February 5, 2012

Trucking 101: Cleanliness and Necessities

A quick little Trucking 101 post to fill the gap while we're off the road.

Some things in life are necessities, and I am questioned about a couple of those things, in regards to my trucking life, probably more than any other aspect of trucking. Any guesses? I bet it's something you've wondered about, especially the ladies.

While Malcolm gets asked things like "what kind of fuel mileage do you get?" or "what kind of engine is in your truck?" the number one question that gets presented to me is....

"How do you....well you know.....what do you do about a bathroom?"

Well my answer is...I go when we stop, even if I don't need to. Take the opportunity when it's presented. And as to the when you need to, but there's no where to go....
All I have to say is necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes I have to get creative.

Enough said on that.

The second question I get asked frequently is about showering. I can give you a few more details on that without you screaming TMI at me!

Almost every truck stop in the country has showers, unless they weren't originally truck stops and the diesel islands were added as an after thought when they realized there was a huge market they could cash in on and make a tidy profit. So that is, almost every truck stop has showers, but there are many fuel stops that don't, especially those in small rural towns.

The actual truck stops though have showers. Most of them have between 5-10, though we recently stopped at the Triple T truck stop in Tucson, AZ and discovered that they have more than 80! We were impressed, though let me say quality still gains more brownie points over quantity in my book. That's my rule in many, many aspects of life!

Most of the showers are uniform in size and quality. A sink, toilet, and stand up shower in a room about the size of a moderate walk-in closet is the norm. It's a tight fit sometimes, but usually I'm just glad to be getting a shower!
Hauling agricultural commodities like we do puts us in rural areas a lot of times, far off the beaten path and away from full facility truck stops. Quite often, much to my frustration, when we have time to shower, there are none available, and when we're going through an area where there's a truck stop every few miles, we're pushing to get somewhere. Very irritating! But we do the best we can.

Anyway, back to shower details. They are very small and uniform. But you hit the jack pot sometimes. For instance the Little America truck stops (we frequent the one in Little America, WY and Flagstaff, AZ) have two sinks, a nice size stand up shower, AND a jacuzzi tub in every shower room, of which there are about 20 perhaps! It's a favorite showering location for many!

But here's a glimpse into the typical truck stop shower. These pictures were taken at a Love's truck stop, a couple years ago. That's right, I've been planning this post that long, and am just not getting around to it.

Nothing fancy, but clean by all appearances. However, I always wear the shower shoes and try not to touch anything with bare skin other than my hands, going into a frenzied one legged hopping dance whenever I accidently drop a shoe or shed a sock too soon, leaving Malcolm rolling his eyes at me. He's not quite as germ-a-phobic as I am. And for the record, trucking has made me that way.

Maybe I go over board. Probaly so. But I've seen them "clean" the shower, which basically involved spraying the walls and floors (half heartedly I might add) with what I assume was a bleachy concoction. And I was unfortunate enough to over hear a conversation at a truck stop in Minot, ND between truck stop employees, this past fall. It went something like this:

Employee #1 (to co-worker): "We're out of clean showers. Will you go clean some?"

Employee #2 (who we will assume was new): "ok" (...leaves....and returns moments later and says ....(in a stage whisper to employee #1)) "how do I clean the showers?"

Employee #1 (with very little effort to keep their conversation quiet): "Just make sure there's no hair.

At which point I cringed and walked away, not looking forward to my shower that much anymore. I wish so badly that I could have forced those two to go, right at that moment, and shower in said "clean" showers! And I would have withheld the shower shoes, just to make a point!

Maybe the guys don't care as much. And granted, there are FAR more guys out here utilizing the truck stop showers than there are gals. But there are few home comforts out here on the road, and many's the day that a shower is the highlight and much looked forward to, and I'd wager even men like a clean shower.

I'd like to let myself pretend that more care goes into it than that. I know better though, and knew better before these two experiences. It's a truck stop, and people are lazy. Goes without saying they aren't going to meet the standards of my bathroom at home, which I'll admit is FAR from clean, but it's MY dirt! Makes a big difference! You know what I mean?

Anyway, almost all the truck stops "give" truckers a "free" shower with a fuel purchase of at least 50 gallons. Some want you to buy 75-100 gallons first, but most are 50. And usually we have a week to use the shower credit. So if we're in a hurry and don't have time right then, we can use it later on if we pass back by within the week.

And that, my friends, is my spill about a few necessities while living on the road. Now you know and don't have to wonder anymore.


small farm girl said...

Wow! I always wondered!

Cedar View Paint Horses said...

Great post. Normal stuff like this is very interesting! Btw, what kinda engine IS in your truck? :)

Muffy's Marks said...

You gotta love what you do!! And if it weren't for folks like you, what would happen to this great country of ours. When are our elected folks going to give you guys a break on fuel oil? Thank you for your sacrifices to put food on my table.

Shirley said...

Get your passports and come and use our shower next time! Just bring beer for Ted. Seriously though, I know what you mean about public showers, they are a little scary.

TexWisGirl said...

thanks for the glimpse! yes, i can totally understand the 'but it's my dirt!' thing. God bless you!

Jake said...

I know how the showers work, I was wondering how you guys do food. Like dinners? Do you eat at restaurants all the time? Drive safe

Dreaming said...

I've seen the signs for the showers at truck stops... but have never been in one. The one you pictured reminds me of a really clean camping facility. I would almost prefer to stay dirty than to shower in many of the campgrounds we have been in! I have become fussier with the cleanliness aspect of bathrooms, restaurants, etc as I've gotten older... but maybe it isn' age as much as exposure!
Enjoy your break!! As I look out at our 18" or more of snow, I'm thinking of you and those sandy beaches!

Charade said...

Wow. All I can say is that I'd be buying a case of Clorox Clean-Up spray - and I'd probably pitch the shower shoes after every use. And, no, I'm not a germaphobe. I'm just with ya on that MY dirt thing. Interesting post.

Meagan said...

Cracking up at the vision of you doing the one legged hop trying to avoid touching a bare toe to the bathroom floor! lol I would totally do the same thing! ;-) I also laughed at the overheard conversation about cleaning showers - EW! lol. I hope you enjoy this week of clean showers at real hotels and mom's house! haha! See you Wednesday! ;-) LOVE YOU!

Michaele said...

Everything I always wanted to know about trucking but was afraid to ask. Thanks Sarah. And - I was so hoping you would say you didn't shower barefoot. Good girl!

gtyyup said...

Truck stop with a Jacuzzi bathtub?!? Boy...My Man says they're really changin' from way back when he went over the road...about time!!

thecrazysheeplady said...

See, that's what I like to know about stuff. How things work - the behind the scenes... Well, I mean I like your scenic WY pictures more than sink shots, but you know what I mean ;-D.