Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TCC: The Twelfth Crumb, Part I

No, I cannot tell you just exactly when I started to see "things". For I simply do not remember.

Nonetheless: what I can tell you about it may be surprising. For unto the extent that I have been made aware of: it all started long before I ever heard of ephedrine.

Denial goes hand-in-hand with drug abuse: I know; and in all fairness: there is evidence to suggest a connection. For the more ephedrine I took: the more "things" I would see; but since I would often see stuff that made absolutely no sense unto me at the time: I had my doubts about just where they were coming from.

Yes, I am sure that pink elephants make no sense unto most alcoholics. For neither the color variant, nor the animal itself, would be symbolic of anything about themselves, or their lives.

On the other hand: is it wise to assume that the seeing of things that others cannot see is most likely the result of some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain that was caused by the abuse of some sort of chemical? For in my case: I would sometimes see things like the great wheel of Ometecutli (an Aztec god), and different battlefields scenes full of the dead and dying, when I had not been near a history book for years.

Yes, much of the other stuff was sexually explicit. For that was what I wanted to see at the time; but since none of it was what I "specifically" wanted to see, nor anything familiar from my past: one would be hard-pressed to prove that it all was just a figment of my imagination.

No, I never saw any pink elephants. For the things that I saw were strictly in black and white, along with shades of grey. That is: except for eyes that would sometimes take-on hues of yellow or red.

Yes, the images would sometimes change; but their movements were not fluid. For they would generally look like a negative of a photograph when they would first appear on a surface of something; and then a repetitive frame by frame slide-show would commence.

Furthermore: there were other exceptions unto the rule. For what I would see would almost always appear at night in two-dimensional form; but every once-in-awhile: the three-dimensional form of a person could be seen in dust particles in the air even during daylight hours.

There was also one day when I was traveling south on U.S. 83 just south of Garden City, KS that I had to slam on my brakes in order to avoid running into the back of an empty corporate car-hauler several times. For they were notoriously slow and under-powered; and I would not catch sight of the truck until after I had topped one of the rolling hills in that area.

Finally: the road flattened-out; and I lost sight of the rolling road-block completely. Why then? I do not know. For it never existed in-the-first-place.

No, that was not a truck-driver's story; but it does remind of one (I suspect). For it was first told unto me by a driver who would rather make-up something when the truth would do even better.

Anyway: the story was about a convoy of 5 trucks with the same company that I was still driving for that had a driver, who was well-known for seeing things that did not really exist, running the front-door. So: the rest of the bunch did not believe him whenever he slammed-on his brakes and claimed that there was a large boat on the road ahead of them.

To make a long story somewhat shorter: he decided to quit trying to avoid a collision after the verbal abuse coming from the other 4 drivers became too much to take; and a few minutes later: wood of all shapes and sizes littered the road. For he did not get his truck stopped until he had plowed through over half of the length of the boat being pulled by a smaller truck that was hidden from the sight of the beleaguered front-door of the convoy.

Oh yes, there was more. For adding insult unto injury: the transporter of the boat was held liable for all damages done, and highway clean-up involved, because of failing to have a rear escort vehicle in place.

Entertaining: was it not? Perhaps a little too entertaining to be true; but after seeing all that I have seen: I am reluctant to dismiss it as being a work of fiction out-of-hand.

Oh yes, there is more unto my story, as well. For I have become much more sympathetic unto claims made by someone about not recognizing a loved one before killing them in their own place of residence. For the very same thing happened unto me once.

No, I have not killed any of my loved ones in their own home; but I have been confused about the identity of mother. For she was standing less than 10 feet away from me (in a well-lit hallway) one night; and I had no idea who she was.

Thankfully: my confusion only lasted for a few seconds; and I made no move against her. For I believed that what I was seeing was a spirit of some kind, which meant that there was nothing to be done about it.

Yes, there are those who would beg to differ; and there was a time when I would have pursued such knowledge. For I was once told by a practicing witch that I had great power that could be used for good or evil.

No, it was not my idea to go see such a person; but I must admit that I found the experience most intriguing. For when the group that I was with entered her house: she focused all of her attention upon me for at least 15-20 seconds; and when I asked her about it when it was my turn to spend some time alone with her: she told me that the brightness of my "aura" (a glow of light coming from a person that only certain people can see) made sight of everyone else's aura (including her own) impossible to see.

Yes, it does sound like a set-up; but she refused to accept all that was offered for her time: even as a donation. Besides: she did not tell anyone else in the group anything like that.

Weird: I know; but wait: there is more! For my experiences in the "twilight zone" have not been limited unto just things that could be seen. For on two different occasions (that I can remember): I have woke-up gasping for air with the feeling of two hands around my neck.

Yes, after being diagnosed with "Sleep Apnea" (a medical condition where a person stops breathing in their sleep) a couple of years later: I thought about that being an explanation for feeling like I was being choked; but in what way would my diagnosis have anything to do with what had happened unto my mother on a number of occasions? For after telling her about the hands: she told me about her experiences with a mysterious cat.

As with me: what happened unto her seemed to be oh so very real. For she would feel like she was paralyzed. Then: she would hear a cat (when none were in the house) coming down the hallway and enter into her bedroom. Then: she would feel the cat jump onto the foot of her bed and walk up the length of her body. Then: the cat would lay across her face; and just before smothering to death: my mother would become able to move again. Then: the cat would disappear; and after a lengthy series of rather violent sneezes (expelling the apparent cat fur from her nose): she would then be able to go to sleep without further interruption.

No, I have not experienced the like; but I have felt something walking across my bed on a number of occasions when there should not have been anything around. Sometimes it would feel like a cat, or a small dog; and sometimes it would feel like a much larger animal with four feet. A time or two: it even felt like a person (or at least something walking on two feet).

Out of all that I had experienced in the past: one of the most memorable involved what is commonly referred unto as being an "out-of-body" experience in certain circles. For I could actually feel "myself" rising out of my body while laying on my back; and after silently crying-out that I was not ready to go yet when I reached the ceiling of my sleeper: I instantly returned unto my body.

There is, however, a difference between what I experienced and what I have heard about. For their out-of-body experiences generally occurred during times when they were sound asleep or unconscious. Whereas: mine occurred while I was wide-awake.

Yes, I am quite sure of being awake at the time. For it happened just a few minutes after crawling into bed while parked at the Shell Truckstop in Holbrook, AZ (around 230 mile northeast of Phoenix on I-40); and I was not tired enough to pass-out immediately.

No, I have no idea about what may have really triggered such an event. For it would be another two years before I would become fast-friends with ephedrine; but at the time: I suspected that being in close proximity unto the Painted Desert region may have had much to do with it. For the area is considered as being sacred ground by several tribes of Indians (Native Americans).

Oh yeah, I am reminded of another experience that should not be excluded. For it involved Sam's father telling me to give him a copper penny for each wart on my hands and then forget about them; and a couple of days later: I discovered that I should have given him 52 copper pennies, instead of just 51. For there was still one wart remaining.

When I asked him about it: there was little that he could tell me. For he said that the ability would be lost if too much was revealed.

