Oct 31, 2009

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumbass

I have not done one of these posts in a while, but the Stooges are at it again.

This current scenario started 3-4 weeks ago. I noticed my suspension was started to ride rough (again). This is also about the same time that I noticed my air bags would not inflate when picking up a loaded trailer. Normally the suspension adjusts to the weight placed on it, and after a few short minutes the bags should air up to accommodate for the added weight. Mine do not. I have to climb back into the cab and race the motor for at least five minutes to get the bags to fill, and even then, they do not do the job. ALSO, if I ever use the dump valve (which evacuates the air bags) it continues to exhaust the air until the bags are EMPTY, only then trying to re inflate. This can take up to 15 minutes. Of course, if you are driving down the road and the suspension readjusts for every bump, you do not have 15 minutes for the air to find its appropriate pressure.

If I check the ride height (which one cannot do while driving) I also have noticed that the suspension always looks to be riding low. This my friends, leads to some very hard riding, reminiscent of the old spring ride tractors of yesteryear. I might mention that a malfunctioning suspension also leads to unnecessary and rapid deterioration of key components, including the entire drive line.

But wait, there is more... During all of this, I have developed a very loud groaning noise, that at first only sounded off during the evacuation of the air suspension. Now, it continues to groan whenever it pleases and can be heard at 68 mph on a bumpy road.

Also, this situation means that EVERY trailer is now set too high for me to grab without having to crank down on the landing gear. I did almost run into a nose of a trailer because the king pin slide over the top of the fifth wheel. Caught it in time, because I visually noticed the trailer getting a little too close to the back of the sleeper.

With all that being said (whew!!) I will also mention that all of this was explained to the Stooges three weeks ago. It has been written up for repairs each consecutive week. Last week, when I got back to the shop, I asked if the parts were in for repair (as we stock nothing). I was greeted with a deer in the headlights expression as I was told no parts were ordered. HUH?? It was then explained to me that each week, as the request was rendered for repair, one of the stooges would climb into my tractor, turn the key and note the air pressure in the supply tank. Confirming that the truck was holding at least 100 pounds of air in the tank, it was assessed that no repair was necessary.

I am at a complete loss, but then again, no.

I never once said I was having a problem maintaining suitable air pressure. My requests stressed the dump valve, leveling valve, ride height, groaning noises, and horrible spring-like ride.

Sheesh!! Well, at least I am now comfortable in my seat. Because, you see, from this point on, whenever I take the NYC route, I will be pulling a 45' spring ride trailer. This combined with my spring ride tractor will make for an even more disgruntled Little Trucker. YAY!!

The 45' trailer is a demand placed by the New Hampshire customer, as weather is turning cold and a 53' will not allow them to close the dock bay doors while unloading. All of our 45's are old spring rides!

Oct 30, 2009

Jumping the Gun

Perhaps, just maybe, I might be posting this a little too early. BUT...

After experiencing pain and discomfort for the past 10 MONTHS, I am very happy to report that I have had ONE FULL WEEK of entirely no pain whatsoever. Well, maybe one little twinge, but I readjusted to eliminate that one immediately.

You have no idea what this means. Seriously..I have been living in extreme discomfort while at work, only to slowly begin to recuperate while at home. At the point that my legs, knees, joints and hips were finally easing up, I would return to work with the pain flaring up literally within 30 minutes of driving. No way to live.

I think this definitely accounts for alot of my foul mood this past year.

It all started with changing trucks. The seat .... The seat caused excruciating discomfort, numbness and swelling in my legs. I had it replaced with the seat out of the old truck, but this only offered a temporary solution. I bought a deep tissue massager. I purchased 3 new pairs of running shoes. I have had personal massages. I decreased mileage in my exercising. Nothing seemed to offer any real relief. In fact, it had gotten so bad, that when I was off of my feet, the only comfortable position I could relax in was laying on my belly. But even then, the nerves and joints remained irritated.

I was actually beginning to think I would have to give up running completely. I was going to schedule appointments with doctors. Orthaepedic, nerve, circulation, whoever needed to be seen to get this diagnosed. The pain was too much and I was forced to live with it...


