I am usually the one bringing up positives about everything, but good grief Charlie Brown, for the last two months I must’ve missed the memo that now all FMCSA mandatory 30-minute breaks are to be taken while blocking the fuel island.
Let me start by explaining the “fuel island etiquette” at a truck stop to those that might be wondering why this is such a big deal. FMCSA requires drivers to take a mandatory 30-minute break (unless you’re exempt) within the first eight hours of driving. So everyone – whether you need fuel, you don’t need fuel, you need to potty or you’re hungry or not hungry – has to find somewhere to park for 30 minutes during their 11-hour drive time.
We all also know that truck parking is hard enough to find anywhere day or night and it’s a clock chaser to try to wander around a truck stop to find a parking spot, get in it and put yourself on your 30 minute break. That’s what the correct and courteous thing to do is. It is also a truck stop requirement at all truck stops. You find it posted on the pump to pull forward and they all are always hollering “If you aren’t fueling, please pull up out of the fuel island” over the intercom.
Now that you understand the reason for my soapbox rant, let me tell you what’s really happening even more so lately. It can take about 15-20 minutes for me to fuel the truck, DEF, reefer and clean windows and check my oil, kicking tires and throwing out my trash in the receptacle provided. After I’m done – and before I go inside to get my receipt – I politely move forward so the next truck can pull in and fuel as well. Once I have pulled forward and made my way inside I usually make a dash to the restroom, grab a bottle of Propel and go to the register to pay and get my fuel receipt. I’m pretty sure this is the practice of the majority, or was the practice of the majority, because we all look like we are running in each other’s footsteps.
I guess there was a memo that came out and I missed it! I was at the Pilot in Holbrook, Arizona this week and when I walked around to start my passenger fuel the driver in the fuel island beside me had a bowl of ramen noodles on his steering wheel and the bass on his radio was thumping and he was waving and thumbs-upping at me. ‘FACE TO PALM’ was all I could think. I had watched him pull in at the same time I did, so I knew he wasn’t fueling and by now both had trucks behind us waiting to fuel. Maybe his noodles had just been cooked. I then walked back around and the one on my driver’s side who I saw was sitting in his truck when I pulled in but didn’t pay attention to was brushing his dog in the passenger seat. Can I please ‘FACE TO PALM’ again? I got my reefer fuel and pulled up and realized I had been mesmerized for about 21 minutes and knew I had to hurry for the gentleman behind me and that I had lollygagged and ogled too long. So I walked by five trucks – and past my ramen noodle little man, who waved again as I shook my head and waved back. There wasn’t a single truck that had anyone around them fueling or even in them; they were just blocking the trucks behind them.
Now it may be that they all had a truck in front of them when they did get done fueling because they were quicker. But five trucks and no fueling made me scratch my head. I ran to the restroom, didn’t slow down for water, grabbed my fuel receipt and headed back to my truck. The dog groomer was now pulled up beside me and he was eating something from Burger King. I guess he was having it his way.
The moral of my story is this: drivers, please think about others’ time and space as much (or maybe more) as your own. We all have seen someone pull up in a fuel island and – honest to goodness – take their shower bag in and take a shower and be back before their 30 minute break was up. Don’t be these few. Do your business and figure out what works for you to take your 30-minute or even a 10-hour break without blocking others or using their HOS time. None of us chose this ding-dong break rule, but we have to live with it. And we are the ones that have to work out amongst ourselves how to make it bearable for all.
And to the ramen noodle guy – thanks for the wave and thumbs up. It’s much appreciated but please park in a parking spot next time. It might not be as entertaining and your noodles might get a little cold once you went in and heated them, but it will be appreciated by us all.
Mr. dog groomer man, you have a beautiful dog and I know he likes to be brushed. But that gentleman behind you might have been running on fumes while you were working on your second career. Or maybe his 14-hour day might have been running out and he just had time to fuel before he shut his day down. We never know. So could you also please move to a parking spot or wait until your 10-hour break to hone your skills. Just give your dog a pat and we will all appreciate you too.
To the other five drivers on the fuel island, I don’t even know what to say to ya’ll. Except DON’T PARK ON THE FUEL ISLAND AND BLOCK OTHER DRIVERS! That’s just plum rude!
Until next time, from me to you, drive safely, be somebody’s smile and don’t forget your prayers! Thank each and every truck driver, my brothers and sisters of the highway. God Speed ~
If you have some cool adventures that you would like to share in a few words and a photo, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org