Truck Stops And Random Thoughts

Here’s a truck stop instead of St. Peter’s, yeah yeah yeah yeah

Truck Stop clouds

Truck stops are weird places. Disproportionately noisy places. First off, you have refrigerated trucks, normally called “reefers” which have noisy motors at the front of their trailers that keep the temperature controlled inside the box. Then, often, you have truckers who just like to idle their motors all night. Usually they do this to run their heating or A/C, and often assorted electronic devices. So, you get caught inbetween two reefers, or two chuckleheads who think they need 500 horsepower air-conditioners, or any combination therein, and you’re in for a noisy night.

Then there are people just coming and going at all hours of the day and night, such is the 24/7 nature of the transportation business. Sometimes you have people talking, arguing, just hanging out being loud. Which was fun when we were in high school, not so much now that some of us have to work for a living. Then there is the infamous “lot lizards”, purveyors of that oldest tradition, who ply their trade on these dirty lots.

It’s all a very weird scene, man.

A few nights ago, I spent the night at a rest stop off Interstate 5. It was peaceful, almost silent. The best night of sleep I’ve had since I’ve been on the road.

I’m still getting used to my new truck. The clutch is so smooth, I barely have to tap it to get it out of and back into gear. It has big, chunky buttons on the dash, much different than my Freightliner Cascadia. Yes, this is how I approach trucking, I can’t tell that much difference about the engine, but I appreciate the aesthetic of the instruments. I blame Art School. For a lot of things, actually.

Quick fire round, here’s some random, unconnected thoughts that I want share:

California Highway 12 between Lodi and Rio Vista is a horrid, miserable piece of road which should be immediately dug up and the concrete ground to dust and the land salted so that no living thing would ever grow there. I hate that road with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

Today I drove around downtown Oakland. In a 77,000 lbs tractor trailer. I’m a goddam rock star.

Oakland

My DBL Martha and I got into it on Monday, after I had been stranded all weekend in Fontana. She continually assumes I have this level of knowledge and understanding about Schneider, and this industry, and I have to remind her that I’m new, brand spankin’ new. She wanted to pin being stuck on me, but I wasn’t having it. I think back to training, when Arkansas and I got into it. I get into it with a lot of people, don’t I.

Somebody said, if you meet one asshole, then they’re an asshole. But, if you are constantly meeting assholes, then maybe you’re the asshole. Maybe I’m the asshole.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has told me the same thing: “It gets easier.” That phrase does not help one iota when you’re in the thick of it. It is useless, pointless advice that does not serve to lessen any struggle or shed light on any specific problem you might be facing.

It doesn’t mean it’s not true. Even just two weeks in, it is sort of getting easier. A little.

California Sunset

Lastly, hopefully I’ll get some home time this weekend, the first time I would be back since I officially got on the road. Someone said that trucking is like working two full time jobs, then sleeping in your office. Yeah, it’s like that. It would be nice to sleep in a real bed. My own bed.

But, like they said in Godfather II, this is the business we’ve chosen.

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My New Truck

Kenworth

It’s a Kenworth. A Kenworth T680 to be specific.

It looks fairly new.  And shiny.  And it doesn’t smell like it was abandoned by an overweight slob who smoked like a chimney.

I still haven’t driven it.  I spent the whole day putting away my stuff and then reading through the Owner’s Manual.  It’s strange to think that a big commercial vehicle like this has something as mundane as a plain Owner’s Manual, but it does.  And it was a life saver, I didn’t know what half of the switches on the dashboard were.

It’s a nice truck. Almost too nice.  I liked the idea of nursing a sick truck back to life.  This is like buying a silver plated utensil set and handing it to your toddler as they begin to eat solid food.

Why was I in Sacramento, I hear you ask.  It was a long story.  I may share the details from that adventure, I may not.  What I don’t want this blog to become is a rote retelling of the events from each day.  No matter how interesting I could make that, I know it will become stale eventually.

I’d like to explore an increasingly non-linear, anecdotal approach to this blog.  That is a fancy-schmancy way to say that I am more interested in sharing my thoughts and opinions, rather than a adhere to a “This was my day today” format.  I don’t know, we’ll see.

It is a moot point, though, I haven’t turned any wheels for a few days now.  Martha said she’ll give me breakdown pay.  That will help, and I’m thankful because many companies wouldn’t.  But still, I haven’t had a solid paycheck since the very beginning of February.  It’s almost May.  I’ve spent a significant amount of money to get this Commercial Driver’s License.  I’m invested in this.  I rolled the dice, I’m hoping that there will be a payoff down the road.