So, now it seems to have disappeared. Just like that!! I went through 2800 miles of driving with only one tiny remnant of pain flaring up this past week.

The remedy...

I know it seems ridiculous, but I think all of my physical problems may have just been solved, And as further evidence, I dropped 5 minutes off of my 4-mile run this morning!!

I bought a $10.00 cushion and placed it in my driver's seat. It works like a charm, so far!! No pain anywhere

Oct 29, 2009

Nuclear Disaster

Along with pulling a flatbed and hauling scrap, I also get the pleasure of picking up certain items and delivering it to numerous power plants. I am a busy girl!!

This week it was 4 18'pipes, weighing in at a total of 1700lbs. Not much of a load, but for some strange reason, I always enjoy riding around the big power plants. That is, until today.

I checked in with security and he gave me explicit directions on how to find the warehouse. I set forth, checking and rechecking my route. These folks do not like you to stray off course. He had told me to follow this road, Stop sign, turn right, take immediate left, go through another check point, stop sign turn left, dead end turn left. Ware house on the left. WHEW!! I did exactly as he told me, except when I made the immediate left, it put me into a contractor's parking lot. I followed the painted arrows trying to find the next check point and actually saw a gate, but nothing resembling an entrance for big trucks. I made the entire lap around the parking lot and headed back for that road, thinking maybe it was the second left (since the first was a parking lot). I proceed to the next left and there is a check point (unmanned) and directly past it is a stop sign. Beside the stop sign is an informative sign claiming the ware house is down the road to my left. If you are paying attention (or have referenced back to the original instructions, you will notice that this road allows me to follow my original instructions.) So I make the left, go to the dead end and what do you suppose is sitting a little off to my immediate left. Yep, the warehouse!! Bingo! So, I am feeling pretty dumb about driving around the contractor's yard, but no harm, no foul. Oh well. I make the delivery and retrace my path back towards the exit.

I had just about made my escape when I notice, not one, but two Power Plant Security vehicles chasing me down. I was stopped in my tracks and grilled intensively about where I had been and why I took the route I did.... " I was just following security guards orders!!" They lectured me and with raised voices, informed me that I had taken the wrong route, and would not be allowed to do that again.

" I was just following the directions given to me" I even had them written down on a scrap of paper and offered to show it to them. Finally, after they had achieved satisfaction by badgering a little girl, I was allowed to leave. But not before they informed me that the first immediate left was indeed through the parking lot, although I have no idea where I was suppose to come out the other side. Remember, I went that route first, but, I am sure they will lead me by the hand next time.

You know, there is very little that still intimidates me about this job. I have been doing it for over a decade, and with New York City being my stomping grounds, well, you cant get into any harder situations than that. But for some strange reason, today's little misadventure did not sit well with me. In fact, I was so rattled by those men chastising me, that I missed an easy turn heading for home and ended up driving 20 miles out of my way.

Oct 23, 2009

Another Golden Moment

I absolutely live for those opportunities in which I can do something that will brighten someone else's day. This, in turn, sends me to cloud nine for a few days myself.

I had one such opportunity recently. If you have followed through this blog any length of time, you may be aware of how proud I am of our Military. I consider myself to be extremely patriotic. So, last week, while I stopped to refuel the pony car, I quickly noticed a small convoy parked at the fuel stop. It may have had 7 soldiers in total. After purchasing my fuel, I wandered around the store until I found one of the soldiers. I then told him how thankful and proud I was that he and his fellow servicemen had volunteered to protect my freedoms. Without a moments hesitation, he replied, " Thank you for recognizing our sacrifices!!" He had the most sincere look in his eyes, and it made me sad to realize that with all of the bickering amongst ourselves, has America forgotten to show the true heroes that we are still behind them, still proud, and still very thankful. I then offered to buy the group's meal for the evening. It was only fast food, but I wanted to show my appreciation. Support My Troops. They were grateful, but declined as they were transporting certain equipment and were due back on the road. I once again thanked them for serving and made my way to the restroom.

