Wednesday, February 19, 2020

I have an absolutely horrible headache. But I'll get to that in  a moment.
After discussing today with "people in the know", Ann basically did herself in because she wasn't trying to do anything about increasing the capacity of the operations going on in the terminal. IE: beyond the product we deliver, bring in other product trailers as well and get some more revenue going for our terminal  I've brought the idea up myself in the past - we are right down the road from a huge chemical plant that makes allllll kinds of different chemicals, not just the ones we deliver, why aren't we trying to get a piece of all of that other pie as well? 

It wasn't well received.  I was curious about that, because in my view, it's a gold mine waiting to be dug out.  But whatever, it's not my company, just thought it curious that we could expand to all kinds of different chemical hauling opportunities. We would never be slow. They would have to get a bigger yard, a better facility with far better accommodations and more perks on the local level. 

It turns out the mechanic has been actively attempting to get that done as well.  I'm not bashing Ann, tho.  But she kind of signed her own termination notice by not expanding her horizons.  My problem with what we've got going now is that we are limited to one product and in the last year, it's been slow more than not.  I don't really much care for driving every day until your hours run out.  But now? 3 and 4 days in between runs? I'm not rich, I need that money, I need more frequency than that for doing run.

Apparently corporate is on with the idea of expanding the operation.  Argon, oxygen, nitrogen, various different acids, all kinds of chemicals are made at that plant.  We could be hauling stuff all over the United States, not just the eastern half.  I'd love to get some runs going west, frankly. You know, like to Arizona? lol  So, the situation at work may, eventually, get better.   I can tell ya, I've worked at enough corporations, when they start shaking the hive, they often times get rid of a lot of people, not just one here and there. 

Anyway, to my dismay, we are all being temporarily assigned to this lady that runs a terminal in Louisiana - I wrote about her and the situation with my medical card last year.  I don't want to go into all of that again, but we ended up getting into a heated back and forth after she continued to deny me the opportunity to go get the card, instead giving me run after run.  Once that card expires? You aren't driving a commercial truck anywhere

She sent me a run for Oklahoma for today.  I wasn't so happy about it - there were 2 Brownsville runs as well, but I said nothing about my disdain for a short run that won't pay much.  I have been keeping my lips zipped in the complaining department for quite some time now.  I might vent on here, but that doesn't translate to any management or anyone of any consequence over there.   I took the high road today - I'm going to give myself that credit because that lady did me wrong and it ended up costing me money out of my own pocket and having to get a new license - and just said I consider it water under the bridge, I hold no grudges and I apologize if you were offended in any way.

So she lit up on that and went to town. In a good way, nothing bad. 

But what was the headache?  Well, my truck was giving me this bright red warning light in the shape of a stop sign with a pic of an engine in the middle of it last trip. So I reported it to the mechanic. I asked him this morning about that, he said he had hooked up his computer to it and it gave him "all kinds of random readings" but the readout came back and said to clear the codes and see if it was just  a fluke.  Lol.  Okaayyyyy. Well, he came out to the trailer I was hooking up to this morning, looking at whatever while I was backing under it.  I got out after hooking and started checking the coupling and everything else on the trailer. When I got around to whatever he was looking at, well, he started commenting on replacing the landing gear on all of these old trailers.

Really? And thank God.  40 year old landing gear.  Hard to crank down, been needing replaced for a long time.

I got back in the truck - and all of those lights sans the red one were on.  I rolled the window down - did you clear the codes? Yea, did the come back on? Yup.  He assured me the truck "should" run.  I don't really care, if it breaks down somewhere, I get paid for it.  But I wasn't prepared for what happened once I got 70 miles or so down the road. You see, when that red light comes on? This incessant, very loud beeping noise comes on as well. The truck is commanding to pull over and shut it off. 

Well, last trip, it didn't come on that much and went off shortly after. This trip? The 70 mile mark is when it started coming on and off and on and off - the noise unbearable.  After 100 miles? The damned thing STAYED on.  I've been getting assailed with this freaking noise all .... daaaaaayyyy.....looooooooooooooooooooong. HOURS and HOURS of this horrific noise.  I ended up putting ear buds in both my ears and literally cranking music through my iPhone for hours on end.  Would you rather hear music or beeping?  Yeah, I thought so.

