My Fool-Proof Brainstorms for Mastering The Truck Stop

The Commerce Truck Stop
The Commerce Truck Stop
It takes dedicated personnel (like this lady) to make a  successful truck stop
It takes dedicated personnel (like this lady) to make a successful truck stop

Everything in life changes

The majority of things in life will change over the course of time. Music, clothing, marriages and relationships they all change.. But one thing has hardly changed enough to be noticed. I am referring to that solid American standard: Truck stops.

From the birth of over-the-road truckers, God bless the man or woman who had the brilliant idea (while cooking bacon and eggs one Winter morning), "Hey, if my family has to eat. Those truck drivers need to eat," proclaimed "Dixie DuPree," of Low Creek, Tx. And with a little financial help, she was on her way to making a fortune by opening "Dixie's 24-Hour Trucker's Paradise," and took an early retirement because she had more money than she and her grandchildren could spend in one lifetime.

The famous Iowa 80 truck stop
The famous Iowa 80 truck stop
The dining counter in an early truck stop
The dining counter in an early truck stop
These guys work as cooks in a successful truck stop
These guys work as cooks in a successful truck stop

Truck stops are works of faith

Not many will argue this point. There is money to be made in truck stops. While some truck stop owners "lost their shirt," by lack of sound management or the new interstate wasn't built where the truck stop owners had thought or some other reason, the "heavy-hitters," of truck stops survived and thrived. Places like the "Flying G," "Iowa 80," dubbed the world's bigges truck stop and others too numerous to mention.

Now do not misunderstand. Early truck stops were as rough as a smoky barroom on Saturday night to be found. The truck drivers despised the people driving cars and trucks or "Four wheelers," and hated it when these people, some with families on vacation, made the big mistake of confusing a truck stop with a family restaurant. Soon, the vacationing family, tired and road-weary, grew irate from not given immediate service, started to say hateful things so their waitress (who zoomed to and fro in front of them) and then a tired and road weary trucker would hear their complains and call them out. A mild brawl would erupt and in would step the truck stop owner, a tall, cigar-smoking retired Marine and with a yell or two, the brawl was history.

This is a sad photo of an abandoned truck stop that for some reason went bust
This is a sad photo of an abandoned truck stop that for some reason went bust

Iowa 80

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The facility features separate entrances for truckers and regular commuters.
Iowa 80 is the world's largest truck stop, located along Interstate 80 off exit 284 in Walcott, Iowa. Set on a 220-acre (89 ha) plot of land (four times larger than an average truck stop)—75 acres (30 ha) of which are currently developed—the site receives 5,000 visitors daily, and features a 67,000 sq ft (6,200 m2) main building, parking for 900 trucks, and 15 fuel pumps, with each fuel pump also having another dedicated pump for dispensing bulk diesel exhaust fluid.. Four-hundred and fifty employees staff the megaplex.[1][2]

Iowa 80 is currently affiliated with the TravelCenters of America chain.

Brawls gave truck stops a bad name

It was incidents like this that gave the truck stop and its counterpart, the smoky bar room such a bad image. People in mainstream America were soon saying, "Decent people aren't seen in those sin holes," lumping the truck stop and smoky bar room into one category.

As for truck stops, I recall my dad telling me when I was a kid that if you wanted a fight really quick, just stop at a truck stop and start saying things you shouldn't say and bragging on your truck or clothes. Then your wish would come true with some angry truck driver's hard fist.

It's still this way today in a few places. I remember in the late 80's, my family and I were on vacation in Tennessee and made our way to Kentucky to just see the sights. Hunger hit us, so with no restaurant franchices in sight, "I" suggested we eat at the next food establishment. What a foolish idea that was.

These employees are celebrating the grand opening of Loves truck stop
These employees are celebrating the grand opening of Loves truck stop

We do not want to make truckers angry

"I got 'til 5 p.m. to get unloaded"
"I got 'til 5 p.m. to get unloaded"
"Move it! I ain't got all day."
"Move it! I ain't got all day."

