National Geographic : 1974 Feb
Early the following morning, once the truck was empty, the men learned they had just missed their chance for a prompt return load, and were now seventeenth on the list of Nava jo's westbound trucks. John and Crandall had no choice but to stay at the motel for the next two days without pay (though Gene paid the motel bill). Under the terms of the Teamsters' contract with Navajo, John and Crandall, as union members, are paid fixed amounts per mile. Because they work for a subcontractor, and because the union classifies the load of straw berries as an "exempt commodity," they are not paid for time lost during any delay in load ing or unloading. Nevertheless, if they can consistently make the 6,000-mile round trip from California in ten days, they can earn as much as other long-distance union drivers $17,000 to $21,000 a year. The men finally received a load of cos metics bound for Los Angeles. Once we had loaded and were headed south on the New Jersey Turnpike, an attractive woman in a small foreign car whizzed by our rig. Crandall acknowledged her with two sharp blasts on the air horn. Then he turned to me and said, "You'll never make a truck driver." "Why not, Crandall?" I asked him. "You don't look at them girls' legs as they go by." We were back on the open road again. E Alert for bruise or blemish, the market fruit inspector checks 2,496 trays of strawberries while Paulson watches. Verdict: a perfect load. The drivers will swing back west to Los Angeles, carrying a return cargo of 20 tons of cosmetics.