Sunday, March 11, 2018

Today - turned out much long of a day than I even expected it to be.  It started before midnight, when I awoke out of a bad dream.  I don't hardly ever have that happen, it was odd. The dream was odd too, I remember, but I can even remember what the dream was about now. I got over that quickly and fell back asleep. Maybe an hour later, loud thunder, woke me up out of a dead sleep. And, that thunder went on for the rest of the night....and no I did not get any sleep.
I have ear plugs and a box fan to drown out noise, but they didn't do anything with that noise. About 3 am I realized I wasn't going to be getting any sleep.  I still tried, doze off and baaam! loud thunder.  4:45 am came around, I got up dreading today. Just absolutely dreading it.  3 hours total - at best - of sleep - coupled with having to drive all day long after spending hours at the plant

I drove to work. It started raining heavily about a mile away.  By the time I got the car unpacked and into the truck and the truck hooked up to the trailer and did my pre trip inspection? I was literally soaking wet. From head to toe.  Embrace the misery, I thought to myself, it likely isn't going to get any better. And it didn't. The air line hose and electrical power line setup the mechanic had fixed on the side of the road? Doesn't work with this old trailer I was hooked to. The lines were literally laying on the catwalk.  But, I was wet and I was running out of time.  They don't like you being late over there.

So I drove over there, confident nothing would happen in that short of a period of time to anything, got all the junk you have to do to get into that plant, get weighed and get to the loading rack and then, the dude kindly offered me some tools to fix the setup. It took 30 minutes of standing out - yet again - in the pouring rain.  Freshly drenched, I got that set up taken care of.

My Monday was today.  I fought sleep for hours.  When I finally got to 6-1/2 hours of driving, I pulled into a rest area, set the alarm and fell directly asleep for 30 minutes.  I couldn't stay there long, the plant eats up your available hours, the only way you're going to get 600 miles in and is to push yourself all day long.  Subsequent days usually are easier.  This particular trip is drop and hook, no layovers just get it done and leave.  So tomorrow will be a rather long day as well, in trying to get as much done as possible.

So, off again. Rain, rain, rain.  Figured out where I was going to stop before my hours ran out and headed that way.  Unfortunately, I somehow missed the exit.  Probably because of driving rain and a bunch of cars hitting their brakes for unknown reasons and distracting me from getting off the highway.  I looked and saw another "truckstop" a few miles up the road.  I have an app. I was running out of time.  At that exit, I had 12 minutes left before I was in violation.  Well, the truckstop was nothing more than a regular gas station with 2 diesel pumps.  There isn't any way on earth a big truck with a 53 foot trailer could pull through there.  I got through because I have a much shorter trailer.  But there was nowhere to park.

No worries, I thought to myself, I'll park in that huge, empty parking lot where I saw another truck parked.  I got to the entrance, "absolutely no truck parking, Big Daddy J's towing" will be there to pull your truck out of there.  Lovely.  9  minutes left on the clock. I put it in on duty mode instead of drive mode, so it would at least show I had time to do a post trip inspection.  Gas station there with a big side lot, truck fit easily in there, out of the way.  But, I went in an asked. Sure, you can stay there a few minutes. But if you stay there too long, the cops will fool with you and make you move.

I was out of time, I hit off duty on the thing a minute before I was in violation.  I didn't want to do this tonight, but I ended up driving across the street, pulling into the Red Roof hotel parking lot and getting a room. The reason I didn't want to do it is because it's just 10 hours.  I mean, I can stay longer and I might just do it.  My 14 hour clock doesn't start until I hit the "on duty" field and hit enter.  Just that I wanted to get this trip over with as quickly as possible. Meaning I was hoping to get it done in 3 days instead of bleeding over into the 4th.

But I'm wasted tired and the only reason I'm on here writing this is because my head is buzzing from all of this sleeplessness. A lifetime of experience with driving like this and this head buzzing? Don't even try to go to sleep until it fades away.  I have to do things that require thought and will eventually make me sleepy.  I guess writing in my blog about my day isn't especially thoughtful, but it engages me at least.

