(This is a sample chapter from the "true" story of Billy Big Rig -- an alcoholic truck driver who saved America while trucking towels for the Taliban)
Today’s yer lucky day. You has just logged on to read a book written by one of the greatest men ever to draw a free, honest breath of American air.
That would be me. Billy Big Rig — the most famous man nobody never heard of.
This might not be the first time we’ve met. Hell, we might have seen each other out there on what I like to call “The Killer Road.”
That might have been me in that big truck that passed you on the downgrade of that mountain pass only to slow you down to 20 mph as the truck struggled to make the upgrade. (Yer right… we do that just to piss you off. A trucker takes his entertainment wherever he can find it. And if you could see the look on yer face…HAH!) That could have been me you cut off on the interstate today, seeing that I was leaving a large amount of following room behind that truck in front of me so you snuck yer goddamn SUV in there so close to my front fender that I could read yer silly-ass “My Son is an Honor Student at Girly Boy Middle School” bumper sticker. Or that might have been me you regarded with a look of disgust and mistrust and maybe even outright dread when you paid for yer pre-fabricated breakfast at one of them faceless and nameless and soulless corporate “travel centers” that have replaced the hard-working and honest “truck stops” of days gone by.
Yes, my new friend. You may have actually come close to meeting Billy Big Rig in person today. And if you had met me yer life would have been enriched as a result.
I can say this without fear of being corrected. For one thing, if you contradict me yer liable to get a face full of balled-up Iowa soup bone in the nose because one of my very few faults is that I do not suffer fools gladly. For another thing, I am more than likely the most interesting person you will ever meet. I have been everywhere. I have done everything. And if I ain’t been there or haven’t done it, it wasn’t worth the going or doing.
Are we clear on that? Good. Then maybe we can get started.
But first we need to be clear on something else. My name ain’t really “Billy Big Rig.” Well, my first name is “Billy,” but the rest is pure fabrication. And that is absolutely the only provable falsehood you will ever read in this book. Everything else is God’s Honest Truth. You will understand why I need to be secretive about my real identity as we go on. There is a concerted effort on the part of certain nefarious elements in the government to silence me. And there’s a good reason for that.
They know that I single-handedly saved America. They want you to think THEY did it. So that’s why I have to use a made-up name and keep moving from place to place like I do.
I live in my truck. In fact I’m in the sleeper right now writing all this down on one of them laptop computers so I can e-mail it to this agent fella what I got who is gonna put my story together, chapter by chapter, and get it published so the world can finally know how close it came to utter annihilation and how I kept it from happening. The truck is a 1996 Mack CH-613 tandem axle tractor with a single sleeper. Even that is probably more information than I should be giving out. So don’t bother asking what color it is. I ain’t gonna tell ya. And besides, they’s LOTS of red and white Macks out on the road so pickin’ mine out of the bunch wouldn’t be easy.
Now this ain’t to say that I couldn’t be living in the lap of luxury if I wanted to. I got more money than God. It’s spread out all over the world in different bank accounts. Some of it is from the “advance” the publishing company done gave me for the rights to print this here book yer looking at — so if yer still standing there at the book rack smudging up the pages with yer dirty goddamn thumbs this is yer last warning to get over to the cashier and pay for it like an honest person before I get sore. And believe me when I tell you that the last thing ANYBODY wants is for me to get sore.
I got a bunch of them ATM cards here in my glove box and I make sure to not use any one of them more than once to keep the government from pinpointing my location on them computers they got. So money ain’t an issue for me. I just drive from city to city, from truck stop to truck stop – sometimes bobtail, other times with an empty trailer that I will rent just to keep up appearances. I ain’t hauled a load – professionally, that is – since that fateful day in 2000 when my demons finally got the better of me, the result of which launched me headlong into this dark world of international suspense and intrigue from which I may never emerge.
This here first part of the story is all common knowledge. Hell, you might have even read about it in yer local newspaper if yer local newspaper happens to come from eastern Pennsylvania. Against my better judgment I’m gonna tell you this part even though it could identify me. But I guess who I used to be ain’t a problem. It’s who I am now that the people who would like to silence me don’t need to know about.
I used to pull a tanker for a trucking company out of a small town in Iowa. After years of pulling box vans and reefers around – that’s a refrigerated trailer, not marijuana just in case yer a filthy drug-abusing teenager or illegal immigrant – I finally lucked into getting a job in what I used to think of as “lazy man’s trucking.” And it’s true. Ask any driver what’s hauled boxes of frozen steaks from a meat processing plant to a grocery store warehouse. That’s hard damn duty! For one thing, they always load them damn trailers to within about six pounds of being illegal. Then you gotta hope you don’t get pulled over on the way to a truck stop before you can get yerself weighed. Then, once yer on the scales, you find that yer almost always way overweight on either yer drive axles on the tandems on the ass end of the trailer. So then you gotta jump out of the cab, put on yer gloves (if yer the dainty kind – which I ain’t) and pull that damn lever (which is almost always stuck so you gotta rock the damn trailer back and forth like an idiot to bust it loose) that frees the pin that holds the tandems in place. Then you gotta remember if this particular kind of trailer is one that you can figure on shifting 250 pounds per pin hole front or back. Then you gotta jump back into the cab, lock the brakes on the trailer so she’ll sit still, and then shove the tractor into forward or reverse and hope to Jesus that the frigging thing will actually slide like it’s s’posed to (which it usually don’t and you gotta rock the damn thing again to bust it loose) and then pray that you move just enough forward or back to line up the pin to the hole you want it to pop into. Then you get back out of the cab and walk back to release the lever so the pin will pop into the hole you want it to pop into when you get back in the cab and drive back to the scales to see if you figured it out right, which you probably didn’t so you gotta climb out and do the whole damn thing over again!
