Sunday, July 29, 2007

Truck Shopping

I need a 3/4 ton diesel pickup to tow the Cardinal travel trailer. My problem lies in the fact I am not sure I can go through the shopping experience again. Dealing with the salesman while shopping for the Cardinal almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown (not trying to be funny, I think I came close).

I have a larger disdain for salesmen than any rational (maybe that says it all) person should have. What they say and what I say is really not what I am hearing or saying. My mind really processes if differently.

Here is a typical car lot experience.
What is said what my mind thinks.

I drive up in my 10year old vehicle that I have owned for ten years and park away from the salesmen you can always spot them by the cloud of cigarette smoke coming from one corner of the building.

As I walk across the lot, up drives a slick salesman in a golf cart too damned lazy to walk.

Hello Sir, Can I help you today ? why is it always my turn at a customer when one shows up should be down at the "buy here-pay here lot", it is obvious from that clunker that he is driving he has no pot or a window

Just looking, and why do I always get stuck with one of these salesmen

Were you looking to purchase a new car today ? if not, why am I wasting my time with you

I want to look at your 3/4 ton trucks. and no I am not buying today, but need to get your best price so I can compare

Sure they are right down here . I think they are this way, I never sell anything but 1/2 ton 4wheel drive pickups

I'm looking for a 4 door 2wheel drive diesel surely even you can spot the "one " that is not a mile high in the air and has a big CUMMINS emblem on it

Sure you don't want a 4wheel drive, I can sell you one as cheap as a 2wheel drive. I make more profit off the 4wheel drives, plus if I sell the only 2wheel drive we stock, we will have to order another one

No, I need a 2wheel drive. if you can sell me a 4wheel drive for the same price then you are OVER charging me for the 2wheel drive

Would you like to buy it today? I have ALREADY wasted ALMOST ten minutes on you

I am just pricing today and see if you have the options I need. I have already told you once I am not buying today

Would you buy today if I get you the right price? I can make a killing if you take my first offer, and I need to sell you a truck so I can get back to smoking and swapping tales about the last sucker I hooked

I am just shopping today. haven't I said that before, are you frigging hard of hearing

The boss says to not worry about profit, we sell on volume. this hayseed will believe anything

that statement is so absurd, reminds me of the two guys that bought a pickup load of watermelons for $1 and sold them for $1, at the end of the day said, "we didn't make anything, maybe we need a bigger truck"

How about I take your credit app and we can get your payment amount locked in. I have spent 12 minutes with you fellow, ***t or get off the pot

I have told you I am not buying today. HELL NO, I am not buying today and not from you

Does this truck have the "trailer towing package"? I know the answer but lets see what you say

Let me check, yes it does I see a rear bumper so it must have what ever you are asking about and these diesels will tow anything you hook to it.

Really? my trailer will max out the towing capacity Just need to find something to tow my 14,000 lbs. trailer that will last.

These Cummins will last a million miles, they are the same as in 18wheelers. a Cummins is a Cummins

This idiot hasn't got a clue, this is not even close to the Cummins in a big rig

And so it goes.

ps. This is Squire's wife, after reading this, I can say this is how he feels about ANY salesman. I hate to even shop with him for shoes. It probably doesn't help any that he used to have his own car lot.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Canada Bound

While driving on the frontage road today, I passed a touring bicyclist. I drove passed him far enough I could stop and walk back to meet him.

"Jerry" lived in Dallas, Texas and was on his way to Canada. He had ridden Interstate 30 most of the way from Dallas. Both illegal and dangerous. He would use the frontage road when one was available.

He was not sure how he was going to get across Little Rock but said he was headed toward Memphis, Tn.. With no frontage roads for most of the way across Little Rock, I asked if he would accept a ride. Some tour cyclist want to "pedal" every mile, but he accepted and we loaded his bike in my pickup.

I assured him that he would be better off riding US70, a 2-lane highway with a nice shoulder most of the time, that runs parallel to I-30. Since I don't have a set time to be at work, I drove him the 15 or so miles to put him on US70 a few miles out of town.

He was not riding a conventional touring bike (like the one below) that lets you spread your load front and rear on the bike.

