Friday, January 9, 2009

Musical Trucks

UPDATE:If you read this entry in the past day or two, there's an update below. If you haven't read, it you won't believe it!

Are we on Candid Camera ? Okay. Any moment now, Allen Funt is going to come around a corner and tell us they've been messing with us for the past month, with Schneider's permission, and we'll smile like good sports into the camera, and it will all be over. Our lives will return to normal.

Or, it will be like the wonderfully funny (and thought-provoking) book by Robert Heinlein (if you like science fiction and you haven't read him, where have you been?), Job: A Comedy of Justice , where the gods are playing practical jokes on their followers and laughing at their demented cruelty. There is a similar scene in one of the Hitchhiker series books by absurdist genius Douglas Adams.

Musical trucks. Last time I wrote, we were in Gary, Indiana, where our truck was in the shop because of transmission problems. We have had this truck almost two years, and have had major transmission problems four times.

We have broken down in Eufaula, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles. And last year, when I was driving solo in that truck, I broke down in morning rush hour traffic in Cincinnati. And, this week, in Wisconsin.

Our truck was not finished on Monday, so we had to leave in the borrowed truck Monday morning to deliver our load to California on time. We made it with no problems, and the weather was great.

However, this truck (also an automatic transmission) has been acting really weird every time we backup.

From California, we got a load to Dallas. Our truck is ready up in Gary, so they will eventually route us up there if they can ever find a truck that will make it up there.

We arrived here in Dallas about midnight. Park the trailer, and when we stop, the dash starts flashing fault codes for the transmission – there's a problem. So, we let Schneider know that our borrowed truck is having transmission problems and we have a load to deliver over in Grand Prairie in the morning at 7:30.

They find yet another truck here in Dallas for us to use to deliver the load in the morning. Meanwhile, the borrowed truck we picked up in Gary will go into the shop here in Dallas in the morning.

The truck we will use in the morning belongs to a guy who is on vacation. So we will deliver the load in the morning, bring that truck back and sit here until they get the second truck fixed. I will absolutely refuse to get into a fourth truck if they press for that.

So, as I sit, sleepless because of all this excitement, in the Schneider Operating Center in Dallas, Texas, I have stuff scattered in three different trucks.

The bright side. If I sound negative the past few entries about all the things that have happened to us, I apologize. It's really hilarious at times, and Terry and I both joke about the past month every day, sort of looking back over our shoulders to make sure the boogeyman isn't right behind us.

That aside, it's been the most stressful month I can remember in several years (probably since my divorce and subsequent final breakup with my precious ex-wife, Charlotte).

But, since we left Gary, Indiana, we have had great weather, great driving conditions, and all the way to California, Terry and I relaxed back into a somewhat normal routine, even though we were in a borrowed truck, and had the minimal necessities for life on the road with us.

And, then, even though they didn't send us right away back to Gary from California, they sent us to Texas. There is no place either of us would rather go (excepting to visit our families) than Texas. And, all the way here from California, we had great weather, good roads, beautiful country.

So, the past few days have reminded me once again why I love this job and this life, even with all the hassles of the past month.

Beyond that, Terry and I both realize that in the big picture, this past month is nothing momentous: we are safe, making money, haven't been in any accidents, and we've both learned things that we will be able to use in the future, especially in severe winter conditions.

But we still want the joke to end. NOW.

World Tour of Music continues. I think I mentioned a few entries ago that I am going through my music collection, alphabetically, to hear everything I've got. I'm in the letter J now.

Today was typical: finished listening to stuff by Jerusalem (one of my favorite Christian rock bands); then Jesse Coulter; Jessica Simpson; Jewel; Jimi Hendrix; Jimmie C. Neuman; Jo Dee Messina; and I'm in the middle of the legendary Joan Baez.

I'm enjoying this little diversion immensely.

And so, this part of the story ends.

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


UPDATE: It is two days later. Sunday. We finally picked our truck up last night in Gary, Indiana, moved all our stuff from the loaner truck we'd been in for a week, and headed for Iowa City, Iowa, to pick up our next load that was going to North Carolina.

Just over 100 miles into the trip, I woke up when Terry pulled into a rest area.

He told me the truck had started doing the same thing it was doing before, only it was worse this time. Whatever they had done in Gary had not solved anything.

We made it as far as Davenport, Iowa, before it got so bad Terry didn't feel like it was safe to continue. We called Schneider maintenance, and they had us take the truck to a Freightliner place here in Davenport, about 15 miles away. We got there, and they told it would be Monday morning before they could even look at it.

So, here we are in another motel in Davenport. It's actually a very nice place for the price. Terry is sleeping and I am sitting in the dark with the glow of this laptop screen for company.

We are both so frustrated and tired of these truck problems!

Our dispatcher told us last week that we are on the short list for a newer truck. In my mind, it just got shorter.

They took us off the load going North Carolina, of course.

So, here we are. I hope things are going better on your end.

Until next time . . . keep the wheels rollin' (if you can get wheels that will roll) . . . making choices and taking responsibility . . .

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