Nonetheless: he could tell me that it was a spiritual gift from God that was to be passed-on unto a member of the opposite sex of each generation. In other words: a mother would give their gift unto one of their sons; and then they would pass it on unto one of their daughters, when it was time to do so.

No, it did not have to go unto the first-born of either sex; and it was not limited unto just the removal of warts. For he told me about his mother also having the ability to heal even extremely severe burns.

There was even proof of such. For sometime during the 1930's (I think): a toddler of a very poor young couple received third-degree burns over most of his body after falling into the fireplace of their home. The young couple then took their son unto William's mother; and left him with her over-night: as instructed. Upon their return the next morning: they were devastated to see that he was still wrapped-up in the dirty sheets that they had used for bandages; but when they unwrapped him: they were amazed to see no evidence of the burns on any part of their son's body.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

TCC: The Eleventh Crumb, Part II

No, I was not after anything illegal. For the kind of ephedrine that I was looking for could be found in its very own display case on (or behind) the counter of almost every truckstop across the land; and even in a great many convenience stores and gas stations, as well.

Nonetheless: I had a deep-seated sense of fear; and it certainly did not do much to calm me down to see that its display case was empty. For by then: I was feeling like I did the first time I ever entered a liquor store and bought a fifth of Seagram's V.O. so that I could be (I thought) more like a man I highly respected in the Joplin, MO area back in 1979 (I think).

Anyway: I had become fairly good friends with one of the girls who worked at the Pilot; and she proved most helpful in my endeavour. For not only did she go in the back and find what I was looking for: she also cautioned me not to take more than 2 pills at a time if I did not want to get the jitters.

Even though I thought that it was very considerate of her to be concerned about my welfare: I knew my constitution. For I have always had to take more (sometimes: much more) of the recommended dosage of everything from aspirin unto prescribed medication to get any good out of the stuff.

Therefore: I popped 4 pills into my mouth and swallowed them down with a big gulp of Mountain Dew (straight out of an unrefrigerated 2 litre bottle that I kept along side a gallon pee-jug in a duct tape-reinforced cardboard box between the seats); and then took-off for glory. I did not even make it unto Needles (around 140 miles east of Barstow on I-40) before I had to lay down and try to sleep some more.

Thankfully: I only slept a couple of hours; and what happened next was absolutely amazing. For I ingested 10 of the ephedrine pills that time; and about 10 minutes later: it felt like every hair on my head was standing-on-end. Then: oily beads of sweat started to ooze out of my forehead; and after that: I could feel my muscles swelling with strength and energy (not so unlike blowing-up an inflatable doll). The icing on the cake was a tingling sensation through-out my body.

In other words: it felt like I really had taken a hit of crank. For I had heard others talk about it; but I had never been tempted to try it myself.

Be assured that nothing had changed. For I saw no benefit unto upping the ante when I already felt better than I ever had before; and there was also: "Look Ma! No jitters!"

It was, however, the beginning of a devoted relationship with the stuff. For without it: I was some kind of special; but with it: I became a super-trucker without any reservations.

A good example of that would be winning a bet with another driver. For he bet that he would have traveled more miles than I the next time we met. Nine days later: I won with 7,932 unto his 6,497; and he really was on crank!

Another example makes the point even clearer. For it involved taking-off from Rogers, AR with a load of Tyson's finest headed for Denver, CO. Then: picking-up a loaded trailer of boxed beef in Liberal, KS headed for Ontario, CA. Then: making 8 pick-ups of produce from Chula Vista, CA (southern suburb of San Diego) unto Salinas headed for Buffalo. Then: picking-up a load of wine in Canandaigua, NY (around 90 miles east of Buffalo) headed for Richmond, CA (around 15 miles north of Oakland). Then: picking-up a load of almonds and cashews from another warehouse in Richmond headed for Rochester, NY. Then: picking-up another load of wine in Canandaigua headed for Richmond. All without a wink of sleep.

No, I did not see where I could be doing any damage; but Sherry did. For she was a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse): going to school to be an RN (Registered Nurse); and just reading the back of the bottle freaked her out.

Yes, there was a price being paid. For aside from having to take more and more of the stuff in order to keep going: my personality was undergoing a major metamorphosis; and before long: a very disagreeable monster could be seen every time I looked in a mirror.

Not that it really mattered unto me at the time. For I had this dream of having lots of cattle to chase, and horses to fall off of while doing so; and I believed that I was doing all that I could to achieve it before getting too old to really enjoy that kind of life.

A lot sooner than later: my relationship with Sherry had deteriorated unto the point of being more like an uneasy truce between enemies than any sort of a happy marriage even during peaceful exchanges. For she was very unhappy with my state of mind; and getting a letter from an old girlfriend did little to improve the situation.

No, it was not a love letter. Well, not exactly. For it was sent to inform me of the birth of Calvin 2 years earlier.

Talk about being unexpected: I had only been out with his mother a few times; but like they say: it only takes once. It was still good to hear about having a son: nonetheless.

I even got to meet him a couple of months later. For I got a load headed for Kent, WA (southern suburb of Seattle); and that left me only around 45 miles south of where they lived.

Oh yes, Calvin was most definitely my son. For he was as cute as could be; and could charm the socks off of a wino in a back alley.

He was a little on the small side, however; but he had a rough start. For Calvin had to come-out at the end of the second trimester (24 weeks); and weighed only 18 ounces. Hmm, impatience: surely another trait that he got from his old man.

Yes, it can be said that Calvin was a miracle baby in the truest sense of the word; and I will be eternally grateful unto the Children's Hospital in Little Rock, AR for giving an assist. For it was in their Intensive Care Nursery where he had to stay for the first 6 months (I think) of his life.

Just to think: I had been through where they lived just 5 or 6 months earlier on a run unto Surrey, BC (eastern suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia); and it was a memorable trip. For it was the first time that I had ever been in the area (not to mention: the first time across the border into Canada).

There was also this Canadian Border Patrol Officer (I think) who was a stone cold fox (she looked a lot like Shania Twain unto me). That is: at least I thought so until she promised to shoot me on the spot if she found anything that she considered disgusting in my sleeper while she was performing a random inspection; and since she did not shoot me: I suppose that she really was an object to be desired.

Even after all of that: the second trip into the area was so much better. For I was plumb proud to be Calvin's poppa; and I hoped (for his sake) that he got a lot more of his momma's genes than mine.

Alas, again I found myself in a situation where there was nothing sweet about parting. For it was love at first sight.

Speaking of sight: Calvin certainly has a unique pair of eyes. Well, maybe only unto me. For both our's are greenish hazel (blue/green); but where mine are encircled with a band of blue: his are encircled with a golden band, which makes them quite beautiful.

Anyway: it was time to hit the road again; and I did so with renewed determination. For I had gained another to share my dream with.

Perhaps news of Calvin was the last straw (or at least one very near unto the top). For it was only a month or two (I think) after I meet him that I lost Sherry and her daughter; and oddly enough: I got the news when I called her from the cold storage where I was making my last pick-up of pears in Cashmere, WA (around 150 miles east of Seattle).