So, I'll probably not get up until 7, when I should be getting up at 5am.  The delivery isn't actually until Tuesday morning, but at this place, they'll take it whenever you show up.  I've got to get some sleep tonight.

Ahh, well, that's that.  I am finally starting to get a bit sleepy.  I've been here about an hour and 15 minutes now.  the other nights I'll have to spend out here will be in the truck.

Oh, I did go and buy stuff for the refrigerator in the truck. Various lunchmeats, a half gallon milk, orange juice, coffee drinks, a gatorade, a couple of waters, cheese and condiments for sandwiches. The fridge is packed.  It's also a very good refrigertor.  I initially turned it all the way up the first time I used it and it froze the leftovers I had in there.  Today, I started it at 3 setting - halfway up. Everything in there is very cold.  Not freezing, but not far from it.  There is a small freezer, now that I understand this thing is chilly, lol, I can actually get a couple of ice cube trays and make ice in there.

The only thing I am not sure about is if I can just leave it on even when the truck is off and I go home.  Cause I would rather leave the stuff  in there than have to unload it every time.  The concern are the batteries. But, the thing stays so cold and with it packed, I don't really think it has to run that much. As it stands, it's going to spend the night in the parking lot without the truck running.  But it's cold out, my version of it anyway, it's 41 degrees and likely going down from there tonight.  So definitely not really going to have to run that much.

Anyway, my focus at the moment is on getting these moves over with.  My room to other side of house, current people to new house, old friends back into house.  It isn't just getting physical items moved - tho that's a big part of it- it's also calling all these different companies to get all of this different stuff turned on, preferably the last day of this month.

And there is the cleaning I want to have done in the house before they come back.  I was intent on getting the flooring refinished in the living room, but that is turning into an ordeal just finding someone to do it that I'm letting that one go for now.  It would have been nice, yes, but just no.  I could do that myself but I have very little free time nowadays and by the time I get to free time, I'm worn our from running around all over the place. This is a 2 thousand mile run.

I haven't actually heard from my manager yet, but it's still early. I'd love Saturday/tomorrow off too, but that may be wishful thinking. There were a lot of trucks sitting in the yard yesterday, perhaps I can sneak past another day off.  Cause right now? I don't feel like doing anything.  I've been out on the road and I'm kinda drained.

Nice to be out of that truck and off the road for a day at least.  I'm not asking my manager if she has anything for me tomorrow. If she does, she'll send it to me, but  otherwise, I'd gladly take the day off and recuperate a bit.  There were lots of trucks parked there with drivers in the yard yesterday, they would all get sent out before me, but I have a feeling I"m either going out tomorrow or Sunday.

Anyway, Donny cut the yard yesterday - both yards actually - and it looks great. I've contacted a cleaning service who is going to come out the week of the move and clean this place from top to bottom.  Start out with a fresh, clean slate they can come back to, what they do with it from there is up to them. He's apparently going straight to truck driver training school, I'm guessing she's going to set up house before she goes out looking for a new job.  I could be wrong tho.  They will be living on borrow money, the sooner they get jobs going the better. They borrowed a large chunk of change for the move and I don't envy them having to pay all of that back.  But, that's how desperate they are to get back home into their own house.


Okay, day has passed.  I only accomplished getting some laundry done. I'm just totally out of it. Old age, being out on the road too much, I dunno but I had to have today off.  God knows my needs better than I do.  The fantastic part for me is I have tomorrow off as well  which is 2 full days off.  I don't want more than 2 days, though.  That's enough.  I really need to continue to get on down the road and get these bigger paychecks. I think next paycheck is going to suck, basically, because this last 4 days out likely isn't going to make it on there.  But I can deal with it, it just means the paycheck at the end of the month will likely be around 6 grand and I can deal with that.

I'll be headed back to West Virginia again, the same place I went to - was it last week? It's drop and hook.  Take a trailer up, pull an empty back, no unloading. Figure up to 4 days, figure I'm going to splurge at least one night on a hotel.  I did that last time and certainly didn't regret it. It was a decent Super 8, unlike the one that I walked out of and got into an ordeal with the police and such the other night. That is a long story. And, long story short, the property manager of the hotel called me begging for forgiveness for his counter clerk's outrageous behavior towards me and offered my money back and please, if you come through here again (Amarillo), I will give you a free night's stay on me.

