Apr 26, 2008

Oops, I forgot this little Gem!!

I don't know if I would necessarily classify this under something that irritated or just flat out amused me, but it definitely fits into the spectrum of people behaving like idiots on the road.

Last week while driving southbound towards the TriBoro Bridge, I noticed an erratic driver closing in from behind. Now let me set up the locale. There are three normal lanes each direction. The bridge is under construction and the lanes divide into four smaller lanes with a jersey wall separating the two pairs. These construction lanes are literally only about 8' wide. A little tight for two cars to be cruising side by side, but they speed through the site anyways. In a tractor trailer, you have absolutely no room for error, as your tires are on the white lanes on both sides of the truck. I myself like to position myself in the center of the two lanes so that no idiots will side swipe me, while speeding through the construction zone. It is that tight!!

Back to the erratic driver...... as the lanes split into four, I ease my self into position. I am now in the left lane of the right pair. The car behind me is flashing his high beams in what I can only assume was a gesture to get me to get out of his way. He is darting back and forth, side to side, and blinding me with his lights. I would be happy to move over for him, if there were no other motorists in my way.

We are now nearing the point where the Jersey wall separates the two pairs of lanes and I suppose Mr. High Beams was losing his patience. There are about 10 orange cones set up right before the concrete wall takes over, and Mr High Beams displaces all the cones and smacks the concrete divider in a last minute attempt to change lanes. The rear of his car bounced high and left as he made contact, but obviously whatever he was in such a hurry for took more precedence, because he never hit the brakes. There he was passing on my left with his high beams busted and the fender smashed in.... I couldn't help but laugh out loud!!

I can't help but think he must have known the wall was there. I am only in town one day a week and I know it is there. Sure, he couldn't see around me, but this construction zone has been in effect for over a year! Nothing new!

Apr 25, 2008

Another One of Those Weeks

I have mentioned in a few recent posts that I have been under extreme anxiety recently. Just plain aggravated, and every little thing is getting under my skin. Normally I have huge amount of patience and tend to overlook all of the trivial annoyances. But not lately. So here is a quick run through of why I am walking on eggshells.

1. I got my wheel seal repaired. At a place that had no break room, snack machine, or driver's lounge. Originally estimated to take 2.5 hours, I laid around in the grass (reading a book) for over six. At least I won't be worried about flaming down the interstate for awhile.

2. You have all heard me whine about having to pull spring ride trailers... To make matters worse, in the past few weeks, my leveling valve on the air-ride suspension of my tractor has been malfunctioning, which makes it feel like a spring ride Truck. In fact, when returning from Ravenswood, Virginia a few weeks ago, I bounced through a pothole so hard it give me a mild case of whiplash which lasted for a week. I woke up the next morning and was unable to turn my head from side to side, but it only took 2 weeks , and that was repaired.

3. I mentioned having my radio repaired and receiving all sorts of free goodies. Well, I am looking this gift horse directly in the yellowing teeth. My radio does not work properly ANYMORE, and the error is undetectable by anyone else. This has been going on for six weeks. I am not normally a chatty Cathy on the CB, but I at least want to be heard clearly when I do decide to key up the mic. Instead, this horrible laser sounds comes screeching across the airwaves. I am so tired of everyone telling me to step away from the radio!! As of right now, it is being shipped to PA for a technician with 30 years experience to check it out. Should have it back in two weeks. Oh did I mention this problem started as a result of being fixed.

4. Last week when heading up to Long Island, I was traveling with a co-worker and he convinced me to follow his route, as it would save me at least an hour of driving... I hesitated, because I don't normally care to drive up Interstate 95.... Too much traffic!! I gave in and we turned east onto I-70 thru Maryland. ( I stay on I-81 normally, until I reach I-78). We arrive at 95 and traffic is flowing nicely. After a quick stop in Elkton, Maryland, I am on my way, as he camps out for the night. 1.5 miles later I hit major delays, from the Delaware state line to Edison, NJ... At this point, I opt to take the Outerbridge Crossing, thinking I will eliminate some of the traffic delays by not fighting my way across the George Washington Bridge. Wrong... Staten Island was not too bad, but Brooklyn was a nightmare. Needless to say, the last 2.5 hour leg of my journey took well over 5 hours!! So much for saving time.