First-hand experience is the best kind

We found a place called "John's Eats," or something of that nature and pulled in and parked. I knew I had screwed-up when I saw more than 20 diesel rigs parked in the parking area. But I didn't say anything to my family. As soon as we opened the door, it was obvious. This was a truck stop. The owners had a huge banner over the dining area which read . . ."We are a truck stop. We cater to the trucker FIRST. If you do not get served first, we are not sorry. Or if you want to eat quicker, please leave and drive down the road to where you will find a burger joint soon." "What are they pulling, discrimination?"

What scared me the worst was an African-American family were sitting near us in the "Family Waiting Area," and I thought, yeah, these customers will not tolerate such trash as this sign. But they did to my disappointment. I had thought that these customers would have protested and I would have joined them in our rebellion of such treatment, but by looking at the number of truckers sitting around laughing, smoking, drinking coffee and telling vulgar jokes, we were outnumbered and out-gunned.

 Vintage truck stop
Vintage truck stop
Vintage truck that early truckers actually drove to deliver their goods
Vintage truck that early truckers actually drove to deliver their goods
What memories
What memories
Walcott, Iowa's truck stop lobby
Walcott, Iowa's truck stop lobby
Today's truck stops have everything for the over-the-road trucker
Today's truck stops have everything for the over-the-road trucker
Sad sight
Sad sight
Country Music stars, the Willis Brothers had a hit song about trucking: "Give Me 40 Acres to Turn This Rig Around"
Country Music stars, the Willis Brothers had a hit song about trucking: "Give Me 40 Acres to Turn This Rig Around"
What a tall sign that serves as good advertising to the truckers
What a tall sign that serves as good advertising to the truckers
All-modern truck stop
All-modern truck stop
Artist's conception of a trucker
Artist's conception of a trucker
Small in size, big on service. (I wonder if "Buddy" is still In business)
Small in size, big on service. (I wonder if "Buddy" is still In business)
The Stampede Truck Stop and Restaurant
The Stampede Truck Stop and Restaurant
A line of trucks means that the truck stop is okay
A line of trucks means that the truck stop is okay
Another truck stop out of business
Another truck stop out of business
Beautiful sundown in Oklahoma
Beautiful sundown in Oklahoma

When I learn something. I learn

After eating what resembled a slice of meatloaf with some veggies, we made out way out and headed down the road. Not a word was spoken for miles. Finally I apologized for such a lack of judgement. When I'm licked. I'm licked.

So for any of you, your family, neighbors, and coworkers, I am going to reveal

My Fool-Proof Brainstorms for Mastering The Truck Stop

1.) First I buy myself a station wagon -- I am not choosy of make and model just so it runs. My wife and roll into a random truck stop with Chuck Norris, former Martial Arts Champ, Chuck Norris, walking a few steps behind us, but with his head down as to not be "made." My wife and I sit down to be served with Norris sitting a few seats down from us. After thirty-minutes, I start by saying, "Hey, I have loads of cash. Can we get some food?" A silence engulfs the restaurant. Truckers glare at us. I guess to give me a break, start back eating, smoking, and telling vulgar jokes. I repeat my question. This time harsher. Then one fed-up trucker stomps toward us, tells me to shut up. Then I reply, "I will shut-up, but only if that man over there says for me to." The angry trucker sees Chuck Norris stand to his feet, crack his knuckles, and wink at the smart alec. "Oh, sorry. I didn't know. Please. Let me buy you and your wife and buddy a meal." And after we dine, I pay Chuck Norris whatever price he wants.

2.) The "Three Amigo System" -- on the same design as hiring Chuck Norris, this time I hire former wrestlers, Bill Goldberg and Steve "Sting" Borden to walk into a truck stop with my wife and me. Yes, I feed and pay these burly men as well. We sit between them on the stools at the dining counter. Our waitress, strangely polite, stops to explain the policy of "us" being served last. That's all Goldberg and Sting need to get up and ask the entire restaurant, "Anyone here object to my friend, Kenneth and his wife, Pam, and my buddy, Bill Goldberg and I getting served ASAP?" Silence covers the crowd of truckers. "That's what I thought," Borden says and orders for all of us.