But it eventually started to give me a headache.  Which got worse.  And the power was getting worse on the truck as well. It's got a bad fuel pump.  I've got 130 or so miles to go to get back to the yard.  I'm at the casino truck stop - my normal stopping place on this run. But I was close to being out of time, a thing that never happens, but this truck has been lugging up hills and lugging on straight aways all day long. I can't believe the thing has made it as far as it has.  I'm hoping to make it to the yard tomorrow and get out of this damned thing, put it in the shop and get it fixed. 

The new manager told me today she can keep me busy til' Monday "at least".  People needing time off and more work came in. Fine by me, I need the money.  I don't know if that will actually materialize and I have no idea, but according to the schedule I'm looking at, it's a spartan week. And, interestingly enough, the 2 Brownsville runs that were supposed to go out today? Got cancelled. I was the only run going out today and there is only one running going out - according to the schedule - tomorrow, going to .... Brownsville.  I don't know what is going on at that plant, but they need to get their s*** together and get it fixed and get it operational again.

I can only guess that the schedule has changed again.  I dunno, she said it, I ain't holding her to it, if she keeps me busy, great, if she doesn't, oh well. 

With that, I'm getting offa here.  Cause it's bedtime and I intend on having the all you can eat buffet in the morning - I'll find stuff keto friendly there I'm sure - and then get out of Dodge. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

So I'm sitting here at my computer desk a few minutes ago and I get a phone call from a number I don't recognize.  For at least a year, I have been ignoring the parade of phone calls I get on a daily basis that are spammers either offering a "cash offer" for my home or insurance schemes. But lately, I decided to answer the calls and see if I can get some of this crap from calling me, for ignoring the calls have definitely not made them go away.  

Especially the calls from people claiming they want to buy my house. Yesterday I answered the phone and they wanted to make a cash offer, I said how much? Well first we're going to have to ask you some questions. NO thank you. Oh, ok. Perhaps they'll mark it as a dead lead?  I ain't giving them any information.

Anyway, I answered this call as well. Hello? Hi, is this Ben? Yes it is.  This is - whoever, I don't remember his name - some corporate dude out of Ohio with my company - and we wanted to let you know that Ann is no longer working with the company.  Not that was shocking.  I just talked to her in  her office a few days ago, it was obvious she wasn't expect that news today.  But that's what happens when you get a smaller company taken over by a large corporation. They don't care about you, your life or anything that goes on in the company that directly affects you by their decisions.  That has been my experience in the trucking industry and I never expected this place to be any different.

But it still took me completely by surprise. My manager was fired.  She kept her ideals from the old company - which was a far superior company - and wouldn't let go of them. I don't know the specifics of why she was fired, the dude refused to tell me and yes I asked, specifically.  He gave the same old generic " the company wants to go in a different direction" reply that I've heard about people getting fired my entire life.  Ann was  making some waves.  She would give them information and they would reject it, make arbitrary decisions and then she would be forced to deal with the aftermath. 

I just texted my friend Taylor and told her she should apply for the position. She would stand to make a lot more money - albeit a lot of stress and bs - but the money and benefits would be worth it.  She is good with people, she is very much into office/clerical work, organized, a natural at giving out directions, would do an excellent job at it.  Plus she could work off-site here and there. Not every day but they allow it.  


I talked to Ann. Called her, she wasn't fired as the man that had called me originally intoned. She was given severance pay - that isn't being fired. I mean, she wasn't wanting to leave, they just told her they want to take a new route and that was that.  The new route - direction - I'll be very interested in seeing. This new company is cheap, if they think they are going to take a new direction in lowering wages, I'll be leaving.  

Anyway, it's bedtime.  I have a run tomorrow.  Oklahoma. Not the Brownsville I was hoping for, but considering the caustic relationship I had with this "new" manager I'm being subjected to now, I am just going to keep my mouth shut, she can do whatever, I'll ride it out or find a new job. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

My 401k accounts have literally gone up like 5 grand in the last month.  I mean, it isn't anything that gets me to retire tomorrow, I'm just saying, at least for right now, the stock market is doing fantastic in many sectors.  You can swipe energy/oil off that list tho.  Poor outlook for the amount of oil needed globally this year coupled with the Cornoavirus - I'm not sure how they're tying the virus into oil usage, but they are - has reduced the positive outlook on oil productive, particularly fracking operations. 