See, it ain’t as simple as you might think it is. A truck can’t be no heavier than 80,000 lbs. But that’s for the whole truck. It also can’t be heavier than 22,400 pounds per axle. And that’s where this whole mathematical clusterdiddle jumps up to bite you on the ass every time. I’ve had loads that just could not be made legal even though they was technically under weight for the whole truck. So then you gotta either go back to the warehouse and offload a couple dozen boxes of them frozen steaks, or you gotta know yer way around the scales and hope that Smokey isn’t paying all that much attention to the side roads – which he almost always is.
Another way that hauling tanker is “lazy man’s trucking’” is that you rarely have to load or unload the thing yerself. Oh, there are places where you will have to hook up yer own hoses and run yer own PTO pump to unload, or figure out the number of gallons you can legally carry and fill the tanker yer own self. But when yer hauling frozen meat or toilet paper, at the very least you have to stand there and watch while some yahoo on a fork lift loads or unloads the truck, and you better make plenty damn sure that you get an actual count of what goes in or comes out because if it’s short the difference comes out of YER ass, not theirs! And if it’s frozen meat loaded from the floor to ceiling, it’s YER back getting broke as you take each 80-pound box and lump it to the dock and place it on a pallet so it can get shrink-wrapped unless you wants to pay God knows how much to some low-life illegal immigrant “lumper” who makes his dishonest living by emptying yer trailer and yer pockets while stealing whatever he can get away with.
Lumpers. The lowest form of humanity. They stand around the docks first thing in the morning like lepers awaiting the holy, cleansing touch of Christ Jesus. The only difference between lumpers and “lot lizards” (a species of critter which we’ll talk about later) is the kind of service being provided. Either way, yer getting screwed and it costs you money. Some companies reimburse their drivers for lumpers. I was never so lucky to drive for such a company. And no company – to my knowledge – reimburses a driver for lot lizard related expenses. Nor should they.
So, when I got the job pulling a tanker I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t gonna have to worry about sliding tandems ever again. In a tanker they have these mathematical formulations based on how much the liquid weighs per gallon and they just slosh it in up to that amount. You still gotta roll to the scales and if they put too much of the stuff in you either gotta roll back to the plant and have ‘em pump out some of the slop or else you gotta find a secluded back road somewhere that you can just open up the valve and pour some of the crap out onto the grass and hope it ain’t poisoning the ground water or any nearby playgrounds.
Them overweight tickets you get is a bitch. And unlike the wife of a certain Alabama county sheriff of my acquaintance (HE knows who I’m talkin’ about!), they ain’t cheap. And damned if the company you drive for is gonna pay for it, either. Oh yeah, they want you to haul as much of the shit as you can cuz they get paid by gross weight. But if you get busted for being overloaded they say it’s yer fault. Which it is, I guess, when you come right down to it.
But I digress.
I was thrilled to death to finally get a job as a tanker driver. I loved every minute of it that I can remember, and I’m sure I’d feel the same way about the minutes I can’t remember if I could remember ‘em. Sometimes I hauled liquid chemicals. Other times it might be caramel coloring. There was only one thing I refused to haul and that was liquid pesticides. I just wasn’t gonna have it in my truck. And it turns out I was, as usual, ahead of my time in my manner of thinking on the subject. Hell, just the other day I saw this newspaper story out of London, England (of all places) that warned of decreasing penis sizes world wide from environmental contamination caused by people using liquid pesticides on their lawns. I knew me one or two pesticide drivers who had to stand on tippy-toes in the truck stop urinal stalls to get their willy tips over the porcelain so they wouldn’t soak their boots. Not that I was looking at their willies, mind you. But a fella hears things. And my willy, truth be told, is far too large to even be called a willy, a tallywhacker, a dingus, or even a whatchamacallit. It is what it is — a schlong. And if you have any doubts whatsoever in that regard, you just go ahead and contact the publisher who will send me yer address and I will gladly send you an actual-size silhouette drawing to delight and amaze yer friends and frighten yer wife. Or the other way around.
So liquid pesticide was the only thing I would outright refuse to haul. Therefore, no one ever asked me. Usually, it was pure grain alcohol from some of them corn processing places they got in Iowa – which is where I’m from. That’s even more information that I should be telling you, but like I said, the past is past. And it was hauling alcohol that first got me into this mess. But we’ll get to that later.
Causes Bill Schmalfeldt Supports
Parkinson's Disease Research
National Parkinson's Foundation
The Michael J. Fox Foundation