Thursday, January 25, 2018

Well, an extremely long day, as it turns out.
I left early for the plant to get the trailer loaded. 
Got a quick bite to eat after that and headed north.  Up in Paris, I stopped for 50 gallons of fuel - loaded heavy, didn't want to add much weight by putting in too much fuel, but I had to put some in there at least.  I got up to this ridiculous turnpike called the Indian Nation Turnpike.  I call it ridiculous because the road is terrible and you are paying to drive on it.  I mean, if you are going to run a toll road, that damned thing should at least be a smooth ride?!!

Whatever.  I got 38 miles down that road and KABLAAAAAAM!!!!!  I thought I had blown out a tire, it was really loud.  I pulled over, got out and walked around the truck.  No tires blown.  All tires in excellent condition, in fact.  Got back in the truck and fired it back up.  A loud whirring noise from under the hood.

Well, I don't drive Volvo tractors and I saw no latches on the thing.  How do you open the hood?  I actually had to look up a youtube video to find out how.  There is a latch inside the truck underneath the steering wheel you pull. That's it, just pull it and it opens up. WAY easier than any other truck I've dealt with.  Well I found the culprit quickly: Line blown off the turbocharger, oil spewed all over the place, I wasn't even guessing: blown turbocharger.  Oil doesn't come out of them in that hose, lol, if there's oil, there's trouble.

I took a pic, sent it to manager, who didn't reply so I called her.  I'm walking around trying to find a place to get enough signal strength.  This is Indian reservation and my experience with being on them - which is not a little - is that you usually don't get any signal strength once you're well into it and in some cases, they have their own cell towers and no one else's are allowed.  If you want cell service, you have to buy their cell service and they won't even allow other carriers to use them for roaming and higher fees. 

Oh, forgot, I tried to drive it before calling anyone.  Well, take that back, I tried putting the hose back on and then driving it, just to make sure I wasn't making an error in judgment here. But I knew.  That thing wouldn't get up over 25 mph.  I got up the hill, coasted down to the bottom to an exit ramp and then pulled over into an area with ample room. Still next to the Turnpike, but 10 feet of space.  I'm not a fan of being broke down anywhere any more.  I mean, I never have been anyway, but people in this age don't pay attention to their driving.  I don't trust anyone else on the road, I have no reason to after all the carnage and wreckage I've seen in the last few years. 

So, calling her started the process - a very long process. I saw on a map that the next town was 35 miles down the road, I looked on Google and found truck repair shops there, amazingly enough.  But, that's not my problem.  this company has a corporate department devoted solely to this stuff.  The first question was could I limp it there? No.  Minimum speed limit is 50 mph.  No way I was going that fast and I don't want to get involved with DOT out there with a limping truck hauling hazardous materials, thanks. 

So, they decided to sent out a mechanic and try just rehooking the line. The thing had blasted off of there with a hose clamp, I knew that wasn't going to do anything, but, I'm not going to say anything, either. It's their call.  Their money, let them deal with it the way they want.  40 minutes later, this very old wrecker shows up. I've never seen anything like it.  this truck was so old the metal had rusted away showing the insulation inside on the sides of it.  They had taken foam insulation bottles and tried to fix the fenders, the doors, the entire truck was in terrible condition.  How is this even legal? I thought.  It got worse - but that portion of the story in a moment. 

But - at least - they did have the sense to call a wrecker. I have serious doubts my company had any idea who they were calling or what they were getting me into . 2 dudes get out of the thing, they were cool.  I dunno, just that old thing took me by surprise.  Looked like some ghost of a truck that had been resurrected and needed to be put down, lol.  Well, they were trying to get authorization to do the tow, but started dismantling the thing anyway.  I was on the phone - a lot - talking to managers and people in the company and people in another company that our company uses to deal with break downs. After 3 hours, the truck was hooked up, the thing was ready to go.

And yes, I told them straight up what they were hauling.  It's explosive, highly flammable and extremely cold.  Just in case that's gonna throw you off.  This guy wanted the business, quite obviously.  Freaked him out at first, visibly, like, really? Yeah.  We won't have any problems but I wanted you to know in advance before this goes anywher.e  He was looking at the tires, well there isn't any weight on it anyway.  Umm, no, that's not true. This truck wasn't loaded to 80 thousand but it's still up there at 75 thousand. 

He's just looking at me and was asking questions about it the entire trip - 135 miles worth.  I can't imagine what that tow bill must have cost.  The real shocker, however, at least for me, was yet to come.  We were well down the road when he looked at me and said:, did you know I was just in the hospital because of a heart attack? 

Now that freaked me out more then me telling him there is explosive chemicals in the trailer.  Or at least, IMO it did.  How do you have stints put in your lines and start driving a truck again 2 weeks later?  Is that even safe?  I can't possibly imagine it being so.  I thought about that the rest of the trip.  When we finally arrived in Tulsa, got the truck in the yard, the dude that runs the place - it was closed btw, he just showed up because I called and said we were coming before they all went home for the night - he told the tow truck driver to back the thing up to the top of the hill, he wants that trailer well away from everything - yes I told that guy too.  I'm not keeping secrets about this stuff.  No one is going to come back at me and say I didn't tell them. 

Well, this tow truck driver and his worker had hooked the connections up to the springs, not the axle.  After he had been backing up a while, he stopped.  My trailer was going off all whack because his truck, my tractor and then trailer. I told him to pull forward to straighten it out and then start backing again.  Wellllllll, when he did that and then put it in reverse again, the stinger - the thing that connects the to the truck to tow it - slid all the way back on the springs, causing unknown amounts of damage to the underside of the truck. Radiator fluid came gushing out, that's for sure.  So now, the problem went from a blown turbo charger to whatever this tow truck did to it and add to that the fact that the shop said they have several trucks ahead of me.  Lol.

After yet another call to my manager - they aren't going to let me stay here overnight, I told her. Yes, I asked the dude, yes I knew what he was going to say, yes I wanted him to tell me I couldn't so I could get the company to pay for a hotel and yes, she did get me a hotel.  I told her the closest place I saw was a Microtel.  Valerie actually got me started on these properties the first time I went up to meet her and spend a week with her.  I liked it.  It wasn't perfect but it was a good deal.  Ann was like, well I don't know if they have that on the corporate hotel list.  I mean, okay whatever works. This one is a mile away is all I'm saying. The rest of the hotels around are much further away from what I was told. 

She called me back -just as we were leaving the Volvo place - with the info.  Hotel room paid for.  Just one night tho.  Yeah, well, I have my doubts that truck is going to be fixed before I have to check out of here, but we'll see.  I don't blame them for only paying for a night at a time, tho.  This deal here is going to cost thousands of dollars in the end.  I just had to laugh when I saw the radiator fluid dumping all over the place.  Not because it was damaged, but just because the day was going.  She said, well, maybe this is a sign that truck isn't for you!  Yes, please find something else for me, thanks. I didn't say that, I just thought it. I don't want to be stuck in this thing forever. 

Well, that's it. I'm at a hotel.  It's got a 44 inch flat screen tv with Cox cable.  It's got a microwave, and fridge.  And wifi of course.  I'm getting paid to sit here. I really can't complain.  I like hotels : )

My new bed is coming tomorrow. I was hoping to be home for it, but turns out even without a broke down truck no way I would have made it back in time. 

Well, I'm getting off of here. Long day, getting sleepy. 

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...