When I returned, I noticed one was loading up on supplies, coffee, gum, etc...I patiently waited until he had retrieved everything he needed, and as he made his way to the counter, I slipped in front of him. When the cashier asked me if I needed anything else, I said. "Yes, I am going to pay for everything this man is purchasing!!"

That is when the room started buzzing. People stopped and noticed. People started talking to the soldiers, showing gratitude. I think I ended up buying 3 cups of coffee, 3 packs of mints, 3 packs of gum, and one canister of over priced Maxwell House. It was not much, but it meant so much to me to be able to do that. I think what made it even more special is that people reacted to my gesture.

No... The best part was when the soldier hugged me and said that I probably had no idea how much that small gesture meant to him and his group. The look on his face was so serious when he had remarked about 'recognizing his sacrifice'. So, no matter what you believe, I sincerely hope you are supporting our troops, too!! Because that one moment of sincere gratitude in his eyes, for my recognition of his sacrifice was worth a thousand fast food dinners!!

Oct 22, 2009

DisHonorable Mention

Even though I are truck driver, I can never resist throwing a few jabs at some of my fellow freight relocators. I believe that there are many very nice, respectable, courteous highway heroes cruising around on eighteen wheels of thunder. But, let's face it. There are many more less desirables strutting their stuff, as well. Many, many more. I don't know what it is about the size of the vehicle or the anonymity of the CB radio that makes drivers feel the need to behave their worst.

This post is not about driving skills, but rather, the disposition of a few of those less desirables.

Today, I had the opportunity to be reminded several times that the negative trucker image is sustaining life with the help of those lacking morals or self respect.

First off, I stopped to shower in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and was surprised (and tickled) to find a sign from the management hanging in the shower room.

Please leave provided towels in shower
room when finished.
If you would like to purchase one,
the cost is $10.00.

Are they serious? Who in their right mind would be stealing towels from a truck stop. Obviously this was what the sign was signifying. Ummm, don't they realize just how many nasty arses have been swiped with those things. Not to mention what ever else they have been used for. GROSS!!
I, myself, prefer to carry my own. At least I know what body parts they have been touching! And I personally do not care how hot the water in the washing machines gets. There are some nasty people out there!!

The second offensive reminder belongs to a female trucker. While at another truck stop, a man was begging and pleading over the radio for any female to give him a hooter shot, as it had been years since he has had one. We have all heard this song and dance before. But lo and behold, Miss Thang not only obliges him by baring the big guns, but she has the indecency to jump out of her truck and sashay into the middle of the parking lot where she then bared herself for EVERYONE to see. Of course, boys will be boys and she did receive a round of horn toots for her presentation. But unfortunately, it is women like her, that make it rough for other ladies who drive for a living. Not me, of course, as I have my own personal means of survival.

Thanks guys, while I may not always agree with your methods, at least I can always count on your consistency to make a fool out of yourself, which naturally leaves me looking even better!!

Oct 21, 2009

Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN

Last week, I had a little time off and had scheduled a nice weekend getaway. During the course of said rendezvous, I made a few new friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed the petting pool, where I was able to caress Bamboo Sharks, some Rays (not sure if they were Sting, Manta, or otherwise) and a Guitar Fish ?!? In fact the little fellows in the tank were quite happy to be rubbed. There was one Ray in particular who returned every few seconds for a gentle caress. And I think the Bamboo Shark loved me as much as I loved him.

Overall, I was not pleased with the Tennessee Aquarium, often boasting to be the best Southern Aquarium. I beg to differ. While the main Ocean Tank was very nice, there was very little variety as a whole. And the River Tank, held even more salt water aquatic life....Hmmm??

I think I still prefer the Georgia Aquarium with it's many diversified inhabitants.

But it was a treat to play with the sharks in the petting pool. Now, I would pay just to do that again. And just for the record, did you know Rays are related to Sharks? Yep, I think I made some new friends......

A Tale Of Two Roads

Hello ??

Anybody still here? Life has been crazy lately with so much going on, but it is time for a little breather. So, in order to dive back into the world of blogging, I think I will begin with my current status.

