My work day started at 3:30 am today, and ended at 4:30 pm. I drove 648 miles today, only stopping to check my load occasionally, to have a brief 30 minute luncheon, and to take just enough time to pump 175 gallons of diesel into my tanks. I rolled out of Delhi, Louisiana this morning and I'm sleeping in Greenville, Tennessee tonight. Tomorrow I will be starting early also. By starting the day early a truck driver has a lot easier time of it at the end of his day when trying to find a place to park his truck. When you finish your day at nine or ten at night in some parts of the country you can just forget about parking at a truck stop. That is why late at night you will see trucks dangerously parked on the exit ramps with weary drivers inside them trying to get some much needed sleep. Fortunately, I have yet to park in such a dangerous fashion.
I've been thinking I should clarify a statement I made in here a couple of days ago since it was a bit vague. I said, “I'm pleased with this new job, it takes a lot of the stress and difficulties of the truck driving career out of the picture”. What I'm referring to is the unnecessary waiting that so many over the road truck drivers frustratingly go through as they visit shippers and receivers all across the country. I had places that I used to frequent that I knew even before I arrived that I was going to be waiting at least six hours to get loaded once I arrived there. The way the “Hours of Service” rules are written, this really limits your pay because it counts against the time that you are allowed to drive for that particular day. This job I'm doing now is considered a dedicated driving position for one particular customer – SAPA. Part of the benefit of it is that they always have my load ready and waiting on a trailer when I get there. So I can avoid those costly frustrating wait times. I still have to take the time to secure and tarp my load, but I don't have to sit there with my clock running while I'm waiting for them to get me loaded. That is a BIG deal when it comes to your income potential. Also, I'm usually dealing with the same customers, so after a while you get pretty familiar with where they are and know the most convenient ways to get in and out without the frustration of constantly trying to find out how to get to your destination. I still have the occasional “back haul” loads like the bricks that I just delivered, but being dedicated to this one major shipping location in Delhi makes a huge difference in how much you can get accomplished each week. Truck drivers get paid by the mile, and therefore it is a performance based job.
The dedicated account I work with now helps me be much more productive – that is what I wanted to clarify. This job does not alleviate the feelings of loneliness and disappointment that are second nature to this career. I was very disappointed this past week when my mother in law passed away while I was stuck in the blizzard in Connecticut – there was simply nothing I could do. Tomorrow I will be working all day on Sunday while my family will be attending worship with our dear friends, and on top of that it will be my birthday. Those things are difficult to take, and you just hate being separated so much from the people you love dearly. I'm not complaining, just pointing out some of the very troubling aspects of this job that I otherwise thoroughly enjoy.
Here's a view of what this load of extrusions looks like as I move it down the road with my lime green tarps protecting it from the elements. I took this photo after fueling up today in Meridian, Mississippi.