Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wait, I wrote out 3 paragraphs and they disappeared.  Like, that hasn't happened to me in a long time on here.

Oh well. Let's see here.  Well, I spent Wednesday driving about  6 hours and then the rest of the day in a hotel.  It's not hindsight, but I would have preferred a bit "better" hotel room.  I just couldn't find a place that had truck parking besides this place. I mean, the room was clean - sort of - but their version of remodeling was to overlap paint, overlap texturing and generally have a room that smelled bad for some reason.

I slept though. I turned the fan setting on on the window unit and put in my ear plugs and fell into deep sleep. Something woke me up around 3:00 am, but I managed to get back to sleep yet again after that.  So, I found a Panera Bread company place in the huge mall behind me this morning - I needed coffee and this cheap hotel wasn't giving any either in the rooms or the office.  I got my nice cuppa and headed back to the plant.  I was told to go through a back gate, that had another gate and another gate, all 3 of which would have to be unlocked.

Okayyyyy.........Well whatever.  I got back there and some dude was standing afar off, next to the giant Ethylene tank, that sucker went at least 80 feet up in the air - but the dude that escorted me in gave me hand motions.  Pull up there, back in there.  Then,. 2 guys from Airgas showed up in a pickup truck.  I was slowly backing around this stuff to get into the hole. The dude walks up - you need to get your rear trailer tire slid up next to where that guy over there has his shoe.  Okay.  Didn't bat an eye. The other drivers have been coming in here forever, they apparently wanted to test the new driver.  This new driver has been testing his backing skills for decades - for the fun of the challenge.  I've backed trucks up for literally miles. And into places they didn't think it could get in there.

And I can honestly said I nailed it. Right next to his shoe, stopped just short of running over it. Got out, all the PPE garb on, hiya gents, how we doing today?  But, they had it wrong.  Their hose wouldn't reach the drain tube on the truck. I almost laughed at them, but thought better of it.  Be nice, Ben, even if they're playing bs games with you, I thought.  Me making fun of them would likely get back to the company, so I seriously bit my tongue, got in the truck, pulled up about 40 feet to get it into position and there is this dude with his foot again. Pointing down at it.

Rednecks. I got that sucker right there, yet again. I got out, yet again and then, these 2 guys that know everything couldn't figure out how to get the air driven float valve to raise up.  I can't say that I knew either, I'm new to this, these guys have been doing this for years. . After I sat there and watched them fooling around with everything, I got in the tractor, called Ann, asked her to give me the phone number of someone that knows how to operate this thing. Well, Gary is right here. Gary - does know everything about this stuff.  I dunno how long he's been doing it, but if you need to know something, call Gary.  Gary gets on there - there are two valves on the trailer.  One on the back right side and one on the front left side. You have to open both of them to allow those floats to rise up.

Floats don't rise? You ain't emptying the trailer.  So, I got out, pulled them open and walaah.

These 2 dudes were good ole boys.  Not bad people,  in any way shape or form, but definitely rednecks and definitely of the "good ole' boy club" nature.  I'll give them credit, besides not knowing how to operate the truck trailer, they knew what the hell they were doing on the plant side of it. I asked a lot of questions, cause' that was one thing they seemed to enjoy doing.

I got much more of an understanding on how to operate that truck today than I have anywhere else.  I don't necessarily have to know how to operate the plant side of it, I'm finding out.  In fact, contrary to claims, the guys said the drivers have never operated the plant side of the operation. How long did it take you to learn all of this? I asked. 3 years.

It doesn't take 3 years to learn that stuff.  There isn't that much to it. I admit I don't understand all of it yet, but no-one is training me.  I'm just trying to learn off the cuff.  But there are X number of valves and there is only so much that needs to be done. There is more waiting than anything.

We were starting to wind this operation down when Ann called. I "missed" the call, cell phones not allowed in the plant, but was obvious people were doing that in their vehicles.  I went inside the truck.  "Are you finished unloading yet?  Did you leave the plant?".  No, we are getting close to done but not sure how long before I get out of here.  "Oh, well I'm trying to figure out driver resources here.  I have a load going down to Brownsville. I told them after we hired new drivers that I wanted all the Brownsville runs they have."

This wasn't bad news to me, I mean, I am not getting a day or two off, but I need to get some cash flowing here.  And not only that, I thought, if I take this run, I should be setting myself up to be home on Christmas.  I hate to see Renee home alone on Christmas.  I don't want to be somewhere out on the road on Christmas, either.  But I knew that was a real possibility when I signed up for this job and I'm the newbie. It's likely she couldn't find other drivers because they are taking time off.

I didn't agree right away tho. I was concerned about my hours as was she.  Is there enough time to get back there, get the required 10 hour break and get to the plant by the prescribed time?  What's the latest I can get there? 7:30 am. See, when these orders are placed, they are placed on contingent of the driver being at the plant at X time.  There is a time factor. These particular plants don't run without Ethylene. They seem to have reserves, but they don't want to use them.  Yet, they rely on rail to bring this product to them.  But, when the rail doesn't show up - they are on their own time and can take up to a month to deliver - they have to have it hauled in via truck. Which is usually next day service.

After I thought about it for -- a short period of time -- she intoned that she has 10 minutes to give them an answer, if she can't do it, they go to someone else - I said yes, I should be able to get this done.

And here I am.  I have to get up int 7-1/2 hours to get to the yard, hook up to a trailer and get to the plant. I'm supposed to be there an hour early, but I already told her after she said the latest was 7:30 am - when I'm actually supposed to be there - that I wouldn't make it until 7:30. Good!

I was going to drive the tractor home tonight to save on fuel costs.  But, my car drives a lot faster and I wanted to get home, lol. And, it's time to go to bed : )

Short trip, got that over with. I no more than got back to the yard and left for home when I got a text from yet the newest version of a di...