and this is where I really start losing my cool

5. There is a stop I deliver to every week in Southington, Connecticut. They require an appointment every week to deliver. No one ever makes my appointment. I cannot do it myself, because I do not possess the adequate information on Friday required to make the appointment. My Boss does, but he always forgets.... Every week, which makes my job a tab bit harder, but so far my charm has always convinced the receiver to give a girl a break. But it would be nice to not have them fuss at me, EVERY WEEK!!

6. I had a not so regular delivery last week, to a location a mere 7 miles from a regular stop. I placed numerous phone calls trying to get directions, as this town is extremely restricted to Big Trucks. The receptionist could not give me the info I needed, because she did not know the designated Truck Route. The receiver would not answer his phone, or return my calls. After 36 hours of trying to get the info, I set out on a blind run... It took me almost 2 hours to finally arrive at the destination, only a mere 7 miles away, because every road leading in was off limits! I don't just mean " No Thru Trucks" I am talking about low clearance, bridge restrictions, low hanging wires and tree limbs. When I got there (late, of course) the receiver laughed at me and asked why I didn't call for directions.... OMG, I called a dozen times and left someone 4 messages to return my call. The person on the voice mails' name was Bill. The receiver's name was also Bill. Coincidence? I think not.

7. This one really confuses me... My normal route includes NY, CT, and MA.. Last week, I had an additional delivery to make in Elkridge, Maryland for my final stop. There was another load that was bound for Elkridge, and it had plenty of room for the few items I was carrying. The second load also had 4 of my NYC deliveries, which I had plenty of room for on my trailer. So driver number two is delivering Maryland and New York, while I am delivering New York, CT, Mass, and Maryland... Each of the loads was no where near full, but because of the load planning, both drivers spent an additional day away from home, with no increase in pay. In fact, I was paid less, because 4 of my stops were on the second trailer. When asked why these loads were planned that way, the Planner stated they were already loaded, ad no changes could have been made.... But who told them to load them this way, the Planner, of course, and she has no idea why they were loaded this way?! I call BS!!

To top it all off, motorists have been infected with a severe case of stupidity. am wondering if something is in the air other than pollen....I can not begin to tell you how many people I have had to dodge this week. For instance, when nearing an exit ramp, a young girl decides she wants my lane... Exactly where I am at, at the exact moment I am there..... I catch her movement out of the corner of my eye, and swerve hard to the left. Another second or two and she would have drove under the side of my trailer.... I blow the horn at her to get her attention, and she has the audacity to give me a friendly little 'thank you' wave as she speeds out of sight. But to make matters worse, when I swerved into the left lane, there was a car about 100 feet behind me. They obviously had no idea what was going on. In any case, that driver overreacted and the next thing you know, he is spinning wildly in the median. I pull over, in case they are injured or damaged. But immediately, he too gives me the thumbs up and drives away... WTF... Or how about the guy who slams on his brakes at a GREEN light! Or the one who ran the red light and turned directly in front of me, with only inches to spare. Yep, you guessed it, another friendly wave....

Come on Folks, either get medicated for your spring fever, or get the hell off the road. You are making my life a tad bit stressful at the moment...

Another One of Those Loads

This was another one of those weeks where I actually had to break a sweat to get unloaded. I don't mind doing this occasionally, but it really makes for a dirty day, and complaining doesn't help. I just wish they would train somebody to load the trailers and let them do it for more than three to four weeks at a time.
The above picture is how the load is suppose to look against the curtain when closed. You will notice there is plenty of room for the tarp to slide on the rails in order to open properly.

But when the blocking (metal bands and wood used to give it structure) is pressed against the frame, it makes for a difficult day. The reason this happens is because the loaders leave gaps in between bundles and they inevitably start shifting during the 1000 miles they travel to be unloaded. I check my straps several times on the trip northbound, but once you find that any one strap has slack in it, it is almost guaranteed that the load will continue to shift. And as you can tell, it only takes a few inches to screw up my day!!
These particular items shifted to the point of no return.

