Monday, March 16, 2020

The ordeal started today after leaving the plant, driving some 140 or more miles, ending up on the Indian Nation Turnpike in Oklahoma.  I was climbing a hill - truck loaded heavy at 79,250 pounds.  Suddenly, a loud whirring noise started coming out of the front from underneath the hood followed by a very loud KLUNK!! and then?  The truck started to run like s***.  I went for a few miles like this, wondering how many hours it would take just to even think about getting off of this turnpike going the speed I was going?

I couldn't pull hills more than 20mph after whatever happened - happened. The top speed on straightaways was 53 mph.  The engine was making a strange noise afterward.  I contacted my mechanic - "I would pull over if I were you". Yes, well I wanted to hear that from the company.  In some kinds of mechanical breakdowns, continuing to drive the truck can do serious damage to the engine. 

So I pulled over, called Road Squad who went through the process of attempting to find a tow truck.  I knew I would be there for hours. It was Sunday (was because it's now almost 3 am Monday morning), out in the middle of nowhere and trying to find a company that would haul hazmat fully loaded trailer.  Trifecta!

It was almost 6 hours later a tow truck showed up.  Hooked the truck up, we got moving.  80 miles down the road? Maybe  a little further, we were talking about something when something caught the corner of my eye.  I turned and looked but whatever it was was already gone.  But, while I was looking more of it - sparks coming out from underneath the engine hood on the tow truck!  WTH.

STOP THE TRUCK IMMEDIATELY!! My mind was going to the trailer full of 37,000 pounds of Ethylene.  We aren't burning down a truck, another truck behind it and then a trailer full of explosive liquid.  We both jumped out of the truck, he pulled the hood open and I immediately saw what the problem was.  The alternator was glowing red from behind the fan blades on the front, the bearings were literally burning up.  CUT the truck off!  He did so and then? The damned thing started shooting flames out the alternator!

Fire extinguisher, now!  But I ran to my truck, it has 2 fire extinguishers in case he didn't have one, I wasn't waiting around to find out. He did, indeed, have one tho and put the fire out.  You see, I had explained to him what was in the trailer, what it's potential is and how we really don't want any of those things happening before we went anywhere. So his first thought of seeing fire was the same as mine: if this truck burns down, we are screwed.  He would have tried to unhook my truck from his truck, he later stated, if the fire had become uncontrollable.  Smart thinking! 

But, we were still almost 90 miles out from Oklahoma City.  They decided to tow it there instead of Tulsa, that's just what they wanted to do, I offered that Tulsa was in the direction of where I was going, but in the end? It's their truck, it's their money, if they want to tow it an extra 60, 70 80 miles? That's their business. I just open my  mouth and say things I feel I must in such situations to cover my ass. You know, like "well why didn't you tell them to just tow it to Peterbilt in Tulsa"?  Yes, I did, thank you, they said it was better to go to Oklahoma City because the Peterbilt shop will get it done faster.

After hearing that, I really wanted it towed to Tulsa.  I'll take as much breakdown pay as I can get.  I'm pretty sure it's a blown turbo charger and I'm also sure that those things don't take long to fix.  But, there are several trucks that had been towed in there ahead of me.  Perhaps it will take at least 24 hours from the time I got onto breakdown pay? That started after 1:00 pm yesterday afternoon. 

Well, the repair truck showed up a few hours later.  I had gone to bed.  My truck still runs, it just doesn't have any power.  I had heat and I had protection from the rain and a comfortable bed.  They got the tow truck fixed and we got underway again.  Arrived in Oklahoma City a little while ago, the driver had the key to the gate to get into the facility after hours.  We dropped the trailer on the street outside - they don't allow trailers in there.  Our company doesn't like trailers on the street, especially full and I was going to have the driver at least drop it in the yard  sitting outside of the facility and off the street - until I realized the trailer sitting on the street in front of us? Was from another division of our company.  If they can do it, we can too and I didn't want to cause that much trouble for this tow truck driver. We had both been through an ordeal, it was late, we both wanted to go home/hotel and get this day over with. 

And so it was.  He dropped me at the hotel on his way back to his house.  14 hours after this situation started, I am sitting in an - okay, not a really nice but okay - hotel.  It's 3:17 am and I am just trying to unwind.  Plus my removed tooth hole is hurting.  I took an Alieve 10 hours ago? No help there.  I bought some acetaminophen at the front desk of this hotel, it's sore and it's irritating.  It may just be pain from the shock of the tooth being removed - or it may be the damned thing is getting infected and I best get my ass to an urgent care to get some antibiotics. I'll make that decision in the morning. 

Right now, I'm really just waiting on some pain relief, because I won't be able to sleep with this.  I know, I almost never stay up this late, I had no choice today.  I'll have a nice paycheck next week tho. A Brownsville run with 14 hours of detention pay and I'm guessing at least 24 hours of breakdown pay.  Heck, if they get this done tomorrow - afternoon at the earliest please - I will get back in time for another run to count on the pay period.

But I have to interject here, when I'm out on the road a lot, I get to missing my doggies.  And my friends at home. And their kids - they are always in my face whenever I get home.  It's a decent life.  I have no mate, not looking for one. As time goes on, who knows, maybe I'll look again, right now my situation is fine.  Excepting, of course, the volatility they are facing with their finances and being able to pay the mortgage. 

It's easier to deal with now, much more than it used to be tho. 

Enough. It's soo late. I don't care if they do get the thing fixed before noon, I don't want to hear from anyone until AFTERnoon.  Thanks have a great day! lol

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...