Sep 20, 2008

Vertically Challenged

I love being short. I really do. I think it is a big part of my personality.

It has never really hindered my ability to do anything, although it has made somethings a little more difficult to accomplish. But it has never stopped me.

Yesterday I posted that my legs have been aching lately , and actually, I do know the reason why. It is because I am short!!


Yes, it is because I am built closer to the ground. This is a problem I have faced throughout my entire trucking career, but I have always managed to adjust.

When I first started driving, I had troubles reaching the fuel, brake and clutch. So, to accommodate, I strapped 4x6" wooden blocks onto the controls. By the time I got my second truck, I had learned to position myself in the seat to be able to reach the pedals. That first Truck, actually left my legs black and blue with bruises from the edge of the seat cutting into the backs of my thighs. It looked like someone was beating me on a regular basis.

I have found over the years that most trucks have seats that will adjust to fit my needs, and more and more Truck manufacturers are designing Big Rigs to be user friendly for people of all shapes and sizes. For example, the typical seat in a VOLVO will place me under the dash so I can indeed reach the pedals, the only problem with that is that the base of the seat itself is so high, that I cannot get low enough for comfort. Therefore, all though I am close enough, the seat itself presses into the backs of my thighs whilst I try to reach the floor or brake or fuel pedal, which is all the time!! And it cause my legs to be achy, cutting off my circulation.

The first time I ever drove a Volvo was quite amusing. My truck was a Peterbilt, and it was too long to get into a particular dock in OKC. So the broker I worked for, let me borrow one of their company trucks. A daycab volvo. While driving down the interstate to get back to the customer, I got some pretty strange looks from people. You see, every time I would hit a joint in the road, I would bounce inside the truck and mash on the accelerator..... Vrroooommmm Vrroooooommmmm vrrooooommmmmm... Which of course it about every 20 feet on the concrete surface. A police officer riding beside me decided he would see what I was up to. When I explained the situation, he let me go but not before laughing at my expense!! He had also tried to move the seat for me, but no adjustment would help.

For the past 9-10 months I have been driving one such Volvo, but had no problems with the seat adjustment. The air controls in the seat were broken and the little bags looked like squishy brains hanging out of the side of it. But I was comfortable!!! Then, after having exhaust leaks for 2 months, my boss decided to put me back into my original truck from a year ago. This thing had problems from day one, but seemed to have had all the kinks worked out of her. The day I got back in her, my legs went numb!! It has a perfectly good seat with all controls working, the little bags make her seat up high, which is no good for me! I have been in pain and uncomfortable ever since.

Sep 19, 2008

Week In Review

Thankfully, the chaotic behavior of motorists I have been witnessing recently has subsided. How ever, the gravitational pull of the full moon continued to invade my personal space.

After having run somewhat locally the past few weeks, I was happy to get back to New England. The drive seemed longer than it use to be, but everyone was happy to see me.

Monday night, I was resting up in the bewitching town of Salem, Massachusetts with the Full Moon gazing down upon me ever so intently. This customer is located near the harbor and the view is exceptional. That night, while tucked away safely in my sleeper, not only did my refrigerator stop working (losing about $25.00 worth of food), but my CB also decided to take a dive. And here I thought I was all safe and secure, avoiding the pull of the moon!

Not only that, but I lost my cell phone! With all my numbers in it! I do not have a single number written down anywhere, and due to the convenience of modern technology, I have not taken the time to memorize any of them either. To top it off, the battery was dead, so I couldn't call myself to pinpoint its location. Okay, lost is not such a good choice of wording. Misplaced is better, because the phone was within 5 feet of me at all times. I searched everywhere umpteen dozen times, and not until I got home and decided to wash my truck bedding, did I find that little bugger nestled up inside my pillow ??

In other news..... I did manage to get some running in this week. My knees have been aching something terrible for the past few months, and I cannot for the life of me figure out why. Maybe, it is a lack of running, being too sedentary? I just decided to overlook it and trudge along anyway. And I am so glad that I did. I remember now, why it is that I enjoy a nice brisk jog with the wind in my face. Because it cleanses the mind!!!!

Not much else to report. Maybe something exciting while drop out of the sky....

Sep 12, 2008

More Mayhem.....

and the saga continues....

I checked the calendar and the full moon is still a few days away, but it seems that the gravitational pull has affected a few more Truckers already....

I ran a short haul last night and on my way home this morning, I witnessed a few more "could have been avoided" occurrences.

~4. A jack-knifed Big Truck....Usually this is the result of poor driving conditions or erratic maneuvers involving other motorists. But NO!! This fellow was jack-knifed because after he slide his tandems at the truck stop, he forgot to lock his pins back into place....For those who don't know, the pins lock the sliding tandems into a carriage mounted underneath the trailer. The tandems slide in order to be able to adjust the weight of the load on each axle. So, after he left, he hit the brakes and they were obviously working very well. Well enough to indeed rip the tandems from underneath the trailer and send it sliding in a wide arc, blocking the freeway ramp!!