Some might think that it rude. For when I told Sherry that I would be headed home in less than an hour: she told me not to bother; but I knew where she was coming from.

Yes, I did feel a sense of loss; but to be perfectly honest about it: it was more a sense of relief than anything else that I felt when informed of the impending demise of our marriage. For we had tried hard to make it work; but the divide between us had just grown too wide to span.

No, I was not the only one who was relieved. For Sherry's daughter had hated my guts with a passion since the first time she heard about me; and even attending the Space Camp in Huntsville, AL (something that she really, really, really, really wanted to do) did little to take the edge off of her scorn.

Anyway: I was free to really spread my wings and fly; but when I unfurled them: a bunch of feathers fell out. For it seemed that taking over 50 ephedrine pills a day (over 1,250 mg) was doing a little damage after all; and then my purple rocketship got retired because of having too many miles.

So: I decided to try to do the right thing and go load-up Theresa and Calvin and bring them back to live with me in the state of Misery (Missouri: one of Darrell Greenstreet's favorite quips). For he was my son; and I believed that I could sure use a blessing or two from the Man upstairs about then.

No, they were not forthcoming. That is: at least not in the way that I had hoped. For it is true that I should have been killed when I hit a full grown (and very pregnant) Black Angus cow (easily 800 pounds) broadside while going around 70 MPH just north of New Meadows, ID (around 120 miles north of Boise); and then there was the Wamsutter, WY (around 240 miles west of Laramie) white-out to also consider.

After passing Exit 173 on I-80 (heading west unto my first drop of AAA maps in Salt Lake City): it was like a great white curtain had been drawn across the road in front of me; and I plowed right through it doing 75 MPH. For that was all that piece of junk that I had got stuck-in until my new rocketship (I hoped) arrived could do.

Needless to say: it did not take me long to drastically reduce my speed. For I could not see past the hood of my truck (let alone: where I was on the highway); and I quickly become disoriented (feeling like I have stopped, and/or even going backwards) whenever I encounter blowing snow at night: especially when it appears to be blowing at me.

Yes, I wanted to stop really bad; and I was not the only one. For the radio was going nuts; and every once in a while: someone would say that they actually were stopping. Invariably: someone else would ask them where they were; and my favorite reply unto that was: "If I knew that I would not be stopping!!!"

So: I kept on truckin' at a torrid pace of 15-20 MPH. For I was afraid of getting run over from behind to go any slower.

Thankfully: I caught a glimpse of a reflector now and then; and I knew to scoot-over to the left a bit every time I felt the trailer start to slide into the bar-ditch. For even in 4-wheel-drive (8-wheel-drive actually: with both differentials locked-in) most OTR trucks do not make very good snowplows.

Much unto my surprise: I discovered that I was not as alone as I thought I was during one of my patented "Road Position Adjustment Maneuvers". For I caught sight of the headlights of a little white (of all the colors) car just before my trailer got back in line.

It is a wonder that they did not follow my trailer into the bar-ditch. For there could not have been more than a foot of space between the front of their car and my trailer's safety bumper (a lowered bumper that is meant to help prevent small vehicles from running under trailers in the back; but I knew how they felt. For I had sometimes tried to keep-up with Yellow Freight trucks that had to have some sort of on-board radar system in order to maintain a 58 MPH pace during times when the fog in the San Joaquin Valley (central California) reduced visibility unto less than 30 feet.

Be assured that I have never been as happy to see Point of Rocks, WY as I was that night. For I could actually see it!!!

Yes, the 41 mile "Winter Wonderland Adventure Ride" was finally over. For the cause of the massive white-out was high winds out of the north blowing snow across the road; and a fairly high bluff just outside of Point of Rocks (around Mile Marker 132) put an end unto "Frosty, The Snowman's" fun.

Before putting it to bed for a few hours: I traveled another 25 miles or so; and after finding a place to park at the Flying J Truckstop in Rock Springs, WY (another blessing: to be sure): I jumped out of the cab, kissed the ground, and yelled "thank you" just as loud as I could. For I was very grateful unto God for getting me through such an harrowing experience without a scratch: with the operative word of that statement being "was". For before I laid my head down to sleep: I started to fantasize about what it would be like to hook-up with a Mormon babe or two down there in Salt Lake later that day.

Hey, it was not my fault!!! For I used to wonder if there were any ugly girls in Utah; and after countless hours of contemplation: I came unto the conclusion that there must be. For the reason why I had never seen one yet was because they only let them out at night in places where there were not any illuminating lights around.

Alas, it was all for naught. For my fantasy of finding a "good" Mormon girl to play slap and tickle for a "little" while never happened; and I suppose that was another blessing to be thankful for. For a girl being raised in such a repressive society would have probably eaten me alive after being let out of her gilded cage; but what a way to go.

Perhaps not there; but I was starting to think seriously about going somewhere. For "Jesse James Days" really were over (at least for me) with the advent of the CDL (Commercial Driver's License).

Well, not completely. For I would still try to drive for days without sleep; and I would not balk at an opportunity to make some extra money by sneaking a double load of canned goods (usually over 110,000 pounds gross) down unto El Paso, TX, or over 60,000 pounds of loose potatoes from Monte Vista, CO (around 240 miles southwest of Denver) unto Siloam Springs, AR (around 20 miles west of Springdale), or a double load of rolled aluminum out of Oswego, NY (around 100 miles east of Buffalo) unto Birmingham, AL.

Nonetheless: playing outlaw was just not as much fun as it used to be. For the main reason for the issuance of the CDL's was to clip the wings of chicken-haulers; and it succeded in my case. For I could no longer afford to get any speeding tickets because the points now showed-up: regardless of where they came from.

As if that was not enough: my super-trucker pills were falling down on the job; but I kept giving them chances to redeem themselves. For I would shovel more and more of them: more and more often; and even after digesting 100 pills in 2 hours, and throwing-up mostly blood for 6 hours one night at a rest area near Echo, UT (around 35 miles southeast of Ogden): I remained a loyal customer.

Yes, I had a problem; but not in the way that most would think. For there was not a physical addiction in play; but in all fairness: of what good news is that when you keep thinking that just a few more will do the trick.

No, my disposition was not improving. For the farther I fell behind: the madder (in every sense of the word) I got; and that made for a very pleasent experience for Calvin and his mother (I am sure).

I even have proof! For after stopping by the house one day in the very merry month of May, 1993 (I think): I found them packed-up and gone with the only vehicle still running; and just for good measure: Theresa had called the electric company (obviously before calling the telephone company) and had the meter removed.

By the way: have I failed to mention that I had been seeing "things" for quite some time by then? Yes, I do believe I have; and must do something about that. For they play an integral part in the plan.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

TCC: The Eleventh Crumb, Part I

In November, 1990: I signed-on with a trucking company that was headquartered a lot closer unto Cassville; but that was not the main reason for why I went to work for them. For it was because of their reputation; and I wanted to run with the really, really big boys for as long as I could.

