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No, the title of this article is not about aftermarket products added to the trunks of modified foreign cars. No, this article is not about those people who leave comments on website reviews of movies which ruin the suspense. The article this week is about loads which have a shelf life, can spoil or even die. To illustrate the message, please join the ITEA on an epic journey of one man (Jim Harris) and his quest to balance the law with police officer discretion.

The rise of James Harris Trucking Inc began in 1985 when James (aka “Jim”) signed on as a dispatcher for a local trucking company. In 1989, knowing his potential was far greater than sitting behind a desk, he hung out his own shingle and incorporated his own carrier business. His wife Juanita couldn’t have been more proud.

Little did Jim know the troubles he would face as he strived for success hauling various commodities. “Not all loads are created equal, bubb” was a common quip Jim was known for mumbling throughout the years.

Early in his trucking career, Jim learned there was a peculiar law on the books in Illinois. In 625 ILCS 5/15-112(b), police officers are required to “legalize” an overweight truck. Jim was convinced if he was ever caught operating an overweight truck, the police officer would probably exercise his mandated authority.

One day, while sitting around at the MacDonalds (as Jim’s fave day of the week was “Macs Monday”), Jim had a conversation with himself.

“Would a police officer tell me to keep speeding after a citation? No way.” surmised Jim.

“Would a police officer allow a drunk driver to get back in his car and drive drunk again after arresting him? Nope.”

This potential scenario kept the big man awake many nights, as his first venture in the trucking industry was hauling garbage. What would happen is a police officer found his compactor overweight and required him to legalize? Jim knew no one, not even him, wanted to smell garbage dumped on the street.

Lo and behold, Jim got weighed. He truck was heavy, and he was prepared to make a mess on the street. The officer (who Jim later described as a “pretty good dude”), still wrote the ticket, but gave Jim a firm, yet unexpected admonishment.

“I’m not telling you its okay to drive this garbage truck overweight,” the officer said, “and it’s your duty to legalize the load before traveling again. If you get caught, or end up in a crash, I told you not to drive. Now I have a very important meeting to get to.”

Jim never described himself as the brightest bulb, but he was able to read between the lines. He saw the wink and understood the nod.

After a few years, Jim had enough hauling other people’s waste, so he moved into the ready mix concrete business. “Ah ha” said Jim (aka “Tony” to his closest friends), “the law says I can only be made to legalize if the truck is more than 4,000 pounds overweight.”

Jim was correct, but he was concerned. “Hmmmmm,” he pondered, “if a police officer made me legalize, it could not only spoil the load of concrete, but it could ruin my drum. Hmmmm.”

Well wouldn’t you know it, the same policeman who stopped Jim with an heavy load of garbage all those years ago stopped him again with an overweight load of concrete.

Interestingly, Jim got the same admonishing speech and the policeman conveniently had another meeting to get to. Jim was impressed with the deportment of the now-balding officer (who was wearing an “ITEA Certified Truck Officer” pin). So impressed was Jim that he offered the officer a Jim Harris Trucking company jacket and side-job as a driver. Wisely, the police officer politely declined both.

Little adventures such as this proved too much for Jim to remain in the concrete business, so he began a livestock transportation business. There is no way the fuzz would require a truck load of turgid pigs to legalize, especially during the summer months.

Now many years had passed inbetween these instances, and Jim (sometimes referred to as “Meat” by his even closer friends) was driving his GMC Jimmy haulin’ hogs when he ran into some bear on I-90. He was expecting to see his old flatfoot friend with the keen commonsense.

Wrong. The superstar policeman he once knew had been promoted and shipped off to midnights. The swine were not only overweight, but the smell of them hogs was getting intense.

As it turns out, Jim had only been operating with a Class-B (B for “bushleague”) CDL all these years. The policeman made Jim phone a friend (who Jim referred to as a “confidant” who always “bailed him out”) with the Class-A (A for “awesome”) CDL and another truck.

“By golly”, the officer told Jim in a robotic voice, “there’s a law for a reason and my video camera and microphone require me to be accountable to the public in the event of a FOIA request. I have taken an oath to uphold the law and will enforce said law with zero discretion. Sir, you shall remove your pigs this instant and obey my statutory authority.”

While they waited in the summer heat to off-load the extra weight, Jim lit up a menthol ciggy-butt (code for cigarette) and stewed. Several razorbacks died and Jim decided it was time to get out of owning a trucking business altogether. The letter-of-the-law spoiled a good thing.

Jim recently announed he would be retiring from truck company ownership, effective March 1st, 2017. He CHose to raise  fainting goats in Kentucky after he completes a brief stint hauling mulch for another company.

Godspeed in your retirement Jim. You’re one of the best and will be sorely missed.

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