Truck Drivers Keep Wheels Rolling

"I like to hear these old trucks run."

Veteran truck driver Johnny Goolsby has plenty of time to hear his Freightliner run. He drives more than 3,000 miles a week. And time away from family is tough.

"Of course I tell them a lot of times they can have more Daddy and less money or more money and less Daddy. And you know which they chose. This company here lets you get home. You can have some home time every week with them. I like that. Some companies want to keep you out a month or so. That's too long to stay in a truck."

We joined Goolsby for a 570 mile run from Gulfport to Dallas, Texas.

Today's trucks are equipped for the long haul. Our driver's rig comes complete with a bed, microwave and mini refrigerator. There's even a TV with VCR. That comes in handy for killing time on the road, between loads.

The actual ride is also quite comfortable.

"The tractor and trailer is air ride. And the cab is air ride. And the seat is air ride. It's changed things for the better. Trucks are like automobiles. They've come a long way," Goolsby said.

Would you believe cruise control? Goolsby's truck is a 10-speed. But cruise control means a minimum of shifting.

"Unless you get a pretty good hill, it'll go ahead and never get off of cruise."

A satellite dish on top the truck lets our driver's company keep track of his every move across country. His personal laptop computer also provides a constant connection with dispatch.

We've been hauling giant sacks of "titanium dioxide" from the Dupont Delisle plant. Minutes later, we roll into a warehouse district and our final stop in suburban Dallas.

The trucker's "bill of lading" is the piece of paperwork that shows what we're hauling and where it's headed. Once checked in, our driver begins backing up to dock 36.

"Going down the road, people pick that up pretty quick. Shifting gears and backing is the thing that takes the most time," said Goolsby.

He does it with mirrors. A veteran truck driver can back precisely up to a freight dock with very little trouble.

As soon as they finished unloading the delivery, our truck driver got with dispatch about his next assignment. You see, he's anxious to hit the road again, because truck drivers don't make any money while they're sitting still.

As the forklift got busy unloading our cargo, a computer message from dispatch tells Johnny Goolsby he'll soon be picking up a load of paint from a warehouse in suburban Dallas and deliver it to a Home Depot in New Orleans.

Before we have time to catch our breath, our truck driver is on the road again.

By the way, we did pick up some trucker slang on the road.

A "chicken coop" is a weigh station, a flat bed trailer is a "skateboard," and a double trailer is a "wiggle wagon."

Oh yes, then there's the "lot lizard".  That's slang for a prostitute who works truck stops.

Now you know.