Jan 21, 2011

Rise and Shine

Definitely worth waking up early for....

Jan 18, 2011

Brake Check

It absolutely astounds me how many times I can mention a certain maintenance issue before it is addressed.

Yeah, its the same old song and dance! I have suggested having my brakes replaced several times in the past because the adjustments are not really helping. This week, I almost ran through the gate, because the tractor didnt want to stop.

After delivering my load, I was told to head to Toledo to pick up 45k. I was already anxious enough with previous mechanical neglect, so I begged off the load. Of course, that didn't work, but... I did get permission to have the brakes replaced before picking up the load. So, here I sit in Carlisle, Pa, getting new brakes.

And I can feel the anxiety melting away!! Woohoo, real certified mechanics !!

Oh yeah, and BRAKES .

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Jan 16, 2011

Second Verse, Same as the First

Although I made it home virtually unscathed on Tuesday, I had no desire to get out and see the sights until Atlanta was officially reopened. So you can imagine my dismay when the boss called and offered me a local run for Thursday. With reports of roadways still being iced over and many businesses still closed, I was hesitant to volunteer my services. Besides, running local pays next to nothing. But... I am not one to turn down an opportunity to increase my financial well-being, so I took the load.

I was pleasantly surprised to find my route had no delays and the customers parking lot was also salted and ready for action. It took about 15 minutes to unload. However it took over an hour to exit the premises. Grrrrr!!

The driveway is one way. You enter, circle to the back, and continue forward until you reemerge on the far side of the building. There is barely room for the forklifts to unload you, but they manage. There is NO place to turn around. So after unloading, I circle to the far side of the building to find this...

Before driving too far into the ice, I decided to stop and wait, figuring this guy would be out of my way in no time. After 15 minutes, I ventured forth on foot to let him know he was hindering my progress. By this time, 2 additional trucks had pulled into the lot to be unloaded. The driver of the bobtail informed me that his brakes were frozen. After heating the system with a portable torch, he manages to release his brakes, only to find that he is now immobile due to the ice he is sitting on. Another fifteen minutes passes as I watch him spin his tires and getting nowhere fast. Once again, I climb out and slip slide my way to offer assistance. With my tied down bar, I commence to chipping ice from around his drive tires. The driver sits comfortably in his cab. After 15-20 minutes, he finally offers to get his shovel and help me out ?? What the hell, dude.... I ain't the one who is stuck. At this point, I walk back to my truck and let him fend for himself.

An hour into the ordeal, I have finally had enough. The second truck is also empty and this bozo is still in no real hurry to vacate the driveway. I went in search of help. The customer was surprised to find me still wandering about the premises, and quickly offered to help. Within minutes enough salt was spread and the bobtail was able to move. It wasn't my responsibility to get this guy mobile, but he sure was not too motivated to do it himself!! Oh yeah, and I only busted me arse on the ice 4-5 times during all of this.. Thanks again, buddy !!

Jan 14, 2011

Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers

I am sure that by now, all of you have heard of the The Big Winter Storm that swept through the South at the beginning of this week. Hold that thought for a second while I go find some wood to knock on, because I may regret my next sentence.

I have an incredible propensity for dodging inclimate weather during winter. And this week was no exception.

I was able to get out of Atlanta before the storm hit. Arriving in Baltimore, in was a balmy 40 degrees with brilliant blue skies. I had a few deliveries in Pennsylvania and was able to make it back to Dublin, Virginia just in time to settle in for the night. The local forecast was calling for somewhere between 1-2" or 4-6" of fresh snow, depending on who you talked to. I was already a little nervous about being so close to home, so early in the week. It was only Monday night and the storm was still actively proceeding east. Lucky for me, I was a tad bit further north than the trajectory of this particular system. However, I also heard tales that Fancy Gap was a nightmare and was only getting worse. Fancy Gap was only 40 miles away, so, with that in mind, I snuggle down for the night. No alarm clocks set, because I was completely resigned to waking up in a winter wonderland and even though I was only 7 hours from home, I fully expected a full days drive in getting there.

I woke up, raring to go. Noticing that there was only about a half inch of snow outside of my windshield, I decided to get the party started.

Still a little anxious, I make my way down Fancy Gap... No problems, no ice, no fresh snow. The roads were immaculate and continued to remain that way, all the way through South Carolina.

That is until.....

I decided to pull into our shop located in Greer, SC for a little fuel and some new wiper blades. The shop is located on a little county road. With the Interstates being so well maintained, it never crossed my mind what the county roads looked like, or that the shop might actually be closed. The county road ended up being coated in about 3" of solid ice.

I slowly make my way down the road, trying to gauge my distance so that I will not have to stop in order to make my left turn. But I suppose my presence on this little county road was too much for the other vehicles. An approaching car decided to stop and watch me, which in turn made me have to apply the brakes so I would not miss my turn into the terminal driveway. Blasted FourWheelers !!

I had no problem stopping. However, after the car passed me, I found that inertia was not on my side. "A tendency for an object at rest, to remain at rest " I locked in my differential and found a superlow gear, but the moment I applied fuel, my ass end decided to slide to the right, straight into the piney perimeter of this little lane. Of course, inertia once again finished me off, dragging the rest of my tractor off the beaten path as well. Grrrrrr!! There was nothing left to do at this point, AND the terminal WAS CLOSED.

Having made it 1500 miles thus far with absolutely no treacherous road conditions, the only thing left to do was laugh at myself for getting stuck so close to home.

Within a matter of minutes, I looked up to see a Big Truck Wrecker ambling towards me. Oh, the sheer luck of it all. He stopped to ask if I was immobile, duh !! , and offered his services. He was on his way to extract 4 other trucks from similar predicaments around town and promised to return as quick as he could, which only turned out to be about an hour.