Not this week. And probably not in the first few months.  Or even the first year.

But, then again, this does end my first week of being a truck driver.  As I mentioned, there were adventures I haven’t shared anything about yet.  Highs and lows.  Extremes unlike anything I’ve experienced in a long time. More on that later.

Bottom line, I haven’t hit anything this week.  And it looks like I’ve already been upgraded.  Which makes it a very good week.

 

 

I Left My Truck In Sacramento

Sacramento

This is me leaving my first truck at the Sacramento Truck Center.

I was just getting to like this truck, too.  I know that I had a strong negative reaction to this truck because of its condition.  I wasn’t expecting a sparkling new truck, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to spend several hours cleaning out someone else’s filth.  I had said that the previous driver had obviously abandoned it.  And that somehow stuck with me over these last few days.  It wasn’t the trucks fault.

I ended up feeling like I was saving an animal from an abusive owner. Daily I would try to do a little more, just while I was waiting.  And there is a lot of waiting in trucking.  A few minutes to spray Simple Green to remove the splashes of coffee that had dripped down the dash, another minute to sweep out more of the cab.  I had plans for this truck.  I hadn’t even named it yet.

But, it broke.  The short story is that the 5th wheel, that large greasy contraption located at the back of the truck that connects the truck to the trailer, malfunctioned.  All I had to do was drop one trailer, pick up an empty trailer and then go about my business.  That is all I needed to do.  Simples.  Except it wasn’t.

There is a release handle that you need to pull out to release the trailer from the truck.  It wouldn’t pull.  It was stuck.  Well and truly stuck.  I tried all the tricks in my very limited toolkit, but nothing.  It wouldn’t budge.

After a half hour of me struggling against this metal monstrosity, I knew that I was wasting valuable time. I bit the bullet and called Martha.  Then I called Schneider Emergency Maintenance to have someone come out and help.  This is starting to become a pattern.

After help arrived, the load I was assigned was taken away from me and I was directed to go to the nearest repair shop to have them check everything out. Goodbye, income.

By then, it was 2:00 in the afternoon.  The truck shop was swamped.  The poor guy at the service counter had the look of a bank teller during a robbery.  He filled out my paperwork and said, “We’ll try to get to it by 6:00.  Or 6:30.”  Even he didn’t believe that.  I grabbed my computer from the truck and retreated to the well appointed drivers lounge to get some blogging done.  Hello, wi-fi!

6:00 rolled around, I went outside to see that my truck had moved (a good sign), and the 5th wheel had been cleaned (very good sign).  I walked back to the service desk to see if we were all finished here.

“Well, the problem is that whoever worked on your 5th wheel last installed the wrong parts. I’ve been back and forth with Schneider about whether they want to just replace the bad parts, or replace the whole 5th wheel.”  My poor, abused truck.

It definitely wouldn’t be ready that day, so Schneider put me up in a hotel for the night.  Hello, shower!  And a real bed!  It’s amazing all the small things you get excited about when you become a driver.

It wasn’t ready the next day, either.  The shop and Schneider continued to bicker, so Martha made the call to put me into another truck.  They rented me a car to drive from Sacramento to Fontana, California, where my new truck awaited.

 

 

 

 

Quick Shout Out

Going back to my story about my first day on the job, I had briefly mentioned that I stopped at a Subway to get something to eat. The Subway was at a truck stop, obviously.

When you are hauling a 53’ trailer, and you stand 13’ 6” high, and you often weigh over 70,000 lbs, you’re days of quickly popping into the Starbucks drive-thru are over.

Or any drive thru, for that matter.

I pull in, and I find a row of empty spaces I can back into. Except, because I’m new and I’m frustrated, I just can’t get it right. I do about a half-dozen pull ups, but all my training and limited experience has completely left me. Another driver, sitting in his truck, had been watching this embarrassment unfold. He gets out, says, “Hey, Schneider. You know, 18 years ago, I was you. I know exactly what you’re going through. Here, let me help.”

And out of nowhere this angel guides me right into the space.

So, shout out to the good Samaritan at the Love’s Truck Stop just outside Kingman, Arizona. Never tell me there aren’t good people out there. Don’t you dare tell me that.

My Second Day

For the second day in a row, I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I had no idea how that DOT violation was going to play with Martha, or with Schneider.

