Thursday, May 3, 2007

When "keeping the wheels rollin'" is hard

It is the week after our time off in Virginia Beach, and is our sixth week out.  We have been averaging about 5500 or 5600 miles a week up to now.  This week, it looks to be about 3500, if we are lucky.  And, of course, as truck drivers, miles translate directly into money.

There are a combination of things that can create a week like we are having.  From Virginia Beach, we picked up a load going to Cedar Falls, Iowa.  At 1100 miles (or so -- I'm writing this from memory), it was a pretty typical load.  We could get it there any time within a window, 24 hours a day, and when we got there, we just dropped the trailer and left.

Since completing that load on Monday afternoon, we've had two other loads.  Both of those loads have been shorter loads (anything under 1000 miles for us is what I consider short) and they have both been live loads and unloads.  What this means is that we have a pickup or delivery appointment or window, and we have to wait while the trailer is loaded and unloaded.  This is the first set of loads we've had when there has been a live load/unload at both ends of the load.

The load we are on now is a good example of how this impacts our driving (and our paychecks):  yesterday, we had an appointment to pick up this load at 6:00 pm local time in Eden, North Carolina.  We have a live unload on the other end in Hooksett, New Hampshire.  They are open from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm for receiving.  

By the time we left the shipper yesterday, it was too late for us to be able to make it in time to unload in New Hampshire today, so when we got to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, early this morning, where Schneider has an Operating Center, we just parked here and took a break.  We both got a good amount of sleep, and we got to do some running around in the company car to take care of some errands.

One thing we did was go to Walmart.  We came out of Walmart, and both of us were looking for the car.  We both remembered parking it in two different rows, and we just couldn't find it.  Haven't you ever done that at Walmart or the mall before?  So, here are two grown men pushing their buggy around the Walmart parking lot looking lost as we go from row to row, thinking every car is the one we drove.  Terry knew the car was gray and I thought it was maroon.  It's actually sort of lavender.

Finally, in desperation, we used the key chain to set off the car alarm.  We were pretty close to it, and I'm sure the local residents were glad to know that we found our car.  I'm glad they didn't know that the night before we had driven a big orange truck through their little town.

Now, dear reader, aren't you amazed that we can get around the block in our orange truck, much less across the country?  

If you ever see two 40-something men wandering around the parking lot of your local Walmart, looking lost and confused, it could be us.  You never know.

Anyway, we were able to get some things done (amazing as that may seem to you), and now, we are moments away from leaving Carlisle.   We are going over our directions (thank God!) and we are planning to be there sometime very early in the morning.  We called the place we are delivering to and they said they have plenty of parking for us when we get there.  Let us hope that is true.  

The point of this little story (if ever there was one) is the fact that we couldn't just drive straight up to New Hampshire and drop this trailer when we got there as we have been able to do on most loads, and even though it gave us a welcome break and some good rest, I think we would both have preferred to be rolling and earning money.

I think that is all I shall write for now since I have embarrassed myself enough for one entry.

Now we're ready to leave -- provided we can find our truck.  All these orange trucks look alike, you know.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . when you can . . .

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