Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lonesome Dove Xpress -- The Reunion Tour

First – follow-up to last blog entry. The Monday after my adventure in Long Island which I wrote about at length in the last entry, I learned from my dispatcher that Schneider has already classified what happened as a “non-preventable” incident. That just means that they believe I did all that I could reasonably and safely do in the situation, and what happened was not due to some error I made. I think it helped that I wasn't issued a citation by the police, and the fact that the utility company employees repeatedly told me that the line was not legally as high as it was required to be. Still, I breathed a sigh of relief to get that good news.

How quickly things change. That same Monday, Schneider sent a message to all the drivers. It basically said that they were offering a $2000 bonus for drivers that would become team drivers. That got my attention – and Terry's.

We began to talk about the possibility of getting back together to team again. We talked extensively for a couple of days, got the details on what it would involve, and then made the decision to reunite the Lonesome Dove Xpress.

The money was the primary reason we began to talk about it, but the more we talked about it, the more we both realized that we missed the good things about teaming. We decided to team for six months, see where things are, and then take it from there.

You know from reading my blog entries (if you have) over the past few months that I have been content being a solo driver; but, it is also true that I have always missed certain things about teaming.

Over the past two or three months, as the economy where freight is concerned has softened even more, I have noticed a change in the miles I'm driving each week, which, of course, has impacted my net pay. I'm getting more live loads and unloads, shorter hauls (as far as mileage is concerned), and I'm waiting longer between load assignments in certain areas of the country where freight is softer.

The end result of all that is that in the current economic and freight environment, the incentives and advantages of teaming are even more pronounced than they normally are. The $2000 bonus just makes that even more true.

By teaming even for six months, I can easily, with no effort, increase my gross earnings by at least $10,000, and possibly more.

And so, Terry and I are both slowly making our way to West Memphis where we will meet up, settle ourselves back into our truck, Lorie (which I've continued to make my home since we quit teaming last December), and hit the road together once again.

The Lonesome Dove Xpress rolls on.

Another advantage to teaming is that we will get to spend more of our time driving in the places we love – out west, and most especially, the Great State of Texas, my true home if my heart has one.

Just as this blog changed when we quit teaming, so will it change again as we hit the road together. Stay tuned.

The load that wasn't. Last week – I forget the exact day without looking at my load book – I was in South Carolina (after Long Island and New Jersey, it was so good to be back down South), and I was sent down below Myrtle Beach to Georgetown to pick up a load at a steel mill there. When I got there, there were three other orange trucks there also. We were all heading to the same place in Missouri.

Two of the drivers had already been loaded and I was about halfway loaded when someone came out on the dock and told the loader to stop. There was a problem.

I had no idea what was going on.

One of the other drivers came over to my truck, and told me that all four of our loads were bein cancelled. Shortly after he told me that, sure enough, a message came over my satellite receiver that just said: “Load XXXXXX has been cancelled.” That's all. No other explanation.

The two guys who had already been loaded were already out of the gate, and had to turn around and come back in to be unloaded.

The bad thing was that even though Schneider told us drivers the loads were cancelled, the people at the steel mill didn't know what was going on or why. Oh, the manager of that shipping department was angry, understandably so. It took them literally almost three hours to get it sorted out.

All four of us finally got unloaded, and we were all out of hours to run; there was no truck stop anywhere near Georgetown, so we all just parked on the side of the little road that ran beside the steel mill. It was a safe, good place.

While we had been waiting to find out what was going to happen at the steel mill, all four of us had stood around talking, joking, laughing.

One of the drivers, a guy from Houston who has been with Schneider 19 years, was particularly entertaining. While we were all gathered around talking at first, he began to talk about how unfair he thought it was that Schneider requires drivers to wear safety footwear (which they provide) but the office workers don't.

He was working himself up into a frenzy that the best tent-revival evangelist would have been envious of. He would raise his voice and waggle his finger to make a point.

A couple of times, he'd be lost in the inspiration of the moment, and he'd get right in another guy's face, finger pointing into the air, eyes blazing like a mad trucker-prophet, voice thundering from the Mount about how he should be able to wear flip-flops if he wants to, and then, “Am I right!?! Am I right!?! Am I right!?!”

Can I get a witness?!?” Like that.

Only, the way he said it, it came out like: “Amiright, amiright, amiright?” No space between the words, just a liturgy that would surely have resulted in lots of pledges to “The Mad Trucker-Prophet Hour” if it were on TV.

Maybe for each pledge, the giver would receive a pair of flip-flops.

At any rate, once we were all unloaded, and parked for the night, we decided to walk up to some place to eat. It was raining steadily, but not enough to hurt if the place was right up the street like a couple of the guys said.

It was up the street alright – one and a half or two miles if it was an inch.

By the time we got there, more wet than hungry by then, our main object was to get dry.

We ate, and enjoyed just talking, listening to the Trucker-Prophet dispense his roadly wisdom, and laughing a lot.

I had decided that if there was a taxi in Georgetown (which was never certain), I was going to ride in it back to my truck. It was really raining hard then, and I wasn't going to get back in my truck totally deluged if I could help it.

While we were waiting in line to order, a tall young lady in front of us heard me (she was about 6 foot 5, and would have made a great roller-derby girl from when I used to see it on TV back in the 70's), and said, “If you want a taxi, it's . . .” and gave me the number from memory.

Definitely a young lady who's out on lots of Saturday nights in Georgetown.

We called the taxi, and the guy came right over. All four of us rode back.

This is such a cool job – the interesting people I get to come across just make my life more enjoyable.

Other things. There is much I would write, but I am constrained by your own perseverance and patience, Dear Reader.

I would write of the things I've been reading, of the current political entertainment, the fact that I'm still making (slow) progress in my writing for my current short story, of life on the road.

Those words must wait for another time, another place along the road.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . watch for the Reunion Tour coming near you . . .



Anonymous said...

My Dear what is wrong? Your empty is over flowing. Is there something we need to talk about. You start things and don't finish them. Tell me what's on your mind.

Allan Mills said...

Reply to "anonymous" who really isn't (Hello my dear K!):

Well, if my "empty [head] is overflowing", there must be nothing on my mind. So what is there to talk about? I humbly seek the truth in this.

K, thanks for the smile! Love you!