivers that I could identify by company, by name or CB handle and usually by all three of those categories.

That was back in the day when I could actually remember things though -including my own name, every day, then too! Ah, the good old days, ya know!

I usually had a pretty good rapport too with many of those drivers as well and for some reason or other -I don't know to this day how this came about -but many of them would come in and tell me all kinds of stories either about themselves and things that they did or pranks they pulled or stuff they knew or saw about other drivers too. Yeah, it could be a big-time gossip fest on plenty of occasions at that place.

I remember though one night, I was grumping to a few drivers about what kind of customer I liked and what kind I disliked and I gave those guys my little litany about that subject, telling them I didn't like the deer hunters, especially on the first day of the season and also, I disliked waiting very much on most women, didn't like to wait on families with small children, ruled teeny-boppers and college-type kids out as good customers too, and the faction I disliked the utmost though -even more than hunters -was DRUNKS!

One of the drivers looked at me when I finished up that little diatribe and explanation of why I disliked those in each of those groups and asked, "Well, Jen -that pretty much rules out most everyone. Who DO you like to wait on then?"

My answer to that was "Just give me truck drivers cause I can handle them!" And for the most part I could too mainly because I knew so many of them, often even knew what they would order to drink, sometimes even what foods they would request as well and I knew too which ones would be uber-demanding, wanting things there ASAP and which would give me a smidgen of extra time, breathing room, as it were, to keep pace with everyone, everything.

Knowing so many of those company drivers, I have to say many of them I came to know and care about to the extent they were about like dealing with my next-door neighbors as I often knew which ones were experiencing family problems -spouse or children or other family members on their home fronts, which ones to be careful with because left to their own devices they would try their darndest too to catch me or other waitresses as well, in all kinds of crazy, zany practical jokes and stunts too.

All of that made for some really interesting shifts, some that were downright hysterically funny too over the years I worked at that place.

One thing Rick had mentioned on many of these posts I read this morning though was how lucky he eventually felt he was to have the job as an over-the-road, long-haul trucker in that he was able to see so much of this beautiful country of ours. And that reminded me of one of the Roadway drivers I was good friends with back in those days. This guy was often referred to as "Roadway Ralph" but his actual cb handle was "Twinstacks" and he was out of the Roadway Terminal in Toledo, Ohio. His true name was Fred, but I won't go into his surname as that might identify a bit too much about him although I know he is now retired and hopefully, still living too for that matter. But Fred had a really terrific sense of humor -not one who looked for ways to pull all kinds of practical jokes on me or other staff, but he could come out with some super funny stories and almost always had a quip for just about any occasion too.

But one of Fred's favorite things to tell people was that regardless of how he might feel on any given day about his job, he still thought he was ultra lucky to have a job that paid him to be a tourist in a sense, or able to view so many sights, see the country and get paid to do it by being a truck driver!

Although I don't know Rick -not personally anyway -but after reading his blog for the past several weeks now and especially after reading through his posts today about his work driving a big rig, I like to think that maybe he's a lot like my old friend, Fred -or Roadway Ralph or Twinstacks -whatever name anyone who reads this and actually knows him by if in fact, someone does ever read this piece and knows that Big R driver of which I have just made mention here.

It also reminded me in reading Rick's posts today too just how much I do still miss at least certain segments of those days, of working at The Shoe and all those crazy drivers (and a few sane ones too) but especially, the camaraderie that evolved from knowing so many of those guys back in the good old days.

There, I've waxed really sentimental today now and maybe someday I'll revisit The Shoe in my postings and talk about some of those crazy things that once took place there. One driver in particular better be careful because this could then perhaps end up being my equivalent to the book I told him once that I was writing about all the truckers I knew and was going to give detailed exposes on all the escapades I knew about for many of those drivers too!

Needless to say, he was shaking in his boots, so many of the other drivers out of the barn he worked out of, told me and for well over a year too even after I left that job behind me!

Ah the power that can come from the threat of spilling the beans, huh?

1 comment:

Rick Gleason said...

Wow Jeni, thanks for all the P.R. I'm glad my thoughts have played a part in sharing yours here.

Not sure how I would compare to other truckers you know, but you might be surprised. When I was in school to upgrade my CDL an instructor did point out to me one day how unlike I was from any truckers he knew before. He said I didn't dress, talk or act like any from his past. I took it as a real compliment.

While I accomplished a lot of what I had hoped for in my little "science experiment" I came to have a profound respect for these unsung heroes who keep our economy rolling, both figuratively as well as literally. Many of them salt-of-the-earth.

Nice post!