Apr 18, 2013

Slow Boil

I am now to the point that I am ready to break my silence. You see, several months ago, I was informed that co-workers and upper management had started reading my blog. I was quietly cautioned to watch what I posted. I have since let several good posts slip from my fingers into oblivion because of the old saying "If you can't say something nice........."  Not every post would have been negative. Some were learning experiences, funny stories and updates on my life. But I have sincerely had no desire to share any of it because my job has taken a turn for the worst and I knew I couldn't share the good, with out the bad slipping out complete with an over abundance of expletives and exclamation points.

It's not the hauling of cars that has given me the blues. I love car-hauling!! It is the work load. Last year, I felt as if I hardly worked and was able to make a very comfortable living. I had plenty of home time and enjoyed learning as much as I could with each new load. This year.........  I am working twice as hard, but making less money. I can no longer plan my week in advance. I am suppose to follow new policies and guidelines, but in return, I can rarely get answers. If I work for a month and need several days off due to a major life event, the days are deducted from my paid vacation.  I have an extremely low damage ratio. I have a one year old piece of equipment to use with no damages to it. I have an incredible work ethic. I have desire. I have drive. And I have a dispatcher who couldn't really give a flying rat's ass if my truck is making any money. I have been receiving messages to remind me that my truck is not making money. You know, the irony is that I have not refused a single load. I have not left a single car. I do not let shit sit on my truck for days at a time. But yet, it is not the dispatchers fault, it is apparently mine...........

I had been asked a few months ago to let everyone get acclimated to the new structure. So I held my tongue and followed the protocol for the last few months. I think what really set me off is I have found out that 75% of what I am being told is bullshit. I do my best, and I played by the rules. What has it gotten me? A reduced check. No monthly bonuses. Very little home time. It has killed my desire. It has affected my focus and concentration. And, well, I seem to be pissed off at just about everything. SO......... I guess it is time for me to quit playing nice. I like to believe in a perfect world, hard workers are rewarded for their effort. Just one more fairy tale I have to let go of. I work just as hard, if not harder than others here and have enough experience to find another job should I chose to.

I made the first call this week, in order to get some changes made.... If I don't start seeing results soon, I will ask to transfer or be forced to find another job. No point in being away from home if I am going backwards in revenue.

Apr 9, 2013

Freehold, New Jersey

Do not be alarmed!  This is only a post.... Had this been an actual blog, you would have been reading new posts on a regular basis.

So, I am just going to jump right back in here like I never left......

As you can see to the left on the left of this text, I had the pleasure of meeting a local law enforcement officer in Freehold, New Jersey today. I had been given instructions to drop my present load at a holding yard rather than at a dealership and with turn by turn directions, I made my way towards my destination. "Head north and turn left at second traffic light". Now I like to be considerate of my fellow motorists and try not to pull any asinine maneuvers, so after passing the first traffic light, I begin to prepare for making a left hand turn by signaling and moving into the left lane. I also like to think of myself as attentive. So before, during, and after the lane change, I am continually scanning my mirrors. Hell, I am continually scanning my perimeters any time the truck is in motion. Within seconds of securing my left lane position, I notice the officer creeping up behind me. I have not seen a speed limit sign at this point for this particular road, so I err on the side of caution. Now Mr PoPo is peeking out to my left as if he is in a hurry, but with my left turn approaching, I figured he could be patient and pass me when I hit the turn lane. Bobbing and weaving behind me, he hits the lights and sirens. And yet, still, I hesitate before working my way to the right lane.

He follows me to the right lane, so I pull over. I have no idea what I have done....

I can see him approaching my passenger side door, so I lower the window. He yanks the lock and opens the door as I scramble to not let any gear fall out of the truck. I could see it in his face. With a smirky demeanor, he asks, "You have no idea why I pulled you over, do you?"  Now typically, I like to engage the officers in witty banter, so I replied as I looked in my mirrors, "Did I lose a car somewhere?" He takes a step back and looks at my load before he continues....



