Thursday, November 9, 2017

That wasn't anything what I expected. 
When I arrived at the new company today, I was handed another stack of papers to fill out and given instructions to go get a TWIC card and then, asked if I could attend a safety course tomorrow morning at another location in Longview - but not directly related to this company. 

Oh.  Ok.  I was thinking I would go there, drop off my paperwork, leave and get other things done today.  Instead, I stayed there for 2 hours, filled out the paperwork, headed home, got my birth certificate, went over to Shreveport, went through the process to get a TWIC card - which includes fingerprinted and numerous photos taken.  And a rather hefty fee, tho I am promised that I will be repaid for that.

After that, I decided since I was in Shreveport, I might as well get the oil changed on my old car for the upcoming trip to Amarillo. After that, back to my town, bought some brake pads for the car.  Headed over to the fire department office, got a fresh burn permit.  The leaves are falling.  I'm only clearing them off the concrete, I'm not raking those things up off the yard until it is pretty much over with. Then I will see if I can find someone on Craigslist to come over and help me rake the stuff up and burn it.  It's all too wet right now to burn anyway.  Not on the top of my priority list.  I have all this job stuff going on.

But, their hours are ridiculous.  Bankers hours at best.  It's a 3 month permit, I'll get this all done before it expires, I just wanted to get the thing. 

Oh, over to the bank to deposit rent money into owner's account.

After that, I came home, took a nap and then went outside and built yet another fire on my new fire pit and have been sitting out there for a couple of hours.  But, I haven't watched any news on tv lately, so I am writing this and then heading into the living room to watch some news and get up to date.  I like reading the news on the internet, sure, but it's not the same as seeing live interviews. They both have their merits.

I guess the point is, I didn't know I was going to be dumped with all this stuff at new work today.  Not getting paid for any of it.  I have to be AT the meeting at 6:30 am tomorrow.  They tell me if you're even a minute late?  Forget it, they won't let you in.  The first course is - I have no clue what it's for. The second course is for a company somewhere out west that requires you to go through their specialized course before you can enter their property.  A driver that went through it says it last 9 hours.

He was kidding around with other people, I hope he was joking.  I don't want to spend tomorrow at a safety meeting.  9 hours of what? Things that I have already learned about in my trucking career.  If these people think they have safety issues, they should try the mines.  Their safety programs are so excessive, but so many people get killed at mines that it's necessary and even with all that training on safety, people still get killed. 

The funny part, is that truck drivers don't really do much of anything in those plants.  They take the tank in, drop it and they are required to leave while it is being drained of it's contents.  You come back in when they call you and tell you it's done.  Doesn't bother me, those people doing that work undoubtedly have serious training to ensure that there are no accidents. I would have to guess multiple layers of supervision as well during the unloading process. 

Well whatever.  I'm done with this for today.  This being thinking about this job and trying to fulfill all of their requirements.  Much more than I had even thought there would be, certainly the most demanding trucking company in terms of documents to present, paperwork to fill out and requirements to be met that I have ever attempted to get into. Yet...one cannot complain that they are doing their duty to weed out any bad apples in thinking about pulling a trailer filled with this kind of product.

















Well a lot.
I quit today.
I was already thinking of when to quit after I was informed I am scheduled for orientation in Amarillo on Monday. I wanted to get some miles in and have something of a paycheck. But, uh, yea.  I'm done with this company and it's lack of commitment to driver safety through having trucks and trailers in good condition - and - not giving a crap really whether it's that way or not.

I mean, after Donny contacted me today, I was already ready to go home anyway. Rene isn't there, he had a seizure - he has them sporadically, some jackass thieves tried to break in after that was over.  I'm like, what the heck?  He couldn't find my pistol, called the police and whoever they were were gone before police arrived.

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I started that a few days ago.  I got busy.  I was supposed to head to Arkansas with a load, but the trailer had bad tires on it.  So I contacted the dispatcher - this trailer needs a couple of tires installed on it.  Okay, head over to the yard, I'll contact them to let them know you are coming.  Cool, I replied, I'll get the truck loaded first.  So, truck loaded, I head to; yard.  They certainly weren't "ready" for me by any stretch of the imagination.  The head mechanic basically told me to wait my turn.  Fine, I thought, until i started looking at what they were working on and realized that nothing they were doing was of immediate importance, while what I have going is a load that needs to get on the road.

And after they got done with what they were doing? They went on lunch break. I was astonished.  Seriously?  The whole lot of you are going to go on lunch break all at once? I thought, didn't say, cause' at that point, I was thinking about simply leaving then and there.  I can't deal with a place that operates like this.  No wonder trailers have issues, who wants to pull one in there and have to waste that much time of their working day sitting around waiting for these people to get their act together.

So, I'm seriously contemplating just quitting instead of attempting to get a few more days in.  I haven't said anything to anyone yet.  Then, a dude pulls into the yard in a pickup, gets out, asks what's wrong with the trailer, I point at the dry rotted tires.  Oh.  I'm new here, in fact, this is my first day.  He disappears, comes back and starts removing the tires.  About the time, the dispatcher contacts me.  Umm, no, I"m over here at the yard, they don't even have the tires off yet.  Not to mention I don't see any replacement tires here anywhere.  He has a cow, apparently called them because in a few minutes, the whole lot of mechanics came out and started getting busy on my truck.

