Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Life As A Blur

It is Tuesday morning about 1:30 as I type this sitting in the front of the truck.  We are parked at the Walmart in Defuniak Springs, Florida.  Terry is asleep, trying to catch up on some needed rest before we roll again.  

The past few days are lost in a haze of too many places and not enough sleep.  

Last Friday morning, we left Billy's house and headed for Arkansas to visit with Terry's daughter and her little boy.  Talk about adorable!  We took some pictures that we will probably post at some point.  We just had a delightful visit and I felt honored to have been included, if only by necessity.

Following our short visit, we drove the rest of the way into West Memphis, and stayed at the hotel Schneider uses for drivers there.  

Friday afternoon, after being trained on the new automatic clutch in the truck we were assigned, we met our STL, Julian, and had a nice talk with him to get acquainted.  I must say that if our future experience with Julian proves to be anything like our initial meeting, we are going to have a great relationship with him, and my own personal feeling is that a driver's relationship with their STL (dispatcher) is a major key to that driver's overall content or discontent as a driver for a particular company.

By 4:30 or 5:00 Friday afternoon, we had our first load assignment, and we were rolling.  We picked up a load in Jackson, Tennessee, going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  

Initially, we planned to loosely try a 12 hour shift for each of us, with me generally doing midnight to noon and Terry doing noon to midnight.  He started driving Friday night, and we switched out around midnight.  

It was the first time either of us had slept in a moving truck.  Or tried to sleep.  I think our experience thus far with that is that we are able to doze for short periods of time, but it's a lot different, and will take a while to get used to.  

We delivered our load to Pennsylvania on Saturday.  Our second load was picking up in Pennsylvania and being delivered to Alachua, Florida.  We delivered that load yesterday morning and picked up a load in Dade City, Florida, that is going to Sealy, Texas.

Reflections from the first few days:  (1) being in a constant state of exhaustion and fatigue will be an ongoing challenge we will learn to manage; at this point, a couple of times (like now), we have just shut down completely so that we can at least have a chance to get some more substantive sleep and rest.   Schneider's mantra is certainly true:  "Nothing we do is worth getting hurt or hurting others."  

(2)  At the pace we are currently on, as long as the loads are available, we will be able to crank out as many miles as we can handle.  Hopefully that pattern will continue.

(3)  We have been able, in just the first few days, to see some of the most beautiful country anywhere.  Driving through the mountains of PA and Virginia, especially, was visually intoxicating.  And it reminded me just how much I've missed being on the road the past year or so.  

(4)  Our route through Florida put us in the path of one of our oldest mutual friends, Van, and we were able to stop yesterday and spend a few minutes visiting with him over coffee.  It was very enjoyable.  We also passed through near where my Dad lives (which is why we initially stopped here in Defuniak Springs), so I was able to spend some good time with him and his wife. I was at the end of my day anyway, so it was a logical place to stop.

I have remarked several times to Terry how fortunate I feel:  what other job could I possibly have which would enable me to get paid for something I love to do (drive), see some of the most beautiful country around, and run across people I love and care about?   I realize that much of the reason I am able to enjoy this experience so much is that I am free of most of the obligations that almost all drivers have in balancing family responsibilities and that sort of thing.  

I am a lucky man.  A blessed man.  

For me, one of the elements of this whole teaming experience that makes everything else possible is the fact that I have a fellow-driver whom I know well and get along with well.  I know there are going to be times we'd love to throw each other from the truck and then back up to make sure the job is complete (sorry, but it's true), but I don't think two people in this situation could have been matched more suitably.  

(What's that?  Stop typing so loudly so you can sleep?  Well, if you would quit snoring so loudly, maybe I'd be asleep right now instead of up here typing!  What was that?  Well, just go ahead and try!)

To be continued . . .

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