Therefore, I retrieved my trusty band cutters and began to remedy the problem. So, now I was able to open the curtain and offload in Astoria, but, there was no way I was traveling down the interstate with these bundles having no strapping whatsoever. Thankfully Jimmy was willing to re strap all four bundles that I had to cut open... He is so awesome to work with!!

Here you see Jimmy unloading my trailer, while double parked in Queens. Not only do we face shifting bundles and crappy loads, but also the volume of traffic on this street is fairly high. Most of them patiently wait while he grabs a bundle, but some people are in so much of a hurry that they will fly by doing 50mph, blowing the horn and cussing at us....on a 25mph street. Oh well, so is life in the Big City !!

Apr 24, 2008

Because Everything is Irritating Me

I just needed to clear the air.

I have heard this question umpteen dozen times this spring and it is really getting on my nerves.

"What is the flowering purple tree growing along the highways?"

I have heard this argument from truckers, patrons of truck stops, and even read a few threads on a forum discussing it, but no one seems to get the answer correct.

The number one answer repeated way too often on the forum was Wisteria... I hate to tell you, but wisteria takes the form of a vine and has to be trained in the shape of a tree, so in its natural environment, it more often resembles a flowery kudzu.

The second most popular answer was Crepe Myrtle ... Huh.. Come on folks, Crepe Myrtles do not flower until summer and have a full showing of leaves before the first cluster of flowers ever even opens.....

It is, in fact, an Eastern Redbud....No, don't let the name fool you, I know it is not red.....Stop arguing with me.... Okay, go look it up for yourself!

Some Truckers are very adamant about it being a crepe myrtle!!

But it is a RedBud!!

and this is where it grows!!

Next argument, please!

Fried Green Tomatoes

With all that has caused me grief and angst in the past few weeks, I was pleasured today by taking a scenic drive through the country to deliver an odd piece of freight. More on that later.

While cruising down this particular scenic byway, I noticed a sign that was extremely familiar to me. I made a mental note to check it out on my return trip home.

And just as I has originally thought, it was very familiar indeed...

The original sign from the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes", which pointed in the direction of the actual Cafe used in the film.

I loved this movie, and passing the sign put a huge smile on my face. I think I will jump in my car and go check it out on the next available free weekend I have... Cafe's still open for business.

The Freaks Come Out At Night

Is it just me, or has the recent full moon left an astounding mark on society. People get a little weird during this phase of the moon, and I have experienced enough in the past few weeks to make me want to fling myself off the next bridge I come to.

Just when I had thought I have seen enough to tide me over for the rest of the month, I stumble upon an activity that left me utterly speechless. As I was approaching the last toll booth on I-95, I noticed the masses ahead of me were scrambling to the left. I slowed to gain coherency of what was taking place, when the traffic parted..... That is when I saw this dumbass truck driver making a U-Turn in front of the Toll Booths and proceed to head north into South Bound traffic..... WTF???!!?!?!?!??!??!?!???!?

He then drives about 500 yds and makes another U-turn and heads back towards the booths. All the while, motorists are flashing their lights and sounding their horns, Truckers are screaming over the CB and pandemonium ensues as the oncoming traffic sees a Big Rig heading straight for them.

I just had this horrible feeling that he was about to make tomorrow morning's headlines....

I would almost guarantee you that all of the motorists who witnessed this take place will not remember another Trucker's courtesy or professionalism. Yet this simple act of stupidity will live on in their memories ....

And you wonder why sometimes I am embarrassed to tell you that I am a Trucker....


Apr 19, 2008

Horrible...... nuff said!

Wooooot Woooooot

A special Thank You to the Wonderful Ms. Siz.....

Last month I had that whole running shoe dilemma, and she came to my rescue!! So now, not only do I have that crappy pair of Children's Asics (no cushioning in the child version, but I am sure otherwise it is a lovely running shoe)

But I also have these Sauconys' , which are equivalent to running on clouds... Seriously, my first day in them, I stomped out an easy 7 miles with no discomfort whatsoever!!