PoPo: Where are you from?

ME: Georgia

PoPo: How long have you been driving?

ME: About an hour.

PoPo: (At this point, he is losing a little patience with me) YOU KNOW VERY WELL THAT COMMERCIAL VEHICLES ARE RESTRICTED TO THE RIGHT LANE!!! You were in the left lane doing 40.

ME: What is the speed limit?

PoPo: 50!!! You are impeding traffic in the passing lane.

ME: I was going to make a left turn......   (sigh)

PoPo: (Oozing with sarcasm) On Center Street?

Center Street is about 500 feet in front of me.

Me: Yes........

PoPo: Well, you cant be riding through town impeding traffic in the left lane.

Me: I was looking for my left turn, that's why my left turn signal was on.

PoPo: Well, this is a warning! You can go.......



He then pulls out to the left lane to allow me to get into position to make my left turn. I arrive at my destination and begin to unload my cars. It wasn't more than 10 minutes later that my new friend pulls into the holding yard and circles the lot before he was off to protect and serve someone else.

You know, even though I was inconvenienced by this event and a little amused by his "I'll teach you, you dumb mother trucker" attitude, I was also feeling just a little bit giddy. Apparently, he has seen his fair share of ignorant freighthaulers who ride the left lane at a slower pace in a mind numbing stupor. And while I may have been the "sheep" he was aiming to herd, I can only hope he is successful in his efforts to teach  the big riggers the rules of the road. Oh the Joy!, to see the day when the left lane is once again used for passing, rather than a place to camp out because all those cars are scary merging in from the side roads and entrances.

And so it goes, I must stop now! I can feel a rant coming on................................




Nov 19, 2012

Bombs Away....

Once again the Kia gods have got me in their sites.

Last week I was sent to load up some more of those disposable cars. I backed an Optima over the hood and raised the deck.  It was dusk by the time I finished loading.

I was making my way towards DC and after awhile I noticed the puddle of water on my hood was not dispersing. How odd!! I stopped for fuel after a few hours and that is when I noticed the puddle of water, was lumpy, almost taking on a solid form. From my vantage point, it appeared to be either A) Pterodactyl poo or, B) vomit.

The longer I drove, the more disturbed I became by its presence. I could actually begin to "smell" whatever it was on my hood. Amazing how the mind can play its on itself! It had no odor, but the longer I stared at it, the more it reeked.

The next morning, I decided to investigate further in broad daylight. It turns out, it is just a rust proofing agent that is used to lubricate the inside of the frame of a car. Apparently, the Optima was filled beyond capacity and when I raised the deck, it came spilling out onto my hood.

After an entire evening of dry heaving and smelling the nonexistent scent of regurgitation, I am even more convinced the KIA gods are angry... The busted windshield, the lightning strike, the "vomit", all happened whilst hauling those little jewels....

What makes it even worse, is that anytime I have a chance to do some baking while I am at home, the extras always make their way down to West Point. I have taken coffee cake and cookies to the guards. I have given a cake to the guys and gals in the transporters office. In fact, just last week, I dropped off a few slices a Pumpkin Roll to my own WP dispatcher, Jim.  You know, now that I think about it, I use to take goodies to a truck shop in South Carolina and it turns out that just about all of their repair work was bullshit!

Perhaps it is not KIA, but rather, Betty Crocker who needs to be appeased?

Nov 5, 2012

Venting....

I know..... it has been awhile!

So I am sitting here in my little motel room for the night and I can't help but wonder if my job just went to shit.

I have been hauling cars 14  months now, and have had very few altercations. The only thing that notably stands out is the time a co-worker cut straps on my load to get back at me for something that was out of my control to begin with. I have managed to stay out of the politics and bickering for the most part. I am reasonably content... Or I was.

