First Trip Out With My Trucker
by, 03.29.2009 at 01.56 AM (767 Views)
Last Sunday I left out on my first trip with my beau, Tex who is a trucker. He called me around 4:30 AM Sunday morning to ask if I could spare a couple days for a trip to Kingstree, SC to drop a load he was carrying. After that he would have time off and be coming back to Atlanta. I said, "Sure!"
He said not to over pack as we would only be gone two days. Don't ask me why, but I actually listened to him. He was laboring under the delusion we would be back early on Tuesday. I should have known better, I always over pack. Even when I was traveling for a living I over packed, because you just never know. It was not unusual for my then boss to send me out for 4 weeks, then tag on another 3 weeks. Often in another region of the country which, for climate reasons, required a completely different type of attire. Long story short he was re-routed and I got home around 2:00 PM Thursday afternoon. Fortunately I didn't look too silly wearing his oversized shirts.
The details: He picked me up about 9:30 AM Sunday, March 22, 2009. I live 3 miles from a Pilot and a Flying J, so he dropped the trailer there then came and picked me up. Yes, I know he's not supposed to do that but there are two small bridges he has to go over to get to my place and the weight limit is 24 tons on one and 20 on the other. He picks me up we go back to the Pilot to hook up the trailer and . . . voila! Flat tire grrrr. It's now about 9:45 AM and the garage doesn't open until noon, because it's Sunday. There was one truck ahead of us already, so we waited. They opened about 5 minutes to 12 and took us right away. We were on the road by 1:30 PM.
We arrive at our destination in Kingstree, SC about 9 PM. Tex had called earlier and confirmed that they would be open and able to unload until midnight. Guess what? They lied. The guard at the gate made a few phone calls and told us they had knocked off at 6 PM and that we should come back at 1:00 PM on Monday. So we go in search of a place to park and find 'Bubba Joes' Truck Stop.' This is an exaggeration; at best this is a gas station, the old fashioned kind with those rounded, non-automated pumps, so you have to pay inside. There appeared to be a luncheonette counter in the closed and dark cinder block building along with some pinball machines, and space out back for about 15 tractor trailers. We settled in for the night and watched a couple of movies and then of course around 2 AM, I had to tinkle. Thus began the frantic search for something open in this podunk town at that hour. Thus began a 30 minute ride thru a veritable ghost town. We finally found an open BP station. There is nothing more beautiful than a clean bathroom at a gas station at 2 in the morning. We go back to the alleged Ďtruck stopí and he asks if there was smoke coming out of the roof before? I looked and said, ďNo.Ē He grabs the fire extinguisher & goes to check it out as I anxiously wait in the truck. Turns out itís the A/C unit and itís spewing a mix of smoke and steam. He finds some switch and turns it off then calls 911 and explains what has happened.
Monday morning Tex gets up and drives over to the place around noon hoping we can get unloaded early and quickly and head on home. No such luck. Dispatch called and told him he needed to do a pick up in SC and then take it to Indiana. After a brief, yet terse discussion he hung up. Dispatch called back in an hour and said they needed him to pick up a load in South Carolina going to Kentucky then he could have time off.
Did I mention there was a line of about 8 trucks in front of us which also needed to be unloaded? We didnít get unloaded until about 7:00 PM, it only took about 45 minutes. Talk about hurry up and wait! I hate hurry up and wait. I think that alone would stop me from being a trucker. It was around this time I started to worry that I was a bad luck charm.
We stopped for a quick dinner then headed over to Ft. Sumter to pick up a heavy load from some paper place. From there we headed out to Lexington, KY. Now I know all you truckers know this already, but it never occurred to me that the heavier the load, the longer it may take you to reach your destination. Especially when your truck has a limiter and you are driving through mountainous terrain. What is up with all these 6% and 7% grades anyway? Why didnít they just blow a tunnel through the mountain?
So we meet up with the driver in Kentucky on Tuesday and switch trailers. Odd thing, the bill of lading doesnít have a time on it for when it should be there. My beau calls dispatch but they were gone for the day. We go into the Flying J and take showers and pick up a pizza for dinner.
The shower at this Flying J was clean. No visible gross stuff like mold, mildew, hair, or even soap scum. However, I'm one of those people who are weird about germs. So will def' pack some cheap flip-flops to use as shower shoes next time. Remembered to pack shampoo, but forgot conditioner. Ugh, talk about frizzies! We stopped off at a Wal-Mart and picked up some new tunes and a couple of movies. Then we hit the trail again.
We stopped around Nashville for the night and woke in the morning to what can only be described as a monsoon. The rain came down in sheets and it was so windy it rocked the truck like a cradle. Thatís actually what woke me up a few times. Tex was concerned the sound of the truck idling, horns blowing, and various highway noises would prevent me from sleeping. LOL Nope I slept through all that, I even slept while he drove, and blasted George Strait, no problem. High winds rock the truck back and forth; I wake up, go figure. Tex is a former Army Ranger and has been known to brag that once you learn how to sleep in a muddy foxhole you can sleep pretty much anywhere. I guess he's right. The man sleeps like a log.
His only pseudo complaint was that I kept yakking when he was trying to concentrate. Wednesday night it was foggy, misty rain, night time, and we were driving down a 6% grade, with sharp S curves. When we finally stopped for the night, he said my talking kinda helped ease his tension.
The last bit of the trip was hell because of the torrential rain and high wind in Georgia. Oh and the fact that Atlanta has both a South Fulton Parkway and a South Fulton Industrial Parkway both of which are within parallel industrial parks. IMO, 24 hour distribution centers should have big neon signs on the main road. :angry: I swear to God we drove in circles, in the dark for an hour because Del Monte has no friggin' signage!
Remember how I said the bill of lading didn't say when the shipment had to be there. Apparently that's because it was already late when we picked it up from the driver in Kentucky on Tuesday afternoon. When we arrived at our destination Wednesday night actually Thursday morning, we were told this load had been expected Tuesday morning and that there was no one to unload it at that hour to come back after 5:00 AM. My man was not happy at all. I just shut up got in the truck and went to sleep. Later after we had both gotten some sleep and been unloaded I asked Tex what was the problem that it didn't get there on time? Where had the other guy been? Tuesday morning we were on our way to KY to pick up that load so it's not like we were responsible for it's arriving late. He just shrugged & said, "I don't know, I don't ask questions, I just drive."
My guy only gave me 2 hours notice for this trip, so there were things I forgot that I will definetely bring the next time. Stuff like shower shoes, a box of wet ones or baby wipes. I purchased a small pack, enough to get me through the week, Sunday night. They are great for taking off makeup or washing the sleep out of your eyes in the morning.
I was surpised at the amount of down time he had on the road. Like waiting to be loaded or unloaded. I might bring a crochet project for a longer trip. I brought a book to read but I would bring DVD's for that next time so we can enjoy together.
With the exception of the times we made pit stops or he got out to pump gas we were never more than 6' apart and neither one of us ever felt like killing the other. I can't wait to go back out with him for a longer stretch of time. All in all, I loved it!