Diesel & Urine

Yes, after many months of silence this blog is back up and running, though faithful readers may find themselves puzzled as far as the direction it is taking. Your humble blogger is surprised himself. Briefly, when in the course of human events it becomes necessary to keep body and soul together, even writers have been known to go out and get real jobs. Sometimes they are even driven to enter the rollicking world of long haul trucking. It’s not quite down to the sea in ships, but there you have it. Literature will no doubt work its way back into these columns eventually, but for now, without further ado:

Trucks may run on diesel, and yes, you tend to get it on your hands when you fuel up, but you don’t smell as much of it as you might think. Modern truck engines are really very clean-burning machines. The scent that most insidiously pervades a trucker’s world is that of urine.

Truckers have to pee, and they do it wherever they can. When he stops for diesel, for example, a sensible trucker takes the opportunity to relieve himself in the often less than sparkling clean facilities provided. However a semi can carry as much as 300 gallons of fuel. A trucker’s bladder is considerably smaller.

The reasonable solution would be to stop at rest areas whenever nature’s demands make themselves felt. Truckers are not always reasonable people. They are obsessed with miles, many of them, and are thus reluctant to stop for any but the most compelling reasons. Hence the popularity of the pee bottle, tricky as it may be to fill on the go. Dribbles and spills, one surmises, are not unknown. Disposal of the bottle? The trash can at the next fuel stop would be the reasonable answer, but the folks who mow the right-of-ways of our nation’s highways can tell you where many of those bottles end up, and what happens when they hit them with their mowers. ‘Pee bombs,’ I believe they call them.

And then there are rest areas and, especially, truck stops, where truckers spend so much of their time. (DOT regulations mandate a 10-hour rest period after every eleven hours of driving.) Yes, restrooms are available at both locations but many, far too many, truckers find that walk across the parking lot much less convenient than a quick unzip of the fly beside the truck. Which accounts for the unmistakable odor that greets a trucker as he steps out of his cab in the morning, and accounts, too, for the stickiness of the soles of his shoes.

Diesel, on the other hand, is quite slippery. Nor is the smell as bad as, nor again as pervasive as, that of the other. Still you don’t want any more of it in your cab than you can help.

What do we about it? Avoid stepping in puddles. Remove our shoes before stepping back into the sleeper berth. Hold our noses.

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