But it's still taking forever. And, they had to go get the tires? What kind of shop doesn't keep tires there?  lol that's when I said screw it.  I started getting my stuff ready to go. That took half an hour - figuring out how to get everything that's important to take back with me into my giant suitcase. Good thing I had that thing with me. I left the water bottles, the granola bars, the pillow and the sheets.  I might have lost $30 in things, but everything else I got crammed into my suitcase and another very small bag I was carrying with me. I just so happened I was removing my stuff from the truck when they finally told me - 2 hours later (yes, 2 hours to replace 4 tires!), that it was ready to go.

No thanks, I'm quitting this job, y'all can move this truck if you want yourselves.  They just stood there staring at me, but I didn't make any fuss, I am out of there. Went into see Dan, the recruiter.  Dan doesn't care about you after he has lured you into the place.  Which is kind of what I told him.  He asked me if I told anyone my concerns. Dan? I have sent you numerous emails, it's all in writing. To the owner as well. Texts and phone calls to my dispatcher.  Don't act like you don't know what's going on here.

But, that was obviously going to be a huge waste of time, so I just gave him the phone and the fuel card back, went out front and waited for my Uber ride to take me to a hotel in downtown Jackson, which is right across the street from the bus station.  Got there, paid more money for one night's stay than I have done in since I stayed at the Marriot in Scottsdale probably 10 years ago, found a restaurant, ate some dinner, went to my room and relaxed.  I decided I wanted to be able to get to the bus station by foot and not have to trust that I could get a ride there from some other motel at that early hour in the morning.  Oh, yes, I also got a bus ticket while I was out eating.  Between the hotel stay and the bus ride I spent about $200 getting back, so I can't really complain too much about that.  Airfare would have been much more expensive than the $71 I paid for the bus ticket and I still would likely have had to spend the night somewhere at a hotel.

Oh, yes, the hotel was the Hilton Rose Garden Inn.  It's an old brick building that Hilton apparently dumped a large amount of money into restoring it. It still needs some work, but it is a beautiful structure.  Everything there overpriced, of course, so I didn't eat there.

Fitful sleep that night.  Too much floating around inside my head.  But I did manage to get some shut eye in and figured I would want to sleep on that bus anyway. I hate Greyhounds and this Greyhound trip did nothing to change that view of them. You take the ride because it's cheap, not because you like taking Greyhound busses.  The cheapest flight tho that I could find - in a hurry anyway just using some of my favorite flight search engines such as CheapO Air, was $360.  Just no way I could justify spending that much money on a short flight.

Yet, the bus was everything I expected. The driver got in the bus, got on the horn and asked nicely for everyone to stop talking for a minute while he explained a few things.  The dude sitting behind me was yakking in Spanish incessantly on the phone and paying zero attention. The driver got his mirror, aimed it back at him while moving the bus slowly down the street, please pay attention.  Welp, we got to a round-a-bout and the driver stopped. If you don't stop talking I'm going to take you back to the terminal and dump you there.  That got his attention.  But only enough to decrease his voice volume so the driver couldn't hear him.  This man, did, actually, talk for two hours straight.  I put on my headphones shortly after the bus driver was done with his announcement, put on a Youtube video that plays the sound of a box fun running and went to sleep.

That is what I do on Greyhounds, I try to sleep through it so I am not in agony listening to other people's phone conversations - people talking obnoxiously loud, as if the entire bus wants to hear your phone conversation.  Somewhere mid way through the trip, the bus filled up and i was forced to allow someone to sit next to me.  I was fending them off at most stops  - not by saying anything but by having all my stuff in the seat next to me, basically sending a message.  Welp, this older gentlemen ended up sitting next to me - he smelled horrible.  My nose hair curled up into a ball and died.  It was disgusting.  Okay, I thought, another hour and a half of this and I"m home.  I just had to focus on getting there and getting this over with.  Just so gross though.

What goes through a person's mind when they are thinking, I"m going to take a trip, but hey, I'm not going to bath or even make any attempt to make myself smell good enough that other passengers won't be grossed out?

We finally pull into Shreveport - the bus driver has the same junk applied to him for a 30 minute break that truck drivers do, so we were forced to take what turned out to be a 45 minute break there.  No biggies, at least my nose wasn't being assailed with noxious fumes.  Finally back in the bus, same dude sits back down next to me, smell back in my nose.  40 minutes later, I'm standing in the pouring rain waiting for the bus driver to get my bag out from underneath the bus and I couldn't have cared less that I was getting drenched. It was so much better than sitting in that abomination in front of me.

