Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Truckers are the greatest people.

I am not sure this is true or not but I know so many truckers that would give you the shirt off thier back or a meal so you wouldn't go hungry that I had to post this. I wanted to just send it on Facebook or Twitter but it is too big so I hope you take time to read this to show what great people truckers are and to hopefully brighten your Christmas.

The Folded Napkin - A Trucker Stop Story.

If this doesn't light your fire, your wood is wet!

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy. But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The ones who concerned me were the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded 'truck stop germ'; the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks...

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and peppershaker was exactly in its place, not a breadcrumb Or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table.
Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag.

If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.

Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.

He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Bell Ringer, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table.

Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Bell Ringer a withering look.

He grinned. 'OK, Frannie , what was that all about?' he asked..

'We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay.'

'I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?'

Frannie quickly told Bell Ringer and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery then sighed: 'Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK,' she said. 'But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is.' Bell Ringer nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

'What's up?' I asked.

'I didn't get that table where Bell Ringer and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pony Pete and Tony Tipper were sitting there when I got back to clean it off,' she said. 'This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup.'

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed 'Something For Stevie'.

'Pony Pete asked me what that was all about,' she said, 'so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this.'
She handed me another paper napkin that had 'Something For Stevie' scrawled on its outside. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: 'Truckers!!'

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called ten times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy.

I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting

'Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast,' I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. 'Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate you coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!'
I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins 'First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess,' I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had 'Something for Stevie' printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. 'There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. 'Happy Thanksgiving.'

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what's funny?
While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big, big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table....

Best worker I ever hired.

Plant a seed and watch it grow.

At this point, you can bury this inspirational message or forward it, fulfilling the need!

If you shed a tear, hug yourself, because you are a compassionate person.

Well.. Don't just sit there!

Send this story on!

Keep it going, this is a good one!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The good the bad and the ugly

First of all I must not be very creative to call a post that. I mean has any title been more used then that but I wanted to talk about the SEMA show and that is the only way I can describe it.

First of all the good. The Show was great. More people then I expected and the buzz about our product was great. We had so many people stop by it was amazing. We met the national champion BBQ cook and also a 7 year old that drives monster trucks. My wife got his signiture and we took a picture of him with some of our collapsible cones and duroflash. He seemed like a really nice boy.

The bad was two fold. If you remember last year when I was at the SEMA show we had a break in at our home. The burgalars let the dogs out and one was hit by a car and killed. They also stole some valuables we had and upset my wife and kids so much that I drove home each night from Vegas to LA just so my family could sleep. This year it seemed like all was going well. The show ended and we got started to moving our truck around so we could pick up our booth. I made it almost to the front of the line and was sitting in my truck with the engine off and all of the sudden the guy in the truck infront of my decided he needed to back up. He backed right into me and really messed up the front left side of my Sequoia. I had several witnesses come down as it happened right in front of everyone and gave me their cards and asked if I needed a witness. The police came over and asked me if I was okay but because it was on private property they told me to work it out with the owner of the truck and they could not write a report. I went up got the owner and he said not to turn it into the insurance company that he would pay for the damage. I thought all was okay until today when I sent the guy the estimates and then he changed his tune and said I ran into him. My car was in Park and even though it is a Toyota I can tell you it was not moving when I got hit.

That is the ugly part of this whole thing. I trusted a guy and then he got me to a spot and took off. This is just like a hit and run. He would not give me his insurance information or the drivers, drivers license when we spoke. I had mine already pulled out to exchange information. I was trying to do the guy a favor by not turning it in to his insurance and then he pulled out this on me. I feel bad. I feel bad that I am so trusting. I also feel bad people cannot be trusted. The money is the money. I turn it into my insurance company pay my deductible and get it fixed. I give them all the witnesses etc and they investigate the guy. I just wonder when it became a bad thing to trust people?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Have you ever heard anyone on line admit they did not know something?

First of all I would like to say that I just got back from China and I have some very interesting products to possibly add to the line.

But my main interest of conversation today is internet marketing. I am on a few of the social websites. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter are the main ones. The one that I find the most useless is linkedin. The reason is that everyone on that site proclaims to be a professional and they are all perfect. I brought up a question on one site about a problem I had with a certain type of employee and I received over 250 responses. They ranged from telling me it was my fault for letting the employee get away with that behaviour to saying that I should never hire that type of person to began with. Only one person in the over then 250 response ever admitted to actaully making a mistake themselves.

The reason I bring this up is not because I fault the people for hiding their warts but it makes me wonder how much I can trust of what I see on line. You cannot see their eyes when they tell you something or other body language that could tell you the accuracy of what they are saying. I think currently the way the internet works is the opposite of how I was raised which was trust first until they gave you reason not to trust. The internet is teaching us to not trust first until we get a reason to trust. It has made skeptics of us all and I am not sure this is a good thing.

