Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Change, Anyone?

Currently. This moment, I am in the Schneider Operating Center in West Memphis, Arkansas. Terry is in the truck sleeping (or at least trying to). We are picking up a load over in Olive Branch, Mississippi, that is going to New Stanton, Pennsylvania. And I felt like doing some writing. So, here we both are. How have you been? Well, I hope.

The only constant.” There is much about driving a truck that is routine, and could even verge on boring. You do the same thing the same way every day no matter where you are. But, if a truck driver ever thinks he (or she) can relax and know exactly how any day might go, something will happen before long to remind that driver that those plans are always subject to change.

Last time I wrote was just such a day. I was typing away on my computer as we drove down through Nashville when suddenly, our drive shaft fell out, and all our plans changed. Instead of driving all night and getting to Laredo the next day, we spent the night in a motel in Nashville waiting for them to put Lorie (our truck) back together.

We covered all that last time.

Now, here's what happened afterward: our truck was fixed late on Friday, so we could start rolling. But – the place in Laredo we were going to didn't open again until Monday morning. And Schneider didn't have anything around Laredo to get us out of there before Monday anyway. So, we've basically got two days on our hands. Not driving.

So, we stopped at Terry's house in Arkansas and stayed until Sunday morning.

And, on our way down to Laredo, we were able to stop and Terry was able to take his mom and sister out to eat for their birthdays. They had a nice visit.

We get to Laredo Sunday night. Monday morning, we deliver our load.

Next load: go down to Weslaco, Texas, near McAllen and Brownsville down on the border, and pick up a very important load from Mexico and take it up to Memphis. It has to be there the next day. But the trailer has to come over from Mexico. It is supposed to be there by about 6:00 pm. So we get there about 2:00 pm.

And wait. And wait. And wait.

6:00 pm comes – and it goes. Then 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00.

No one at Fedex knows where the trailer is. We call Schneider, and they say something like, “Well, it's not there yet.”

“ Yes, we know. That's why we are calling. Where is it? When will it be here?”

“ Uh . . . it's not there yet.”

“ And maybe you aren't either. Good-bye.”

Now, we can't just leave to go anywhere – we have to stay there, because as soon as the load arrives, our clock starts, and we have barely enough time to make it Memphis safely. So we have to just stay there.

Next morning comes. We've been here for almost 20 hours. No trailer. We are hungry, tired, and frustrated. We've just spent most of the past week sitting still. And that means not making money.


Finally, late that morning, we get the message: that load has been cancelled. There is no trailer coming from Mexico after all. And no load to Memphis.

But, soon, things improve. We get another load: go over to Pharr, Texas, and pick up a load going up to Delano, California (just north of Bakersfield on California Highway 99). Off we go, happy to be headed out west, which means going through West Texas, which means Terry and I are about as content as we can be.

We deliver to California early Wednesday morning. Get a load to pick up in San Diego that is going to Forrest City, Arkansas. We are able to stop by Terry's house for a day.

We deliver the load Sunday evening. From there, we go to Memphis, and pick up a load going to McDonough, Georgia. Deliver the next day. Next, a load from Mableton, Georgia, going up to Bowling Green, Ohio. And on the way out of Atlanta, I was able to meet my Mama, and we went out to eat. We both enjoyed it very much. (Hey Mama! Love you!)

From Ohio, we get a load that takes us down to Searcy, Arkansas. That brings us up to this morning.

Next load: pick up in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and head for Portland, Oregon – oh yayyyyy! A cool load, good miles, good money!

Halfway to Memphis from Searcy, our satellite goes off. Load has been canceled. What!?!? Say it's not so.

But it is. Remember that change thing I was talking about.

A little later, we get another load, pick up at the same place, same time, but going to Pennsylvania. And you can bet this one won't be canceled.

Anyone want a glass of lemonade? You see, there are all these lemons lying around . . .

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

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