Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Collection of Thoughts

A dream load. Last time we left you, Terry and I were sitting in Fontana, California, after taking our first load as a reunited Lonesome Dove Xpress team there. There is a funny story about that load.

We got the load there early Sunday afternoon, and it wasn't supposed to deliver until 2:00 pm on Monday. If we stayed with the load, we'd be waiting over 24 hours. If you are a solo driver with a load like that, tough luck. You're stuck with it. But because, in theory at least, Schneider likes to keep their teams moving on loads that are time-critical or high value, they don't make teams babysit a load like that.

So when we got there Sunday, I called the weekend shift at Schneider to tell them we were there a day early, and we'd love to be able to relay the load in Fontana, and be able to be moving on another load. The person I spoke with said they didn't have any freight for us on Sunday, but to call back first thing Monday morning.

That's what I did, just after posting the last blog entry. They took us off the load, and told us that they'd have us on another load as soon as possible.

We unhooked from the trailer, and parked right across from it in an empty spot.

And waited. And waited. Waited some more.

Surely it won't be long now.

Wait some more.

We could see the trailer we'd just dropped. It was a high value load with a strict appointment time. We could have taken it, but we didn't want to wait if there was another load.

So we dropped it, as instructed by Schneider.

And waited.

10:00 o'clock. 11:00 o'clock. No load. No one else came to get the trailer we had dropped.

Noon. 1:00 o'clock. One hour before the load has to be 40 miles away. In LA traffic.

We are still waiting. The trailer is still where we left it.

Why didn't they just tell us to go ahead and take the load to deliver? Why didn't a local solo driver come get it?

Late in the afternoon, after staring guiltily at that loaded trailer not moving all day, we finally got another load.

That other trailer never did move before we left.

But when we got the load going to Texas, we didn't really care.

Things so far. We have settled into teaming again very easily, falling naturally into old routines. It has been good.

After being on the road for a week, we were in Arkansas for the weekend because Terry had already scheduled that time off before we started teaming again.

Our loads have been okay, but not great for the most part. We've been waiting more than we did when we were teaming before. But then, along comes a load like the one we got last night: take a load from Lagrange, Georgia, to Ogden, Utah. Plenty of time on the load, no rush, setting our own pace. Perfect! This is the kind of load we live for!

The day before our time off in Arkansas, I got sick. I am just now, two weeks later, getting better. I won't go into more detail than that, other than to say I have been pretty miserable. I went to a doctor when we were in Arkansas, and then had to go to an ER on the road last week.

Being sick in a truck stinks.

A good woman journeys to a better place. Last week, one of my favorite aunts, my great-aunt Edna, passed away. She was one of the happiest, most joyful people I've ever known in my life, and I will miss her. I had been looking forward to seeing her in a few weeks when I go home for our family reunion.

I wasn't able to attend the funeral, but when I learned of her passing, I wrote a tribute to her which I e-mailed to her son, and some other folks in my family. I wrote it as a letter to Edna, and I include it here in her memory.

Dear Aunt Edna:

I learned a little while ago that you have stepped across the threshold

into that greater glory of life eternal, which we all hope for, and to

which all our faith looks with joy. It makes the hope and joy all the

greater when those we have loved take the journey before us.

I can imagine you there, being greeted by those who went before you --

those I think of most are Uncle Dick, my granddaddy Boe, Aunt Mary, and

Aunt Phoebe. I'm sure they all -- and others whom you had loved -- were

there to meet you, except for Aunt Mary, who was probably too busy

watching reruns of old Boston Red Sox games to notice much of anything

else now that Tyler is one of them.

When I think of you, Aunt Edna, many things come to my mind, but some

things stand out more distinctly than others. I used to love it when you

would come to Nanny's house (sometimes with Aunt Louise) to spend the

night. You'd be there, with Nanny, Mary, Phoebe, and maybe Louise, all

sitting around the table in the kitchen drinking coffee and talking up a


One time I remember being home after I had moved away from Rome, and I was

over at Nanny's when you came. I hadn't seen you in quite a while, and

you bounced up those steps, came in the front door. I remember you

grabbed me, hugged me, and told me you loved me. I asked you how you had

been, and you laughed as you said, "I've been causin' just as much trouble

as I can."