Disaster averted, I was able to get my fuel, meander back out to the Interstate and commence heading towards the house, hammer down. It wasn't until I reached Commerce, Ga that I first saw signs of trouble on the the Interstate. From this point, travel was reduced to one lane in each direction with quite a few icy patches.

Upon entering the city, I was notified that parts of 285 were still closed and all southbound 85 traffic was to be diverted through downtown. At rush hour, even. But alas, most residents were still safe and snuggled up at home, so there was still very few cars out on the roads. The overpasses were fubar, but I managed to make it home with no more issues.

The 7 hours trip (under normal circumstances) ended up only taking 9 hours and that was with the snafu I experienced in South Carolina. So all is well that ended well.

Here is a little video I found to illustrate a small portion of what I did, in fact, miss out on !! Good Times !

Jan 8, 2011

Dirty Rotten Scoundrel

There has been a lot of "excitement" going on around the workplace lately. Not exactly the type of excitement you would hope for either.

It seems that one of our Tennessee driver's had recently hurt himself on the job and was living it up on workman's compensation. For reason's unknown to myself, the insurance company decided to investigate him and took pictures of him doing things that would have negated his "unable to perform job tasks" status. Naturally, he was terminated immediately. That is what happens when you get caught abusing the system. Supposedly, he took great offense to this and proceeded to write some expository letters to state and federal DOT offices. I am sure his intentions were to hurt the company who had fired him, a payback if you will.

So for Christmas, the Georgia division of this account received an official visit from the Department of Transportation and was audited extensively. So for the past week, everyone has been on edge. I made it through the preliminary audit with flying colors. In fact, there were only 2 drivers who made it through this stage with no evidence of violations, me and AA. But that doesn't mean we did not feel the anxiety of the situation.

The week passed, the audit complete and 3 of the Georgia drivers were terminated for various reasons. I feel really bad about what happened to them. One of the drivers had put in an entire lifetime hauling aluminum, 37 years. He was fired... Whatever happened to verbal warning, written notification, suspension and then termination....

While I am very grateful that I still have my job, I am very much disgruntled about how this all played out. This all started with one driver in Tennessee abusing the system and getting caught. Yet the Georgia office was put under scrutiny and people lost their jobs. Tennessee was untouched. It is not the audit or the scrutiny that angers me. It is the fact that the fat bastard in Tennessee got caught in a lie and and in a fit of anger, decided to wreak havoc upon the lives of 10 drivers who were in no direct relation to his situation. Thats right, his accusations of company misdeeds were placed on the shoulders of 10 drivers who worked across the state line... This is a guy who faked injury and illness for the elicit purpose of abusing prescription medication. This is a guy who faked injury and illness for the sake of receiving monetary compensation. This is a guy who wanted to sit on his fat ass and do nothing while everyone else supported him... I have absolutely NO TOLERANCE for his kind.

Jan 6, 2011

New Year.... New Blog Post

Oh WOW!! Where have I been ?

This seems like a pretty good time to do a new blog post, don't ya think? So, let's get started, shall we.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season, if in fact there are any readers still checking in to this seemingly abandoned blog. Hi Dad !!

My year ended with a rush of many, many different emotions. Starting with my return journey from the East Coast the week before Christmas. I was able to spend some time with Geoff just days before Christmas in Elkton, Maryland. However, my trek back to the Southland left much to be desired. I encountered several traffic delays en route, which is common during the Holiday Season. But I can tell you that I never want to spend that much time in Washington DC, ever again. 150 minutes to travel a mere 30 miles. But the most anxious moment of the journey was crossing the Susquehanna River near Perryville, Md. There are warning signs on both sides of the river bridge warning of high wind gusts. I have felt the force of the gusts and tend to get a little nervous on a windy day. That day was exceptionally windy.

Having an empty trailer, I was hoping to find a heavy load to hide beside as I made the crossing. No such luck, but at least the wind was blowing me towards the middle of the bridge and not to the outer wall. To prepare, I slowed and watched as cars began to make erratic maneuvers ahead of me and that is when I noticed the trucks tipping to one side. I slowed even more as I began to fear the worst. I watched as the trailer in front of me lurched and swayed to the left. Then ever so gently, the tires on the right side began to rise into the air... This happened several times and thankfully, he never toppled over.

NO !! That is not the actual truck I witnessed. But how would you like to see that happening in front of you. My experience was with a trailer only rising about a foot off the ground, but that is still 12" too much !!

After all the delays and dastardly daredevilish demonstrations, I finally arrived back at the yard just before midnight, to find that my battery in my car was dead. The plant was closed, only 2 other souls on the premises. Luckily, I was able to get one of them to jump off my battery and I scurried home to bed. Too much excitement for one day. But the next morning held no reprieve. The battery was dead again, a battery just purchased 15 months before. I was able to hitch a ride, battery in hand, to the AutoZone where I had purchased it, and they handed me a brand new one. Once the new battery was nestled snug under the Pony Car's hood, I trotted back over to the store and had the alternator tested. Sure enough, bad diode! And I was expected to be in Bama for the Holidays. There was no way I was going to spend the Holidays at home alone. The dealership did not have one in stock, so my only option was to get a rental.

I did make it home for the Holidays and was pleasantly surprised by about 5" of snow on Christmas morning. We had a blast and a few arguments while we commenced to building the biggest snowman these parts had ever seen. Not really sure about that last statement, but we like to think he was. In the end, our Snowman stood at 8' and made the evening news (on the weather report) !!

So, I think that about wraps up 2010.... Or the best shot I am prepared to give it at this moment. I am really out of practice with this whole blogging thing, sheesh! But it is late, and I have work to do tomorrow....Oh, that reminds me...

Think I will save that for the next post.. Stay Tuned, I promise I will be back !!!