The past few weeks, AA, has been taking my New England route, and I have been stuck fighting amongst the drivers in search of extra miles. Because I live so far from the plant, if there is nothing available relatively quick, I tend to head home with whatever I have managed to scrape up for the week. This week, a load fell into my lap that offers plenty of miles, but will take all week to deliver.

Starting near Atlanta, I will head to Chattanooga, and then deliver in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, western Pennsylvania and finally finish up a rock's throw from Niagara Falls.

Currently, I am waiting to see if the second shift near Pittsburgh, Pa, will unload me tonight, or if I will have to sleep on it before heading up to Lock Port, NY. I would have been here in plenty of time for the first shift to receive me, except for the massive delays I experienced in Delaware this morning.

I was heading north on 95, making a beeline for the 95/495/295/NJTP split. Just after passing the point of no return, traffic comes to a complete halt. No big deal, as there is a tight construction zone ahead which requires traffic to slow to 25mph due to excessively narrow lanes. After a few minutes, it became obvious that we were not going to be moving any time soon. Finally, a southbounder notifies us of an overturned dump truck blocking both lanes in the zone. Not one to fuss over things beyond my control, I set the brakes, shut off the motor and grabbed my latest read. A few motorist began to climb out of the cars and wander around. Because I have the luxury of communication, I was able to find out all the information being broadcast. I then jumped out of my truck and played hostess with the mostest, informing everyone of the accident and alerting them to alternate routes of escape. The Smokeys were allowing automobiles to back down the shoulder to the previous exit and be on their way. I helped several vehicles, stranded in the left lane, to make the necessary maneuvers in order to get the right shoulder runway. After the cars were cleared from the interstate, the 6-10 wheelers were then cleared for take off.

Finally, when all was clear, the big lumbering giants were allowed to back out of what could have been a very long delay.

I know I shouldn't poke fun, but I just cant help it sometimes. After sitting for nearly 2 hours while traffic dispersed in reverse, I took an alternate route to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Mr Smokey gave me exact directions and they worked like a charm. I also noticed, that they had Highway Hero trucks set up at all the turns to help everyone find their way through. But, I just cant help but giggle a little when I think of all those truckers who got lost and were begging for help. I think I was the only truck in my immediate vicinity who followed the alternate route. The rest missed the first turn due to someone's miscommunication of directions over the CB. I tried to interject , but you cannot tell a truck driver anything....

Especially ME !! LOL

I was only 1.5 hours late....due to a 2 hour delay plus detour...Oh well, cross your fingers.

Oct 2, 2009


Once again, I have managed to take a break and put in a personal appearance on my blog. Lots of things going on. New Changes, Upcoming events, and Birthday plans. No, not my birthday. But I do love a good birthday. This month, the little blond girl turns 9 years old. She is such a girl, too! Which is so much fun. Also, Shadow has a birthday this month, and we are going to hide out in a distant city for a birthday bash!

Also, on Tuesday, my brother and nephew are going to meet me in Atlanta to pay homage to Bono, the Edge, Larry, and Adam! Yep, we have tickets to the U2 360 tour! This will be the Wonder Boy's first concert. No better way to start than with U2. Of course that means I had to give up my NE run, but some things are just worth it.

Also, I have finally found a local hairdresser that I think I am going to be very happy with. I stumbled on to her, while trying to set up an appointment with my Mother's hairdresser. I think I got lucky, because April is so much fun and did a wonderful job with my unruly hair! YAY!!

Hmmmmm, the running is not so much of a priority anymore. Well, at least the numbers. I have discovered that I have a much better time running without the garmin. I can put more focus into the enjoyment of running, because I am a numbers freak, I seem to put too much emphasis on time and distance. I have a local running trail that is 4 miles, out and back. So, I have been doing that as much as possible. I still seem to have a few complications from leg pain that I believe are associated with the truck, but I will no longer be using them as excuses. If the pain continues to persist, I will see out a reputable orthopedic doctor to diagnose my problem. By the way, the pain is none existent while running.

Well, I guess that about covers all the basics for now. Hopefully, I will be able to squeeze in a few blog posts as the events of October take place. Good Times!!