He was on a Mongoose mountain bike from WalMart. All the weight was on the rear of this "heavy" low-end bike. He was not wearing a helmet nor was he wearing gloves.

I took this picture where I let him off on US70. He gave me a card with his name and e-mail address so I could e-mail him my blog site and he promised I would get the first e-mailed picture when he makes it to Canada.

I wished him well (wishing he was better prepared) and he was off.

ps. I just received an e-mail from Jerry and he made it to Forrest City about 8pm. I let him off around 11am. He had traveled about 90 miles this afternoon. Way to go, Jerry.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Today I met Mark, he is from Australia and over here working on a visa. He drives a truck for CalArk trucking in Little Rock, Arkansas.

He saw an ad in a newspaper for driving a "lorrie" (their term for a 18wheeler) in America. The agency that placed the ad in the newspaper wanted a large premium for placing him with a company in the US.

He went "online" and found several ads and sent in inquiries, CalArk was the only one that responded.
His visa has run out but he has applied for an extension. The government has 240 days to reply. He could get an extension or they could ask him to leave at a moments notice or they could do nothing and he could be here the full 240 days.
He is staying with our next door neighbor. Only has a limited number of days in Little Rock as CalArk is an "over the road" trucking company, so it doesn't make sense to rent an apartment.
I asked about driving on the wrong side of the road and he commented that it really was not as big of a problem as he first thought. The only time he ever has a problem is when he makes a turn and no one is on the road. Says he has to really think when that accrues.
I hope he gets his visa extension as he is really a pleasure to be around. When I commented that he "talked funny", he replied that he was the only one he could understand.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Snake Oil

Last week at Hamburg, Ar. was a modern day gypsy. He was parked at a spot that I wouldn't pull my truck in and talk to him. Today he had moved a few miles up the road to Star City and I was able to stop and talk.

We remember the gypsies in the movies selling goods out of their wagons.

"JIM" was closing shop for the day when I stopped. He already had put most of his merchandise away.

He sells blankets, knives, cowboy hats, belt buckles, and leather belts that he will engrave with you name.

Jim is 71 years old and has been doing this since he retired at 62. He has a home in Alabama but travels most of the year. Normally he stays in one town about a week before moving on. After about a week his fresh water tank is empty and his waste tanks are full. He then moves up the road about 30 miles or until he can find a new spot on the main road.

Most smaller town do not require a permit, but if they do, he just moves along to a town that does not.

When he runs low on things to sell, he just orders from a company in Houston, Tx. and they ship to him where ever he might be.

Some towns might buy more of one item than another but he says he can count on about 100 leather belts every month.

He used to "flea market" but likes just moving around a lot better. Sets up to sell when he wants and finds people more than willing to stand around and visit. If the weather is not cooperating, he just stays "closed" and sits inside and watches his satellite tv.

He carries this scooter on the front of his c-class rv to do his running around.

A rather delighful man living like he wants to live. He is heading for Oklahoma, says he should be there in a couple of months.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

a little impateins goes a long way

Actually there were two that I puchased with a buy one-get one free coupon from Home Depot.
They were small and not very healthy about 6 weeks ago. I placed them on our storage building so we could sit on the deck and they would be eye level.

They are now FAT and healthy. Kind of like me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Guilty as charged

This was on the Yahoo Finance page today. Rather obvious the was written by someone under 40. I wonder if she will have the same outlook after she turns 50, somehow I doubt it.

