Student Becomes Teacher

What a long, crazy week it’s been! I’m currently parked in Griffin, Georgia while they load my trailer full of cargo on its way to Arkansas, so I figure I’ve got a little time to catch you all up to speed on what’s new in my world.

My wife, Christina, is currently attending school to obtain her CDL. She hopes to graduate and have her license before our anniversary this month, and in September she’ll be joining my company in order to become my teammate. In order to do this, she’ll need a trainer at the company, so rather than have her spend two weeks on the road being trained by a stranger, I’ve taken the steps necessary to be her trainer. As of Monday, I am officially a trainer for my company, capable of training new drivers in how to safely perform the various tasks required of long-haul truck drivers. The student has become the teacher! I just hope that I’m a good trainer for my wife. I considered taking another trainee this month, but training can take three weeks, and my wedding anniversary is less than three weeks away, so I decided against it. Christina will be my first trainee.

That’s the good news. The rest of this week has been hectic and somewhat ridiculous. While heading to Kentucky to become a trainer, I had to drop my load off for someone else to deliver. Unfortunately, my load locks and straps were still in the trailer, and since I couldn’t break the trailer seal, I wasn’t able to retrieve them. This meant that when I picked up my next load, I didn’t have any straps or locks. While I was in KY I forgot to pick up some new locks and straps from the company, so while I was en route to a pickup in Indiana, I had to purchase replacement locks and straps at a truck stop, which wound up costing me about $130. I’ve been petitioning the company to reimburse me for this purchase, since it was required and the items will eventually wind up being company property one way or another, but it’s been two days and I still haven’t heard any updates. I’m seriously hoping that they pay me back for those items.

On Wednesday I was given a load due in Georgia by midnight Thursday. This would seem like plenty of time to deliver the load, except for two problems: I was in Ohio, an estimated twelve hours from my destination, and by the time they finished loading me, I was out of hours for the day. Since I only have eleven hours of drive time in a day, and I would be required to take a ten-hour break before I could start driving on Thursday, this meant that a 12-hour drive would take me 32 hours: ten hours to sleep, eleven hours to drive, plus another ten hours to sleep before making the final 1-hour drive to the destination. And that’s not counting fuel stops or any other required breaks! Now, that 12-hour trip was calculated at an average speed of 55mph, so if I were to average 60 or 65mph, I could likely make the trip in 10 or 11 hours instead. Still, this would require me to take few and short breaks and drive every possible second.

I slept for my 10-hour break, then hit the road, driving all the way to my fuel stop with minimal breaks to use the restroom. I didn’t even eat anything until I reached the fuel stop. By the time I reached the fuel stop, I was about 4 hours and 12 minutes away from my destination, and I had about 4 hours and 37 minutes left of available drive time, and about 6 hours left of my 14-hour clock in which to finish driving. However, after parking the truck for my required 30-minute break, I did a cursory inspection of my truck and trailer’s condition, only to discover that a crossbeam on the back of the trailer had snapped loose and was hanging precariously by a single bolt. Apparently this beam had broken before, and whoever had welded it back on had done a terrible job. The weld had rusted through, and as I drove through the rain and over the rough, pot-holed highways, the moisture and vibrations were enough to snap the bar off.

A repair truck had to be called, and I was put out of service, unable to continue driving. I watched anxiously as the hours ticked by, and before long I only had a few hours left in my 14-hour clock, and not nearly enough time to reach the destination. I had to figure out a way to make my delivery that night, otherwise I’d be late.

I decided to take an 8-hour split break. If I included the time that I was waiting for the repair truck as part of my break, I could finish my 8-hour break by 6pm, and I’d get a few more hours in which to drive that last stretch of highway. So I slept, then woke at 6, and was able to make my delivery on-time.

Then, this morning, they gave me my next pick-up, which was scheduled for 8am, an hour away. I’d have to leave at 6:30 to get to the shipper by 8, after which point I’d only have about an hour left on my clock before I’d have to shut down and take a 10-hour break. I drove to the shipper, and by the time they finished loading me, I was out of hours.

Which brings me to the present moment. I’m now parked outside the shipper, sitting in my truck, forced to take a 10-hour break. However, my delivery is due tomorrow morning at 9am, and it’s an 11-hour drive if I take it leisurely. Which means I’ll need to wake up at 9pm tonight then drive all night in order to make my delivery.

I hate being on the night-shift, but in this case it’s unavoidable. I’ll be sleeping away my day, spending the next 12 hours parked on the side of the road, then I’ll be driving all night to reach my destination. Like some kind of vampire trucker. And then, when I reach my destination, I’ll be forced to take another 10-hour break, which means I’ll once again be stuck on the night shift…

C’est la vie. I just hope I can switch back to days soon.

Anyway, it’s about time I hit the rack. Love you all. Be safe out there. Hug your loved ones. Tip your waitresses.

Until next time, I bid you farewell.

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