No, it is not of the size of their operation that I speak. For they usually ran under 50 trucks.

Nonetheless: there was nothing small about their aspirations. For they ran some of the fastest and most powerful trucks around; and it took much more than a mere mortal to keep-up with their expected pace.

Greener pastures? Oh my, I believed that I had found chicken-hauler's heaven. For it was not long before they put me in a truck that I called my "purple rocketship"; and thus began the most fun that I ever had out there on the open road.

Oh yes, my purple rocketship was most definitely a force to be reckoned with. For I could start at the bottom of "Cabbage Patch" (a mountain just east of Pendleton, OR on I-84 that is very steep on the Pendleton side) going just 55 MPH (there were almost always a lot of Oregon bears around) with a full load (the combined weight of truck, trailer, and load totalling 80,000 pounds) and be going at least 35 MPH at the top. In fact: I once did that while weighing over 84,000 pounds: according unto the scale house just west of La Grande, OR (all that saved me was still having the inaccurate scale ticket from the place where I loaded "Oregon" Bing Cherries at, which was near The Dalles, OR).

So? Well, in a typical company truck at the time: 20 MPH at the top would have been the best that could be hoped for under the same conditions; but that would not have been the end of the misery. For on grades where my purple rocketship would not pull-down a bit: a typical company truck would lose several miles-per-hour.

Hence: the importance of having speed AND power. For going 100 MPH is not that much of an advantage if it cannot be maintained; and "draggin'fly" (drag-up one side, fly-down the other) trucks would generally spend an awful lot of time on the side of the road at the bottom of hills with a highway patrol cruiser or two behind them. For a draggin'fly needed to fly-down hills in order to make-up for all of the speed that they lost draggin'-up them; and it was at the bottom of hills where state troopers liked to hang-out.

Suffice to say: I did not have to take such chances; but this is not to say that I did not need to be on high alert: even while going up-hill at times. For the chief mechanic of the outfit told me that my purple rocketship was set-up to go up to 126 MPH; and all doubts about the veracity of his claim were quickly proven: unfounded.

No, I never saw such a reading on the speedometer. For 85 MPH was as high as it would go; but I have seen it against the peg in 3 different gears.

Obviously: I also never saw a reading of 126 MPH on a radar gun, neither. For I am still alive; and I am not posting this from the incarcerated side of prison walls.

On the other hand: I made a run clear across Pennsylvania (around 350 miles via I-84, I-81, and I-80) one night with a friend of mine who drove for the same company running the front door (running ahead of me) in 3 hours flat, which was an average of just under 117 MPH.

There was also one night when it looked like I was the only one on I-80 for as far as I could see that I decided to keep the pedal to the metal and the gearshift up against the dash after reaching the summit of the fairly small mountain just west of Wendover, NV (around 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, UT); and I wound-up scaring myself pretty good before getting half-way down the 5-mile slide unto the bottom on the other side. For that was when I could feel the front-end of the truck lifting-up (with 12,400 pounds of weight on the steer-tires); and 140 MPH came to mind.

No, I did not think that I was doing anything overly reckless. For the grade of the downhill slide was not very steep.

Anyway: it was not until it was time for the rest of this story to begin that I really got scared. For that was when my radar-detector sounded-off with all it had; and then I saw the tail-lights of a vehicle coming out of the median and heading back east towards Wendover.

I pooped my pants for real that time; and I had to wait until the truck slowed-down on its own some before I could stop and clean-up the mess. For my brake pads (all 20 of them) would have surely burst into flames if I had of tried to stop while still going that fast.

Besides: I figured that hitting my brakes immediately after getting hit by a radar gun would have been a dead give-away unto the cop that their radar gun might not be as much out of calibration as they were thinking; but it may very well have been that the cop just did not feel like having to fill-out all of the paperwork that was required when deadly-force was used. For they did not write speeding tickets for 140 MPH back then: especially not when a chicken-hauler was involved.

No, I never pulled a stunt like that again; but that is not to say that I started pulling-in on the reins all that much after my miraculous rescue. For I was having too much fun; and I certainly did not want the party to end anytime soon.

Much unto my delight: it did not. For I continued to crisscross the country just as fast as was humanly possible; and on many an occasion: super-human endurance had to have been involved (9 straight weeks of over $1,000 per week take-home pay at only 18 cents per mile).

Yes, the numbers can boggle the mind of the inexperienced; but after breaking it all down into smaller bites: acceptance of the truth of the matter should become much easier to swallow. For it only takes 17 hours to travel 1,020 miles at an average of only 60 MPH.

Nonetheless: it still took a great deal of endurance to maintain my torrid pace day after day; and with any increase in mileage came an exponential increase in stress. For like what was said before: there were all sorts of things out there on the road that could bite a driver on the buttocks at some very inopportune times; and not the least of these were speeding tickets.

Well, not exactly. That is: at least not for me. For as long as I did not get a ticket in Texas, and made enough money to pay all of the others (around 12 per year during my really wild days) on time: no points would ever show-up on my Texas Class A Driver's License because Texas did not recognize infractions in other jurisdictions at the time.

It was, however, the obligatory log book check that went along with getting a speeding ticket that was a big problem for me. For on top of the fine involved (if found in violation): a stoppage of at least 8 hours was almost always also included; and that was enough to throw a schedule way off.

Yes, getting caught in violation of the Hours of Service Regulations was a disaster; but all of the effort that went into trying to avoid getting caught was almost as bad. For the miles had to be accounted for; and the faster and farther traveled: the harder it got to do so.

In example: it legally took 28 hours to get to Buffalo, NY from my outfit's home-base (1,003 miles). Whereas: I once made it in 10.5 hours (around a 96 MPH average).

Therefore: it would take 3 different log books to be safe while making such a run. For I would start-out with one that would have my time of departure backed-up just a few hours in order to account for my speed; and when I had gone around 500 miles: I would fill-out another log book that backed-up my time of departure enough to account for the total speed of the trip and 8 hours of off-duty time. The other log book would be used to provide the company with the original of each days log to keep on record as required by law.

It was (of course) those originals that the DOT would audit from time to time; and my company was a prime target. For their reputation also preceded them in official channels, it would seem.

No, I do not know how they did it. Perhaps some deft slight-of-hand was employed? For they survived every audit relatively unscathed while I was there; and I was sure glad that they did.

It all started to really get unto me after about a year of service, however. For there was only so much that my body could take while completely straight; but I had to do something. For the spirit was still willing; and there I was: absolutely exhausted in Barstow, CA (around 140 miles northeast of Los Angeles) with a load of produce that needed to be driven straight through unto Buffalo (around 2,500 miles).

Therefore: I went in search of some "help"; and I have to laugh every time I think about it. For everyone in that Pilot Truckstop must have thought that I was trying to score an 8-ball (an eighth of an ounce) of crank (or something similar) by the way I was acting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TCC: The Tenth Crumb, Part II

Now, for the benefit of those who do not already know: a "chicken-hauler" was generally recognized as being someone who drove a really fast and powerful truck really fast and powerfully every opportunity they were given; and since the moniker had more to do with style than substance: it was not necessary for their "refer" (refrigerated trailer) to always be loaded with some sort of a chicken product. For a true chicken-hauler could strut their stuff just as well with a load of produce, meat (beef or pork), or even a dry load in tow as they could with a load of Pilgrim's Pride.