Donny came rolling up in his pickup a few minutes later and I was home in no time.  We went out to eat, my treat.  Rene isn't here and I sure as heck didn't feel like cooking.  Got back from that and I built a nice fire in my brand new fire pit. It was 47 degrees outside, perfect temp to have an outdoor fire going and just sit and meditate. Life was never dealt the "easy" hand to most of us, I'm certainly not outside of that range.  It will be years before I have any real money saved up to even being thinking about retiring and that only if my health stays good enough to pass the 2 year physicals.  Most of us truck drivers worry about our blood pressure over anything, that's the one that gets a lot of us.  I did that the other day and it was at 121 over 71, so that's not bad.  Not as good as it could be, but not bad, either.  My vision was funny cause one eye 20/20 and the other is 20/30 - yet I still have to use reading glasses.  I dunno about the hearing test, hadn't done one of those in decades, actually.

Alright.  Well it's 8:00 am. I got up early - I went to bed early yesterday.  After the fire, I decided that Greyhound trip was enough for anyone's day, I can't even fathom doing across the country trips. The dude in front of me with his little boy was doing just that. He was obviously weary from being on the bus for a couple of days.  If I really had to do an across the nation trip for whatever reason, I would put a flight on my credit card before taking a bus that long, that's all I can say about it.  It'd be nice if they would let you purchase 2 seats and just have a whole space for yourself - the price tag would still be far lower than flying.

What i can say is that I am very happy that I'm driving my car to Amarillo on Sunday and not taking any busses.  They aren't sending us back in a truck so we have to have our own way there, which is fine by me.  Maps says it's over 7 hours.  I'll have that whittled down to 6 plus hours for the speed I drive at on Texas Interstates and knowing where the cops hide.

The car needs an oil change and the front brakes replaced.  I'm not going to do that today,  wait for the temps to warm back up.  Ummm, strike that. Just looked, the temps aren't going to warm back up at all.  Guess I'll have to sit out there and freeze putting brake pads on.  At least I have all the proper equipment now to be able to get it done efficiently. But I need to get over to Longview first and and hand over my newly minted 2 year medical certification to what will be my new manager. I think she has some more forms I need to fill out, too.  I'll get that done first and then I'll figure out when I want to do the brakes. Perhaps it will at least warm up this afternoon a bit.  I suppose I could get a fire in the pit going and just drag that thing close to where I'm working.  Hmm, now that sounds like a great idea : )

I'm really glad, tho, that I have a few days off before starting back into yet another job.  I'm going to be in Amarillo for a week "learning" and that is going to get boring.  I mean, yes, I'll try my best to stay attentive but class rooms aren't my thing.  Or at least, they weren't the last time I was in them. Still, there is likely important info I need to digest in hauling an extremely volatile chemical that can take out a city block if it did happen to somehow blow up, such as in an accident.  I have to tell you that I was kind of surprised this company took me on not having any tanker experience whatsoever.  I plainly, freely admitted that to the manager and everyone else there.  The only "objection" the manager put up was, well, you do know we're hauling highly volatile substance? Are you okay with that?  Yes, I'm fine.

I'm a safe driver.  I stay in my lane mostly and don't get in a big hurry.  I won't have to with this company at 51 cents per mile plus all the other pay that is included.  Actually, 1 longer trip per week would be fine by me and have the rest of the week off lol. I know that isn't going to happen, tho.  She said you get maybe one good trip a week and a couple shorter ones.  Doing that math, that's $1,500 just for the driving, which doesn't include the other pay you get.  Just that amount there is 78k per year.  Add on the other stuff you're well into the 80k range.  If you really want to drive, you can up it from there.

This job I just quit, i was making money, I'm not going to say I wasn't. Just all the stuff that I have already commented on made it a bad place to work.  I looked them up yesterday. They have doubled the size of their fleet in a year's time and are looking to double it again.  They can't even deal with what they have now, how do they expect to double it again and actually have an efficient operation going? But, I don't care at this point, just musing all the comments I heard from the other drivers in that company, only 1 of which was mildly content working there, the rest had complaints, a few of them "bitter" type of complaints.  No need to get bitter, just find yourself another job. There are plenty of them out there.  Regardless, even tho i was making money, I wasn't make as much as I'm fixing to start making.

Well, these are my daily musings. Okay, not so much daily.  I try to get on here in this circus act that is currently my life and report on the goings-on.  I need to get the rent into the bank for the owners of this house and since the fire ban has been lifted, I'm going to get a 3 month burn permit.  Not starting that today, but I have no idea whether I will have a chance down the road to get in there. They are only open during bankers hours, basically, I am not exactly in that mix right now.

Addler and Aspyn were greatly happy to see me come home yesterday.  Rene is gone, so the caretaker left is Donny.  Donny said he looked up Great Danes, because Addler was getting pushy for some of his attention.  Yup, they are people dogs. Probably every description you''ll find online will include some statement about how they want to be around people.  And they will get pushy for it. And if there isn't anyone around for a long enough period, they will get into trouble.  Prince, a Great Dane I used to have, was testament to that.  Oh, BTW, the spelling of "Aspyn" is correct.  At least, correct for the person the dog is named after, which was not my doings.  Aspyn Ovard, I believe is her name, of some fame that I have no knowledge of and don't really care, lol.

Well, it's early yet and I would like to get about the day's business.  Likely I'll be back on here writing again later as I collect my thoughts.

Friday - noonish time. The decision to take the alternate route was a sound one, speaking after the fact. I got to the juncture where I wo...