Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The things you see on the road

There never seems to be any end to the amusing things that one sees when traveling around the country.  Here's a very random shot at sharing some of the things I've witnessed lately.  At a truck stop I recently saw a lady who was travelling, albeit I guess, on a tight budget.  Instead of sleeping at a hotel she was out in the middle of the parking lot with a fold out lounge chair snoring away right out there under the stars.  At another truck stop there was an old school bus painted up with 60's looking graphics and about 6 or 7 people living in it that looked like they were lost in some sort of time warp or something.  I mean they could have been hippies from the Vietnam war era.  These were not old hippies that just never got over it, but young people in their twenties.  They were apparently out of money for gas so they were walking around the parking lot serenading people with their ukuleles and singing songs to passers by hoping for a few coins to be tossed their way.

This morning while leaving south Texas I saw a feral sow happily trotting down the highway with her head held high like she knew what she was doing, and her tail wagging gleefully while nine little piglets marched in line behind her doing their best to look just as dignified and confident as their mother.

I've also witnessed some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Just before seeing the pigs this morning I started out under a beautiful south Texas sunrise.  Well I was in Laredo this morning and I will be in Ohio tomorrow, I will have traveled more than 3,000 miles before this weeks over with.  But that's a good thing when you're getting paid by the mile.

I also got to get home this past weekend, and all my girls were there - what a treat that was.  It was really wonderful to sleep in my own bed, sit at my own table, and see the people I hold dear.  My wife was just as lovely and sweet as ever - I miss her incredibly while out here, and wish I could be home more than I am, but that's the life of a "road warrior".

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well, it's official, they've made me an actual employee and they have issued me a truck.  I haven't seen it yet because it's an abandoned truck that is sitting at a truck stop in Roanoke VA,  but some time tonight there is another truck driver coming through Nashville to pick me up and take me with him as he drives through Virginia.  He will drop me off at the truck stop so I can get the truck and start my official solo career.  I'm really trying to get home for Abigail's ballet on the 25th.  I hope everything works out - I made it clear to my driver manager that it was very important that I get there for this occasion, so we'll see how well he pays attention to his driver's concerns.  I will be seriously disappointed if I can't make it home for this annual event.

It's one of the most difficult parts of this type of work that you can't always be there for the people you love on their special occasions or when they might be sick or just troubled about things that are going on in their lives.  Sometimes it's just heartbreaking to not be able to offer a hug or a gentle pat on the back when things aren't going so well for your dear children and loving wife.  I will have been gone for seven weeks if I get home in time for the ballet recital - it's just too long, and I hope in the future it won't have to be such lengthy absences.  Sometimes after talking to them on the phone, I get all choked up just because of the sound of their voices, and just the reality of the fact that their lives go on without you being there.  The truck driver gives up a lot to pursue his career, and his family gives up a lot to allow him to be out there turning the miles into money.

I don't mean to sound disheartening, I'm excited to get this thing off the ground, but it is definitely a career that has some big negatives to it.  I'm so thankful to have my absolutely supportive wife and children pulling for me and keeping the home fires burning.  I love each of you dearly.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I've waited for some time to get this blog started.  My original intention for it was to have a place where my family could go and see what was going on with me as I begin a new career as an over-the-road truck driver.  It has been such a difficult experience for me that I decided not to post anything because it would only be discouraging and depressing.  After two different attempts at landing a job and having various minor problems arise that caused me to be unemployable by the companies that offered me employment, I got hired by a company out of Nashville, TN called Western Express.  I have now been in training for (5) weeks working 70 + hours a week and only getting paid $175.00 per week.  Thankfully my training is over now and I have passed all the requirements and tests to become a solo driver with the company.  It has been a long and difficult journey.

I've been living in a truck with my trainer for the last four weeks.  This is a man who is hateful and cruel in his approach to training - lots of screaming and yelling, belittling you so that you feel like an idiot, and constantly trying to demean you with verbal accusations of ignorance and incompetence.  He sits around reading porno magazines while I'm driving, or talking on the phone with his multiple girlfriends and wife.  His life and language are very vulgar and base, and he gets enjoyment and self worth by making others around him feel in-superior to him.  Enough of all that - I think you get the picture that this has been very difficult for me, but I needed to get started on a job so badly that I was willing to go through anything to get this started.  My children and my dear wife were always on my mind, and I so wanted to get started earning a living again so that I could take care of my responsibilities that I was unwilling to respond to this man with angry words or actions.  Unfortunately my responses and reactions to him only seemed to anger him more - he seemed to want me to respond to him in an ugly way, and when I didn't he was frustrated about how to handle me.

Once my training period was over we had to go back to the main terminal in Nashville and have a sit down meeting with the man who had the authority to release me from training and upgrade me to a solo driver status.  I anxiously dreaded hearing what my trainer might say to this man because I can seriously only think of maybe one or two compliments he made to me while in training.  My jaw began to drop as my trainer began to sing my praises to the other man about how great a driver I was, and how I was a really hard worker, how I was very courteous and professional while dealing with the shippers and receivers, and how I had a very good understanding of load securement principles and practices.  There was another man in the room who I hadn't been introduced too yet and I noticed him starting to grin as my trainer was saying all this unexpected stuff about me.  It wasn't long until he spoke up and said to me "You must be really good because this guy never compliments anyone like this, and we also know that you're tough enough to face the difficulties of this job because more than half of the trainees who go out with this man quit during the second week.  I want you to go out there in the yard and find Delbert, he will give you your final road test and I'm going to get started on finding a truck to assign to you."  Like the Israel of old, the Lord heard my groaning and kept my tears in His bottle, and released me from my bondage.  In the blink of an eye my miserable situation changed from slavery to freedom.  He is faithful and true - He does all things well - His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches over me.  Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me!

By the time I had passed my final road test it was 11:30 am on Saturday and everyone was getting ready to go home for the day, so they put me up in a hotel for the weekend and said to come back on Monday and we will get you hooked up with a driver manager, determine which terminal you will be dispatched out of, and get you situated in your own truck.  So my journey continues, only now that I'm not living with a nut, hopefully I can continue this blog so that you can follow along with me and know my whereabouts and my thoughts as I travel throughout this great country delivering the goods that keep our economy churning along.

Many thanks to my friends and family for your prayers on my behalf, I love you all.