Motor Madness (December 01, 2003)

by Harold Fiske

It does a trucker good to laugh sometimes, and no one knows that more than the people here at Truck News. So – purely for your entertainment – Truck News brings you the international findings of Harold Fiske, former tabloid reporter and CBC regular (on Basic Black) – with wacky trucking items from around the globe.

Plain speaking guide

CANTERBURY, England – An academic at Christ Church University College here has produced a useful phrase book designed to help long-distance truckers. The professor consulted with truckers from six European countries to come up with handy phrases like: “There’s a strike here, mate – you could be hanging about for days,” and “Roadworks, mate. What a surprise, eh?”

The guide translates similar phrases in English, Bulgarian, Dutch, French or Polish, plus it has phrases to help drivers to deal with awkward customs and immigration officials, says The Times. Key phrases in all the languages are printed on large cards, which can be kept in the cab. If a driver wants a bag of chips in Poland, he can simply point to the phrase Poprosze frytki and be understood.

Audrey Songhurst, a college language lecturer who thought up the kit says: “Because of the nature of their work, lorry drivers are an ideal target for a kit like this. It’s not so much a language kit as part of their tool-kit.”

Money litters autobahn

BOCHUM, Germany – Police had to close Autobahn 43 after a brief case stuffed with 100,000 Euros (about $155,000 Canadian) fell from a car and littered the highway.

Cars and trucks stopped on the shoulder while drivers ran after blowing banknotes. The unlucky briefcase owner made a desperate plea for the money to be returned – it was a month’s pay for 35 employees of a business that had gone bankrupt.

The 42-year-old money-loser told cops he’d just got a call on his mobile phone before he got into his car, “and I put the briefcase on the roof because I needed my other hand free. It was a long call and I forgot about the briefcase when I drove away.”

The briefcase stayed on the roof until his high-powered car accelerated onto the autobahn entrance where it fell off. The car behind ran over it and it burst open. Police got only 3,000 Euros back and they’re looking for one trucker whom witnesses say scooped up most of the banknotes. Police claim it’s a crime to not hand in the money at a lost-and-found office.

– Harold Fiske is a Toronto reporter who specializes in the unusual. He can be reached at

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