Phase 2, Day 26: California Dreams

I should have known it was too good to be true. 3,000 miles would have made $510 for each of us. But my partner threw it all away at 3am this morning. All during the night he’d been driving in the mountains in the rain, yet despite the dark, the steep grades and the inclement weather, he’d still taken sharp turns too fast and tailgated people, forcing him to slam on his brakes frequently. All of this amounted to me slamming into the walls, rolling into the net, and generally getting very little sleep. When we finally parked at a Love’s at 3am, I got up to brush my teeth and use the restroom.

“How’d you sleep?” he asked.

“Alright, I guess,” I lied. “Though I didn’t get as much as I’d hoped.”

“Why not?”

Well, he asked, so I figured he was ready for the answer. “You took a lot of sharp turns too fast and slammed me into the walls, and you braked hard a lot. So it was hard to get to sleep, and when I did, I was awakened shortly after. You’ve got to take it easy around those curves, and give yourself more distance between you and the people in front of you, so you don’t have to brake so hard. Especially on a rainy night like tonight.”

Well, my constructive criticism was just too much for his fragile ego to handle. “You know what?” He said. “Screw it. I’m done hearing you complain about how I drive. I can’t help how fast I go in the mountains. If I go slower I’ll get run over by other trucks. And if I tailgate others that’s just because they are going too slow and need to get out of the way.” He was fuming mad. “Tell them to route us back to Murray. I’m done with this. I’m gonna find a different partner who doesn’t complain about how I drive.”

“Are you serious?” I asked, incredulous. “You’re going to throw away a $500 load over this?”

“Send the message. I’m done.” He stormed out of the truck and into the Love’s truck stop through the rain.

So I sent the message. I explained that he’d been a dangerous, impatient, angry and impulsive driver, risking our lives and our loads, costing me sleep, and that when I spoke to him about it, he demanded to find a new teammate. I also informed them that he’d been insulting and rude to our customers, was constantly making racist, sexist, homophobic and offensive remarks, that he was watching YouTube videos while driving, that he’d shout “FAGGOT” at anyone who cut him off in traffic, that he’d parked illegally numerous times, and that he had collided with immobile objects on three separate occasions — none of which he’d reported. I sent off the message, called the fleet manager, and found out who I need to talk to at the company in order to outline my list of grievances. And trust me, I wrote out a list. It’s three pages long. The fleet manager was happy to provide the names of two individuals that would hear my report.

We were instructed to go to a drop lot in Missouri, swap loads with another driver, deliver their load in Tennessee, then proceed to the West Memphis terminal for reassignment. When we get there, I plan to have a little chat with the Safety Office.

The gloves are off, now. If he’s too proud to accept a little criticism and improve his driving, that tells me he’s just going to keep doing the same thing he’s done all along, which makes him a threat to the safety of himself, his teammates, and anyone else who meets him on the road. So I’m going to lay it all out there for the Safety Office to see, and I’ll let them decide if they want him to continue driving for their company.

I was looking forward to visiting California and the paycheck that followed. But that dream will have to wait. To be honest, it’s no big loss… I’d rather visit there with someone else anyway. Someone who’s less of a bigot. Preferably my wife.

In other news, I met this little guy at the drop lot in St. Louis:

He (she?) was skittering around the debris and tweeting at me, apparently defending his turf. We whistled back and forth a bit, then he ran off and played in the dust a bit before joining his friends. (If anyone can identify this bird, I’d be glad to know more about it!)

I also got to see the St. Louis Arch:

After dropping off the load and swapping for another headed for Memphis, my partner took the wheel and I retired to the sleeper. He’d begun acting much nicer after receiving a call from our fleet manager. When I spoke with the FM, he said we’d seek new teammates in West Memphis. But apparently, when my partner spoke to the FM, he was told that he could lose his job. Shortly after that discussion, my partner asked me if there was any way we could just go on to California and forget the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, as I explained, the call had already been made, we’d already been re-routed, and there was no way to take it back. The gauntlet can’t be un-thrown. It seems his sudden kindness is borne of a realization that any further aggression will only make things worse.

We expect to arrive in West Memphis at around 10pm. We might have to stay in the truck tonight. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I simply hope I can find another partner who is less abrasive and dangerous, push through, and finish my 40k in a reasonable time frame.

Wish me luck, everyone. I’ll let you know what transpires tomorrow.

And seriously, tell me if you figure out what kind of bird that is.

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