Sunday.  Actually a nice day for once, even tho the sky is still overcast with clouds.  A nice, bright, sunny day would be cool.  Tomorrow is just a preload day.  Go to the plant, load the truck take it back to the yard.  I might drive over to Shreveport after loading and get the truck washed as well.  It's filthy. It's about 130 miles round trip of driving - which is paid, plus wait time at the Blue Beacon. It's something better than nothing.  Turn it into a $250 or so day, at least and help pad the pay period.  I've god one, small run on this week's paycheck coming up, that ain't gonna work. 

The - dude - at the other house didn't show up last night as he promised.  And Maria is texting me saying he isn't responding to her texts. And that she wants to go get smokes but doesn't want to leave and have him show up while she's gone.  That's the 3rd one in a row - tenant - turned out to be "less than desirable" person. The lady that just moved in, however, well I met her yesterday. She seems to fit right in there. Hopefully she works out. One can hope, I'd like a few months of relative peace.


My son sent me some Omaha steak stuff for my birthday.  So I ate a couple of the burgers. Very nice, keto version of course. I ended up sending my brother - today - some Omaha steaks that I usually send at Christmas.  He has never been involved in my life, I have expressed interest in a closer relationship with him over the last several decades - and I gave up on it. To the point I didn't send any Christmas Omaha Steaks because - why bother.  Wasting even a few seconds of my time and my money on people that don't care about me took it's toll.   His birthday is in a few days, it won't get there in time I don't think, but since he "went out of his way" to send me a birthday text earlier this month with "Happy Birthday Ben", I figured I'll just do whatever.  Keep a line open?  He's retired now.  I have no hope for any kind of relationship with him in this lifetime.

My middle brother, however, I have permanently written off and don't care to ever hear from again. 

Anyway, getting close to bedtime.  Early rise, but not a long day, well, not long unless something happens at the plant. Even if I decide to drive to Shreveport to get the truck washed, it still won't be anything close to any normal driving day.  A little extra money, a clean truck, why not? 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Down to Brownsville after last entry, drop, hook, head back up. Ended up in Hungerford, TX Loves' last night.  Drove it out today, hooked up to another trailer - out on Monday.  I thought I had a run down to Houston, I misunderstood Ann's text message.  It is actually, get up, go to the yard, drive truck to loading plant, load the trailer and bring it back to the yard, drop it and go home.  Lol.  It's a preload for someone else.  She's doing both of us a favor.  I get the preload, the other driver gets the trip. He makes a bit more than me, but - lol - I'll do the preload and save myself the hassle of the Houston run that doesn't pay much and take all day to do it. 

Over to the other house. More drama.  Getting very tired of the drama. Always a new tenant thing.  I'm not even going to go into all of it, it would take several paragraphs of typing and I don't feel like exerting that much energy over a person that isn't worth wasting that much script on. The dude is a drug addict, long story short.  He blew up my phone about the rent.  I can tell ya, I'm not making money on that place, I'm not trying to make money on that place, but I am trying to break even. 

The dude made several veiled threats of which I totally laughed at. He's like 5'8" tall, I've seen a pic of him, lol. His bad-ass tones on texting with me wouldn't stand up in face-to-face confrontation. But he "invited" me over when he's moving out tonight - oh yes, he is out of there after all of this s*** - and I thought, no. Not worth it.  I have zero fear of the man, but him saying we are all part of a "cult" and that we were going to make him a "blood sacrifice" was enough for me before all of this got started.

Yes, he actually texted Maria that nonsense and then I called him out on it and the fact that he needs to pay up. He let loose on me, I started trolling him.  Well why not. He's a nutcase, a lunatic, possibly some spiritual things going on there.  He stopped texting, lol.    The lady across the street - she knows everyone, she's from this town - said she knows his family and knows who he is, an "ex heroine addict".  No thanks. 