My first boss was awesome. He knew his job. He kept me loaded and made me good money. I never had a problem with him. I ended up in somewhat of a routine and could easily plan out my week. But, alas, he was fired. The new crew stepped in and even though they had no previous knowledge of the car hauling industry, I  once again was able to get into a groove, make money and stay very content. But their lack of knowledge essentially caught up with them and they were also banished from the kingdom.

New Bosses enter the picture, along with the politics of the game. The terminal I am assigned to is now running on a forced central dispatch system. To be honest, this causes me a bit of anxiety. The way I worked in the past, if a load was available for an area I preferred, I could grab it and essentially know what would be in store for me the next few days. I was in a sweet little groove. Now, I am sent wherever someone else sees fit. Yeah, I know, tough shit! But it just seems to me that if trucks are making money, and drivers are happy, why not let them continue on the routes they prefer. So last week, it started. No more choosing the areas I wanted. I was able to work my way back into Greer, hoping they would leave me alone with the routes I have been running the past few months, but that didn't happen. I was assigned a load that would finish up in Syracuse. Normally this would not have been a problem, except for the minor discontent in running new areas and not knowing where my head would hit the pillow at night. The major discontent came from the fact that I had asked to be home on a specific date next week for a family function. I gave them 10 days notice for my desired arrival at home. The Syracuse load would have me scrambling to find my way home. I asked for Ohio or Kentucky because that would leave me plenty of wiggle room. Nope, no Ohio or Kentucky.. Not that there weren't any loads going there. Just not for me. Head to the Upstate. So with that in mind, I told them I was going to have to reset my hours over the weekend, hoping they would throw me a bone and hand over my desired run. Of course, I loaded for New York... After doing a reset and getting all cars delivered this morning, I was told to head to Buffalo and grab a load to Queens, NY. What the hell????

I wouldn't be able to load until Tuesday morning because of the business hours. I wouldn't be able to unload until Wednesday due to business hours. That would put me reloading Wednesday afternoon/evening if everything fell perfectly into place. Now, if I load in New York on Wednesday afternoon, how the hell am I supposed to be empty and home on Thursday. Then there is the imperfect scenario in which they couldn't find me a load south until Thursday... You get the idea. So, I called to remind them I was suppose to be at home....

As it turns out, this is all my fault. First, supposedly the reset threw off my schedule. BULLSHIT!! The 34 hour reset only set me back 2 hours, because the cars could not be delivered until Monday morning anyways. "Oh well, it wasn't the reset that hurt you. It was that we didn't know you needed a reset" BULLSHIT.... I sent messages early on Friday mentioning a reset in hopes that I could get something other than Syracuse... I was told that if they knew I needed a reset that I could have gotten the Ohio or Kentucky that I had asked for. BULLSHIT!! I told them 8 hours before I loaded that I would be taking a reset...

I am sooooooo frustrated. Not with this particular exchange or the way this week is shaping up. Yes, I still need to get home and there is still time. But the reason, I am frustrated is because I am fairly certain that I am now on the "shit list". Perhaps everyone is on the shit list? This is the first time I have asked for a specified date in 14 months. And the reasons they are giving me for the difficulty in getting me home are clever excuses based on knowledge they claim they didn't have... BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT!!!!! Yes, I do understand that everyone is heading northeast after last week's storm. Another reason that I did not want Syracuse, I didnt have time to play on the east coast.

Nothing pisses me off worse than lies, deceit and feigned ignorance... If this is the way the dispatch is going to be run, I fear I may experience an elevated level of discontent.. Now, again, if the trucks are making money and the drivers are happy..... WHY WOULD YOU CHANGE IT ?  I think I just became a truck number........

Sep 14, 2012

Fahrvergn├╝gen

Well, it has been a month since I experienced my first steer tire blowout. But that was not where the story ended. After having a used tire put on, I was able to make it to my dealership to get unloaded. The next morning, I was going to have to shop the truck to have some hydraulic lines replaced. Lucky for me, one of my routine motels was close by.

