A Master's Class in Trucking
“Excuse me sir,” I said, holding out a copy of the March issue of Today’s Trucking as a peace offering. “I work for this magazine. Could my friend look at your truck? She’s never been up close before.”
My friend Mara Gulens is a fellow magazine editor whose office is near mine. A few days ago, she, Today’s Trucking Associate Editor Jason Rhyno, and I met for lunch at a nearby restaurant called Master Steaks.
Master Steaks is one of the many great truck stops across this country that help us get our magazine into the hands of drivers. My brilliant and funny nephew Mike Fairman works in the neighborhood and introduced me to the place. I really like the food and I feel it’s my duty to visit Master Steaks regularly to ensure our magazines are plentiful and neatly stacked. I also deem the steak-on-a-bun-and-fries special as nature’s most perfect meal.
The people are friendly, too. Pete, who runs Master Steaks, once told me: “You and me, we’re a team: Folks come here, they’re well-fed and well-read.”
Anyway, Mara, Jason and I had just exited the restaurant and there sat an untethered, 2012 Volvo 760. Behind it, a driver was examining his freshly greased fifth wheel. I approached and asked if we could take a closer look. (It was pure karma the guy was driving a Volvo because Mara knows some Swedish stuff. She earned a Masters degree in Baltic languages in Stockholm. She did not, however, study trucks.)
Well now. Your industry could not have bought and paid for a finer response than the one we received from driver Kelly Bartok.
First off, he said he liked our magazine, adding that I look better in real life than I do in that little photo on the top corner of this page. Then, he very generously offered to take Mara, me and Jason for a spin in the Volvo. I felt like a kid finding out it’s a snow day.
Mara, Kelly and I climbed in. Jason opted to stay put and have a smoke.
The ride was perfect.
The cab and sleeper berth area were immaculate. Bartok ran with a Volvo automated I-Shift. For anyone expecting truckers to be grinding gears, the automated shifter’s a real “I-opener.” (Get it?) As we rode north on Dixie, east on Britannia, south on Atlantic then back to Master Steaks, Bartok enthused about life behind the wheel.
Bartok spieled about how driving gives him freedom and lets him see the world and while he’s a regular at Master Steaks he takes great care to cook healthy meals when on the road.
Mara, meantime, admired Bartok’s world and expressed admiration for his maneuvering ability. Twenty two accident-free years confers bragging rights, we agreed. (People inside an industry forget that stuff they take for granted, others have no reason to know about and are often amazed by; sleeper berths and incredible safe-driving records, for instance.)
Back at the lot, Mara learned how to exit a cab using a safe three-point descent.
It was 15 minutes I could never have hoped to plan. I loved making Mara’s Trucking 101 so memorable.
You and I know that this country would be a much better place if everybody (especially elected representatives) were schooled the way Mara was. I know it changed the way she looks at trucking.
It also made me think. A visit to Truck World could have a similar affect.
So tell you what.
If you’re coming to the Truck World show and want to bring someone who needs to know more about trucks, tell me by 4:00 p.m. April 18. Truck World is owned by Newcom Business Media, the company that publishes this magazine, so I can get you all in free. When you’re there, come by our booth to say hi. You never know what’ll happen.
And finally, should you get hungry while you’re in the ‘hood, Master Steaks is 12 minutes from Truck World. Tell Pete Pete sent you.