3.) The "Dining Counter Stare" -- is similar to G.I.'s who fought in the jungles of Vietnam who, if they stayed too long "in the bush," got what they called the "Thousand Yard Stare," their eyes frozen and not blinking. Just staring into space with a icy-look on their faces. I will have to learn this and then Pam can lead me in to a huge truck stop and I just sit and stare. The waitress sees me and never asks what is wrong with me. She feels fear in her blood. Pam and I eat a good meal and I still am not blinking. Pam says as we leave with over 55 amazed truck drivers still in shock at me with my icy-stare, but she says, "thank you for such great service."

4.) "Judo Plan" -- I spend bucks to master Judo, a great self-defense tool. Then I go first into a truck stop while Pam sits in the car. I go to THE meanest, roughest trucker in the place and say in his ear, "Buddy. Do you think you can take me? If you can't, my wife and I eat next. If not, we leave." Man, that rib eye steak was delicious.

5.) "Oriental Iron Hands" -- this technique takes a lot of personal discipline and sacrifice. I get this vintage round, coiled spring from underneath a junk car and start my training of squeezing it in and out, hour after hour, day after day until I am ready for Pam and me to eat at another truck stop which has a horrible reputation. I walk in similar to the "Judo Plan," and pick the meanest trucker in the joint. I say to him, "Friend, I want to make a bet with you. See this porcelain coffee cup? If I can break it into pieces with my left hand, my wife and I will leave, but if I can break this cup, we eat soon." The trucker laughs, shakes my hand, and he bends over his table screaming for a doctor. "That was my weak hand, friend. Here goes," I say while bursting the coffee cup into millions of little shivers." The meal my wife and I had was good, but I felt so bad I took up a hefty-donation from the poor trucker's friends to pay for his visit to the emergency room. It was so easy to collect for him. Hardly anyone complained.

6.) "Bigfoot is hungry" -- I tell you that this strategy would get me on CNN, Fox and all of the noted news networks. I would have to tame a Bigfoot, but not cage him. It might take years to teach him how to sit, be quiet and even make oral sounds as if he is talking. Pam asks to sit this one out for fear of being embarrassed by Bigfoot and me. It is simple. Bigfoot and I walk into the truck stop. Sit down and the waitress runs to our booth and warns me, "You can't have that . . .that . . .uhhh, thing in here." "Tell him that, ma'am," I say. Needless to say, we eat until we are full. And with no trouble from any trucker. Bigfoot even growls a friendly "thank you," grabs his gallon of coffee to go and we go.

7.) "Humility Plan" -- Pam and I walk into a truck stop. Walk up to the longest table with a lot of truckers enjoying some time off. I get their attention and say, "Sirs, I know that this is YOUR restaurant. No argument there. I was wondering if you minded if my wife and I get served in the next half-hour?" The main trucker is appreciative of my humble method of getting service and agrees. (What Pam will never know is that prior to us visiting the truck stop, I went there and talked with the truck drivers and told them that Pam likes truck stop food and if we come in "their place" and doesn't get served right away, her, being a Black Belt in Karate, Ju Jitsu, and Kung Fu might lose her temper." It was that simple.

Now if one of you will sing me a truck driving song by Merle Haggard, I will bid you all a good night.

SPECIAL BULLETIN: I do not feel like crawling into my station wagon just yet, so as a bonus, I am going to GIVE you as a WARNING . . .

Things That You Never Say in a Truck Stop

  • "Hey, did you get my food from a dumpster?"
  • "Excuse me, sir, I want to, oops, you are a woman waitress. Uhhh, sorry."
  • "Are you truckers so weak that you have to depend on cigarettes to relax?"
  • "Some of you truck drivers had tires low of air on your trucks, so I took them off for you."
  • "It's a mystery to me how you guys and girls drive those big rigs when all of your I.Q's added together would be 11."
  • "I think you 'gear jammers' should buy my dinner since YOU kept me waiting for so long."

Note: now and I mean NOW . . .you can sing me that trucking song by Merle Haggard. I have suddenly lost my appetite!"