In other words: a real outlaw, who went about their business with reckless abandon; but this is not to say that they necessarily were reckless. For it was hard to set land speed records when your truck would land belly-up in a bar-ditch out in the middle of nowhere on a regular basis.

Okay, I must give credit where and when it is due; and that is especially true of the legendary good ol' boys from North Carolina. For they could take-off from Dudley, NC (around 60 miles southeast of Raleigh) with a flat-bed (a trailer without doors, walls, and a roof) piled high with frozen chicken parts; and have the load in Los Angeles, CA before it thawed-out.

Hard to believe? Well, you would do well not to. For that was an example of a typical "truck-driver story".

Yes, a truck-driver story is quite similar unto a "fish story" told by fishermen. For they are usually very entertaining: despite being generally recognized as being a figment of someone's imagination by those who know better.

Nonetheless: not all fish stories are fictional. For in some cases: the unbelievable really did happen; and I stand as a witness of the same being true of some truck-driver stories.

A good example of one is about a run from Salinas, CA (around 80 miles south of San Francisco) unto Wilkes-Barre, PA (around 80 north of Harrisburg). For that is a run of around 2,900 miles (taking the southern route) that was made by a solo driver in exactly 37.5 hours, which was an average of just over 77 MPH.

Not bad for a 90 MPH truck: especially when all of the places where speed had to be significantly reduced are considered; but that is not the most amazing part of the story. For an "owner/operator" (someone who drives their own truck) made that very same run in 31 hours flat, which was an average of 93 MPH!!!

Yes, the truck he was driving was much faster and more powerful than the company truck that I was driving; but that is beside the point. For it takes a lot of nerve to drive that fast that far; and it took some time before I was so conditioned.
No, I cannot blame anyone who was not out there on the road during those days for being quite skeptical. For it was a different world in 1990; and that was true in a number of ways unto me.

Again: I found myself in unfamiliar waters with a new company. For I now had a refrigeration unit on the front of the trailer to attend unto.

Be assured that "attend unto" was an understatement: especially for someone with no experience. For they did not always start when I wanted them to. Neither did they always stay running after I had finally gotten them going; and then there was a matter of maintaining the proper temperature and airflow for the product(s) being hauled that could be a nightmare at times.

Being one who does not always appreciate a challenge as much as they probably should: I was a nervous wreck from start to finish on almost every run in the beginning; and it got a lot worse before it got any better. For I was absolutely paralyzed with fear the first time I hauled a load of "fresh" strawberries because of them being one of the most perishable items there is.

Trust me: I would have been more comfortable with a full load of unstable dynamite. For at least I would not have had to face the music for a rejected load if things did not go well with that.

No, just getting a load unto its destination on time was not all that there was unto it. For the load must also arrive in good condition; and that could vary greatly from place to place: even when delivering the same product unto the same vendor in different locations.

A good example of that would be a load of potatoes (in 10 pound bags) from Colorado. For at a couple of their warehouses: their part was received without any trouble; but at their 3 other locations: there was a lot of drama involved.

No, there was nothing different about the condition of the product. In fact: 2 of the troublesome locations were sandwiched between the 2 good ones.

Therefore: it should not be hard to conclude that the difference was in who was running each dock; and that is not no truck-driver story, neither. For as it was with some DOT officials: so was it also with some dock mangers; and I am quite sure that they caused as much trouble for the ones they were trying to impress as they did for the poor truck-drivers they tormented.

With time: it did get easier on me; and I got to where I welcomed "challenging" loads. For with each successful run: the legend of the "Goat-Roper" was enhanced (even if only in my mind).

Yes, I grew to think very highly of myself; and this had a great deal of influence upon my decision to seek greener pastures when the St. Louis-based company that I was driving for abruptly changed their policies. For what self-respecting chicken-hauler would stand for having to drive a 68 MPH truck under strictly-enforced log book regulations?

Now, in all fairness: it was not all their fault. For it was a high-speed road race between a white Cadillac (with the vice-president of their insurance carrier at the wheel) and one of their trucks (NOT ME!!!) that was the reason for governing-down their trucks so much.

Furthermore: it was getting blind-sided by a surprise DOT audit that sealed the fate of such lucrative runs as the "Hershey turnaround". For the run consisted of picking-up a load of Hershey products from their plant in either Mechanicsville, PA (around 10 miles northeast of Carlisle) or Stuarts Draft, VA (around 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC) unto either the TAB Warehouse in Fontana, CA (around 70 miles east of Los Angeles) or Modesto, CA (around 70 miles south of Sacramento) and re-loading at the same location going right back unto either Mechanicsville or Stuarts Draft just as fast as one could go; and there were just too many of them on their books to justify.

Yes, I made several of those runs. In fact: I became a favorite of Hershey's. For I could consistently make 3 complete turnarounds in a 2 week period. Hence: the stuff of legend.

Speaking of legend: I suppose I should explain what a "goat-roper" is. For I am quite sure that it is not common knowledge. For if it was: I would not have had to explain unto so many people over the radio (and sometimes in person) that a goat-roper is a cowboy who has to rope goats in order to have sex with something other than himself because of being too ugly to attract a girl?

Yes, my CB "handle" (name) was certainly an attention-getter; and invariably: the question would come-up about why I would prefer goats over sheep. Unto that I would matter-of-factly reply: goats are kinkier.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

TCC: The Tenth Crumb, Part I

Needless to say: it would have to be with another company if I was to get behind the wheel of a big rig again. For about 2 weeks after my bail was posted: the legal department of my previous employer deemed it safe to make my termination "official".

No, I would not have gotten back into one of their trucks after the way that they had treated me; but it still stung to be informed that my services were no longer needed. For I have always had a problem with rejection.

Much unto my surprise: I found-out that I had a powerful ally a couple of days later. For I was contacted by (of all people) the insurance company responsible for any claim over a million dollars against my previous employer for the purpose of securing my cooperation.

Yes, I was most willing to cooperate with them in any way I could. For the trucking company had dumped the mess upon their doorstep; and then they just washed their hands of it.

No, I did not ask the insurance representative if the trucking company told them what they told me: "nothing personal, just business". For I assumed that this was understood at the level that they were playing at.

Nonetheless: I did notice that the insurance company appeared to be taking it quite personally. For they were not at all happy about being placed in such a position; and I got the definite impression that their hiring of an attorney for me was not just because of it being in their best interest to do so.

When contacted by the attorney: I was informed of the truth of the matter being that the only reason why I was being charged was because of politics. For there was plenty of evidence indicating that I was not at fault; but since the man who died was a local hero of sorts: it would not bode well for the county prosecutor (in the next election) to just drop the charges.

He also informed me that there was no reason why I could not go back to driving if I wanted to. For I was "presumed innocent until proven guilty": after all.