I fully expected there would be messages for me, either on my Qualcomm, or on my phone. Or both. In my vivid imagination they ranged from, “You need to go back to Phoenix to get more training,” to “Clear out your stuff, you’re fired.” To my surprise, however, there was nothing.

When I called Martha, I got a bit of a scolding, and she reminded me that I needed to not do that again. I had to remind her that that was, in fact, my first day on the job. She seemed to back down a bit. Then she wanted to make sure I could still deliver the load. The freight must flow.

I was going from Flagstaff, AZ to near Sacramento, CA. 767 miles. They gave me two days. I wanted to ask, “You mean, I’m not fired?”, but I held that back. After some quick revisions to my trip plan, I said “Yes, I can still do this.”

“Ok, good.” Matha, ever the wordsmith.

I did a pre-trip, then I got on the road. And the rest of the day was driving.

This is the job I imagined I would have.

Other than Interstate 40 being about as desolate a road you can imagine, the trip went great. I got to stop to stretch for a bit. I saw some great scenery. I wasn’t stuck behind a desk in an office.

It was a good day.

Pulling into a truck stop at 9:00 that night, I was betting that there would still be plenty of good spaces available. And I was right. I got a coveted pull through spot so I didn’t even have to back up. I’ll practice backing up later.

After shutting down I did a quick post-trip inspection, then walked into the truck stop. My feet felt like they were 5 inches off the pavement. I did it. I was a damn rock star!

This job, man.

My First Day

I didn’t want to get out of bed.

Fear of the unknown can be a paralyzing feeling.

I got up early, washed and dressed, organized my stuff for the twenty-seventh time, and waited to call my DBL*, Martha**.

I met Martha briefly after I had finished my SQT***. She is ex-military in that way that some ex-military are; stiff, terse, direct and to the point. No chit-chat. Our conversation that morning continued along those same lines. My truck was located at the Freightliner shop (bit of a red flag, that, but ok), and she’ll get me dispatched from there.

I knew my first truck would be a piece of work, but wow.

67809 a

The truck was obviously abandoned by the previous driver. I emptied out almost two and a half Wal-Mart bags of garbage, empty McDonalds drink cups, empty coffee cups, discarded food wrappers. There was a bucket that contained some kind of chicken, but I’m only guessing chicken because that’s what was printed on the side. Seeing the greasy residue inside the bucket, I would say “chicken” is a vague generalization.

interior a

The doors of several of the cabinets were held shut by a mix of poorly applied Velcro and duct tape. They tend to pop open randomly while I drive, so I’m weary about putting anything in there.

There was a half empty box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, the rest of the powder leaked, or purposed spilled, over the inside of one of the storage compartments.

The previous driver was a smoker. God bless Simple Green.

There was no current registration or insurance card in the truck. Martha had to fax it over to the Freightliner shop.

The rear side wing was missing.

67809 b

I made sure to document everything I saw when I first showed up.

I did a complete, point-by-point pre-trip, like I was taking my CDL exam all over again.

After a few hours of cleaning, and waiting, I got the dispatch to my first load. Go to the Schneider drop yard in Vegas, pick up an empty trailer, and then take it to Flagstaff AZ, where I’ll drop it off and pick up a loaded trailer to deliver to another place. Simples. Except it wasn’t.

The thing about Schneider is that most of the Operating Centers and drop yards I’ve visited are just dirt lots. The Vegas yard is no different. As you drive up to the gate, I saw several large pot holes in the dirt. Instead of trying to drive around them, I assumed (yes, I know what “assumed’ means, this is the perfect context) that since other drivers must have driven over them, I could too. I was wrong.

stuck

After an hour of trying to dig out my two rear drive axles from an ever-growing sinkhole of soft Nevada dirt, using nothing but some discarded plywood and bits of lumber, I knew that I was wasting valuable time. I bit the bullet and called Martha.

“Oh, they haven’t fixed those yet?”
“So, you know about this?”
“Yes, they were supposed to fix them.”

Well, Martha, obviously, they never got around to it. She told me I had to call Schneider Emergency Maintenance and arrange a tow from there.

So, another hour gone. On top of the hours I spent cleaning out the filth from the previous driver and then waiting to get dispatched.

Trucking can be compared to a lot of things. Falling dominos is a good example. You knock over the first one, and that effects everything else.

After the tow truck pulled me to solid ground, I finally picked up my empty trailer, and hit the road.