Oh, yes, I threatened to sue him, the clerk and Wyndham hotels for that clerk's actions, including asking a very large black man to "deal with him" when he came walking in.  I had the presence of mind to record the entire thing, 25 minutes worth.  She claimed I was cussing her out (never dropped an f bomb or any other cuss word against her), I was "harassing" her, yelling at her, etc etc etc.  I actually started laughing at her after she when into hysterics over a minor situation that she could have easily rectified.

In fact, now that I'm going into this, I was on the phone with Wyndham filing a complaint. I at least wanted my money back.  I was heading out of Amarillo. Phone service cut out, literally a minute later this property manager called me. But, it wasn't Wyndham that had called him about that, it was way too quick and this guy had already reviewed their video surveillance from the night before.  The clerk had already told him about the interaction and lied through her teeth about it. He didn't necessarily believe it tho.  I told him I would be happy to send him copy of the video I took. No, that won't be necessary.  That was all I needed to hear. She was off her rocker, whatever was going on with her that night, I just happened to be on the receiving end of it.

Oh, yes, what started this? I called the front desk. I can put up with a lot of stuff at a cheaper rate, but the bathroom sink had 6 HUGE cracks in it and full of BLACK MOLD.  No thanks. Please give me a different room. That wasn't all that was wrong with that place, but that in and of itself was enough for me to call for a new room. She didn't offer me a new room, she flew off the handle  and said I could come get my money refunded..

Anyway, tomorrow I'm going to go buy some stuff  to stock truck refrigerator up with. Milk, cold coffee drinks, sandwich meat, things to eat to take place of the junk food you mostly only get on the road.

Enjoying my final day of freedom before 4 - well probably 3-1/2 days out, call it 3 nights at least anyway.  If I pushed it really hard, if it doesn't take too long tomorrow to get loaded at the plant, I could get this run done in 3 days.  Oh, and avoid that traffic trap where there is an hour plus of just getting through it.  I'll listen to my phone this time and take the route it's suggesting.  If all doesn't work out, it's fine.  Just means another night and a few hours of driving the next morning.

On such trips, I almost always take a hotel night at least once.  It just depends on how it works out. For example, if I'm on the 3rd day and I run out of driving hours ... and.... it's still early in the day.....I'll get that hotel room.  Because I don't want to drive at night anyway.  Well, not too much driving.  So, you get to your destination at around 4 or 5 pm, stay in the hotel overnight, get up at 5 or 6 am and finish out the trip, you had at least 12 hours in that room, a welcome respite from living in a truck.

However, I am going out in a bit and buying all kinds of stuff to stock that refrigerator with.  Milk, coffee drinks, snacks, sandwich meat, whatever I can find.  It's a fairly good sized refrigerator. It will save me a lot of money buying food on the road.  I can even skip a dinner night somewhere and just eat sandwiches.  It's really tough trying to find a decent place to eat because you are in a truck and many places are not truck friendly. So you can't go parking in the portion of the parking lot behind a restaurant or such that isn't used.  If you take the risk and they come tell you to move, you are screwed.  You just started driving on your mandatory 10 off and that will ding you with the company you are driving for.

However, over time, I will learn the places where I can stop - away from truck stops - and get a decent meal.  Some of the plants I'm going to I'm repeating the drive over and over. This will be the second trip to the plant in West Virginia.  I found a great Super 8 hotel on the trip back.  If it were to work out to stop there again, I would definitely do so.  Someone could probably make a great app for places for trucks to stop that are not truck stops.  I get sick of truck stops. They are cash cows. They over charge for everything because we are basically a captive audience. A small bottle of water is $1.59, just for an example.  The restaurants they have at them are of the Wendy's, McDonald's, Arby's/high fat, high grease, high calorie content.  You can find cups of fruits and such, but you mostly aren't going to find a dinner that is both tasty and calorie conscious.
 Ok, well this post has been days in the making, posting it and starting a new one. 

Decatur, Alabama. Got there last night - decided I didn't have enough hours to offload - about an hour and 15 minutes on the clock, tak...