The next morning, after placing several phone calls, I was able to locate a shop that could do the required hydraulic repairs. Without replacing the lines that were shredded by the blown tire, I would not be able to lift the front deck and open my hood. Without opening my hood, I was unable to determine if there were any other damages that needed attention. Knowing the day would be financially unprofitable, I decided to sleep in. I never could pass up a good excuse.

Around 11am, I climb in the truck and begin my day. I pulled out of the motel and made the left turn onto the ramp to get onto the Interstate. The ramp lane actually continued forward and became the exit lane for 270 in Columbus, Oh. As I eased down the ramp, I was watching for traffic on my left to cut in front of me. Expect the unexpected, always! After a few hundred feet, another lane merges in from the right. This is typically an extremely heavy merge point, but there were no cars coming from my right. I am probably rolling along about 40 to 45mph because I had just started from a traffic light and was about to make a 25mph exit, so I never gained full momentum.

BOOM!!  Oh crap... Still in the left lane, with my right turn signal engaged, my first thought is that the USED steer tire replacement has just erupted. There was a slight jolt to the truck so I hit the brakes and check for cars on my right because I need to hit the shoulder. Seeing nothing blocking the lane,  BOOM!!!!!!  WHAT THE F#@K ??!!??!!  Now, I am thinking the tire has wrapped itself around my axle and just about that time, I notice the trunk of a Volkswagon Jetta about 2-3 foot off the ground going flying past my left headlight....

The Jetta slams into the wall on my left and I jerk the wheel hard to the right. There was not a whole heck of a lot of room between me and that wall and with the Jetta doing donuts down the left side of my truck, I feared the worst. She managed to bounce between my truck and the wall at least 3 times before we got stopped.



Basically, when she tried to cut me off, she did not allow enough room and the left rear corner of her car caught the right front corner of the step on my bumper. The impact immediately turned her to the left and I then t-boned the left side of the car. As I braked, she was then able to get traction and basically drove straight into the jersey wall on my left. As she bounced off the wall, she hit my truck again. Then the wall, my truck, the wall, my truck....

Both the driver and the passenger were physically okay with the exception of a few bruises and cuts. Emotionally, they were both a wreck. Well, literally too! The driver apologizes to me. I am still shaking my head because I have no idea where she came from. There were no cars on that ramp! A witness has also stopped and we continue to make sure the car occupants are okay. The police arrive, along with an ambulance and tow truck. Everyone is interviewed, except me..... The car is totaled. The occupants are transported to the hospital for standard tests and the witness offers me all his information before vacating the scene. The officer finally approaches me and informs me that with the witnesses testimony, the driver of the Jetta was issued a citation for improper lane change and improper passing.

I still have NO IDEA where she came from. I am thinking she just wanted to get passed the big truck and decided to pass on the right. But the accident report confirmed, along with the witness statement, that I did absolutely nothing wrong...

As for White Lightning, the truck is virtually unscathed...





Had this woman had the same accident with a regular high mount tractor trailer, the outcome could have very well been a tragedy. The points of impact indicate it could have indeed been fatal, but with my trailer riding inches off the ground, it kept her from being crushed by my tires.... Just something to think about, folks. Noting the damage to the Jetta, versus the scuff marks on my truck, I can assure you, I barely felt any thing.

Safe Travels!!