After a few hours, I pulled off to a truck stop to grab some Subway, the first thing I had eaten all day. And then I called my wife. And then I cried. Yes, I cried on the phone to my wife. This blog is warts and all, people.

Only once before in my life have I cried because a job. Remind me to tell you that story at some point.

I got back on the road, got to my destination, dropped off the empty trailer, spent a disproportionate amount of time hooking up my loaded trailer, because I’m new and this is my first day and despite everything I’m still trying to be a good boy and make sure it’s all done correctly. Eventually I’m on my way. By that time I had 10 minutes left on my driving clock.

For those of you following my humble blog who aren’t familiar with the transportation biz, the very short explanation is that the DOT only allows drivers to work for 14 hours a day, and they can only drive for 11. My time was up. My mistake was that I had logged myself on duty in the morning, and then didn’t log off during my marathon cleaning session. Remember, dominos.

By some movie-miracle magic, just on the horizon was a brightly lit truck stop. 10 minutes. I can make this. Except, I didn’t. Well, I did.

I made it to the truck stop, however by now it was close to midnight. Truck stops start getting crowded in the early evening, and are often full by midnight. This was no different. Yes, there were one or two randomly placed spaces I should have tried to get into, but I was tired and scared and I had already cried on the phone to my wife so I wasn’t interested in having anyone else know what a pussy amature I was. I circled the parking lot a few times, then left. My on-board computer was reminding me every few minutes that I was out of hours, I shouldn’t be driving, and that this was a DOT violation.

Some first day.

I started cruising the side roads for a place to just park. Some times you will see big rigs shut down in random off-road spots. Either they are broke down or they’re getting some shut-eye. But the movie-magic was all gone.

After half an hour of driving around with this robotic voice constantly reminding me I was in DOT violation, I got back onto the highway. I knew there was a larger truck stop a few miles down the road. In for a dime, in for a dollar, I reckoned. I rolled the dice. And got jackpot when I arrived. A space, one glorious, easy to get into space. Hallelujah.

It was almost one in the morning. I shut down the truck. Then I shut down.

And that was my first day on the job.

_____________________________________________________________________________
* Driver Business Leader – I’ve talked about how Schneider likes their ridiculous corporate-speak.
**Obviously not her real name.
*** Skills Qualification Test. Dammit, Schneider.

Day Fifteen: Skills Qualification Test

I passed.

The worry that I wasn’t worried about finally arrived. In fact, like Miley Cyrus, it came in like a wrecking ball. I’ve never experienced a proper anxiety attack, but I’m pretty sure I was close. Sitting at the table waiting to begin the written part of the test, it was everything I could do to keep from screaming. Or crying. Or both.

After the exam was handed out, I said I needed a drink of water. Got up, went to the restroom, splashed cold water on my face, took a hard look at myself in the mirror, then went back and got to work.

The written portion consisted of completing a trip plan, exactly what we’ve been learning all week. I was the 2nd person to finish. I half-heartedly checked my math, but it’s not calculus. Our classroom teacher checked my work, seemed happy, then passed me on to another instructor for the driving part of the test. He reminded me of Burt Reynolds, so that’s what I’ll call him.

Burt is one of those drivers who just looks like they were born to drive a truck. His salt and pepper Bandit mustache accentuated the upward curves of his mouth every time his smiled. The very first thing he noticed was how nervous I was. On the walk out to the truck he had to stop, look me straight in my eyes and said, “Relax.” And then smiled. It never felt like a rebuke, but just some good ol’ honest advice taken from experience.

First, I had to couple the truck to the trailer, then do a full pre-trip, including the complete air-brake test. Schneider calls that test the “pump-down”, as in, “Make sure you do a pump-down every morning before you set off.” I don’t know if that term is specific to Schneider or not.

Burt never hovered over me during any of it, he kept his distance and let me go about my business. He kept himself far enough away to see if I was completing all the tasks necessary without actually looking over my shoulder.

On the drive, before we set out, again he looked me in the eyes and said “Relax.” And then smiled. Again.

I mostly did OK on the driving portions. I went out in one of the older trucks, but ironically the clutch felt firmer than the newer ones. The shifter locked into gear with a steadfastness that I haven’t been used to. I mentioned it to Burt, and he mumbled something about how just because something is old, that doesn’t mean it’s not still good. It was tough not to see that he was talking about himself as much as that truck.