I have a great but simple plan to help working people make some extra money. I am not talking about $50,000 a month but I am talking about $500 - $1000 per month pretty easily. The problem is whenever I try to present it I get rejected by most people who are not even willing to look at the idea.

I guess the whole key is to deal with people you trust. On another note I would really like to learn how to drive big and specific traffic to a website. I see all the offers of people who say they have this skill and I would pay for someone who I really felt would deliver results but I am just as skeptic as those I complained about in that I do not know who to trust and who not to trust. I guess the internet has made all of us that way.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I love Toyota

If anyone has been following this story here is a recap. Coming home from my daughters Birthday party the ball joint broke on my Toyota Sequoia. It was pretty scary and could have been much worse had we taken the freeway home instead of local roads. Here is a youtube of the incident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utL0z2SWiNs I was concerned about this so I posted about it on my facebook, youtube and twitter accounts. (I have two facebook accounts (personal and company) with about 2000 friends/fans each and my twitter account has over 7000 followers. )

Two days later I got a call from a very nice lady at Toyota. She told me that someone had seen my situation on line, and that the ball joint, on my Sequoia had a recall out on it. She asked me if I had seen the notice, and I said no. She then told me that Toyota wanted to cover the damages. I told her that would be great but I also explained that I had over 220,000 miles on the Sequoia. She said it did not matter but I was skeptical. She then told me that I needed to take it in to check and make sure the work was done correctly. I took my Sequoia to a local Toyota dealer, that she set up the appointment for and they told me my repairs were done not using genuine Toyota parts. (I am getting ready for the other shoe to drop at any moment) and then they tell me they will change the parts for no charge as it is a recall. WOW.

So I get the parts changed and asked when they were going to reimburse me for my out of pocket expenses. They said it would take 8-10 weeks. I was still doubting this would really happen. Then last week I got an email from the nice customer service lady saying they needed a copy of my title or registrating to show that I still owned the vehicle. So I think okay when are they going to tell me that I am not getting any money back?

Then yesterday I got a check for $2493.27 that covered %100 of the repair. I was estactic and amazed. Good things like this never happen to me. I am usually the nice guy that never finishes first. I have to give major props to Toyota for standing behind their product and also for keeping their word. They did not let this get into some department that would cancel the payment on some techicallity that I could do nothing about. I have to say I LOVE TOYOTA.

I will be singing their praise for a long time after this incident. They treated me with respect and fairness.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What are people thinking

In the past month I have posted a lot of articles on my facebook page about texting while driving. It seems like I could post one a day. Many of them are fatalities. I worry about this a lot being a father of daughters in their early 20's and having a teenage daughter who drives.

I find it interesting that the laws that have been passed seem to make people more worried of getting a ticket so they stop texting. Is getting a ticket worse then getting in an accident and having something far worse happen? Why don't people understand that the reason we should stop texting while driving is because of the dangers involved and not the fear of getting a ticket.

One of my daughters and I drove from Columbus Ohio to Lehi Utah. It was strange that when we got out in the wide open country of South Dakota (I know we took the long scenic route so we could see Mount Rushmore) and Wyoming there was no one texting while driving but when we got into the metro areas it seemed like 1 out of 5 drivers were doing it.

I remember a device that came out many years ago to keep truckers from sleeping at the wheel. When they lowered their head to nod off a buzzer would sound. I wonder if we could do something like that to keep texters from lowering their heads and not seeing traffic or other dangerous situations when they drive.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Distracted Driving. The new DUI

For the past month I have done a lot of studying on distracted driving. I have 4 daughters and I am very concerned about their ability to put down the phone while they drive. I try to show them things all the time that show how bad texting while driving is. I show them the stat that you are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if you text and drive. I show them videos with blood and gore to scare them away from texting and driving. I have them play Mario Cart and text them to show them how it make them a worse player. I tell them how test show that texting and driving is worse then drinking and driving and we all know how bad drinking and driving is.

The problem I have here is that I think my words are falling on deaf ears. I do not want to be a parent who is on a crusade because I have already lost a child to texting and driving. I want to be the proactive parent who sees the danger before hand and warns them so that they can avoid this dangerous action.

I have a facebook page that only deals with distracted driving and I post articles there everyday. I send out twitters everyday with posting of the dangers of texting while driving. I talk to my kids and they tell me that they understand and that they will not text while driving but I want to be sure.

Maybe I should buy them a lock box and tell them to put their phones in the lock box while they drive. Avoid the temptations of hearing the phone buzz so they will get used to not taking calls or texts while they drive.

Maybe I am just paranoid. Maybe I am talking to myself as at one time I was a huge offender of this law. I heard it took a generation to understand why we need seatbelts. It took a generation to help people see the evil of drinking while driving. I hope we can shorten the learning curve on this.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Does everything have to be regulated?

