Volume I, Edition V


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Greetings yet again, Chieficionados!

Be aware that The Chief (tm) is aware that this whole thang is not, repeat, not a one-way street.

To wit, the Communications Team fields a lot of calls and e-mails every day. (Why, just a few days ago, the team got a call from Google itself, informing us it was allocating an entire new server farm to the on-line traffic generated by The Chief (tm) News. How's that for a feather in the cap?)

Yes, and in many of these calls and e-mails, it is clear that the caller/sender thirsts for even more news about what's going on out there on the roadways. For example, to paraphrase one question we're getting quite a bit:

"We know, believe, agree, and are almost suicidally envious that the drives through old and/or historic towns and/or places are so interesting. What about all the time spent out on the Interstates?"

Now that is an excellent question, given that a LOT of time *is* spent on the endless ribbons of asphalt, or cement, or concrete, or whatever the hell the stuff actually is. So what does go on out there? Here are a few things:

1) The Chief (tm) spends a lot of time watching people oozing their way up on-ramps at ~45 MPH, perfectly timing their arrival nearest the roadway with the exact moment that the truck is rolling on by. Then, after waiting, waiting, waiting, nearly running out of ramp and finally darting in front with about three feet worth of clearance, they stomp on the gas pedal and zoom away at 75+ MPH.

2) Admittedly, at times a fairly good amount of nose-picking gets done, which otherwise would be difficult to pull off back in the "real world"...not that a lot of other truckers give a darn about what they do, or how they look, in public.

3) Especially in the Midwest, there is no shortage of Christian radio stations from which to choose, any day, any time. And they always seem to have the strongest signals, too.

4) You get a feel for who the Big Shots are in the different states, just from the road signs. For instance, in eastern and central Kansas, it's all about Dorothy and "The Wizard of Oz". (Western KS, Bob Dole.)

Oklahoma? Will Rogers. (And Carrie Underwood!)

Missouri? Harry S Truman (no "." after the letter "S", I know you all know) and Mark Twain.

It being the summertime, though, what occupies the most time is dealing with the so-called "construction" zones. All that signage and speed limit changes and pavement markings would suggest that a lot of "construction" is going on, wouldn't it?

Except that it is not.

Sure, we all pass through work zones during our travels. But covering four, five, or six hundred miles nearly every day, one discovers that there are way too many places where there are miles-long detours and lane closures, with lots and lots of "construction" equipment within -- except that there are no workers present to actuallydoanything.

Or, there are ten machines, but only five guys, and only three are doing anything.

Now, of course you don't just snap your fingers, and then, say, a three-mile stretch of road is magically re-paved; there are processes that need to be done, and steps that need to be taken, in order, before changes can begin to be made.

But wouldn't you think that the best way to complete work would be to have tens of machines, and dozens of workers, busting their asses pretty much 'round the clock? Or how about "dozens" and "hundreds", respectively? Does anyone know if they just sit around -- if even present -- in Japan, Germany, Scandinavia, what have you? Because at each "construction" zone that blocks off lanes and holds up traffic, we can pretty easily make an estimate of how much money is being lost by all the people who are held up by the slowdown. How galling is it for it to take half an hour to cover two miles, which should otherwise take two minutes? And multiply that by every single person who passes through the area? Then cut their potential productivity (and wages) in half for that hour?

The Chief (tm) is gonna go out on a limb here and say that they don't do things that way in those other places. Because maybe they realize that the downtime has such a negative impact on the populace and the society. And as a result, they don't budget to allow so long to fix that the "temporary" changes become practically permanent: new paving, new road stripes, concrete guardrails, etc., and the massive backups that result, every single day, whether "work" is being done or not. Nope! Can't do that here! That would cost more! And that would take away from what percentage can be paid out in the form of graft for everyone up the line.

Then there are the "construction" zones themselves -- sometimes VERY dicey to drive through, especially for the big rigs. Narrow, uneven, and/or poorly-marked lanes. Lanes which tilt drastically to the side. Lanes which "borrow" the erstwhile breakdown lane and which are in horribly bumpy condition. You can easily see the places where the "temporary" concrete guardrails are all banged-up by the trucks which haven't quite made it past them. And just last week there was news that Indiana was going to have to re-visit a zone on I-70 in the western part of the state, where they've had an inordinate number of crashes. Well, lemme tell ya, The Chief (tm) has been through that spot and it is BAD NEWS...and that's in the dry, during the day. Night time, rainy weather, must be unimaginable. Too bad there have had to be crashes, injuries, and yes, even deaths, for them to tighten it up.

'Course, sittin' up high in the International ProStar+ Eagle with the A/C running, one hand on the audio controls and the other standing ready to trigger the air horn at any moment and for any reason, it ain't that bad, provided you get through it all in one piece.

So there you have it! It's a thrill a minute, as the ads for the Circle Line used to say. It ain't for everyone and it ain't even for The Chief (tm) for forever. But it'll pass the time well enough until next summer rolls around again, for which the plan is to head back up to Alas-ker. After that the crystal ball gets a little cloudy, so why bother with all that fancy speculatin'?

All for now, gang, all for now. Hope all is well and feel free to drop a line at any time. The Chief (tm) will do his best to respond at the first opportunity! TTFN!

-- Sincerely,
The Chief (tm)
a.k.a. The Pacific Standard (tm)