A couple of weeks later: I got to experience "when one doors closes, another one opens" first-hand. For when I went to fill-out an application at another trucking company in the general area of my previous employer: they acted like I was just what they were looking for.

So were they unto me at the time. For they hauled similar freight; but that was only thing that they had in common with the other company.

No, the new company was nothing like the old one; but I cannot say that it was all that much of an improvement. For the company was headquartered out of northwestern Arkansas; but most of their freight picked-up and delivered within a 500 mile radius of Carlisle, PA (around 100 miles west of Philadelphia).

Yes, that would have been a good thing for someone from that area; but for someone like myself: it was not. For I was a stranger in a strange land up there; and I was not being very successful at making any new friends.

Thankfully: there were some loads that allowed for a furlough from my post at Carlisle; and it was on one of those passes that I was able to make my final court appearance about a year after it all started, which resolved the matter as well as could be hoped for. For 5 out of the 6 parties involved came out of the mess relatively satisfied (all things considered).

No, my new company was not very happy with me. For I had to take a little detour in order to make it unto the court in time; and that turned into pure, unadulterated outrage when I informed them of my intent to go to work for another company a couple of weeks later.

Hmm, what was that verse? Oh yeah: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone [at her]." {John 8:7 NAS}

How was that relevant? Well, it had to do with the hypocrisy of that trucking company being outraged over my impending move. For less than a month after I left their employ: the business closed without notice, which stranded all of the drivers of trucks without enough fuel to make it back unto Arkansas far from home (in many cases).

No, I did not see it coming. For the reason why I went to work for someone else was so I could be with my new wife for at least 3 days every week.

Yes, I have failed to mention something that may be pertinent; and I do believe that some will find the details interesting. For when I first heard about her: it was around midnight, and I was headed north on I-81 near Staunton, VA (around 120 miles west of Richmond).

Perhaps it was because of it being so near unto the "Witching Hour". For I rarely stopped to get some coffee with someone when I had a good head of steam built-up; but after Ginger made me an offer that I thought I should not refuse: I found myself sitting at the table with Miss Ginger, her co-driver, and a driver of another truck (who was eavesdropping on our conversation over the radio) in the coffee shop of a rather nice motel that had adequate truck parking.

No, Miss Ginger was not after me. For she had an idea that her sister would like to meet me; and after talking unto "Sherry" a few times over the phone: I wanted to get a load going through Columbia, MO as soon as possible.

Yes, it was almost like coming full circle. For it was while a student at Mizzou (in Columbia, MO) that the wheels came off of my express train unto the top; but it remained to been seen whether the circle would be actually completed or not.

The year was 1989; but I do not remember just exactly when the mission was accomplished. What I do remember is that more was accomplished than expected (or even hoped for). For instead of merely getting to meet Sherry: she invited me to also meet her daughter, father and mother; and by September of that year: I was "officially" welcomed into her family.

The wedding was something to behold. For Sherry wanted to get married outside in one of Columbia's beautiful parks; and it all went-off without a hitch.

Then came the honeymoon; and it was a disaster for the most part. For against her better judgment: Sherry agreed to go out on a run with me.

No, she did not appreciate the sights that she was being shown as much as I thought she should; and then I got way too drunk at "The Gables", which was not all my fault. For the owners and patrons of the bar in Southington, OH (around 20 miles northwest of Youngstown), which had adopted me during a blizzard a couple of years before, were very glad to see us; and it would have been quite rude (of me) to refuse to drink everything that they were buying for "us".

Yes, it got rather ugly after the lights went out that night; and as if that was not enough icing on the cake: we had to drive almost completely across Pennsylvania on I-80 the next day. For I-80 was the last road that someone with a hangover would want to traverse at that time.

Put it this way: I have actually seen a trailer break in two on that road. For the holes were just too numerous to dodge them all; and forget about slowing down. For it was better to go as fast as possible in order to avoid falling all the way unto the bottom of the holes that could not be missed.

Anyway: there were a couple of bright spots. For my first drop was in the Boston, MA area; and that allowed us to take a tour of the U.S.S. Constitution (U.S. Navy warship commissioned in 1797), and eat a fabulous lobster dinner on a restaurant docked in Boston Harbour, after the days work was done.

What was gained in Boston was lost the next day. For my final drop was in Clinton, NJ (in the middle of the metropolis across the Hudson River from New York City); and Sherry did not leave the sleeper until after we were safely out of the urban jungle that is that part of the "Garden State".

No, it was not that bad unto me. For Clinton was where I always emptied-out on that run; and I had gotten used to the area.

In fact: I got to where I rather enjoyed going there. For the workers on the dock treated me like one of their family; and that is more than I can say about most of the places I have been.

Yes, the company that I was driving for at the time was not like the others. For they specialized in LTL (Less Than a Truckload) freight from the St. Louis, MO area; and they ran only 2 trucks: one unto the east, and one unto the west.

The western truck ran as a team: with the owner of the outfit being one of the drivers. For it went too far for one "normal" driver to complete a run on time.

Whereas: I was the only driver of the eastern truck; and I would regularly finish my run in around 60 hours (depending upon how many drops and pick-ups were scheduled). For I would leave St. Louis Sunday morning (or so), and drive straight through unto either Fulton, NY (around 25 miles northwest of Syracuse) or Clinton (usually); and be back in St. Louis by Tuesday evening.

No, that could not be done legally. For according unto the "Hours Of Service" regulations at the time: a driver must take a break for (at least) 8 hours after being on-duty for (at most) 10 hours; and they could not exceed a total of 60 hours on-duty in 7 days, or 70 hours in 8 days.

By definition: being "on-duty" included a host of things. For aside from driving (obviously): handling freight, making repairs or improvements on the truck or trailer, performing safety checks, fueling, and anything else that could be construed as being truck-related work must also be accounted for.

Therefore: it would legally take around 78 hours to complete a run unto only Clinton and back; and even at that: not everything would be logged as it really should be. For it usually took more that 15 minutes for fueling; but that was all that would be logged for each fuel stop.

Yes, that was generally acceptable when it came time for a DOT audit of a company's records; and that was also true of other on-duty entries. For what they really focused upon was going over 10 hours, speeding (logging more than 50 MPH in states with a 55 MPH speed limit, 60 MPH in 65 MPH states, etc., etc.), and failing to log a full 8 hours "off-duty" (on break) after 10 hours on-duty.

It was sometimes different out there on the road, however. For some states required at least 4 hours logged in the sleeper during an 8 hour off-duty period; and an awful lot of inspectors took their job and themselves way too seriously (if you know what I mean).

There were some exceptions unto the rule around; and I had the pleasure of meeting one of them on U.S. Highway 51 a few miles north of Covington, TN (around 40 miles northeast of Memphis). For after he pulled me over for a spot inspection: he asked if he could sit in the jump-seat for a little while; and then he proceeded to entertain me with story after story about some of the things that he had experienced on his side of the road.

