Thursday, 19 May 2011

Truck Stops

I won’t complain about my job. I’ll tell you it’s relatively decent money for the actual amount of work I have to do. Some things about it are difficult, as is the case with any job. The actual thing I am paid to do, get up on stage and sing songs, is easy and fun. It’s all the stuff in between that can be a bit of a grind.

For example, I am currently sitting in a van with my colleagues, hurtling down the highway toward some place in North Carolina. Our trip will take 5 hours or so in total today. Then we’ll arrive at the venue, do sound check, eat something iffy and then get ready to do the show. The weather has been decent, except for one stretch where the rain was so heavy we had to slow to a snail’s pace  - couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us. I tend to look at my shoes during those kinds of moments and let the person driving do all the worrying. I never drive. Weird how I’m never asked to.

Being in the van, waiting at airports, being shuttled around – it’s pretty mind numbingly boring.

So with so much van time and so much waiting around until show time, it ends up being that snack time becomes the highlight of our day.

Truck stops have become, to me, oases in a desert of dull, a just-around-the-bend beacon of hope. Even if I don’t need anything, I still go in if we stop. Truck stops are good, and here is why:

Truck stops have bathrooms. I need to pee. A lot.

Truck stops have coffee. I like coffee, even though it makes me have to pee. So coffee and pee and truck stops become this self perpetuating trifecta or coffee-drive-pee-coffee-drive-pee.

There are always, always women at truck stops who are rather unattractive and that helps with my super super super super super low self esteem.

Truck stops have an inordinate amount of candy. It’s like the big room full of gold and jewels and riches that Indiana Jones finds in the Temple of Whatnot. I am simply dazzled by it all. I tend to stand in front of the rows of neon packages, stupefied, not even sure if I’m dreaming, let alone where to begin. I usually get a Tootsie Pop. I like those.

One row of 4 rows of candy

One row of 3 rows of salty snack treats

Some have beer, which is not smart, I don’t think.

Beer and driving, together.

Truck Stops provide us with entertainment and excellent reading material.

Sometimes Brad will do yoga at truck stops. I’m not sure why this is a good thing, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing, so I’ll put it in the list. It certainly gives me something to wonder at and gives me an excuse to use one of my favourite phrases:  Godamned Hippy.

Our tour manager, Wayne, has been on the road so long that he actually has favourite truck stops throughout North America.
            -Loves (Western US)
            -Flying J (US National chain)
            -MTO (sandwich shop at Sheetz, Gas Stations in Pennsylvania, recently sighted in North Carolina. Oh the rejoicing in the van when we made THAT discovery)
            -Baja Fresh – a west coast chain, recently showing up on Interstate 95 (Stuart says it’s not that good).

Wayne likes stopping at truck stops because it gives him a chance to have a smoke. He usually lights up further away from the gas pumps. I guess he was just feeling a bit adventurous that day.

The larger truck stops usually have decent coffee with a bit of choice. However, we have been known to drive 20 minutes out of our way to hit a Starbucks, affectionately called “Fourbucks”.  We like their oatmeal.

So you can see how super awesome truck stops can be. It's kind of hard to forage for a decent meal at a truck stop that doesn't have a diner attached. So sometimes I just have M&Ms and tootsie pops for lunch. I always gain weight every time I go on tour. Even though I make a pretty solid effort to get to hotel gyms almost every day, I still end up putting on about 5 pounds a trip. It’s pretty disheartening. I just can’t resist the lure of the truck stop candy aisle.

Me, at start of tour:

Me at end of tour: 

God help me.


  1. My dearest Ellen,

    First off, how lovely of you to include me in your blog, "My complete lack of boundaries". Ya know, until now I had never, ever, ever read a blog, ever. You will be pleased to hear I actually chuckled a couple of times reading today's post. Now I could probably write something motivational such as: you wont get fat, you could never look like a handsome truck-shop women, a few cups of coffee a day ain't that bad, nothing can dampen your wanderlust spirit....but I just finished teaching a full day of Motivational Interviewing, so Im all tapped out.

    PS: Don't drive!


  2. I do NOT believe the "After" photo. No I don't.

  3. OMG Brad, too?!?

    Jesus Christ!

    I thought it was just Jeremy Piven. Now we got all kinds of celebrities running around doin’ yoga at rest stops! Nobody wants to see celebrities stretchin’ out n’ shit at train stations and truck stops. It’s awkward for us. We’re taking our breaks from the road, checking out the parking lot...oh there’s the sign for gas…let’s see…unleaded $3.09…super $3.29 and oh look, hon, there’s Brad Roberts, from Crash Test Dummies doing yoga in the grass.
    Seriously, we need to take care of this.

    Attention all rest stop owners: build a little room for the effant terrible class of celebrity to do yoga in. Kthnx.

    Seriously, it’s the new millennium. Wake up America!

    ‘n Canada n’ stuff.