Sep 8, 2012

Customer Service

Several weeks ago I picked up a nail in one of my drive tires. But since I am quite meticulous in checking the air pressure, I saw no real need to rush out and get a new one. It was only dropping a few pounds per day and I keep an air hose with me anyways. This morning when I checked, the tire was flat. Saturdays are not the best day to try to and find a 19.5 tire. The majority of trucks run a 22.5 or 24.5 tire. So, I spent the majority of the morning calling around trying to locate one. This was after I unloaded my rear car to grab the air hose and try to re inflate it. I quickly realized that was not going to happen. So, I eased down the road to a local truck shop. They didn't have the tire either, but the mechanic also got on the phone and began to call around for me trying to locate one. I was able to get someone at Peterbilt Truck Care to start looking as well. I was able to find a set 300 miles away, but had no intentions of driving that far with the flat. PTC found something comparable just 15 miles from where I was sitting so I was instructed to head that way. Within 10 minutes PTC called me back and said to wait. I was told that the shop with the tires could not mount them because they were waiting on someone else who was 100 miles away. After that person had 4 tires mounted, they would try to fit me in before they closed in 2 hours.  Now, this is a first come, first serve type of situation and they were going to put me off because someone was 2 hours away and had an appointment? Well, PTC had issues with that type of service and decided we would take my business elsewhere. I headed back to the local shop and inquired about at least getting a plug that would get me down to Knoxville, where some more tires were located. After removing the flat tire, it was then determined that I was going no where. The inner wall of the tire had a huge split in it meaning a patch was pointless. Knowing that the truck stop down the road was now off limits due to the disagreement with PTC, I was getting ready to sit it out until Monday. That is when the local shop, who does not do business with the truck stop (over another disagreement) decided to head down there and grab the tires for me. I am sure he got his cut in profits from this, but it kept me from being stranded.

So what is my point? Well, I was impressed with PTC for their business ethics. Who cares if it would have cost me more time, I wasn't really in the mood to work anyways. I could have been at that truck stop in 20 minutes, but they were going to put me off because some other truck was 2 hours away.. I needed one tire changed!!  I was also impressed with the local shop for all the help (paid and unpaid). I am that person who is willing to pay more for better customer service. I am glad to see that PTC believes in that too. Yeah, I still have a hard time looking at a Wal-Mart after they ruined my wheels... And I am sure they don't miss my money, but it is about the ethics!

Has It Been a Year Already?

It has been a year. On September 6th, I celebrated my one year anniversary as a car-hauler. And a lot has happened in the past year.

I loaded small loads.
I loaded big loads.
I loaded even bigger loads....

I am becoming more confident with every load.

I received a brand new truck after only 8 months.
My new truck was hit by lightning after only 2 weeks.
I had my first steer tire blow out in 14 years of driving commercial vehicles.
I had my first major accident.
I damaged my first car.
I made a trip to California in a daycab.

Yes, a lot has happened. In my first year I loaded 116 loads with a total of 957 cars, ranging in size from the Smart Car up to a Ford F450.

I have made friends. I have made enemies...

After one year, I feel very confident in saying that I will do this until I am physically no longer able to load cars, or I just get tired of trucking altogether.

So what has 365 days of car-hauling taught me?  It has taught me that every load is it's own unique puzzle. Of course, hauling the same product lines, the puzzle becomes simplified. The auction loads are a different story. Every load IS different. Normally, if I have any questions about placement of cars, I will either phone a friend for advice or ask someone loading close to me if a particular scenario should work. I know I have said it before, but I still find it to be true... Car-Haulers are a different breed and genuinely look out for each other.

So, with my years worth of learning, this weeks auction load proved to me that I more than capable of being successful. I had to pick up in 3 locations and it is best if you don't have to keep moving units around to get it loaded properly. Armed with a basic knowledge of my vehicles, I was able to get everything loaded and only move one car twice. I was even able to add an extra unit. Still a little unsure  how close my axle weight would be, I felt pretty good about how it was loaded. I felt damn good about it!!!!



So this is what a year has taught me. Perhaps I shouldn't second, third and fourth guess myself quite so much? It could not have been anymore perfect. Sure it is still a little heavy on the steers, but I am always heavy there and my tires are rated for it. I am actually 11780 on the steer axle when empty, so it gets heavy quick!

Now, I am sure you are wondering about my California trip and perhaps the major accident? Yup, I have some blogging to do!

Aug 29, 2012

Rest In Peace....

WARNING
This is my account of a fatal accident.

There are some things that you never want to see. And some things you will never forget. Today I witnessed the scene of a fatal accident. The image will haunt me. This is the tenth time I have witnessed  the scene of a life expired. I feel the best way for me to find peace about this, is to write it down. Perhaps you may want to skip this blog post...