You always said things like that; I never remember one time ever hearing

you complain or say anything bad about anyone else. I never remember

seeing you when you had a bad day, even though I know you must have had

them sometimes; I just never saw them. I can think of no one I've ever

known in my life who had the love of life, the happy energy of bright

sunshine and smiles more than you did. I always felt better after I had

been around you, and I always laughed more when you were there. You were

just that way.

I just wanted to write to say that I will certainly miss you, as we all

will, and I wanted to thank you for touching my life in such a special way.

I am looking forward to seeing you soon. Until then, I will remember with

joy your life and love.

Much love,


Only while driving a truck. It is 1:30 in the morning. I'm driving the night shift. I'm going through Lebanon, Tennessee. I stop at a Pilot truck stop to refill my coffee, and decide I'd like a sandwich from Subway.

So, I find myself standing in line with a woman in front of me about my age. No one out in the Subway, but we can hear someone banging dishes in the back, like they are washing dishes. The woman has been there a few minutes when I walk up.

So I start yelling for the clanging dishwasher: “Subway, git ye butt out here! We hongry!”

Finally, the clanging stops, and a short, plump man who looks about 50 comes out drying his hands on a towel, apologizing for keeping us waiting. He hadn't heard us until I started my barnyard yelling.

The woman places her order, and we all make small talk. The guy asks me if I like driving for Schneider, and I say yes. He says he used to drive a truck, and the woman has a friend who drives a truck.

The man says he got fired from his trucking job when he told his dispatcher one day that he should “make an appointment with your proctologist to see if you can find your head.” No wonder he's working at Subway.

But the Subway man says that he might go back on the road after October. He can't leave before October because he's wrapping up production of an independent film that has been opted by the Spike cable tv network.

The woman was about to leave, but now she comes back, saying, “I've got to hear this!”

So the man proceeds to tell us that he produces independent films, most notably a series of films about a female superhero called “Thong Girl”. He plays her sidekick in the movies, “Boxer Brief Boy.”

I was laughing so hard I didn't know if I could drive the truck for a while. Here I am in smalltown America – Lebanon, Tennessee – listening to a dishwasher at Subway in the middle of the night talk about his award-winning films starring “Thong Girl.”

He said that when they were filming one of the movies, they used the offices of the mayor of a neighboring town, Gallatin, to shoot some scenes. Well, a rumor got started in the town that they had been shooting a porno film (which it is not), and the mayor got fired.

When I got back to the truck, laughing so loud I was afraid I'd wake Terry up, I realized once again that as long as I drive a truck, I will never run out of things to laugh at or write about in this blog.

Life is so funny.

A much better movie. I found out the other day that a movie is being released soon that is about the early life of Billy Graham. The trailer looks great, and I encourage any of you who admires Billy Graham to check it out. You can see the trailer here:

Maybe you can find a double-feature: Thong Girl and the Billy Graham movie.

Politics. For the first time this election cycle, I am encouraged that John McCain may have a realistic chance to win the Presidential election. His selection of Sarah Palin was a brilliant move, and I would not be surprised to see her become President one day.

Reading. You know how much I love to read, if you have read this blog very much. One casualty of teaming again is that I'm listening to fewer books on tape or on XM radio, and I'm not reading as much from regular books. Mostly because there's not as much downtime, and teaming tends to make one more tired than driving solo.

However, Terry and I have been reading the same collection of short stories by Annie Proulx, Close Range , a collection of stories about Wyoming. It includes the story “Brokeback Mountain”, from which the movie of the same title is based.

The stories are excellent, Proulx's writing is amazing, her mastery of language is a learning experience for both of us. And on the load we are on currently, we will be driving through Wyoming on I-80, so it will be even more rewarding.

Writing. I haven't written any more on the story I was working on in a while, but ideas are always in my mind. I've just been too sick and tired to feel like doing much of anything lately.

I suppose that's about all for now.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .


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