Feb 19, 2011

What Can I Say

Last week was full of it's ups and downs... What can I say? Such is life...

The week started with apprehension as there was a driver's meeting that was going to introduce a new policy that the company will be putting into place at some point this year. A policy that will inevitably change my life. Sure, change is good, but when that change is forced upon you without your consent, it is very frustrating.

But on the upside, at the meeting which I did not attend, it was also announced that our current Boss was leaving. Once I found this out, my truck seemed to pull better and run faster. Of course, it didn't, but I sailed through Sunday with a huge grin on my face. Most of the drivers are apprehensive that things are going to get worse, but it is my opinion that there is a 50/50 chance it could get better. My only real concern is the lack of professional mechanics, and I don't see that changing anytime soon, so how could it get any worse?

On the downside, I was once again pulling a springride trailer which literally beat me up. I was so sore and frustrated by the end of the week that my vocabulary was largely limited to 4 letter words, and " love" was not one of them. On top of the excruciating ride, the trailer had maintenance issues that have not been addressed. Big surprise there!! Nothing in the way of safety, but rather the simple fact that I could not slide my tandems. If this one issue had been eliminated, I could have smoothed out my ride significantly.

On the upside, I managed to discover a few new shortcuts on some wonderfully scenic two lanes, and that always lifts my spirits.

On the downside, the list is seemingly endless.. With all the personal frustrations I am going through right now, the physical abuse I am enduring in the truck just seems to magnify the fragility of my emotional state. Hopefully, as I work through all of this, I will come out on the other side on Cloud Nine.... I miss it up there.


Vermont Rt 8

Feb 18, 2011

Oops, I did it Again !!

After only 2 years of waiting, I finally made another video...

Feb 11, 2011

North Adams, Massachusetts

Finally found me some SNOW!!


On Monday, I had the privilege of being accused of hitting a fourwheeler. I know I didn't do it, beyond a shadow of a doubt!! But the lady was determined to lay blame.

I was backing into a customer's driveway (it is a deadend with no room to turn around) and with the excessive snowbanks encroaching on the parking spots, the cars were staggered out into the driveway. There is typically enough room for 2 trucks side by side, so with the limited space there was still plenty of room for a single truck. The driveway is at least 500 ft long, and once I was planted in the middle of it, no one was going to get around me. There are also 5 businesses in this particular building, with my customer being to the rear. I had waited for several cars to come out before backing in, but once I was in the driveway, I noticed a lady dart out of one of the doors and fly to her car. She proceeded to back out of her spot and pull up behind me. Sorry Chicky, the only way you are getting around me is to pull back into your spot and let me by.

She pulls back into her spot and I creep by in reverse. I noticed her get out of the car and stand by her rear fender. Can't say I blame her for that because if I had a truck within 12" on my car, I would be out watching too.

I can see my fender in my spot mirror. I can see my steps in the little handy dandy "lot lizard" mirror that hangs over the passenger door. I can see at least a foot of pavement between me and the cars. Yes, it was tight! I need to get my trailer over just a little more to the left and did not want to risk getting any closer to the cars, so I pulled forward to give myself a little more room on the right side. Back in reverse, she is still by her fender. I just had made it passed her car and into the fenced area when she comes flying around to my window screaming " You just hit me!!"

My internal reaction was, this lady is crazy! My verbal reaction.. " Really, you would stand between me and your car and let me hit you?"

No, she thinks I hit her car... I didn't. I would have hit HER first. She is irate and screaming at me, so I told her to calm down, as I set forth to inspect the damages. She is continuing to fly off the handle cussing and berating me in typical Jersey Girl fashion. I tried to calm her down by telling her that the situation would be resolved and our insurance would take care of it, IF I was proven guilty, but we would need proper documentation. So the police were called out and while we waited, I grabbed the camera to document damages and vehicle positioning. I also grabbed a tape measure to determine just exactly what part of my truck could have possibly been responsible for the damages. I never found anything that was at the correct height to have scratched the car. The steps were 4 inches too low. The corners of the APU were even further away from the appropriate height. There is nothing else that pokes out and there were no indications on my truck whatsoever that I had made contact with her car. The more I documented, the more upset she became.