So allegedly he's moving out after just moving in. Another lady moved into the bedroom he was in - he was going to take the living room. No, folks, that was not my idea.  But this guy is bad news and he can go without any further ado and thank God. 

And finally... the microwave at the other house quit working a few days ago.  The brother of the owner comes over to fix stuff.  He came today, took the microwave out - to do whatever.  You really don't fix microwaves, you replace them. Well, he told Maria he wants to buy my boat! LOL!! Boat isn't for sale, haven't said anything about selling the thing, but he wants it.  I bet he doesn't want the price tag!  I'd actually sell if for the price I bought it for plus the money I've dumped into getting it up to par. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

16 hour day.
Everything was normal this morning.  Hook up the truck, get out of the yard, get to the plant.  Get the truck/trailer weighed, get to the loading rack.  They came out right away, hooked the hoses up, filled her up.  It struck me as odd, tho, when they came in after only 40 minutes and told me they were done.

Yes, it's one of the Mexican trailers - they are wayyy heavy Empty weight for them with the truck attached is around 51,000 pounds.  That's a lot of weight for an empty truck.  But I've been doing this job for a while, even these trailers take at least 50 to 55 minutes to fill. I even said something about it: that was fast!  

Back to the scale. They have a digital read-out drivers can see.  The thing showed my gross weight was 72,000 and change.  That's not right.  Then the lady got on the intercom and asked what the trailer number is, of which I told her and said the weight doesn't look right, it's too low.  She didn't respond to that.  Well, she heard the first part all right.  I didn't know what to think.  After you give them the trailer number, the readout showed 21,000 pounds.  There's no way that Mexican plant is going to pay all that freight to have a "light load" being brought down there.  My 2 plus years going down there I have never seen anything but full loads.

Perplexing, but not my venue.  I drive the truck, if I see something wrong, I say something, if they don't care, then any consequences are on them.  But I do say something to ensure that no blame is coming back on me. I parked the truck, went inside - and waited.  For well over an hour, the scientists were taking their time getting the COA back to them. They never said anything about the weight. The lady that did the paperwork has been there over 20 years, I know she had to see those numbers. I finally got my paperwork and left. 

Around 50 miles down the road, my manager calls.  Starts asking questions about the "light load". What did I know? Why didn't I say something, blah blah blah.  I don't load the trucks, everything in that plant is on the plant, why she was assessing this shit on me I had no clue.  But I told her flat out that when I got on the scale, I noticed it didn't look right and said something to the scale master about it.  I also pointed out that the person that did the paperwork was a 20 plus year veteran, she should have definitely caught it.  My manager said something about making sure the truck is full - yes, Ann, I SAID something to them about it, they ignored it, talk to them.  

"Well I wish you knew the name of the person that loaded the truck".  I'm starting to get annoyed. There are a few constant faces at the rack I go to, but the rest of them? The plant moves them around all the time.  Cross-training, they call it. Trying to get personnel to be able to load anything.  It must take years to do that, because there must be at least 100 different chemicals coming out of that place.  I told her to call the supervisor, he was there and he would know his name. The supervisor is cool - but he should also have caught this.  I thought I overheard the guy saying something about 21,000 pounds, but I wasn't involved with that conversation and I was reading the news on my phone, not exactly paying attention to them. 

So, should I go back to the plant? No, just keep going, I'll let you know if you need to turn around.  Okay, cool. 10, 15 minutes passed, didn't hear from her, figured I'm safe.  Well, I wasn't. 98 miles down the road, she calls.  You need to find a safe place to turn around. Stop, tho, and mark it as the turnaround place.  That way you get a stop pay for it. I get a stop pay to turn around, lol, it's worth $30. I got into a truck stop, stopped the drive clock, put it in on-duty status, noted that I was turning around and drove alllllllllll the way back to the plant. It took them all of 12 minutes to finish loading the truck.  At the scale, they were right on it.  