But I also have these Pearl Izumis.... Great, now I have no excuse to not get out and stretch my legs when out on the road..... Oh wait, I am lazy... That was always my original excuse....

So, once again, Thanks Siz!! Muah!!
and just so you know, the color scheme of the Pearls and Asics are indentical... HA, go figure!!

Apr 18, 2008

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

I always love riding through this magnificent state, especially with an empty trailer. It makes for good times, by my standards anyways... With its mountainous terrain and winding byways, it is always a treat to drive through.

So this week, after I finished making my deliveries, I was to pick up a load of sows in West Virginia to take to our plant in Tennessee. It is not a bad location to pick up, just a very heavy load. At this point I will remind you that West Virginia has some very intense inclines and descents, not to mention that my trailer brakes are not functioning properly. sheeeesshhh!!

Along the way to pick up, heading west on I-68, I pass through the little town of Cumberland, Maryland... I took this picture while cruising down the interstate (not bad, huh). This place just has that down home feeling about, so I thought I would share. Sorry about the bug guts in the center of the pic, but I did clean my windshield just before I left Carlisle, PA. Oh well, it is THAT time of year.

Anyways, back to the route plan. I pick up at Century Aluminum in Ravenswood, West Virginia, which is nestled on the banks of the Ohio River.

But not before driving across one of those 'drive it like you stole it' kind of roads. Wide open, as fast as your governed slow truck will go through all the winding curves with not an Officer in sight. This is Route 50 which carries you from Clarksburg, WV to Parkersburg, WV. At this point you get back on the Interstate and travel south to Ravenswood.

Once loaded, and scaled out ( 79, 880 lbs) it is time to head for Tennessee. Rather than head back towards the Interstate, I opt for Route 2. I always love me a good two lane, and what better reason to high tail it through the country side than poor brakes, which I have already mentioned. And Route 2 follows the Ohio River, so Yep, you guessed it, no long descents requiring properly functioning trailer brakes.

Along this route, as I travel through Lesage, I notice a "hotdog stand" on the side of the highway. It was very hillbilly-esque. (you really must open that link up for the full effect, go on, I Dare YOU!!) but swallow your Dr Pepper first, because I will not be held accountable otherwise.

The only thing that concerns me when traveling through West Virginia is the number of Correctional Facilities that I have spotted.. No really.... Three separate locations within 150 miles. But otherwise, it is a rather enjoyable scenic adventure.

And in closing, I leave you with this little tidbit! Okay, so it ain't the Ozarks, but work with me people!!

It Was Bound To Happen

I like to think that I am a very alert and courteous driver. I mean, after all, I have been touring the New York Metro Area for six years and have never hit anyone, knocked over a telephone pole, or chased down a pedestrian. No one ever blows the horn at me or flips me off anymore. It is almost like I am a Native, which is the best angle to approach the traffic in this Concrete Jungle.

But, alas, I have behaved in a way that is unbecoming and I felt I should share with you.

In between local deliveries, I drive like a crazed lunatic... No Trucks In The Left Lane.... Whatever..... Well, except on the Thruway.. Even I know better! Now don't get me wrong, I am not harassing the taxi-cabs or six-wheelers who don't seem to realize why those lines are on the road. But I am in the left lane, and I do gently nudge motorists into giving me lane position. But I have never hit anyone, and my attempts at intimidation don't seem to phase anyone, with the exception of creating the much needed space required to change lanes.

Okay, so I am not adhering to all of the laws, but as stated above, I am just driving like a Native New Yorker and it suits me well for my limited time frame between multiple deliveries.

