Aug 24, 2010

Temporary Insanity

The one thing I fear the most when I take a few days off is 1) Who is going to drive my truck and 2) What are they going to tear up.

After being off duty for several days, I was a bit apprehensive to climb back into Seabiscuit's saddle. After a quick walk-around inspection to make sure the exterior was intact, I climbed inside for a once over.

The floors were a little dirty, but that is to be expected. I would never presume someone else, especially a temp driver would actually clean up after themselves. There were a few smudges that needed to be wiped away. The windshield was atrocious. But everything else seemed up to par...

Of course it is mandatory that I remove all my valuable personal belongings before surrendering my truck to someone else's care. I don't clean out the truck, just grab those items that would be costly or hard to replace, not to mention the bedding.

So after my initial inspection, I begin to reload my stuff.

And here is what I found....

The temp driver managed to break my cabinet. The door will not stay closed and the shelf no longer can support any weight. How he managed to do this is beyond me. Oh wait, maybe he really likes green beans... Yes, folks, he ate my stash of canned vegetables!!

After loading the truck, I took at quick scan at the daily inspections he turned in to make sure there were no new issues that I should be aware of. BINGO!!

He wrote up that the passenger side wiper blade was flopping around and needed to be checked. But what I found was that he had swapped the passenger side blade for the driver side blade, left all my tools helter skelter in the tool box and somehow managed to not actually reattach the passenger side blade so it slipped off and now I have nasty scratches on my windshield. It took me all of 2 minutes to actually clip the blade into place, but the damage was already done while he had possession of the truck.

So much for respecting each others possessions, or equipment !! Poor Little Seabiscuit !!

Aug 23, 2010

They're Creepy and They're Kooky....

mysterious and spooky...

They're altogether ooky.......

Don't you just love it when everything about your day seems to be perfect.

Nothing like a ride on a deserted highway in the middle of the night, so serene. That in itself seem to set the mood for how my Monday would progress. First stop, Memphis.

I was able to make both Memphis deliveries without any turmoil. Sure, I had to climb around all over and underneath the trailer, but that is just part of the job. I was concerned that I might not make my Kentucky delivery on time, but I was well within delivery hours when I arrived.

I arrived at the truckstop with plenty of time to get Seabiscuit and myself thoroughly cleaned up....

Hold up, right there!!

While I was driving up Hwy 51, heading towards Madisonville, Kentucky, I noticed some sort of crud all over my leg and seat. I brushed it off without too much thought. But then, shortly thereafter, I noticed even more crud on my leg. What the hell?

At first, it resembled "fluff" and wood splinters, which would be no big surprise... I carry a wooden shim with me to prop open the curtain on the trailer. Thinking perhaps, it was time to get a new one, I dismissed the ick as remnants of that wooden shim, which I put in my back pocket.

I brushed it off again, and was beginning to really get frustrated when even more manifested on my leg. I stopped for a bathroom break, and that is when I noticed my seat was full of ????

After cleaning out the seat, I was convinced that the problem has been resolved, until I made my way into the shower.

Ahhhh, bliss. After soaking in hot water for an eternity, I started to wash my hair and that is when I found out where all the crud in my seat was coming from. It seems that while I spelunking and exploring the dock at my first Memphis delivery, I inadvertently walked through a huge cobweb. This thing was tangled throughout my hair!!

And not only was it loaded with bits of dust, fur, and other unidentifiable debris, it was also filled with the skeletal remains of numerous bugs!!!!!


At least I no longer had to wonder where all the crud was coming from, and I can only hope all the critters were already dead !!

ACK !!!!!! Is something crawling on me?? Great, now I have the heebie jeebies!!

But all is well that ends well. I am camping out in Earth City, Missouri after a beautiful but blinding sunset. The rest of the week should be a breeze with only 2 deliveries per day, that is unless, I can so some sweet talking..

Aug 18, 2010


A long time running joke between myself and AA, is that the nice folks in Maryland are out to get me. I am more convinced that the fine folks of South Carolina have me in the cross hairs, but I will let the facts speak for them self.

Every time I have ever had a MAJOR breakdown, it has been within 50 miles of Washington DC. Every time I have had a MAJOR breakdown, it has been on I-95. I travel this area with fear and trepidation because this is where I lost a drive shaft in a spare truck during rush hour, going up hill in the center lane. I loathe this area, because this is where I blew the air compressor fittings and was forced to come to an immediate halt, barely making the shoulder of the road in time to clear traffic. Okay, seriously, there is not much fear or trepidation, but I am reminded that IF I am going to break down, this will probably be the place I do it.

Today's adventure starts out no different than any other. I am making the rounds, grumbling about slow vehicles riding the center lanes. The unnecessary slow downs due to the fact that Joe Bob in his fourwheeler cannot multi-task, so everyone has to dodge him as he answers his cell phone and immediately becomes a nuisance to other motorists. But it is not just Joe Bob. It seems to be his entire entourage of friends and family, car and truck drivers the same. The WHOLE traffic pool of Maryland motorists seem to have forgotten what they are doing today. With only 42 miles from the state line to my customer, it almost seems ridiculous that I become so agitated in such a short period of time. But this is where I make my mistake.

