No one wants to get East Bound and Down anymore

The United States has been gripped by a truck driver shortage for a few years now, and it has become even more painful now that pretty much everybody now has omicron, which is my least favorite Transformer ever.

This has led to clogged ports and tragedies at local grocery stores, where little old ladies are attacking managers with stale baguettes and screaming things like “How come you ain’t got no cream cheese?!” and “Thanks, Joe!” Meanwhile, adolescent kids on interstate highways are having trouble finding truck drivers who will blow the horn when they do that little arm-pull signal. Thankfully, there are still a few truck drivers willing to blow the horn when they see this sign from kids because they know it brings smiles to children’s faces and a little bit of startled pee for the driver of their vehicle.

I’ll readily admit that I’m not exactly a transportation expert, especially in the arena of truck driving. I’d estimate that 99 percent of what I know about truck driving came from Cledus Snow — a.k.a. “Snowman” in “Smokey and the Bandit.” I learned that it is possible to go from Atlanta to Texarkana, load 400 cases of Coors beer and get back in 28 hours — so long as your main pursuer is an out-of-jurisdiction cop who says “scumbum” a lot, at least in the cleaned-up TV version. I also learned that the Oscars are fixed because Jerry Reed should have won the Best Supporting Actor for 1977. If not him, then at least Fred.

We currently have a shortage in this country of about 80,000 truckers, but I’m probably not equipped to fill one of those slots — even with all the important knowledge I gleaned from Snowman. I mean, I’m good at sitting, and truck drivers do plenty of that. And I’ve gotten a lot of experience eating at truckstops, choke-and-pukes and convenience stores. However, I don’t like driving, and apparently that’s semi-important when it comes to being a trucker. (Get it? Semi-important? Ha! I kill me.)

I don’t even like getting in my own truck — a Tacoma, not a semi — and driving down the street to the grocery store.

I don’t wanna go! Why do we need milk and bread anyway?!”

We’re also out of beer!”

Be back in a minute!”

If I don’t like driving to the local Publix, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like picking up 20 tons of cream cheese from Long Beach, California. Besides, no one gets “East Bound and Down” with cream cheese, and it’s hard to find a Bandit in a Firebird to escort you and distract the Smokeys when you’re hauling cream cheese, although you might be able to get a cheesecake expert like Aunt Gladys to lead the way in her Oldsmobile as she blasts Floyd Cramer’s instrumental version of “East Bound and Down.”

Come and get me, copper!”

Those folks out there actually driving the trucks right now are certainly more appreciated, even if they don’t think so, what with all the folks whining and complaining about empty shelves. Fortunately, they keep upping pay and bonuses to attract more drivers. Some even get a free basset hound. And now there is a new program to allow teenagers to become truck driving apprentices. These will be the trucks blasting horrid modern rap music as the driver texts “OTW” after picking up the cream cheese.

Another option is self-driving trucks. I’m still not sold on any self-driving stuff. Robots may understand the rules of the road, but how will they navigate around human drivers when 92 percent of them don’t understand the concept of “yield” and robots don’t understand the concept of “the finger?”

Besides, there’s no way a self-driving truck can get from Atlanta to Texarkana and back in 28 hours — in which case folks like Big Enos and Little Enos could die of thirst.

 


 

p.s. — Jerry Reed was a brilliant musician. Glad I got to see him perform this live once.

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