My big mistake came as I was coming off the freeway. At the stoplight I had a sweeping left that I turned into way too early. If there was another car on our left side I would have totally taken it out. Jesus, I screwed that up.

Burt hardly said a word. We continued, then I was told to turn left again. I did a textbook left turn, and Burt smiled that gruff smile and said, “See? You redeemed yourself.”

There were other hiccups, but nothing that bears mentioning here. Needless to say, I made it back to the yard intact. From there, I did a backing maneuver, uncoupled and suddenly we were done.

Burt handed my paperwork to the classroom instructor, I finished the remaining part of the classroom portion of the exam, and suddenly we were done. With everything.

Looking around, I saw there were still people who had not finished their trip plan.

I was handed my paperwork, given a big smile and handshake, then I was taken over to see my DBL. I’ll talk more about that meeting later.

All that anxiety for nothing.

I said I was the 2nd person finished. When I saw my other classmate outside after we had both completed everything, I jokingly said, “What’s up, driver?”

That’s what trucker’s call each other. Driver. It’s basically said the same way, too, the first syllable, “dri” is said with an ascending inflection, then the “ver” is said either as a level tone, as if you’re going to drop some wisdom on them, or continuing the ascending tone, as if you are wondering what in the hell they think they’re doing. Driver.

selfie

“What’s up, driver?” He laughed. But it’s true, I guess. We’re no longer students, we’re drivers now. Even though it doesn’t feel like we are.

I doubt I’ll see anyone from our little class again. I exchanged numbers with all my CDL classmates, but I’ve only heard back from two. As a kid, you are thrown into a shared experience, like a classroom, and you make life long friendships. But somehow we don’t make those same connections as adults. What’s that Stephen King quote, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Doesn’t seem like it.

As of this writing, I’m back in Las Vegas. I’m here for the weekend, I’ll be assigned to a truck on Monday.  Then it’s off to work. Proper work.  The Real Work.

Then the adventure really begins.

Stay tuned.

Day Fourteen: Safety Briefing, Trip Planning, Some Corporate Dude, Computer Based Training

The Phoenix Training Center is brand new. Brand new, like, some of the buildings weren’t even given the OK by city building inspectors until last week. I haven’t mentioned too much about all the complications and disruptions associated with us being the very first class to go through this center, because it’s really not specific to Schneider. I’ve been with several different companies over the years who have moved facilities and it never goes smoothly. I didn’t want to give the impression that this was a rocky start, because it’s always a rocky start, regardless of the company.

But, it’s been a rocky start.

From what I’ve been able to gleen from different people, Schneider is closing their Fontana Operating Center to build a whole new facility here in Phoenix. There has been a lot of shuffling of personnel, a lot of re-ordering of rank, and probably a lot of back room politics. Again, that wouldn’t be anything specific to Schneider. But I believe we got a glimpse into that window today.

A couple of corporate big wigs came an spoke to us today. Hand over heart I couldn’t tell you who they were or what their positions in the company was. But I definitely got the impression their presentations were as much about shoring up their authority on the base as it was about the dissemination of information.

First guy was from Texas, so that’s what I’ll call him. Texas, I think (don’t quote me) was a base leader. Or something. Haven’t really seen him before. Texas presented the Safety Briefing. This consisted of him saying things like “No drinking. If you are caught drinking in the 8 hours before you start your shift, pack up your belongings, you’re fired. Schneider trucks don’t do U-turns. If you are caught doing a U-turn, pack up your belongings, you’re fired. You can’t carry a weapon on your truck. If you are caught carrying a weapon on a Schneider truck, pack up your belongings, you’re fired.” It went on like this for almost a half hour.

After he left, our regular teacher said, “I’ve never really seen the Safety Briefing presented that way before”. I think it even caught her off guard.

Later on, someone else came in who I know I’ve never seen before and had even less of a personality than Texas. He talked about per-diem pay, then some corporate-speak about the “value triangle” between customers, associates and the business, and ended explaining to us why Schneider is union free; “We are a pro-associate company, see, therefore we don’t see the need for unions.”

Frightening.

All this continues to remind me that this isn’t just about me finding my footing in a new career. This is me as a cog removing myself from one wheel and volunteering to be put into another, insanely large, wheel. An entirely different wheel, actually.