~5. A flatbed overturned in the median!! He has a big single coil of steel, probably weighing about 20 tons or better. The ones I hauled were usually about 42, 000, so that is my guesstimate.
He had it secured to his trailer using only 4" straps......A lot of them, but still.......My obvious problem with this is that it is completely illegal to haul a 40,000 pound steel coil with canvas straps.. It has been awhile, but I think you are actually required to use one chain/binder per every 5,000 pounds of weight....Well, something like that anyways... All it took was for that coil to shift a few inches and the trailer immediately begin to flip....The coil itself was shot through the median and came to rest just inches from on-coming traffic.

and finally

~6. While getting fuel, I noticed an Big Truck's horn ringing out a warning. I looked to see what the disturbance was, when I noticed that the Trucker toot toot tooting his horn was actually trying to clear traffic so he could exit the truck stop. He was sitting at the exit trying to cross over a four lane highway. After becoming impatient he then decided to dive out into traffic while blowing his horn in hopes traffic would stop for him....and it did......With smoking tires and squalling brakes, 3 cars slide to a stop to allow the USA TRUCK to cross the highway.... I have no idea what this guy was thinking, but I bet you he would have regretted this decision had he decapitated the occupants of any one of those vehicles....

Normally, I cringe at the moves that four-wheelers make, and I really should not engage in Trucker bashing, but I cannot for the life of me understand some of the idiotic decisions being made on our roadways. In ten years as a Truck Driver, I have only been involved in ONE accident..and it could not have been avoided..Even the Smokey remarked on what an excellent job I did to maintain control and not hurt anyone including myself....

I will be in NYC when the Full Moon shows his little cheesy head! At least there, I already know what to expect!!

So do me a huge favor, and do not force me to blog about your next stupid move, cuz I will do it!!

Sep 11, 2008

Stupid Truck Drivers

Yes, you read that right!!

I am bashing truck drivers in this here rant, but if they would just behave, well, then, I wouldn't have too!!

I admit that I am not the most well behaved Truck Driver at all times, but I like to think I handle myself very well for the most part!

~ 1. There is a back road that I travel frequently while running local deliveries that has been under construction for quite a while now. They are rerouting the roadway to eliminate the use of a very skinny bridge that is probably about to collapse anyway, with all the truckers having discovered this route. But for now, the bridge is still in use. It is approximately 200 feet long and no more than 19 feet wide.
Normally when two Truckers meet on this stretch of road, one gives the other time to clear the bridge before proceeding across it. A lot of side mirrors have been destroyed on this bridge. Even the cars will give the trucks time to cross before attempting to pass!!
So, as I make my way towards the bridge, I notice an approaching Truck. I am going to make the crossing first, as I am visibly closer. Did I mention it is in a 35mph zone? So, I notice this guy is not going to give me any room and continues to accelerate towards me. I am now in the middle of the bridge when he enters from the other side with five tires in my lane.....
It is possible to make the crossing at the same time, if both drivers use caution, but this guy was not!! This is the point where if I had an older Truck, I would have reached out the window and tucked my mirror in, but the big plastic mounts won't budge!!
He continues in my lane, making the pass with a thud!! as our mirrors make slight contact. Not enough to do any damage to mine, but it did scare the crap out of me. AND, my right tires are scrapping the curbing of the 18" tall concrete guard rail, that would not have prevented me from cascading into the 10' ravine had he been any closer!
I then asked him over the airwaves if he "just got out of school yesterday?" But I will not publish his reply!! So, "Thanks a bunch JAMES R SMITH TRUCKING!! I hope your mirror falls off now!!" We had one of our trucks lose a mirror and driver side window on this same bridge 2 years ago!!

~ 2. While travelling through Indiana this week, I happened to notice one of those RED TRUCKS ( crete, knight, usxpress) wobbling and weaving back and forth in the roadway...Every time I would get close to his trailer, he would bobble into my lane....GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....I finally saw an opportunity to get around him and I mashed on it....Continuing on my merry way, I looked in the mirrors and happen to notice him driving off into the ditch....NO! I did not cause him to run off the road......But him playing with his dash mounted laptop might have had something to do with it!

~ 3. Another wobbling Truck in Indiana caught my attention a few miles down the road. But this guy really had it bad. Instead of making nice gradual merges in and out of lanes, he was literally yanking his truck from side to side. Had he been loaded, I am sure he would have rolled it! Once again, I am pacing myself behind him! Then out of nowhere, he hits the brakes hard and jerks it onto the shoulder. There were two other trucks behind him and we all had to scatter to avoid a collision. The shoulder looked to be about 7' wide with a concrete wall. He was hanging out into the right lane a good foot or so!! When asked if he was okay or needed help, he replied "I missed my exit!"
The next thing you know, the CB comes alive with remarks being made about the stupid CELADON driver that is backing down the interstate! Sure, the next exit might have been 5 miles down the road, or even 20, but there are so many things wrong with what he was trying to do!

So, to each of you fellows, I appreciate your help in keeping the BAD Truck Driver reputation alive and well!!

Freaking idiots!! Rant Over.....

Sep 4, 2008

Tiny Trucker

Just a little video I put together with the help of my wonderful niece and a few of my YouTube Buddies!! Hope You Enjoy!!