May 13, 2010

There Is Always A Silver Lining...

sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.

Last week, I set forth on another east coast short haul. The short haul is not exactly my favorite route because it will place me on I-95 long before I get into New Jersey. I despise the stretch between Richmond, Va and Delaware, so I avoid it at all costs. And I have good reason to feel no love for the section of asphalt. It is where all things bad will happen to me! Like, for example losing a drive shaft..Or having to camp out in a motel where "security" walked me to my room for safety. The traffic delays here are to be expected, but still leave me with feelings of anxiety... I just don't like it there!!

So the week begins with an early morning delivery to Richmond, Virginia. Next up is a quick trek through the woods to Orange. The ride from Orange will take me onwards to Elkridge, Md and I love a good two lane, so my morning is off to a wonderful start...

That is until about five minutes after I reemerge onto I-95. What is it about that stinking road? I find myself having to dodge and dart through traffic, making my way to the first of several delays in my very near future. While slowing to a crawl, I notice a noise coming from my truck. As it begins to escalate, I lower the window to pinpoint its proximity. My first impression was that of a grocery sack fluttering in the wind, perhaps clinging to some portion of my little white Volvo. But as the noise began to increase in intensity, I also noticed the rhythm was in sync with my rpms. Not a good sign.

Within minutes, Frankentruck was screaming in protest. WARNING!! Pull over now or suffer my wrath! I made a mad dash to the shoulder just before the air supply was extinguished and his trailer brakes locked up tight. I had just blown the metal duct work out of the front of the air compressor, and no matter how hard I tried, the bastard was not going to move. Not exactly the best spot to break down. And ironically, I was only 2.4 miles from where I lost the drive shaft a couple of years ago, but at least I was not sitting in the back-up AND traffic had obliged me rather well when I made my blinking amber request to exit the travel lanes (from the center of the roadway).

I called into maintenance, explained my dilemma and was assured that someone would be out to rescue me in no time (which could be hours). I was mildly surprised when after only 15 minutes, I received an automated call confirming that a mechanic had been dispatched and would arrive in approximately 75 minutes. This sounded like a dream come true, because the last time I was stranded only 2.4 miles further north, it was well over 4 hours before my knight in shining grease was able to whisk me off to safety. You can imagine my exhilaration when after only 13 minutes, my highway hero made his appearance.

In a short matter of time, he had me pieced back together in order for me to be able to press onward and drive into a shop. But after only 9 miles, I was sitting back on the shoulder, a little dismayed. But wonders never cease!! The mechanic had decided to follow me, just to be on the side of caution. So after he left me, he then made a U-turn and crept back up behind me in order to watch my progress. After the second set of warning bells, I was tickled pink to see him ready to assist again without another phone call. This time, it was decided that the repairs should be made on the spot and the calls began in search of necessary parts. No luck, however, as the only parts available were going to have to be shipped in overnight. With that knowledge in mind, it was then decided that we would have to resort to alternate measures.

There are 3 things that I believe every Truck Driver should carry.... Gorilla Tape, baling wire and industrial strength Zip Ties. With an ounce of ingenuity, good ol Frankentruck was able to finish his chores and made it back to the yard where new parts where awaiting his arrival.

The silver lining, you ask. Well, lets think about it.

I did not break down and block a two lane highway for 4 hours. (total amount of down time)

I did not have to wait 75 minutes for help.

I did not have to call in for a second repairman because the first mechanic thought twice about leaving me.

I did not have to sit overnight waiting on parts to be shipped in.

And even though I did manage to accumulate 4 hours of breakdown time, I was able to still make all my deliveries in a rapid fashion, beating the original schedule that had been laid out before me.

There it is..that silver lining. And who knows, maybe it has something to do with all that shiny metal I drag around with me, creating my own silver lining everywhere I go.

As, an added bonus, I was dispatched on another run that week ( in a spare truck) and was able to officially make the acquaintance of 2 fellas I have befriended on the Interwebs. Brian and Geoff. Both men seem to share my passion and drive for being in this industry and I consider myself lucky to have met them both firsthand.