Monday, after finishing up in Queens, I head north to Connecticut to make my next delivery. The highway is three lanes wide in each direction with a very distinct restriction on that left lane. So, I am traveling in the middle lane. Further up, the restriction is lifted from the left lane as it approaches the Toll Booths. Left lane is for Easy Pass, which I have, so I merge into the left lane. Out of nowhere, this flatbedder comes barreling into the extreme left lane, cutting motorists off. He was previously in the far right lane. Had I not locked up my brakes and smoked my tires, he would have plowed into my tractor...... Another half mile and the left lane then divides into 4 Easy Pass lanes... Thinking I would give this idiot plenty of room, I head for the third lane. He is making a bee-line for the first lane, but a car has stopped in a 15 mph lane. There are 3 cars in the second lane , so once a gain he veers hard to the left and forces me out of the way. At this point, I key up the CB and express my thoughts on his complete disregard for the motorists on my left. I had no where to go without smashing up some innocent four wheeler. But, I did not! No need to ruin my safe driving record over this idiot.... Another hard brake check and the disaster was averted. I safely pull through the fourth lane, while he is trapped behind another four wheeler who stopped at the unattended booth.

Once through the booths, the lanes once again merge together to form three. Left lane prohibited. I start snatching gears and head into the middle lane, noticing that the flatbedder is now aiming for the right lane with the intention to pass me. At this point there is miraculously no traffic around me. As he begins to gain momentum, I make a quick right swerving motion partially into his lane..... Cutting him off !! I am pissed!! That being done, I steer back into my lane. He attempts to make the pass again, and this time I let him.. I made my point and other vehicles are now approaching. As he pulls up along beside me, he stares hard and throws up his hands. Plain as day, I lip read him saying....." WTF".

Look here Buddy!! You cut me off, not once, but twice!!! Jack Ass!!

I know I shouldn't have, and I was aware of my surroundings, but I regret to admit that YES, my RoadRage was showing that day!!

20-25 miles later, he was at it again. Driving reckless and cutting off traffic to make unsafe passes.... It seems my little display of gratitude did nothing to get his attention. But it sure made me feel better.....

Apr 12, 2008

I was Wrong, You are NOT!!

Man, I hate when that happens.......

Okay, so this week I decided to check with the Mechanics and find out why they were so adamant about a leaking wheel seal.

I pulled my Big Truck over the service pit and climbed below to take a look.

That is when the Mechanic showed me the leaking wheel seal, and it was BAD!!!

Once again, there are no authorized service shops open on Sunday, hence, I will be a nervous wreck all week..... I am going to try to get into Avon, MA to get it fixed on Tuesday.. Cross your fingers....

Apr 5, 2008

April Fool's

So, did any of you hear about the National Independent Trucker Strike that supposedly took place this past week.....

I can't believe that I have not mentioned this before, but in all honesty, I forgot about it.....How could I forget it?? Because over the course of the past few months the Official Dates of said Strike have been changed more often than some Trucker's underwear. And even on Day One of the event, some folks were still claiming it was not suppose to start for 3 more days.

Well, it just was not a large scale effort. Yeah, sure, some Truckers got together and slowed the Jersey Turnpike down to 20 MPH, and a few more blocked the highways in Ohio....The Port in Florida was packed with idling Big Trucks (way to save fuel, dumbass) and the Vince Lombardi was packed beyond capacity with disgruntled drivers.

But, it is that way everyday!!

The independent Truckers were demanding fuel prices be dropped or freight charges be increased... blah blah blah.

Honestly, it is just like Wally World moving into small town America and forcing the local thrift shops out of business. The Owner/Ops can not afford these high fuel prices and many are losing out. The larger companies are able to handle the increased fuel prices, and are able to carry on. I do feel bad for these guys who are unable to continue on in their independent ways, but I made the same choice, years ago..... I am a company driver! I do not have those pressures to deal with!

I never saw any "strike" activity, but one of my Bronx Customers warned me of the slow down on the Jersey Pike.... I was headed to my final pick-up with only 30 minutes to spare and still had to cross the GWB during afternoon rush hour.... Now, that is stressful....

But the most surprising thing I have found during this whole ordeal is.......while doing a little research to provide you with as much information as possible, I stumbled upon this Google Photo. Needless to say, my entire post has now become a useless digression into parking spots and trick photography.

I want to know when this picture was taken?? This is the Vince Lombardi Service Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike.... And I have never in six years seen it this empty... EVER. In fact, when I pull in around 3-4pm I have to park here,

because it is already at capacity, and by nightfall there is no room left on the ramps and the curbside is 2-3 deep with Big trucks double-parked...

