Wednesday, November 29, 2017

 Yesterday morning. 5:00 am. Up, shower, dogs out, coffee, etc etc. 
Get on the road, get to work.  Lots of new questions formed in my mind.
I get there, unload my car into the truck, back the truck under the trailer,
check out everything, get out of there. Late tho.  I should have arrived there earlier.

I get to the plant, watch the video, take the test, take the sheet out front with the answers on it.
And then?  An alarm goes off, Just like one of the alarms in the 15 minute video they make
everyone watch.  They shut down the plant, I can't go in, neither can anyone else.  A chemical
spill of some sort. 

After that was over, go weigh the truck.  Then off to the part of the plant where the truck is actually loaded. Well, they were way behind.  The plant shut down and the fact that the first driver was there late caused me to sit and wait. Not that I cared about that, but even with my late arrival, it was meaningless.  I got introduced to the world of Ethylene by Lance, the dude that fills the trucks up with it.  It was a interesting and elongated conversation, for I had many questions for him about what the places we go to actually do with this stuff. Many use it to cool other chemicals, such as LNG when it is loaded onto ships. 

I found it amazing that the volatile properties of the chemical isn't really used, it's the fact that is stands at 120 to 140 below - depending on who you talk to - that is of interest to these manufacturers. 

Well, the dreaded moment finally came.  I have never pulled a tanker trailer in my life.  I have never pulled a tanker trailer full of volatile, explosive content. I have never pulled a trailer that has content that can make you the Ice Man in a matter of seconds.  I was obsessed, yesterday, with these thoughts.  You ever see a tanker trailer going abysmally slow in a sharp turn?  Irritating to everyone stuck behind it, but there is a reason for it.  High center of gravity and liquid sloshing up the sides of the walls of the tube in the trailer.  Rollover, in other words. I spent the day obsessed with that idea in my mind. 

I mean, like to the point that I wasn't really thinking of anything else.  I have seen far too many tankers rolled off the side of the road and it's usually in sharp turns. 

Welp, I got several calls for my manager.  Where are you now? She was being nice, but the customer was pushing her.  Appears they were almost out of ethylene and they had just restarted this plant.  They had made a call for a load last week but then said no.  And now? They needed it desperately  I mean, they wanted to know the exact time I was going to show up and this, several times over.  I finally just told my manager: I'm driving straight through, no stops.  Okay, she replied, I'll let the customer know. 

Again, she's a really sweet lady, I have no qualms with her, but I can see that customers and corporate place demands on her. 

And drive straight through I did. the last stint I drove just short of 7 hours without stopping before finally arriving at the place - only to take another of endless safety videos and a test.  I broke my reading glasses earlier that day, I was having trouble reading the questions, but I got a pass on the test.

Pull your truck up on the scale and wait for someone to come get you.  Oh, and yet another pass into another plant.  So basically, to work for this company, I am going to have to keep a file of all of these picture ID"s for all of these plants as I go into them. Lol. Someone could have let us know about that and many other things. I probably should document it while going through it so in the future, and if I'm still working there, I will be able to give new people some insight to the things they really need to know. 

Not the first time I've done that. Anyway, a 4 wheeler shows  up, I follow it way back in the back of this plant.  Now, to give you a scope of the size of this place, this plant has fully 4 separate power plants to give it enough electricity to operate. That's right. 4, full sized plants.  Not little things, we are talking huge, full fledged power plants. I stood in awe of this place. How did mankind come up with this knowledge? When I arrived at the delivery site, awestruck again. Just thousands of pipes connected here and there, all kinds of different noises, the sound was deafening. Everyone had to raise their voice to be heard.

They knew what they were doing - I did not.  But the guy running the crew opened up the side box with the valves and connection pipes in it and asked what that giant spring assembly was for?  I had to admit that I had no clue, that is why you all are unloading this truck.  I watched intently at the procedure to unload, tho.  There was way too much noise to ask a bunch of questions, I just took what I could in.  \

The lady in charge walked me clear to the operations room to show me their facilities, I was going to be there a while. 

Back to the truck - I crawled back into the sleeper which is when I noticed the slob that must have occupied this truck before me.  Yes, folks, I got stuck in another person's cigarette smoking hell.  I had the stench of it in my nostrils all day yesterday, but the mattress..... actual cigarette burns in it.  I mean, several of them. The mattress, filthy, disgusting.  I mean, this is the kind of thing where you think of how else you might be able to sleep in this truck besides on this mattress.  I fell asleep eventually and was awakened to the sound of a hammer banging on the pipe fittings to free it. The chemical is so cold, it freezes the fittings and they use a brass hammer to free it.

I got out of there and found a place where trucks park not 5 minutes away.  Again, the smell in that sleeper was so horrific, I ended up opening up the vents in the sleeper - it was cold outside- to let in fresh air. That coupled with the truck running and the vent setting on high blowing air in there, I was afforded some sleep.

Some, I do say.  There is actually much more to this entire story, but it's late and I"m ready to go to bed.  But, I have to put all of this in here.  The fuel card. Truck was down to 1/3rd tanks.  I figured to stop at one of their approved places, Petro, fuel up, take my required 30 minute break - naptime - and get on down the road,

Instead I spent 45 minute attempting to get the fuel card to work.  After trying 4 times and calling my manager, I decided to head on down the road 120 miles to the next Petro. Same story, different town. Waste of almost another hour.  On down the road.  Near Little Rock.  I had received a call with a voice message saying that they had "fixed" the card.  I tried at a TA truckstop, one of 2 approved places.  Nope, card not activated it said, Tried again, same message. Went inside, my card information froze up her computer.

Again contact the manager. This ins't working, either.  She finally gets back to me, what what crap!
I offered to pay for my own fuel - in total I was at 2 hours and 45 minutes wasted on this at that point - if y'all would reimburse me.  No reply.  I was ready to just take off. If it runs out of fuel, oh well. They had 6 hours to deal with this. 

Ugh, anyway, it's late, I'm really tired. I put in a 17 hour day yesterday and dealing with that fuel card today. They never did get the card to work, they sent an E check to the truckstop I was at to pay for some fuel. 

I'll try to type some more tomorrow. 

Interesting day. Up early - 4:00, jolted out of deep sleep by the ridiculous phone alarm - annoying as all get out but that's the inten...