Innocently enough, I make a bold statement on FaceBook, that everyone should steer clear of Maryland because the lunatics are out in full force. It seems Maryland must have been logged on at the time and read my proclamation.

Upon leaving my customer, I travel 41 miles back towards Virginia and just as I exit the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, my warning lights come to life.






In rapid succession, I glance at the gauges, I scan the roadway and I immediately reach for the Emergency Pilot Seat Ejection Button. Oh crap!! I am in the far left lane and my truck has just stopped running. Thankfully, the little pickup truck beside me acknowledges my turn signal requests and I am clear to dive right for the shoulder. Crossing 2 lanes of traffic, I find a nice wide shoulder to access the emergency.

Having already dealt with 3 coolant leaks, I was prepared to top off the fluids and get the hell out of DC before rush hour. This was not to be the case today. My radiator was empty.

After a search for the problem, I discovered I had blown the radiator hose, the main artery that cools the engine.

Oh joy of joys!! After sitting on the side of the roadway for 4 hours, I finally managed to get rolling with new hose installed, just in time for the 10-20 mph commute out of town.

Lesson Learned. No more fussing about a particular state while I am in that state. I literally coasted across the Virginia state line while spewing coolant all over the roadway. Maybe AA is right. Maybe Maryland does have a personal grudge against me.

As a quick aside... One would think our shop would provide us with spare hoses and such to prevent these types of occurrences. But NOOOO! This expenditure cost the company well over $300.00 just to replace a $20 dollar hose that I could have replaced my self, not to mention 4 hours of my time.

Aug 17, 2010

It's All in the Timing

Yes, I am a truck driver. Yes, I do my fair share of complaining about certain things that occur in my day, career, life, etc....

One of the things I do not understand about other drivers, is the constant need to complain about traffic conditions, congestion in certain areas of the country, weather and accident delays. Really? How long have you been driving, Driver?

So you can imagine my delight when I am able to scoot through certain areas with minimal or no delays, just because I know a few tricks of the trade. For example...New York City, one of the most dreaded locations for a driver to be sent into. No problem for me, because I am usually going against the grain, I have secondary shortcuts and as a rule, I never take the EXPRESS LANES to the George Washington Bridge on a Sunday Night. Don't let that word EXPRESS fool you. And if I do get caught up in a major delay, well, it is to be expected.

Atlanta is another fabled area of major turmoil. I have heard all the stories... Oh, that city is always backed up... There is no good time to go through. The people drive like idiots. It is a freaking nightmare... Blah, blah, blah. Hey folks, I live near Atlanta and the rumors are not true, but I don't think I will ever be able to convince anyone else of that.

Atlanta, just like any other major city has its own flow. Yes, if you enter the perimeter after 6:30am, you will notice congestion starting to build, but that normally dissipates after 9:30. Lets call it Rush Hour. And surprisingly, 4:00pm to 7:00pm is fairly similar. As for the rest of the day, it moves reasonably well. Also, another tip to consider, the south side always moves much better than the northern stretch of the loop. Just sayin...

So, last Wednesday, I am flying south on 85, heading into Atlanta during Rush Hour. As, I approach Spaghetti Junction, I scan the horizon and what to my wondering eyes should appear... Traffic is at a dead stop in all directions on the Perimeter. Time to make a quick decision. Top Side, oh hell no!! Bottom Side, not looking too good either at the moment. So what do I do at 4:19 pm?

I slide left one lane and make the executive decision to shoot through the Middle of Town. I know, I know. All Thru Trucks Must Use 285. I have seen the sign a million times and from experience, I know that if I stay to the right and don't exceed the flow of traffic, I will be just fine. My only concern is that going downtown is one of those nightmares, drivers commonly refer too. The Grady Curve usually backs up and The Connector is always crawling during rush hour, but after weighing the odds, I had decided to chance it anyways. This based on the fact that 285 East should not be stopped so far north, I am thinking there must be an accident ahead.

It is 28 miles around the southern end of the loop to my exit. Even further around the top at 33 miles. Through the middle, it is only 26 miles, but is notorious for the worst in traffic snafus during Rush Hour.

Looks like my gut instinct was right !!

It only took me 25 minutes to go straight through town !!

After reemerging at the bottom end of the perimeter, I heard numerous complaints about travel times being an hour plus for the 28 mile route I normally take. What did you expect at Rush Hour? Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut, and once again, mine paid off for me! Woohoo !!

And as an added Bonus, just thought I would throw this at you. Heading into New York via the George Washington Bridge on a Monday morning at 6:00 am.... See folks, it is not as bad as people make it out to be !!