Well, the good news is that I'm getting more miles lately, and doing less sitting. The bad news is that this is the second weekend in a row that I've been stuck out on the road. I've heard it said that a driver knows he's been on the road too long when his wife or girlfriend cooks him a delicious hot meal and when he finishes it, he leaves her a two-dollar tip on the table. Well, I don't think I'm quite at that point yet, but I'm getting close. I don't know why I can't get good miles AND get home every week, but the "trucking gremlins" have apparently decided that that's not to be the case, at least for now. I'm not really griping this time, though, because it's been so slow lately, and paychecks have been low, and I need the money, greedy capitalist pig that I am. Lots of money helps immensely when the bills come due.
I guess I was conspicuous by my absence from these pages last weekend. That was because I had no time. I got dispatched late Friday afternoon, had to contend with Chicago-area rush hour traffic, got into a truck stop even later that evening, dead-tired, and slept late Saturday. That was the only free day I had, as my load was the dreaded SUNDAY pickup and delivery variety. I got online and managed to read some of my e-mail, but was continuously hassled by electrical problems emanating from the voltage inverter which powers my laptop on the road. Problems which took the form of ominous beeps and buzzes from the inverter, calculated to (A.) get your attention and (B.) drive you completely NUTS!!
Something -- God only knows what -- had apparently convinced the thing that my laptop was overloading it. Well, duh!!! It's a freakin' 400 watt inverter -- at least 3 times more than would ever be necessary to power this laptop!! Heck, playing a DVD movie never overloads it, and that about steals all the memory and processing resources this machine has at its disposal! Put in the simplest possible terms, something was bullshitting my inverter and it was believing the B.S.
Those of you out there who have encountered similar electronic gremlins know as well as I do how frustrating they can be. I became frantic to SHUT THAT DAMNED INSANE BEEPING UP, RIGHT NOW!!! I flipped the power switch on the inverter to 'off,' forgetting, naturally, to save what I was working on and wiped out an entire masterpiece of a reply I was writing to a friend's e-mail message. Sigh. Reboot. Get back online. Start all over again. The inverter shut up -- for awhile. But 15 minutes later, it started beeping its false warning once again. Cursing ensued at that point and I'll leave that to your imaginations. Finally, in desperation, I began trying to SLAP some sense into the damned thing, as "reasoning" with it had proved futile. BEEP-BEEP! SMACK!! "Shut up!!" BZZZZZZ-BEEP-BEEP! SMACK!! "SHUT UP!! I SAID SHUT UP!!" And so on. I finished my personal e-mail, said "to hell with it" and shut the thing down.
And now this week, of course, I haven't heard a peep from it. Go figure!!
I got my load early Sunday morning, as scheduled. They had the pickup time PRECISELY set at EXACTLY 6:52 A.M., CDT, with no window on the time at all. Well -- okaaaaay, I thought. So, I was careful to punch in my 'arrived at shipper' message at that exact time. Nothing like being punctual, huh?? I was tempted to send my 'loaded at shipper' message at 6:53, but what the heck?? I'm not known to be a notorious smartass, as are some, and it would be out of character for me. So, I sent it in at 6:54 A.M. instead. Two minutes, to go into the shipping office, get my bills, go back to the truck, drop my empty in one spot, find my loaded trailer in another location, hook up to it, do a REALLY quick pre-trip on it, do the ritual with the gate guard and seal inspection, then hit the road. Not bad for a middle-aged old geezer, huh?? Now, if that ain't efficient, then what IS??? Since there's nobody in our dispatch office until noon on Sunday, they would have a hard time proving that I DIDN'T do it that fast, although common sense would indicate that I was faking it through my teeth!! But let them figure it out, I say!!
I had my two deliveries set at what I call "reefer hours." Late at night or in the pre-dawn morning, otherwords. They delivered in two different Detroit suburbs. I got the first one off quickly, before midnight, then cruised through what they now call "Dearbornistan" (due to the many Middle Eastern immigrants who live there) enroute to the final stop. This one took four hours and I got just enough of a nap in to get good and sleepy. But I napped more, after unloading, as they had no load for me, much as I expected. It was mid-morning before I got dispatched.
That, as it turned out, was the most waiting I did all week long, for a pleasant change. Everything seemed back to normal last week, with overnight deliveries on every trip and the miles began to rack up again. I ended the week in York, Pennsylvania, where I feared that I wouldn't be able to get home once more. That state, and the whole Northeast region in general, have been a freight Dead Zone for the past two years, and any load you can get back out of there is a good thing. Not nearly enough loads available to get choosy, so I knew I would be stuck with whatever dispatch and customer service could come up with.
Sure enough, I had to go all the way to a Philly suburb the next morning, reload my caboose, then haul it back to the area around our yard, for a Monday afternoon delivery. Good, much-needed miles once again. I stopped here yesterday, just east of Columbus, Ohio, to get my 34 hour reset in before continuing westward. I've got all kinds of time on this load, unlike last weekend, so I can get as lazy as I want to be, and catch up on things I missed out on last week. I schmoozed under a hot shower for an hour this morning. Ahhhhhh -- I feel almost human again now!! At least as human as a Dawg can feel!
Will these good miles continue?? I can only hope so. Lately, it's seemed like I'll have one good week, mile-wise, then follow that up with another crappy one. I need the same consistency I used to get, before this fuel-price-related, election year, economic downturn struck. But, if anything, I'm an eternal optimist, and I know it'll get better, in time. Just a matter of when and treading water, financially, until it does.