advertising, brain4rent, photography, trucks, Uncategorized

Keep on Truckin’ – High Art on the Highway

We were in Mississippi last week, and as we refueled our rent-a-car my husband went to pay and get sodas. I edged to the door and then out of the car, drawn to a rainbow. Finding the passenger seat empty upon his return, he guessed where to find me. I’d walked through some ratty weeds and dusty red clay to a chain link and barbed wire fence. Once there I positioned my camera lens through an opening in the links to capture the impressive bouquet of steel and chrome: Peterbilt Trucks’ new multi-hued line.

Yup, I like trucks. And no it’s not the pick-up and cowboy fantasy, I like big commercial trucks when they’re shiny and chrome and well colored. I like to count the wheels to see if there are 18. And yet I don’t know a thing about makes or models or how they run. I learned several years ago that not everyone shares this fascination when my former boss and I were commuting the Southeast Expressway to a big meeting for Congress Carpet, and between practicing our soon to be spontaneous repartee, I casually pointed out to him the good looking trucks amid the stalled traffic, and he laughed the same disbelieving laugh I get when I confess to loving the Three Stooges and Star Trek, the original series.

I’d always assumed a good truck message or logo stays with people forever, since my own repertoire of slogans has been cultivated over many 45-minute commutes to the variety of ad agencies where I worked.

  • There’s a moving company truck that primarily sports a
    Photo from the Casey and Hayes website

    sophisticated shade of red but with gold lettering shadowed by black, Casey and Hayes. When I was stuck in traffic on I-93 heading onto Storrow Drive to my first ad job  well over a decade ago, spotting this impeccably tidy truck would make me happy. During rush hour! And as a testament to the many minutes of entertainment they provided, I remembered their name and so can add their link in this blog

  • Once, I expressed my irritation about a “Behind a rolling ball comes a child” truck, because its driver threw a syrupy soda out his window that streaked my windshield, and I was amazed that people didn’t know exactly what I was talking about, even when I said “you know, the Crystal Motor Express trucks.”
  • My first sighting of a double FedEx truck is pretty much sealed in my brain as much as my first view of phosphorescence from dinoflagellates in the sea wake.
  • And, it was while reading a truck side that I ultimately gave enough thought to figure out how clever the UPS slogan is. “Pick UPS”.
  • I like to imagine that the very shiny stainless steel tanker trucks are transporting milk to hungry children. I do a drive by inspection of every Hood tanker for cleanliness and to see that it is rust and dent free (they always pass inspection), even though I mostly drink almond milk.

Long before I was born, truck fascination was being instilled in my genes. My grandfather was a foreman at a truck company. And growing up, we were always told, truckers would help us out; they were the good citizens of the road. Though that was true back then, I won’t guarantee it still is. But ages ago when family road trips meant four kids crammed into the sweltering plastic back seat of a Buick or Chrysler, we would wave madly at truckers to get them to honk their horns, and they almost always obliged. This was high adventure back before in-car DVDs and anti-honking ordinances. The trucker mystique was enhanced by the knowledge that some cabs sport bedrooms and truckers sleep in these things at truck stops. Isn’t that kind of cool in a bad food and germ-laden kind of way?

It was my turn to start driving before the advent of affordable cell phones, so for safety reasons, my family gave me a CB that I was too embarrassed to use. I did, however, come up with a handle, “Midnight Blue”. In retrospect I was probably better off not using that sounds-like-a-hooker name anyway, especially since this was about the same time drive-by truckers started vying for my attention. But as recently as a year or two back, heading south on I-93, near exit 2 in Salem, NH, a trucker started pacing my car, maybe he caught me staring at his rig and misunderstood. Eventually, I let him catch my eye, and he held up a sign inviting me to “get off at the next exit.” That is what I now consider high adventure on a road trip, the chance to politely decline an unexpected invitation, from an ever expanding distance.

Photos were taken by me with my nose pressed against the wrong side of the fence just outside the Peterbilt Truck Center in Pearl, Mississippi

©2012 by Alison B. Colby-Campbell

7 thoughts on “Keep on Truckin’ – High Art on the Highway”

  1. I always figured the FedEx designer just noticed the arrow was there amid the font and took advantage of it (perhaps then charging mega $$ for the innovation) making it less clever than “Pick UPS” in my estimation, plus an arrow is kind of an obvious icon in transportation, don’t you think.


  2. Anyone else irritated that the opportunity for a perfect rainbow of trucks (ROY G BIV) was messed u by one wrong placement in the back view of the cabs? Note to Peterbilt: Please move the green truck one space to the left.


  3. Whoa, I never noticed any of these truck details, but I LOVE your rainbow truck picture. I think you have some genetic memory stuff at work here. You should have held up a sign to that trucker that said, “Midnight Blue 2 Hot 4 U. 10-4” All I know about trucking I got from that song back in the 70’s. Do you remember it, “Good Buddy?”


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