The customer I was delivering to, viewed the footage on the camera mounted outside and could not determine that I had hit her. All the employees came out to look and agreed that there was no way I had done this.

After an hour and a half wait, the police finally showed up to take the report. The "victim" then starts screaming at them for taking too long to arrive. I remained calm throughout the whole ordeal, because I was certain of my innocence. I let her have her say and waited to be questioned. First thing I noticed from the officers, were the smirks emblazoned on their faces. They were also trying to calm the lady down, but mentioned to her that there was no way that I had done this. The positioning of the car was all wrong. The only way I could have hit her car in the center of the bumper, parked at that angle, would have been while pulling forward, and the damages would have been a lot worse had I done this in reverse. I would have destroyed the bumper and parts of the fender. She had told them I did it while backing up. She also made a few more mistakes.. She told them she was sitting in the car and heard me hit her. Then she revised her statement and told them she was standing by the car and saw me hit her... Finally, she said she felt me hit her while sitting in the car. Which is it, Lady?

The officers returned to the car while she continued to shoot a few "go to hell" looks in my direction. After filing there report, they returned to give her a copy and as she left, she almost backed into the police car...

Then the officer approached me and handed me a green slip of paper. His instructions were as follows...

" What I suggest you do is get back in your truck and throw this piece of paper away. I did not file an accident report. There was no way you were responsible. Your name and company are not listed on any documentation. The only reason I am handing you this paper is to keep her calm."

He told me that he filed a damage report for her, but the cause of the damage was unknown.. He said he would not in good conscience lay blame at my feet for something he could not visualize having ever happened.

See, the Smokey Bears are not all bad... Thanks again, Suffolk County!!

Feb 10, 2011

Another Fine Mess

If you have ever had the pleasure of being in the New York area during rush hour, you know that you are almost guaranteed to be getting no where fast. This is to be expected, and I always plan for the worst.

In fact, I get an enormous amount of pleasure listening to my fellow truckers complain about the delays and road conditions. Seriously... you are in New York and it is rush hour!! Last week, I got tickled listening to ever present "What is the holdup?" .

You ARE in NEW YORK..... and it is RUSH HOUR!!
Why is that so hard to comprehend? Another common complaint is the actual condition of the roads themselves. Sure, we all would love to have nice smooth roads to glide upon, but you are not going to ever get that in New York City.... So just be thankful that you are not actually moving fast enough to rip the front end out from underneath your truck.

This week, I made my last stop of the day on Long Island at 4pm. My next customer was in Southington, CT. I had 128 miles to drive and my route was one of the most heavily traveled Interstates in North America... during rush hour!!

Absolutely NO DELAYS!!

What were you expecting? From Long Island via 495, 295, 695, 95, Rt 8, to Interstate 84. I was expecting my 128 mile trek to take at least 3-4 hours. I was shocked to find not a single delay all the way to Darien, CT. There were a few slow downs in Norwalk and Bridgeport, but my entire trip time was less than 3 hrs...at rush hour, on one of the heaviest traveled Interstates in North America.

Have I ever mentioned that I love New York? Well, I kind of think she loves me too!!

The Morning View

This week started out like any other. My first delivery was to be made in Newark, Delaware. I was able to sneak to the front of the line and unload my single piece whilst the half dozen truckers that were waiting glared disgustedly at me. This is normal. Once they realize I have "nothing" and my delivery only delayed them a few minutes, their faces tend to soften a little. I would serenely wait until it is actually my turn, but "the customer is always right" and they have always pulled me to the front of the line. Such is the benefit of my Less Than Truckload delivery status.

Speaking of glares!!
Monday Morning
Delaware Memorial Bridge

Gratuitous Cloud Picture
I-81 in Pennsylvania

Wednesday Morning
Max Meadows, VA

Fancy Gap, VA
looking out over North Carolina

Feb 5, 2011

The Blizzard of 2011

I got nothing!!

The week started out with my basking in the glow of Sunshine. It was 70 degrees when I left the house. It remained 70 degrees throughout my trek on Sunday. What a time to find out that the truck AC was not functioning properly. What an even more incredibly amazing time to discover that in my haste that morning, I had forgotten to apply deodorant. Oh well, it is much better to find these things out in the middle of winter, rather than sitting in Miami slow roasting in July.