One of those stories was an absolute classic. For after checking the log book of a wild-eyed young man: he asked him if he could take a look under the hood of his truck; and when the driver asked him why he would want to do that: my favorite Tennessee DOT inspector told him that he wanted to see how his jet-turbine engine was mounted. Obviously shaken: the driver then told him that he did not have a jet engine of any kind under the hood of his truck; and in reply: the inspector told him that he must have one, maybe even two. For that would be the only way that he could have driven from Salinas, CA unto Memphis, TN (around 2,038 miles) in only 10 hours.

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the inspector's stories; and I sure hated to see him go after only an hour. For I could have listened unto him go on for a lot longer than that; but he said that the great state of Tennessee needed him to generate as much revenue as he could for them.

Talk about generating revenue: thinking about such most definitely soured my relationship with the LTL freight company that I was working for at the time. For after I figured-up what I would be making for all of the stuff that I was doing if I was getting union wages (around $1800 per run): I concluded that my $400 a week salary was a little on the low side.

Suffice to say: the owner of the outfit vehemently disagreed; and that precipitated a move unto another St. Louis-based trucking company. For they offered almost unlimited miles and much faster trucks (90-95 MPH); and I believed that I was ready to join the ranks of the true heroes of the highways: the "chicken-haulers".

Saturday, July 21, 2007

TCC: The Ninth Crumb, Part II

No, I was not letting much moss grow on me. For driving a truck that could only go 58 MPH on flat ground made for some very long hours; but I did take a few breaks during 1987.

Hence: another almost fatal error in judgment. For it was during one of those breaks that I was introduced unto Debbie.

Alas, she was just too good to be true. For she was incredibly attractive: both in regards unto physical appearance and intellectual prowess; and I was quite impressed (to say the least).

Shockingly: so was she with me. That is: at least unto a certain extent. For she was in the the process of obtaining a divorce from a husband who took her for granted; and I represented something new and exciting to play with for a fortnight or two.

Yes, I did everything right at first; and we had some very good times together. In fact: we were quite inseparable when we were both in town at the same time.

Except for that one time. For I lost control of a really nice Ford pick-up truck that I had just bought; and when it finally came to rest in a dry creek-bed around 200 feet below the road: the roof of the cab was touching the seat (and not the back of it, neither).

It all seemed like a dream unto me. Granted: a really bad one; but still a dream: nonetheless. For I could feel the truck rolling over and over again; but it was not until I felt the shattered glass of the windshield on the floorboard that I realized that it was not a dream at all.

Thankfully: the only injury that I sustained was tearing an inch or so of my lower lip away from where it attaches unto my gum inside of my mouth; and the emergency room visit was the most painful part about it. For I was really not in any pain until they started to fix me up; but after being on the receiving end of some very tender, and very loving, care: I was ready to rip-snort like never before.

Then: I really messed up. For the last thing she wanted me to do was to fall in love with her; and that was exactly what I went and did.

Now, in all fairness: she tried to let me down easy; but I was not having any part of it. For I had made-up my mind that she was the one for me; and I was bound and determined to do whatever it took to make her see things my way.

As was said before: there is much about my past that I am deeply ashamed of; and my "courtship" of Debbie is certainly included. For I even went as far as to insist that it was "God's will" for us to be together; and when that did not get me very far: I was most definitely not too proud to grovel and beg like there would be no tomorrow for me without her.

No, that was not just a line. For visions of suicide danced in my head once again.

A good example of how far gone I was at the time would be a load I picked-up in Highland Park, IL (northside of Chicago) early one Friday morning and delivered in Tulsa, OK the next Monday. For it did not merely flirt with disaster: it gave it an engraved invitation!!!

No, the load itself was not the problem. For it consisted of a single pallet of computer parts that weighed around 450 pounds (I think).

Neither were the logistics involved. For I had over 72 hours to go a little more than 700 miles, which was an easy run for even someone in a 58 MPH rig.

The problem was the weather. For up to a foot of snow covered a couple of inches of solid ice in places protected from the 30 MPH winds coming out of the west.

Yes, I was well aware of the horrid conditions. For while I was waiting to back into the dock and pick-up my load: a gust of wind hit my trailer broadside and pushed it a good 20 feet (with the brakes locked), which left it at a 45 degree angle in relation unto how my truck was parked.

Nonetheless: I just had to see her that night; but it was all for naught. For Debbie decided that the weather was too bad for her to get out in.

Even after that: the trucking company insisted upon pairing me up with another student from Warren, MI (Detroit) who was to drive out of their Houston, TX terminal upon graduation. Yeah, like that would do me a lot of good. For that "out of sight, out of mind" thing has never really worked for me; but I did feel a certain sense of responsibility for my student.

So: we hung in there together for 6 weeks; and it did wind-up being good for me. For having someone to talk to about it made me feel better; but I have my doubts about it being of all that much good unto him.

Anyway: I declined to take-on any more students for awhile after he graduated in February, 1988. For I wanted some time unto myself to obsess about Debbie without being disturbed.

Well, not really. For the plan was to fly solo for as long as it took to clear my head; but after 3 months of self-inflicted therapy: the only thing that was clear was that I was still obsessed with her.

Then: disaster struck for real in May, 1988. For while dead-heading unto a town to pick-up a load: I was involved in an accident that killed a man.

No, I did not believe that my obsession over Debbie had anything to really do with it. For it is true that she was on my mind when I rounded a blind curve and saw 2 cars in my lane stopped around 200 feet in front of me; but that had not had any adverse effects upon my driving before. In fact: I had been awarded a "1 Year Safe Driver Award" for 1987 by the American Trucking Association (ATA).

On the other hand: I did have a great fear of the truth being that I was being punished for claiming that it was God's will for us to be together; and the unfolding events of the day did little to convince me otherwise. For after locking eyes with the victim mere moments before they became lifeless: the officer in charge of the scene informed me that they were compelled by state law to take me into custody because of crossing the center-line of the 2-lane highway; and things went from bad to much, much worse from there.

No, I did not believe that it was my fault. That is: other than giving God a good reason to dump a bucketful of brimstone upon my head. For when I applied the brakes: nothing happened; and that same result repeated itself every time I stomped on the brakes before swerving into what appeared to be an empty on-coming traffic lane.

Obviously: it was not at all empty; and that little fact made my decision to swerve left (instead of right) all the more agonizing. For from where I was sitting: swerving right would have involved taking-out an electric pole and probably a house or two.

At first: I was much more concerned about the victim and his family than I was about my own plight. For all of the police at the scene were quite clearly on my side; and things appeared to be really looking good for me after the accident investigator hired by my company told me (at the scene) that the braking system of my rig had indeed malfunctioned.

Then: the view changed. For all of that goodwill that I was receiving from the police abruptly ended after "my" trucking company announced that I had been placed on suspension (subject unto termination); and that by being on suspension: all ties unto them were also suspended until further notice.

No, I cannot really blame the police. For common sense would dictate that there must have been something seriously wrong about me for the company that I had been driving for the last 17 months to make such drastic moves in order to distance themselves from me so quickly.