I was thinking over the weekend as I was driving and saw a disabled big rig with 3 reflective triangles set up (Two that were blown over) just how ineffective these were and the only reason that people used them is because they were regulated or mandated and they would get a ticket if they did not have them. There are a lot of better products on the market to warn drivers of a disabled vehicle but everyone just uses the triangles because of the law.

It got me to thinking about other things that we should just do because we know it is safer. The seatbelt law is a good example. We should just wear our seatbelts because we know it is safer. We should not be wearing them out of fear of getting a ticket. What about the new cell phone and texting laws. Everyone with a brain understands the danger of texting while you drive. Distracted driving is a huge problem and I think it will get worse before it gets better. I have also heard the arguement of talking on the phone while driving and have seen many discussion on this. Some say that you are just talking and if it is hands free there is no difference between that and talking a passenger in the car. Someone else might say that the passenger can see the danger and knows the situation and understands when to shut up and the person on the phone does not have that ability.

Back to my basic tenet that is why do we have to be told to be safe. None of would go home and eat rat poison and there is no law against that. Why can't we just do what is safe without someone having to make a law to force us to be safe. Our we so stupid that we cannot protect ourselves? Does the Government know better then we do what will make us safe so we need to listen to them.

BTW they did not have the part for the Toyota. I will take it back this week and give you a report later.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Follow Up on the Ball Joint Problem with my Toyota

So if you remember last week on the way home from my daughters birthday dinner we had an incident where the ball joint broke on my Toyota Sequoia. I have received many messages since then from people who have told me that they had seen the same thing happen on the freeway and almost always the vehicle ended up rolling. Going 65-70 MPH that is not a fun ride. We are still just very happy that we are okay.

So after posting this information and having it tweeted I get a call from Toyota on Wednesday offering to pay for the replacement of my ball joints. I guess it was on recall and I did not notice that they had sent me information in the past. I have to say I was very impressed with Toyota's proactive stance on this. I did not complain to them and they contacted me first from information that they found on the web. I will submit the paper work tomorrow and let you know what happened. I have to say I am very happy at this moment with the effort that Toyota is making to do right on this. I am a fan of Toyota.

On the other hand and for another time I am not overly happy with United Airlines. I fly over 100,000 miles a year and have done so for over 10 years and everytime I have a situation with them they seem to do what ever they can to hide from responsiblity but I will save that for another blog.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I really am lucky to have had a box of Duro Flashes.

Wow another week another adventure. Our 3rd daughter turned 17 on Saturday and after spending a day at a swim meet at La Mirada and most the afternoon getting squirted by swimmers with latex tubes we finally got away and went to dinner. We had a nice dinner at the Spaghetti Factory and then we went home. Home was only about 10-15 miles away.

So we take off driving down Chapman with my wife and 3 of our daughters in the car and then we here a loud bang and the car pulls hard to the right. I thought we had blown out a tire and I pulled into the median and then when traffic was clear pulled over to the right hand side of the road and got out to inspect the damage. It looked like either a tie rod broke or more likely that and ball joints on the wheel broke. My tire was on it side underneath the car. Don't ask me how we got from the median to the other side of the road like that. Also don't ask me how we did not sustain more body damage etc. We also consider ourselves very lucky because 2 minutes later and we would have been on the 57 freeway going north at about 70 miles per hour. We were very lucky. The tow truck got their within 5 minutes of the call and we had some one come and pick us up. Good job to the tow truck driver James who was very good and did a great job. They took the Sequoia back to the body shop and I will get a quote tomorrow. In the mean time I went and rented a Suburban so I could take my booth to the National Sheriffs Show that starts tomorrow.

What a crazy weekend. Mostly I am just happy everyone is okay.

Here is a video of the Duro Flashes set up behind the Sequoia (the tow guys said it made it very easy to find us with these and also a pic of the tire laying under the car. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utL0z2SWiNs

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A sad and touching tradedy happened to a friend of my daugther

I know I usually lighthearted and looking to poke fun at things but I had to write about this.

My daughter and son in law work for a company that sell security systems during the summer. They have people all over the country. One of their newer sales guys was driving out to Denver with a technician who would be working for the company installing the systems. They got almost to their apartment and they car stopped. The boy got out of the car and while he was looking under the car another car came by and clipped the boy and took off the door.

The boy lost his leg and was lucky to have not lost his life. Here is a video of him that tells about what happened and also shows his courage.


I hope this works because it took my a long time to get this to open.