In trucking, you talk about 10, 12 & 14 hour days like they are nothing. In fact, these are the expectations, rather than the exceptions. Working in an office, if you work one full hour over your normal eight hour day, you are considered a real go-getter. Or, you are working on something big. In trucking, if you only work nine hours from the start of your day to the finish, you are considered a slacker. It’s insane. No wonder fatigue is such a big issue with drivers.

The freight must flow, to paraphrase Dune. That’s the reason. Store shelves need to be stocked, construction sites need building materials, packages need to get there overnight. Transportation is twenty-four-seven in ways you and I can’t even imagine. It’s a battle against the clock, and I’ve signed up to serve on the front lines.

The day ended by watching some mind-numbingly tedious corporate videos. Mostly about HazMat. Some about harassment in the workplace (“If you even look at somebody wrong, or try to be funny in any way, pack up your belongings, you’re fired” is what it should have said.) There are many other videos but I would rather repeatedly pound my head against a brick wall than try to remember what they were about.

Tomorrow is the big test. I’m worried that I’m not worried. Hopefully it will be fine. Hopefully.

I’ll end with a funny story. Our classroom teacher shared with us an e-mail from the corporate office. It appears they are launching an investigation into which Schneider student ordered alcohol from the hotel’s room service and then charged it back to the room. They charged their booze to the frickin’ room!

This industry is full of chuckleheads, I kid you not. I wonder if the student will need any help packing up their belongings?

Day Thirteen: Driving, Backing, Uncoupling & Coupling, Trip Planning

Back in the saddle again. We spent half of the day back in the trucks, the last practice we’ll get before the “final exam” on Thursday. I can’t tell you why I haven’t been thinking about it, I usually obsess about tests and testing. This upcoming exam just isn’t on my radar. Maybe because I’m thinking about other things.

barrels

All my upcoming firsts. My first truck. My first load. My first time backing into a really difficult dock. My first long journey. My first screw up. My first time getting lost. My first breakdown. My first emotional breakdown. My first time driving in snow. Ever.

I’ve never driven in snow. In my life. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I was 19 years old before I saw my first ice scraper. I was carpooling to college with a girl from Colorado. She had an ice scraper lying on her floorboard. I asked what it was. She looked at me like I was from Mars.

I’m not looking forward to driving in any kind of harsh weather. At all.

Obviously there is a huge difference in my driving from when I started here in Phoenix over two weeks ago. Today went like a lazy Sunday jaunt. The trailer was empty, the traffic was light. I’m still missing some downshifts, but most of it is, dare I say, becoming pretty natural.

I am aware of the dangers of being overconfident. Hopefully I won’t let “becoming pretty natural” turn into “letting my guard down.”

Arkansas is gone, he went back after the first week. I guess they only brought in extra trainers for the Grand Opening. Today I had a guy from the Salt Lake City Operating Center. Salt Lake was a complete opposite from Arkansas. Salt Lake knew how to give simple, clear, concise directions, he had really great insider tips on a few different things. He was laid back in a way that didn’t make you feel like he was about to take the afternoon off. I dug Salt Lake, and wish I could have had him my first week.

If wishes were horses…..

I still don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the week. Tomorrow is all day in the classroom again, and then the test. If and when we pass that, they will introduce us to our DBL’s. More ridiculous Schneider corporate speak. DBL = Driver Business Leader. I mean, honestly.

Once we are passed off to our DBL’s, they will let us know what the next step is. Will I be going home for the weekend? Will they give me a new truck right here and tell me to start driving?

I just don’t know.  Stay tuned.

cb radio

Day Twelve: Permit Books, Electronic Logging and Trip Planning

Nothing interesting happened today.

We were in the classroom all day. The syllabus listed was as exciting as it sounds. But it is information we need to know, so we knuckled down and made the best of it.

Last night a bunch of us hung out in the nearly empty hotel dining area swapping road stories, almost like old timers. I knew I was lucky to have Detroit, but I didn’t know how bad it was out there. I got really lucky.

I was thinking about how much I missed when I was on the road. And how I didn’t really miss it at all.

Birds

I used to be a news junkie. Waking up every morning, I would log on to the internet like our parents used to read their morning newspaper. I follow politics like most other people follow sports. On the road, Detroit sometimes listened to the old replays of Howard Stern broadcasts on his satellite radio. And that was about it. Mostly it was turned off because we were talking about driving. And when I hitched a ride back to civilization, I found out the world had continued to turn without me knowing about it.

And I was ok with that.

There’s an old hymn that says, “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” I wonder if that applies to trucking, too.