Truckers trying to clean up their image

MARYSVILLE – Long-haul truckers Glen Adams and Bobby Samuel agree that the industry has cleaned up its reputation the past few years.

Adams, of New Mexico, has been driving for seven years; Samuel, of North Carolina, is his Swift trainee with three weeks on the job. They ate lunch at Donna’s Truck Stop recently, while hauling a load of lumber to California.

“Every time I come through I stop here,” Adams said, adding he’s stayed over night quite a few times, too. “I like the food.” Adams said all of the corporate truck stops are clean, as is Donna’s, which he called a “Mom and Pop” stop.

He said the change has been “dramatic” just in the time he’s been driving.

“You have to look for it to find it,” he said of trouble.

Adams said it’s easy to spot a bad truck stop. He looks for panhandlers, a lot of foot traffic and poor surroundings.

“You can tell a truck stop where you don’t want to park at night,” he said.

Adams said while truckers used to have reputations as drinkers, that’s not the case anymore. Most “don’t drink at all,” he said, adding he still might see a trucker drunk once in awhile at a truck stop, which is “not cool.”

If they have even one drink, truckers can’t drive for 14 hours. That’s a lot of time, considering they are only allowed to drive 11 hours a day now. Electronic logs make sure of that. Since their job is to get a product from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, time is of the essence.

“The bottom line is effected,” Adams said, adding that reducing the hours truckers can drive has “created a safer environment.” He still drives seven days a week, picking up around five loads during that time. He gets home “once in awhile,” taking time off about every five weeks. Adams said he doesn’t see drugs around either. “Would you want a ‘high’ trucker driving next to your family?” is how truckers look at that.

“The consequences are too severe,” he added.

He said even when he first started he would hear calls on his CB about “chicken feed,” their slang for meth. But now, “Hard drugs, you just don’t see it,” Adams said.

As for sex trafficking, Adams said he doesn’t know a single trucker who is in to “lot lizards.”

“They’re so unclean,” he said, adding most drivers are family men just trying to make a buck.

Adams said quite a few years ago he was approached at Donna’s by a woman who got out of a van and asked if he wanted “company.” She also knocked on a few more windows before she quickly got out of there, he said.

“You can see that anywhere,” he said.

Adams said most of the guys are too tired to party anyway.

“Sleep is the most important thing,” Samuel added.

He said he has always wanted to try truck driving. But most of his life he’s been a chef. He decided he wanted to get outside more, adding he loves the mountains of Washington.

“It’s all clean,” Samuel said of the trucking industry. “In my younger days you would see and hear a lot worse.”

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