Why We Should Be Grateful for Gen Y
by Penelope Trunk

What's the point of baby boomers complaining about Generation Y at work? First of all, it's a cliché, because people over 40 have been complaining about "young people" since forever.
Even worse, it's a losing battle. Generation Y is huge. It's one thing for boomers to verbally squash Generation X -- that was no problem. Gen X is tiny and the baby boom was huge.
But in Generation Y, baby boomers have met their match. And in the demographic catfight of the century, Gen X aligns itself with Gen Y over baby boomers, which means that the workplace gripes boomers have about young people are going to be moot in a matter of years.
Generation Which?
So maybe the over-40 crowd should spend less time talking about trying to "bridge the generation gap" -- which is really a euphemism for "get Gen Y to be more like us" -- and more time celebrating the great things that Generation Y brings to the workplace. Gen Y isn't going anywhere, and it's not like they're about to conform to baby boomer demands.
But before you continue reading, understand that the world doesn't actually adhere to demographer datelines: The generation you fit into is more a function of the choices you make than the year you were born. So if you want to know where you truly fit along generational lines, take this test.
And if you want to know why baby boomers should ease up on Generation Y, consider the ways that these youngest workers are making life better for everyone:
1. They won't do work that's meaningless.
These kids grew up with parents scheduling every minute of their day. They were told TV is bad and reading is good, and are more educated than any generation in history. They just spent 18 years learning to be productive with their time, so they're not going to settle for any photocopying/coffee stirring job.
But that's good, because we all want meaning in our jobs, and we all want to understand how we're contributing to the world at large. Why should anyone have to wait until retirement age to start demanding that?
These days, the workplace can be restructured so that we all do a little coffee stirring in exchange for each of us getting to do some meaningful work. And if work can be in some way meaningful for all of us, then the workplace in general will be a better place to spend our time.
2. They won't play the face-time game.
We've known forever that it isn't necessary to be in the office from 9 to 5 every day to get work done. But many of us have missed family events only to sit at a desk all day getting pretty much nothing done because of the stress of missing a family event. And there didn't used to be any option -- if you wanted a successful career, you made sure co-workers saw that you were putting in the hours.
Generation Y wants to be judged by the work they do, not the hours they put in. And what could be more fair than this? In fact, a good portion of the workforce has been requesting flextime for decades, but the requests have gone unheeded.
We have Gen Y to thank for forcing the switch, because if Gen Yers can't leave the building whenever they want, they'll walk out the door and never come back. Face the truth: Boomers weren't willing to go that far, but they sure are benefiting from it. Now they have more opportunities for flextime, too.
3. They're great team players.
If you've climbed a corporate ladder your whole career, then it's probably inconceivable to you that Gen Y doesn't care about your title. But it's true -- they don't do rank. Chances are they saw their parents get laid off in the '80s, so they know how ephemeral that special rung you stand on is and they don't want to waste time trying to get there.
Generation Y played on soccer teams where everyone participated and everyone was a winner, and they conducted playground politics like diplomats because their parents taught them that there's no hierarchy and bullies are to be taken down by everyone. And Gen Yers take these values to work -- they expect to be a part of a team. Gen Y believes that no matter how much experience an individual has, everyone plays and everyone wins.
Maybe it's annoying to you that you don't get to be team captain, or worse, the bully on the playground. But you've read the Harvard Business Review's decades of research on how essential workplace teams are and how older people have little idea how to be good team players, so relax: Gen Y is doing the teamwork for you. In fact, there's no way to work with Gen Yers except on a team. They go to the prom as a team, so they're certainly going to go to product reviews as a team.
That makes us all lucky. We don't need any McKinsey person coming to our company for $10 million a minute telling us how to promote teamwork. We can just follow Generation Y.
4. They have no patience for jerks.
Generation Y changes jobs every two years, typically because the work isn't a good fit, or the learning curve isn't steep enough, or they don't like their co-workers. And Gen Yers will disengage from a jerk before trying to get along with him or her, according to a report by Stan Smith, national director of Next Generation Initiatives at consulting firm Deloitte. They have no desire to bother with somebody they don't like.
This is really how we all should function. After all, according to research by Stanford professor Bob Sutton, the cost of putting up with a jerk in a company is about $160,000. Moreover, Harvard researcher Tiziana Casciaro found that people hate working with high-performing jerks so much that they would rather work with someone incompetent who's nice.
Nobody likes having to deal with jerks, but we've always believed it was asking too much to have a workplace full of decent people. Generation Y sets a new standard for this, and companies are having to dump jerks quickly or risk losing their ability to recruit and retain Gen Yers.
Don't Fight the Future
So let's get off our high horses and stop evaluating whether or not we like working with Generation Y. Its members have incredible leverage in the workplace right now, and they're not going anywhere.
It's time to admit that the workplace is changing and that we're lucky to have a group as optimistic and self-confident as Generation Y leading the way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Today Zac leaves Le Mans after an amazing one year experience living and teaching in France. I can only imagine the emotions that will be running thru him as the train pulls away from the station.