I was driving east when I noticed traffic began to slow drastically quick. Everyone began to merge to the right lanes and as with any delays in traffic, I began to look around for the cause. On the left shoulder, just beyond the overpass, I could see all sorts of debris including fiberglass, glass, metal and one of those large light poles used in the center of the Interstate. On the west bound side, I noticed several clusters of cars with people standing around holding each other, but none of the cars looked to be damaged. About that time is when I noticed a truck sitting under the overpass, pressed up against the jersey wall. There were no emergency vehicles there, so I just assumed the accident was being cleared up and any injuries had already been attended to. The truck was totaled. The hood was crushed in towards the cab. The cab was crushed down into the drivers seat, the windshield was pushed in to the steering wheel.

I wish this had been the only view I had seen, but I was heading east and passed by the driver's side. As I was stunned by the damage, I noticed something not quite right. The driver's door was literally ripped off its hinges and .....

He still had his seat belt on. 

The news reports say he was ejected. He was not fully ejected... One leg still in the truck, foot wedged in the steering wheel. Seat belt still wrapped around his waist, but his waist is now at the bottom of the door frame. His upper body hanging down over his steps. He still had his seatbelt on... I think that part bothers me the most. Something hit the truck so hard that it was peeled open and he was dragged outside, but he still had his seatbelt on. His shoe was missing, his blue jeans were ripped, but that seatbelt keeps haunting me.  I apologize if this post seems insensitive, but I am trying to remove the vision from my memory. The truck was pressed against the jersey wall, and all I can see is that seatbelt stretched around his waist...

Moving passed the scene, I immediately burst into tears, a deep heart wrenching sob. I am fairly certain, his life ended abruptly and without time for pain. But, my thoughts always extend to the family, the wife, the kids, the people who were standing on the side of the road, the ones who had run to the truck to see if he was okay, the ones who drove by and saw everything that I saw, the emergency workers... I have been told that people become numb to these types of tragedies. The people who attend the scene and clean up the debris, the emergency responders. I cannot imagine ever being that desensitized, but I sincerely hope that they do. I hope they all sleep well tonight and find comfort with their families. 




Aug 23, 2012



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Aug 13, 2012

Pucker Up

Just another one of those things I was able to check off the "First" list.

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of blowing my first steer tire in 15 years of driving. I was quite astonished to find out it was no where near as frightening as I thought it would be. Basically, I heard the noise, felt the front end raise as if I had run over something and then wop wop wop wop wop. It was not much of a struggle to keep control of the truck and ease off onto the shoulder out of harm's way. Perhaps, the low center of gravity on a car-hauler played a vital role in this.

And while I do seem to have exquisite luck, ( I will not indicate which end of the spectrum my luck tends to run), I was actually very lucky in the amount of damaged that was sustained.

Managed to keep my fender!


That is no illusion. With the dropped cab and blown tire, my fuel tank is hovering an inch above the ground.

Damage to the hydraulic lines for the front cylinder where the rubber slapped it a few times.



If you noticed in the first picture, there is slight damage to the fender, but I was able to reattach the mud flap and with the "new" used tire in place, I was able to drive away. No brake damage, no hood damage, no damage to any components under the hood.... At least that I know of. 

I am also very thankful that a few weeks ago, I took it upon myself to have my right fuel tank rotated. It has an aluminum elbow on the bottom which is attached to the hydraulic oil tank. Notice how low that tank is sitting? I would have sheared a good portion of that elbow off and perhaps caused a substantial oil spill.

The hydraulic lines did take a good punch. There will be no moving the front of the deck over my hood until those are replaced. I tested it to see if it was punctured and the 8' rooster tail of oil was a pretty good indication. What this means is I was unable to raise the hood to check for more damages from the blown tire. But at least I was able to unload that evening and had an appointment to get the lines repaired the next morning. Sure, I know it all sounds bad, but with minimal damages I was able to mark one more "first" off my list.