The next bucketful of brimstone to fall crushed me. For when I asked the accident investigator to get me a copy of his report detailing the fact that the braking system had malfunctioned: he told me that I must be mistaken. For he swore that he never said anything remotely like that unto me while we were still at the scene of the tragedy.

Since the company would not send $500 of my paycheck unto the jail so that I could bail myself out: my last resort was my mother; and she came through like I never expected. For instead of just getting $500 of my money out of the bank: she borrowed $5,000 in order to avoid losing the $500 unto a bail-bond agency.

Consistent with the script: there was a problem with my mother bailing me out. For I had to stay in jail until she, my brother and his wife got down there the next day.

Now, unto a real manly man: a night in jail is no big deal; and if played right: it can greatly add unto their aura. For who in their right-mind would want to mess with someone "THE MAN" could not break?

Not so for a poser like myself. For with over 60 monstrous brutes in a 20'x20' cell fighting over who would be my "first": I was absolutely terrified.

Yes, I was just kidding. For it is true that there were over 60 of us packed into a 20'x20' cell; but it is not at all true that anyone messed with me.

In fact: just the opposite was true. For I found a few sympathetic ears to listen unto my sad, sad story of betrayal and abandonment.

My family also lent a sympathetic ear or two unto me; and I was very appreciative of what they had went through for me. For the local authorities did not make it easy for my mother to bail me out of their jail; and I tried my best to make it up unto her during the month that I stayed "home" while waiting to go back "Over-The-Road".

Friday, July 20, 2007

TCC: The Ninth Crumb, Part I

January 4, 1987 was the day when I started to work for a large trucking company out of the great state of Arkansas. The name of which to be withheld forthwith. For there are times when it is prudent to also protect the guilty.

Anyway: I found myself in unfamiliar surroundings again. For all of my previous experiences with hauling livestock, grain, hay and heavy equipment did little to prepare me for such things as: bills of lading, log books, load distribution, weight scales, hazardous materials, DOT (Department Of Transportation) checks and full inspections, and a number of other things critical unto the timely pick-ups and deliveries of merchandise and materials.

Therefore: I took it as a double-edged sword when told that I would be teamed with a trainer for 6 weeks. For that meant that I would have someone around to teach me what I needed to know (I hoped); but that also meant that I would have someone around to keep me from getting any good sleep on a regular basis.

No, it was not that I was required to frequently stay-up and observe the trainer when it was their time to drive. For the trouble was over my inherent inability to go to sleep quickly and easily; and with all of the noise and motion going-on (not to mention: holes in the road that could bounce a person off the ceiling if they were not braced for it): the only way I could go to sleep while the truck was in motion was to pass-out from sheer exhaustion.

Alas, if only I was much more like Danny. For he could fall asleep while sitting in the jump-seat (passenger seat) of a truck without an air-ride suspension with his head banging against the window on his side; and if this was accomplished through the ingestion of pharmaceuticals (illicit or otherwise): he never shared any with me.

No, I have never abused drugs. That is: except for ephedrine; but that is a tale for another time.

On the other hand: that is not to say that there has never been times when I wanted to; and such was the case with my 42 day sentence. For aside from sleep deprivation: my jailer seldom failed to deliver his daily reminder unto me that he had a lot to say about whether I would be released on the scheduled date or held-over for more rehabilitation.

Yes, rehabilitation played a part in the process. In fact: it played a very big part. For the company wanted their drivers to be as indistinguishable (one from another) as their trucks and trailers were.

In other words: they did not want a bunch of individuals (let alone: cowboys, in the worst sense of the term) driving for them; and this was on the low end of the scale. For their ultimate goal was to make their drivers indistinguishable from their trucks (for all practicable purposes).

More simply put: drivers would be subject unto the same conditions as their trucks. For they were to be recognized as being nothing more than merely an extension (just another part) of their trucks by the company.

No, we are not talking about the weather. That is: at least not directly. For weather conditions do factor-in; but there is more unto it than just that.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at this from the other side of the issue. For there is usually no reason for a truck to move another inch after making a delivery: other than to go get another load or just in order to clear the dock for another truck; and if it takes a week or two to get a good load close by: so be it. For the only thing that the truck requires is a safe place to park.

Not so for most drivers (most of the time). For aside from a safe place to park: the driver also requires a nearby telephone (in order to stay in touch with their dispatcher) and food, along with drinkable fluids, of course.

Yes, there is more than one way to skin a squirrel. For some sort of a mobile phone would take care of the need for a nearby phone; and having a stockpile of food and drinkable fluids on-hand is not at all impracticable.

There is, however, another matter to address. For a parked truck does not need to be running: except for when being in very cold temperatures (#2 diesel starts to gel at 10 degrees Fahrenheit). Whereas: a driver needs to be kept relatively cool in higher temperatures and relatively warm in lower temperatures (even if only for health reasons).

There is also the matter of comfort that should not be ignored. For an uncomfortable driver is a distracted driver; and a distracted driver is an accident waiting to happen.

Yes, there were such things as block heaters and portable generators available; but they had problems of their own. For I did not know of very many places to plug-in a block heater away from certain truck stops way up north; and fumes from portable generators can put a person to sleep for a very long time.

Last (but not least) is the matter of financial gains. For a driver is not making much money (if any at all) when their truck is not moving.

Neither is the company; but it is often more cost-effective to wait on a load nearby than to go after a load farther away as soon as a truck becomes available. For after totalling-up driver wages, fuel, general maintenance, wear and tear on equipment and tires, road taxes, and state permits: getting in another load or two a week may not be worth it; and this would be especially true of large discount-rate companies.

Such was the case with the company that I went to work for in 1987. For they booked an awful lot of loads for 50-75 cents per mile when a dollar a mile was generally considered as being a fair rate for most dry (non-refrigerated or live) freight.

Suffice to say: the company was hated by their competitors; and that hatred was sometimes visited upon their drivers. For I was the object of some of that a couple of times myself.

Even as bad as that was: what was worse was the almost constant harassment over the CB radio. For when one bucket-mouth would finally go silent: another one was more than ready to chime-in with something or another about clearing the road because of one of our trucks (usually me) being in the area.

Okay, in all fairness: there were plenty of good reasons to be cautious around their trucks. For it was not at all unusual for 25% of the fleet being out-of-service at a given time because of being wrecked while I was there.

Yes, I could have just turned-off the squawk-box; but it did help to ease certain fears. For it served as a source of news about traffic problems, weather conditions, and other things that can reach-out and bite a driver on the buttocks at very inopportune times.

No, I did not know any better than to sign-on with such an outfit; but even if I did: what other choice could I have had? For all of my previous experience (even as extensive as it was) was not recognized as being acceptable by the various insurance companies involved; and that meant that if I had not of went to work for who I did: I would have had to go to work for another outfit not so unlike them if I wanted to go "Over-The-Road" (OTR) trucking.

Besides: it was not all bad. For 6 months after I signed-on: I was made a trainer myself, which meant that I got paid up to 24.5 cents per mile on even the miles that my student drove; and by the 31st of December, 1987: I had grossed over $40,000 for around 243,000 miles of travel (some not payable).