See, I have proof.. Here I am in the early afternoon already forced to park on the outskirts enjoying the breeze with some Jersey Pigeons whilst looking out over the Meadowland.

So much for sticking it to the Man.... The Strike has had little effect on anything. Of course you realize that 99 % of everything you own has been on a Big Truck at least once in its life span.... So, naturally diesel is being taxed higher than any other fuel , because "Without Trucks, America Stops"

Apr 3, 2008


I mentioned last week that I was told of impending doom... My wheel seal was leaking and needed to be replaced immediately. Not the best way to start off your work week, fear of an imminent breakdown.

But, because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it on Sunday, I headed off into the wild blue yonder. Every 100 miles or so, I would stop and check the axles for heat or seepage. Upon checking the first time, the axles were all very cool. After checking the umpteenth hundred time, they were still very cool. Not to mention no evidence of any type of leaks. I was actually convinced that if there had been 'a very bad leak' that I would be on fire before I left the state of Georgia. Needless to say, by the time I made it in to Virginia, I was no longer concerned and checked in with the Boss Man to let him know a mistake had been made.

He was relieved. And I made 9 deliveries and 7 pick-ups before he called and stated that the mechanic was adamant that I have the seal replaced...That I (the girl) was just not seeing the leak. So, we scheduled an appointment with the Service Shop in Roanoke, Virginia. All I had to do was show up and they would take care of everything immediately.

I could have informed them of my theory (blown egr valve and subsequent loss of 7 gallons of oil coating everything on the truck one month prior), but I wanted an unbiased evaluation. After looking the truck over, the Certified Technician gave me one of those grins... you know the kind. Sort of condescending, but in a nice way! Almost like he thought I was nothing more than a silly girl, who knew little about Big Trucks. " Darling, you do not have a wheel seal leak. It looks like you have had oil blown all over the frame, like a blown egr valve and it just settled in the cracks and crevices.. It does look like a seal leak, but it is not on the drums or in the pads, therefore you have nothing to worry (your pretty little head) about."

Ummmm, could you please tell that to my Boss Man...

After notifying the Boss Man, I was given permission to head for home......As Is... No Repairs.

The doofusses at our shop still insist that there is a leak, I mean, after all, who wants to be corrected by a silly little girl who knows nothing about truckin'.

A Fairy Tale

Once again, all is well in the land of Oz..

Oops, wrong story.

I am happy to report that over the past two weeks, I have not seen the goons who were lurking at my favorite jogging trail. I did take the advice of altering my schedule, so I am running quite a bit earlier in the day.

Spring is here, along with the rain showers, everything seems to be replenishing itself. So pretty and green, with tiny buds of color popping out everywhere. The animals are at it once again. Last week I noticed 3 families of mallard ducks. The adults followed me, swimming close to the perimeter of the pond while the ducklings played carelessly near the shallow end. Ahhhh, I love Nature. And this week I had a doe scare me, not to say I didn't scare her first....

She was down on the lower bank having a nice sip of water, when I came running by and before I noticed her, she was bounding back into the forest. What is so scary about that? Well, I was in between her and the forest....and I almost got a mouthful of deer arse. After I passed, she stood on the edge of the tree line gazing intently on me, but had not disappeared out of fright.

The next time by, I was watching for her, and sure enough, she was drinking again. However, this time she leaped for the cover of trees before I got to her. She did not completely enter the brush as she had the first time, but rather stood in the clearing, twitching her tail, approximately 20 feet away. I slowed to a walk, to not scare her off.

The third time by, she had remained in the clearing and watched me pass, without making a move. I decided I would call it a day, and leave her to her solitude...

After cooling down and heading out, I glanced back over towards the area she had occupied, and there she was standing at the edge of the water drinking, she looked up at me, then lowered her head once again.

I love the fact that I seem to be so in tuned with Nature, that I don't frighten off the wildlife!
now, if only I could convince that little cardinal to back off of the pony car.......grrrrrrr!!