I just think it is very sad to know that there is a 18 year old out there that will now go the rest of his life with out the lower part of his leg because of the carelessness of someone else. This boy was not someone who worked on the road like a trucker, tow truck driver, police etc but it just shows you how things like this can happen to anyone who is out on the road not just the professionals who spend much of their life on the roads. I have lost friends to careless drivers and it was quite upsetting but for some reason this really bothers me. Maybe because it was a hit and run or maybe because I feel that it could have been prevented.

Good luck to Marvin Sandavol as he deals with this. May God Bless him in his recovery.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Traffic in China is different

I have been going to China since the early 80's. I lived in Hong Kong from 1980-82 and made my first trip to the mainland in 1982. I then moved back to China in 1987 and spent about half of the 90's there. I remember the days when there were no stop lights most cities in China and most people rode motorcycles as cars were to expensive. There were also no highways and everything was the rural driving and it took hours and hours to get anywhere. More on this another time.

Things have improved dramatically in China. They now have Super Highways everywhere. I went to China in the late 90's to do some consulting on the Hi Speed Rail Signals and learned that the technology they had was already ahead of what was being used here in the USA. All that being said I still see things that do not make sense.

Can someone explain to me how this traffic light makes sense. It has the outside lines going straight and the inside lanes with the turn indicators. There is also a count down so the guys at the red light can get ready to take off like a drag race. It seems to me that this is an accident waiting to happen. I was thinking that I could stand on the corner and wait for a couple of hours and I would for sure see someone crash but I didn't Here is the video.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Look what I saw driving on the 605 Freeway

So I am driving back from the airport on the 605 Freeway and I look our the window and I see a Chevy Truck pulling a container. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIEEd10apF0

The first thing I think of is this the Long Beach Ports new get green program by using pick up trucks to take containers from ports to the local warehouses? Then I wonder if this guy is just hauling an empty container to some location to be used as a storage facility? Then I wonder what would happen if he had to break really hard or swerve to avoid someone in front of him. I wonder if the container would stay on the trailer. Then I wonder if this guy has to pass the same regulations at weigh stations that regular truckers have to pass.

The bottom line is that this just did not look safe to me. Could be a good commercial for Chevy but I can see that this would cause a big mess if this guy swerved or hit his breaks really hard.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back from China

So I have a few things I want to write about but I think I will stretch it over a couple of weeks.

I have a bunch of pictures of trucks pulling stuff over there and even one interesting one of a Pick Up Truck pulling a container once I got back here to LA that we saw on the way home from the airport on Monday.

I will be looking to loading some of these on You Tube.

What I really wanted to say today was that I bought a couple of really cool tasers in China. I am not sure what they were going to be for. They looked like Cell Phones but they were tasers. I thought maybe I could give them to my daugthers for protection or maybe give them to the ladies in the office for protection or even give them away at the NSA show at the end of the month but when I got to the airport in Shanghai and checked in they scanned my checked bags and told me I had to do a special security check. What they did was go right for the tasers pull them out and confiscate them. I had a GPS tracking device, some traffic batons that are rechargeable with batteries in them and also 24 solar road studs that I was bringing back for customers in my bags but the only thing they went for was the tasers.

They took them and put them in a drawer and then dismissed me. I asked them if I could have a friend come and pick them up and they said "no". I asked US Customs about it when I arrived in the US and they said that is Chinese Customs and they do not know their rules. I guess it is illegal to take tasers out of China?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Tomorrow I head to China

The traffic over there is crazy. I am hoping to get some excellent shots of people showing us not how to drive when I make my travels. I will be in a car from Shanghai to Ningbo going over the new bridge that crosses the harbour (it will take about 2 hours instead of 5-6 hours like in the past when you had to drive around the harbor. We used to fly there but we cannot fly direct from Shanghai to Ningbo right now.

Then we take another 2-3 hour drive a couple of days later to visit another factory. Then the next day we drive back to Shanghai. With all the time on the road I should be able to see some crazy things that I can post on you tube when I get back.

I will have to wait until I get back because you tube is not allowed in China and you cannot post to it. Should be pretty fun and if I cannot update while I am there I will make sure I update first thing when I get back.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On my way back from Vegas

So I was driving back from a SEMA Conference yesterday to go to my daughters swim banquet and I was a pilot car with big letters across the back saying he got stiffed for payment by some trucking company and that no one should use or work for that company. I am not sure how effective it was but it sure seemed to make him feel better. (I hope it made him feel better he looked quite content when I saw him driving.)


Friday, April 9, 2010

Seat Belts

I saw a video on you tube that was professionally done and showed the importance of seat belts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-8PBx7isoM

It is almost art when you see an ad done this well. It can really get the message across without any words so it works for all countries and languages.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LED Flares

Hve you ever asked youself why all the truckers etc are using the reflective triangles when there is so much more out there that is better suited for road safety. Come on it's 2010. There is so much better stuff but the truckers are still regulated to use the reflective triangles. With all the change how come this has not been changed?

Look at these for example.