Truck stop havens for big rig drivers

I really can’t understand why Province readers are so interested in what goes on in truck stops?

Its as though the general population, or maybe just the motoring public, fear these places.

Sure. Sitting behind the wheel of an upside down bar of soap with wheels on it that passes as an import, a truck stop could be an intimidating sight. One of those vehicles could be nothing more than a speed bump in the general scheme of things in a parking lot littered with big rigs. Not a place for the easily intimidated.

But for a big rig driver, pulling into a truck stop signals an immediate need. Fuel, food, a shower, some firm ground which is not moving, some peace and quiet, or even just a kind word from a waitress who reminds the driver of his or her mom or spouse.

Any or all of the above is ready and waiting, but first, the driver has to stagger out of the cab. After many hours pounding the freeway in all kinds of weather, when the rig finally comes to a halt, it is a strange feeling. Welcome, but still strange.

Upon entering the restaurant, there can be a problem for the general motoring public. A large section is usually roped off with a sign proclaiming “for commercial drivers only.”

There’s always some yahoo who tries to pretend he is driving a big rig, but the waitress can always tell. More often than not it’s the wife and kids that are the give-a-way.

The roped off section can be almost empty one minute, then as though a flood gate has been opened, it’s suddenly full. The waitress is there immediately — the coffee pot in one hand, the order pad in the other. No fooling around. No waiting. She knows the driver is in need of food, not conversation about the weather, politics, or the state of the economy.

Some drivers prefer to stagger into the shower area. This is usually free if the driver fuelled up before coming inside to pay his fuel purchase bill. With his or her duffel bag of personal goodies, it’s into the private shower area where there are individual shower stalls.

It’s not like prison, military or high school shower with wet towel games. Nope. Peace and quiet. Privacy. Shower and shave and a rebirth of sorts.

Again, this offering is not available to the general public. The driver is NOT in the mood for badly behaved kids running around, while all he wants is peace and quiet, and few comforts of home.

After this, the driver is feeling nearly human again. He can see to any repairs that his rig might need.

Yes. Most major truck stops offer a make over for the rig too. Some will do a complete oil change, grease job, and even a rig wash to keep that unit on the road. It has to be done sometime, so it is not surprising to see a lineup for this service. It’s fast. Lineups are nothing to worry about because the truck stop owners know the rig has to stay moving, or the driver is not making any coin.

If the driver is out-of-hours, there is lots of space in the rear or sides of the lot to park the unit, and catch the required hours of beauty sleep.

That’s always a pretty sight. Rows and rows of multi-coloured rigs, of all sizes and shapes. Its not rig drivers who are checking them out, but the owners of four-wheelers who are often seen pointing and whispering, some even with their mouths wide open and eyes bugging out in total disbelief.

Yes, some lonely women looking for a date that pays for company will try to capitalize on the possibilities, but they are usually hustled out of there by 24-hour security patrols.

Truck stops. Big. Huge. Colourful. A sight to behold. Good food. Good company in the restaurant. Parts, fuel, showers, and even a room where the drivers can watch TV, sit and play cards, or just sit and talk. It’s almost as nice as being home.

If you’re not driving a rig, you’re welcome to stop by for gasoline, as there’s always at least one token gas pump at the truck stop. You can even stop for chow, but know your place, and, please, stay out of the way.

I could fill a news­paper with sto­ries about life on the road, but why not share yours with read­ers? Send them to Driving edi­tor An­drew McCredie at [email protected]

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