But getting my paperwork? 3-1/2 HOURS of waiting!  When they finally got my paperwork done - headquarters in some other state was making a fuss over all of this and then, after they were done with their interference, the plant that ordered the product wanted the entire thing changed to completely different numbers - I got out of there. I had enough drive hours to get through Houston - my goal, get through that miserable town so I don't have to deal with rush hour tomorrow morning - but I didn't have enough on-duty hours.  So, I used the 16 hour exception rule that adds 2 on-duty hours to the clock, figured to make it to Hungerford and stop for the night. 

Well the Love's in Hungerford was jam-packed.  No place to park.  I got out of there fast, my clock was running out.  The next place was this truck stop that used to be a s*** hole, but then someone bought it, dumped a bunch of money into it, tried for 3 months to get it going, it failed, it shut down, then someone else bought it, opened it back up. It was 18 miles down the road. By the time I got here and in position to back into a parking hole, I had 10 minutes left on my clock!  

I've wanted to stop here several times, the place is usually empty and just wanted to check it out. If it's a decent place, I can promote it to other truckers on certain forums and a trucking app.  If it's not, I can agree with the endless - but very old - posts that state the place is garbage, a dump and don't stop here.  Several posts said the place doesn't even have diesel fuel  even tho it's listed as a truck stop and has 4 truck fueling lanes.  

In reality? The place is clean. The lot is clean, no urine filled bottles and trash laying everywhere.  The store is clean and kept up.  Decent amount of truck parking spots. I'm always for the underdog if it's something worth supporting. I talked to the dude running the place, he got a little unnerved when I said I drive by here a lot and it always seems empty.  Nice guy, decent place, good prices, worth giving a shout out!  So I got on the app after leaving there and "corrected" old posts that were no longer true - the place is shut down. Nope.  The place is a dump. Not anymore.  The place doesn't even sell diesel and it's a truck stop! Not now.  Come back, give the man a chance.  

Here's the thing: I tried to stop at the Love's 18 miles up the road, it was completely jam packed.  I wanted to take a shower in the morning.  This was the next nearest truck stop heading south, I was out of time, I literally had to stop here, lol.   

Well it's bedtime. I made it half way to Brownsville with the available hours - that after wasting 202 miles of driving and all those hours at the plant.  But I'm happy I made it this far. For those keeping track, I'm in El Campo, Texas and the name of this place I'm at is El Campo Truckstop.


Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Rain, rain, go away......and don't come back for a lot more days...

Enough rain. I'm on my 4th day off, it's been raining the entire time, with a few lulls here and there. It's gotten so bad to day we are actually under a flash flood watch. Tho I don't concern myself about that too much, there is a stream behind our house that leads to a huge storm water channeling system only 200 feet away.  It's very deep and I've never seen it more than 2 or 3 feet high water depth.

And it's not just rain, either, it's also our version of cold. Low 40's.  I was going to smoke a rib roast, I am undecided whether I will or not.  Perhaps smoke it an hour or 2 and finish up inside.  Well, actually it's beef so it shouldn't take more than a couple and a half hours to cook regardless of method, so I'll just go ahead and smoke it for an hour or so and finish up in the oven, try to have it done when they come home from work.

The work situation around here has gone into chaos mode.  Taylor's hours were drastically cut this month, an entire day gone every week, so she has taken up even more of this side work she does from home.  James work hours were also cut to the point he had to find a second part time job. So now, he's working 4 10's Monday - Thursday and then doing a part time job Friday through Sunday.  I've been there and done that and I hate the 2 job scenario, especially if it ends up forcing you to work 7 days a week. I, on the other hand, have been sitting around for 4 days. 

There is no predicting how long you will have off in between runs, tho it would be helpful if my manager would at least send out an APB - such and such a plant has shut down, work is going to be slow. She doesn't do that and it's like pulling teeth to get any info out of her. I don't know why, it's just the way she is. But, I found out yesterday, the plant that comprises the Brownsville run cancelled fully 11 loads - hence the reason I've been sitting so long.  She gave me the usual "you can go out on call-out or wait", but didn't say it in anger as she has done in the past. 

My version of the schedule has highly likely completely changed. For Ann told me that "tomorrow" (Thursday) is looking good.  On the schedule I have, it shows tomorrow a  Brownsville, an Oklahoma and a Daiken (Alabama) run.  That isn't that good, so I have to guess that the plant has completely changed the schedule as they often do and have more runs on there. 

