Since my last trip went so well, Karma had to balance itself out. And it didn't waste any time either! This last trip was...well...interesting. I'll try to describe everything that happened without confusing the heck out of you, but there's no guarantees.
Our last delivery was just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. My company doesn't have a whole lot of freight that leaves this area, so we had to sit around for a while. To make matters worse, there are very few good truck stops to speak of around Boston. Most of them even require you to pay to park there, to the tune of $20 per day. We got ourselves to the closest truck stop, if you can call it a truck stop. It basically consisted of a gas station with a gravel lot across the street to park in. Yup, $20 per day to park in a gravel lot. What a rip! My trainer will get reimbursed for the expense, but out of principle I think it's a sham. We sat for nearly 24 hours, then we were told to "deadhead"(empty trailer)all the way to Murfreesboro, TN. The only problem with that is my trainer was already supposed to be home for his scheduled home time. So he wasn't too happy.He didn't take it out on me or anything, but it's not a whole lot of fun sharing a truck with somebody who is in a bad mood.
Upon arrival to Murfreesboro, the shipper said they weren't going to have our load available for about 12 hours. Wonderful. So, we sat and waited. While we waited, dispatch called us to run a favor for them. They wanted us to take a trailer to a repair shop. Some bright individual did a very good job at tearing off the driver's side trailer door and it had to be fixed. So we grabbed the trailer and took it over to the repair shop, which was about 30 miles further away than dispatch told us. Now we were going to be late for our original pickup, which in turn would make us late for our delivery!This didn't make my trainer any happier. Not to mention all the stares we were getting from other drivers thinking we were the ones who tore the trailer door off!
Since we simply dropped the trailer off at the repair shop, we had to "bobtail" (no trailer) back to the original shipper, who was supposed to have a loaded trailer available for us. Now, before I continue on, those of you who don't know much about truck driving, understand that driving a tractor without a trailer is not very safe in adverse conditions.
You may have read about Murfreesboro in the news. There were some very severe thunderstorms just as we were getting back into town. Rain began flooding the roads, and that was followed by hail. Cars were pulling off the road and flat out stopping in the middle of the expressway, causing dangerous heavy braking and sudden traffic jams. Thankfully, my instructor was driving and handled it well. But as we continued, the tornado sirens began to sound. Then, off in the distance, I see a funnel cloud extending towards the ground. We were right near a truck stop, so we pulled in. The tornado touched down about 4 miles from our location, and unfortunately a mother and her young child died in the tornado.
Due to the severe weather and expressway shutdowns, everything turned into a mess. Our original load was cancelled and we were told to pick up a load in Nashville (dubbed "crashville" by truck drivers, since they have the highest accident rate of any other city in the US). But first, we had to go pick up a loaded trailer from a shipper that another driver wouldn't make it to in time, due to the traffic jams after the recent storm. So, we go to the shipper, hook up to the trailer, and bring it back to Murfreesboro where the other driver would meet us. We were not allowed to drop the trailer, we had to stay with it until the other driver showed up. We ended up waiting 2 hours for this driver to finally show, which in turn, was going to make us late for the pickup in Nashville! To top it off, instead of that driver bringing us an empty trailer like we were told would happen, his trailer was loaded and being dropped off at the place we met him at. So we had to go on a goose hunt for an empty trailer we could use to bring to our new shipper.All these little things started adding up, and my trainer was getting real upset. Again, not taking it out on me, but still, it's not fun to sit in a truck when your co-driver is in a bad mood.
By now the storms had passed, and we hauled our butts over to our shipper. Thankfully, all we had to do was drop an empty trailer at the shipper then pick up a pre-loaded trailer. So even though we would be late, it wasn't a huge deal. By the way, our pickup was at a Budweiser brewery. Yup! A trailer full of beer. What a beautiful sight that was! Our gross weight was 79,800 lbs. Legally we are allowed 80,000lbs. Cutting it close!
So anyway, after we finally arrived at the Budeweiser plant, we dropped off our empty trailer. We drove around the lot for about 10 minutes searching for our pre-loaded trailer among the hundreds that were in this lot. Finally, we found it. We had to hurry, because we were already behind schedule to deliver in North Carolina. We backed the truck onto the trailer, hooked up the airlines and electrical cable, then raised the landing gear, and we were finally ready to hit the open road! But of course, it can't be that easy. Now the truck won't start. Arrrrggg!!!
My trainer gets on the phone with "Road Assist" but of course had to wait on hold. First 10 minutes goes by, then 15, then 20, still no answer. This was the load that was supposed to finally get my trainer home, and now we couldn't even move. You guessed it, once again he wasn't happy!
But alas, the clouds parted. My trainer gave the truck one last try and it started. What a great sound it was to hear the truck start up! My trainer looks over at me with a priceless look on his face and says; "this truck doesn't get turned off until I'm home!" Of course I was due up to drive, and I had to cross my fingers that I wouldn't stall the truck. It might not start back up!
On the positive side, I got the green light to run the hell out of the truck so we could make it to the receiver on time. I didn't have to really speed as the speed limits were mostly70mph to where we were going. So I just set the cruise around 72 and passed up all the other big trucks. Hammer down! Since my trainer has a leased truck, we can run a bit faster. Once I get my own company truck, I'll never be able to run anywhere close to 70mph.We ended up making it to the receiver with 2 minutes to spare. I still can't believe we made it on time, but we did!
All in all, it was a royal pain of a trip, but everything sort of worked out. It could have been much worse! We survived the tornado, the truck started, we made our delivery on time, and my trainer is now in the comfort of his home. But it just goes to show, truck driving can be pretty hectic at times. My arm is a little sore today from cranking all those landing gears from all the different trailers we had to hook up to and disconnect from. What was supposed to be an easy short run to get my trainer home, turned into quite an adventure!
So, I have a couple days to sit around and be lazy. I was always told to do what you're good at, and I'm real good at being lazy!
The one thing I took away from this whole experience, is to just chill. I understand my trainer was upset due to his home time being screwed up, but you can't let little things bother you in this industry. Trucks are going to break down. Weather is going to cause problems. Roads are going to be closed.Favors will need to be made every now and then. This is all part of trucking. You just have to roll with it. If you get upset over being a little late or having to run a couple extra errands, it'll get to you real quick.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have two days to get through 3 seasons of the show "Ice Road Truckers" on DVD. I told you I was good at being lazy!
Until next time, drive safely!