The temperature began to drop as I made my way towards Baltimore. In fact, it was in the low 20s when I awoke Monday morning. While the truck was parked inside, I found myself wandering about outside actually watching the ice begin to melt. Talk about exciting!! But I also noticed it was trying to snow. TRYING... halfheartedly!

I finished up in Baltimore around 10 am, and with only 2 stops left on the trailer it should have been a piece of cake. However, my next 2 stops were Philly and a little town about half way out on Long Island. I could have made the Philly drop and been on my way by 1pm, but that would only leave the 3 hours to make Hauppage. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Less than 100 miles in 3 hours, but this is New York. Expect the unexpected and be grateful if traffic is moving at all. I checked local traffic reports and the George Washington crossing looked to be backed up all the way through the Bronx. The lower crossing into Staten Island looked better but it appeared everyone in Brooklyn was sitting still. I decided to blow past Philly to ensure I had time to make the New York delivery.

Executive decision made, I crossed at the OuterBridge and began the slow crawl towards the Island. It took 2.5 hours to travel 60 miles and construction was mostly to blame. However, I did creep past a Big Truck that had lost two wheels. Yeah, that was the unexpected that I was expecting! Having still felt no fury from Mother Nature myself, I was reminded of her presence by the large amounts of snow pushed into piles at the edges of roadways and parking lots. In fact, my customer had lost nearly half of their lot due to heaps of snow. This makes for a good time when the lot is barely large enough to turn around in during the summer, much less with the encroaching 5' snowbanks.

My decision did pay off, and I was unloaded and back on my merry way to Philadelphia by 6pm. I would have left sooner, but by the time I got unloaded there were 2 more local trucks in the lot, and absolutely no way for me to vacate the premises. And even when I was finally able to exit, I think I brought half the snow bank with me out into the road.

Bedding down for the night just northeast of Philadelphia, I was once again alerted to the storms rapid advancement. Hearing everything up to 12", I was mildly anxious of my return journey home with the empty trailer. But when I awoke in the morning, there was barely a dusting.

As I made my way south, there was a little bit of a flurry for about 100 miles. I made my way through Maryland and DC with no backups or delays. And no snow! By the time I hit Virginia, it was warming up nicely. In fact, while much of the Country was feeling the onslaught of Mother Nature's frigid fury, I was once again basking in the glow of warmth.

The only advisable road conditions I witnessed....

CAUTION: Mowers Ahead

But I am sure my time will come, and until then... I will just keep knock knock knocking on Heaven's Door. Or at least on this here trusty piece of wood.

Speed Zones

It seems that Atlanta is finally taking measures to ensure the enforcement of speed zones!!

Feb 3, 2011

Mont Eagle, TN

January 26, 2011

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy...

But what about my trailer?

Last week, after finishing up my first route, I was offered the chance to earn a little extra. Actually, I have been earning a little extra every week since the 3 drivers were terminated. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I am not accustomed to working 6 days a week. However, I just can't seem to say no. So after a quick route through the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland, I hurried home to grab a load heading to our sister plant in Northern Indiana.

I was a little dismayed to find this trailer waiting for me! Ugh !!!!! Sure, everybody is looking a little grungy lately with all the winter storms, but this is just plain negligence. Looks like it has been sitting in a field for years.

The trip itself went well, I made the delivery on Thursday morning without any incidence of bad weather. I did here reports that on Wednesday morning, the very roads I was traveling on were slicker than owl snot, coated in ice and snow. But once again, I was
running just behind the weather. After making the drop , I then proceeded to Toledo to pick up.

Then next leg of the journey was very scenic, and I loved every mile of it. There is nothing like the solitude of a nice two lane, to keep your spirits high. It wasn't long before the winds picked up and the snow began its assault. But I managed to make it to Toledo and grab the ingots before conditions worsened. In fact, the snow stopped long enough for me to .... make it home. By the time I made hit Kentucky, all hell was breaking loose behind me. I spent the night in Georgetown with a 2-4in forecast for overnight showers. I awoke to find a mere dusting. I was told Jellico was a death trap, once again...nothing.

I should probably quit while I am ahead, I have been warned that Ol Man Winter is going to sneak up behind me and clobber me with a whopper of a snowstorm, but so far. Well, you get the idea! Now, where is that wood I should be knocking on?