Let's go to the truck stop

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Comments 12 comments

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 21 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I don't think I have ever been in a truck stop. With all the driving we've done, maybe I have but just was not aware. After reading this, I will know next time I see one.


Ghaelach 21 months ago

Hi Kenneth.

This hub gave me a chuckle or two.

Now we all know that there's good and bad in all walks of life, and I know a few damn good truckers over here in Europe.

The motorways/freeways over here are used by tourists and truckers alike, with the truckers having their own eating section, which is cheaper when they show their ID.

The motorway resting/eating stops all belong to a giant chain and are all so sterile, and I don't mean that they are sterile clean, they are so boring. At least the ones I've been in.

Have a nice Sunday Kenneth.

Jimmy..........................................aka Ghaelach


tsmog profile image

tsmog 21 months ago from Escondido, CA

Wow! That is a wake up call. I say that as I am a military brat that traversed this nation near or about a half dozen times riding in the back of the family 'Rig' . . . the station wagon. Those truck stops were a fav of dad and his Marine Corps ways along with being a home grown farming Texan. Great memories and thank you for stirring them up Ken.

Most admirably I bow a head toward this article recognizing the work, effort, and distinct style we all certainly will learn from. I for one have. A highly recommended article shared with friends worldwide.

I must add the truck stop shared in the video amazes me. I paid special attention who was enjoying the eatery. Kinda' hits close to home. I would almost be afraid of 800 trucks towering over my Honda Fit. I would probably get lost trying to find it :-) amongst them.

Thank you for starting this day off with some chuckles bringing a smile to chase away the rain outside. Nice! (that means speechless in my one word comment vernacular used with poetry :-)

tim

I look forward to more as I have enjoyed before


mgt28 profile image

mgt28 21 months ago

You specialize in truck drivers, motels and truck stops. I recall very interesting stories of yours where drivers were either fighting or relaxing at these stops. Yeeppe!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

mgt28,

I am, now this is not boasting, knowledgeable about three truck stops. The Big Chicken up around the Tennessee line and a real giant ceramic chicken graces the yard of this great place.

The other is the place in my hub that would not serve us until all of the truckers were served.

And there was one truck stop here in my hometown, but I only went in there once, to get my wife some confiscated liquor from the local police to make her some homemade cough syrup. NOT to drink.

It was a rough place, I might add. The truckers in those days did not have respect for women.

Now they do. I hope.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

aesta1,

Thank you for your nice comment. Now allow me to explain. If you are familiar with my hubs, you will know that I like to laugh at myself more than anyone else.

This hub was strictly humor-based. Not that serious.

So do not let me keep you away from the truck stop which I am sure that in 2015, have improved. Deal?

I appreciate you for the sweet visit.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hey, tsmog,

Thank you so much for your interesting remark about your dad, the Marine and his time in the Corps. OOOH RAH, to him.

And you are so blessed to have been a "military brat," as you said for you got to tour the world and enjoy various places.

I on the other hand have lived in my hometown for 61 years and only been out of town on a yearly-vacation which I am going to take soon.

I appreciate your coming by and visit me again.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 21 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, Ghaelach,

Thank you so much for your interesting comment. I enjoyed your viewpoint which I agree with.

American and European truckers and truck stops are varied as night and day. You have a great point.

I cannot say, without further research, why early American truck stops were so rough that females were not encouraged to be in them except with a bodyguard. The early motorcycle gangs probably had a lot to do with the rough exterior the truck stops had to shed.

Come back for a visit anytime.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 21 months ago from USA

I love these little lunch and breakfast places that aren't part of a chain and I hope they don't all die out.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, ologsinquito,

And a Sincere thanks to you for your nice comment. I am like you. I do not want those old-type diners and truck stops to fade away.

Have a great day and visit with me anytime.


vkwok profile image

vkwok 20 months ago from Hawaii

Funny hub, Kenneth!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hi, vkwok,

Thank you, dear friend. God bless you for being my friend and follower. Say hi to your friends in Hawaii for me.

Peace.

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