Donnie Friedrichsen has no use for a Doppler Radar, can't recite the 10-day forecast and doesn't give a hoot about barometric pressure. But when it comes to talkin' weather, the veteran trucker sounds as trustworthy as anyone on TV.
"I've been doing this for 25 years, and I've never seen it this bad," he said. "I mean it's bad with all the ice."
Friedrichsen and his big rig were parked at a truck stop in Oakwood on Tuesday, waiting for traffic to clear on Interstate 74. His trip began in Wisconsin — "it was 20 below, not much worse than it is now" — and is to end in North Carolina. Eventually.
While he waited, the 49-year-old Nebraska native was kind enough to provide a trucker's perspective when weather turns nasty.
What's the worst part of your job this time of year?
"It's everybody around you — they make you nervous. A lot of cars don't respect the conditions of the road. They're always in a hurry, always gotta be first. People need to have patience, need to use common sense."
How do you pass the time?
"Watch TV, sit around and talk about the wrecks. Indiana needs to take care of its roads better. Pure junk, pure laziness. A little sand goes a long way."
What's for dinner?
"If you can't get to a truck stop, you gotta have the basics: fruit, water, fuel, regular stuff like that. A lot of drivers have crock pots and microwaves. You can make roast."
What do you do when a truck starts to jack-knife?
"Cross my fingers and knock on wood, I've never put one in the ditch. I've been hit before but never caused one myself."