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1-800 How’s My Driving?

     I always wondered who calls those one-eight-hundred “how am I driving?” numbers – or if anyone does.

     Can’t imagine anyone calling to say what a courteous driver that guy in Truck Number 837 is. Maybe to report him for weaving through traffic… And would a driver with that eight hundred number on his rear dare to cut you off in broad daylight?

     So I decided to find out. First I had to get some one-eight-hundred numbers from trucks speeding by me at seventy miles an hour – or from trucks I was speeding past at eighty miles an hour.

     Wasn’t easy. I’d get the first seven numbers and whoosh! The truck was gone! Or I’d get them all and forget them before I had time to write them down. When the numbers were abbreviated words, I’d forget which letters they left out. Was it one-eight-hundred-SAF-TRCK – or was it SAFE-TRK? Or SAF-TRUK?

     SAF-TRUK was a disconnected number. SAF-TRCK brought me to a very pleasant but confused lady. She said I’d have to talk to the dispatcher - and what was it I wanted again? I said I wanted to talk to the person who handles the calls about their drivers.

     “Oh, yes. That’d be the dispatcher,” she said. “What number was that?”  I told her about the safe driving number and after a short pause, she said, “Oh, I don’t think that’s ours. We’re a funeral services and life insurance company.”

     I could see why they didn’t have a “How am I driving?” number.

     My next call was to a communications company. After playing “Climb the Telephone Pole – um, Tree” – I got through to Kate, who referred me to Bob and Melissa. Bob’s voicemail answered my call. Melissa’s voicemail answered my call. I left messages for Bob and Melissa.

     Tiffany called me back. Said I should talk to Ed. But she couldn’t give me Ed’s number until she talked to their Media Relations person. She – Tiffany - would call me back after that.

     The phone rang. It was Margaret. Margaret is the Media Relations person. Margaret said I should talk to Joe. After she talked to him. She had to ask him if they did, in fact, get any calls from their “How am I driving?” number. Then he’d call me if they did. Joe was out of the office today and had a meeting in the morning. He’d call me tomorrow afternoon. If he had anything to report.  So much for communications.

     My fourth eight hundred number was a winner. An auto parts supply store. Harry answered and was ever so happy to answer my questions. “Oh yes, we get lots of calls! All of them good. Yep. All good. Well, more good than bad.” I asked him what the bad ones were about. He got quiet. He said, “Just a minute.” Someone else came on the line.

     “Hello! This is Manuel. Can I help you?”

     I explained why I was calling. Manuel was also happy to answer my questions. He said they get about three calls a week, most of them complaints. What about? Mostly about cutting into lanes and speeding. He said they get a few good calls, but not many.

     “We have to check those out - have to see if it’s the wife. Or their buddy who works the counter.”

     Then he told me the drivers get a reward every month for good driving and delivering the right parts. Their reward is a check for twenty to fifty dollars.  But, if someone calls in to report them as a bad driver, they’re out. No reward check.

     So next time you see a “How am I driving?” number cruising courteously down the freeway, toss the driver a twenty dollar bill as you pass. Skip the call.

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