Saying goodbye to his French friends was hard because he will most likely never see any of them again. Friends are what makes life interesting and the ones I met seem to really care for him and I am sure there will be a few tears.

He will arrive here on the 18th after a few days in Paris and Dublin, Ireland. Even though he will be off to Penn State (about 1,100 miles away) for more education (both books and life), it will be great to have him back in the USA.

He phoned regularly from Le Mans as he had free international long distance on his internet plan, but I could not pick up the phone and call him any time I wanted. Back home he will have his cell phone again and I will again have that option.

If you look up "happy and proud dad" in the dictionary, you will find a color picture of me. Hurry home little man.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The fruits of Summer

I like to stop and buy produce from individuals selling their wares beside the road.

My favorite are the farmers that sell what they grow, but I also admire people that purchase from the farmers and make a sideline business to supplement their incomes. Of those, retirees are my favorite.

South of Pine Bluff, Ar. at the junction of 65 and 81 (aka I-520 and US425) is an older man that does both. He has a "truck-patch" garden plus buys for resale.

At the present time his 16' trailer is loaded with seedless mini citrullus lanatus. He travels about 150 miles to purchase the fruit. He buys one thousand at a time for $.50 each and sells them for $1.00. He also has a few veggies from his garden. It takes about 2 days to sell the load. Not a lot of money but still not bad either.

An afternoon delight on the deck is very refreshing. At $.50 for a half, it sure beats most treats.

The seedless mini watermelon are about the size of a cantaloupe and very sweet. Very little is wasted as the "meat" goes all the way to the rind. I keep them iced down in my ice chest and when we eat them, they are placed in pie plates to catch the juices.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Friend

I really did not want to work on the 4th, but being the "slave driver" that she is, my wife made to go.

The day started out great. Two blowouts in the first hour, costing a total of 3 hours. A larger than normal load to transfer in Texarkana topped it off.

Heading home, as I approached the rest area east of Texarkana, I noticed a big truck coming out to the interstate. I moved over to the left lane as not to hold him up or have to slow behind him.

As he moves off the entrance ramp into the right lane, he is picking up speed rather quickly (guess he was empty). I am now beside him and looking in my mirror to see when I clear his truck so I can move back to the right lane.

I notice a brown Chevy Malibu leaving the rest area at a high rate of speed. He tries to pass the other truck on the entrance ramp but does not make it, so he whips out behind him and then behind me as I am about to clear the truck. It takes a while for me to clear him and I move back in the right lane.

Mr. Chevy Malibu speeds up beside me and blows his horn. When I look over he waves in such a manner that he must think I am number "1". He then takes off like a flash.

As we get close to the Red River, we run into a heavy thunderstorm. So heavy that the interstate traffic slows to 40mph. It lasts for about 5 miles and we finally reach where it has already passed. As we pick up speed on the still wet road, we are again slowing to almost a crawl. I figure there must be a wreck ahead.

As we go over a little rise in the road. There is Mr. Chevy Malibu sitting in the median stuck up to his axles. I started to stop and exchange e-mail addresses with my new friend but when I see him standing in the mud almost up to his knees and talking on this cell phone, I decide not to disturb him and just tooted my horn and smiled as I slowly drove by.

He instantly recognized me and reaffirmed his admiration. I smiled even larger as I was "feeling the love".

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July - book review

I consider this book a "must read" for everyone. Not because it is a literary masterpiece but because of its subject matter.

NICKEL and DIMED or (not) getting along in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich .

Barbara takes several entry level jobs in different cities to see if she could get by on the wages that a lot of Americans make. From being a MERRY MAID, a waitress , and a Wal-Mart employee, she struggles with the very basics. Putting a roof over her head and having enough to eat consumes more than she is earning.

The "working poor" in America have their backs against the wall every day. One paycheck (or outside help) from being homeless. I think everyone knows someone that just struggles and just can't seem to "catch up" much less get ahead in life.


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