My penny stock is up $5 and change! lol, that's the for all the stock combined lmao, not per share. If it were per share I'd be selling them suckers right now.  Today I'll be doing my version of research to see if I can find something a bit better.  But, my Chase account will only allow me to buy stocks that are priced above $5, I dunno how it let me buy these I currently have, but the second round I tried with a different company stock it wouldn't let me.  So I'll just find something over $5 and see if I can stomach buying 100 shares or so of it. I've got plenty of money I could throw at this, but no thanks. We're stepping in toes, than ankles, then knees, so on. Right now the toes are wet lol. 

Other than that, nothing really "newish".  A new tenant at the other house, he has a job, is in his early 30's and works locally.  Well he had to, he doesn't have a car.  But we'll see how that works out.  Maria seems to be toning way down on her approach to new people, which is a good thing.  I'm not going to complain about her treatment of the last two in there, they were real pieces of work. 

Meanwhile, this Coronavirus.  People were downplaying it at first, of which I just shook my head at all of them.  Well, not that many people have died! many said and it's just another version of the SARS virus.  My reply was it had just started and it came out of China, huge population, disease can run rampant there.  And sure enough, the death toll has well surpassed the SARS virus and they can't say they are even halfway there in isolating it and getting the spread to stop.  How can they stop it? In China, they can't, except to shut down the cities that it's affecting and not allow anyone in or out.  Here and around the world, they are isolating planes and ships full of people. I'm not wishing this on anyone, not at all, it's just the way these viruses work. 

Enough of this one.  I"m assuming I'll be working tomorrow and plan for that.  Other than that, it's another rainy day. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

So the house called from AZ.  You have a $500 and change check from the mortgage company sitting here. They couldn't figure out why, but I knew right away.  My insurance was going to lapse over a year ago, the bank purchased their own insurance, I was having trouble finding anyone to insure it for whatever reason.  I only made one claim, once and it was a long, long time ago.  I think the type of home and the type of insurance they want on it was the deal. I was just going to leave the bank purchased insurance on it.

Until I found out the price tag and the fact that it only insures the house. No personal property inside the house and nothing on the property surrounding the house.  Or if someone falls, breaks their leg and sues you.  Blahhhh.  They wanted $1,700 for Insurance that really was quite useless.  So, I got on the phone, made a hundred phone calls - or whatever, a lot of time spent on the phone in other words - and found State Farm offering an excellent package for around $600 less.  So that is the deal.  They owed me that money from the escrow. 

Well it's nice to get a check, it will go into savings.  Or maybe I'll use it to continue dabbling in the stock market.  I made a total of $3.17 yesterday on my 300 shares lol.

As for the house, it's really up to them. The two living there running things. I'm inclined to just keep it indefinitely as long as they'll run the place, rent the rooms and fix whatever breaks.  Or find someone to fix whatever breaks. It's up 100 grand over what I owe on it.  I've been watching it, the entire neighborhood, even the old junky homes are all going up in value.  Location, location, location.  It is no longer affecting my ability to get a second property.  Chase is offering me a guaranteed loan up to 300k at 5% down.  Yup, I started looking yesterday after seeing that.  A guaranteed car loan and a guaranteed credit card as well.  I may take a look at the car loan as well.

I found a nice property with 80 acres at a very nice price.  But it didn't have a big enough house on the land.  Really need at least a 4 bedroom, large house with perhaps a room that could be converted.  And, importantly to me, be able to split off a portion of the land into commercial use and build a small RV or mobile home park.  These are thins that occupy my mind from time to time, I'm not getting any younger and the time to get this done is now/very soon.

Work isn't helping anything. With the slow down, we're off 2 to 3 full days.  I'm on my 3rd day off. Very nice for time off, very bad for paychecks.  Tomorrow has 2 brownsvilles, a baker, and a chenier.  Brownsville, pleeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee. If not, baker, I absolutely despise going to Cheniere for a myriad of reasons.  Well, it's early so I dunno if I'm even going out, but I will be contacting my manager soon.

I have an absolutely horrible headache. But I'll get to that in  a moment. After discussing today with "people in the know", ...