Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Trucking Frustrated"

So you think the trucker life seems kinda neat. All that traveling, you get paid to just drive around...
For some people it's not just a job, it's a lifestyle. I know married couples whose truck is basically an apartment, complete with a kitchen. They stay out on the road pretty much year round working and making too much money. I'm not saying it can't be lucrative. Depending on the type of freight you want to haul, the risk and the labor you're willing to put in, most of the time, if you own your own truck and trailer, the money is there. Me, I'll be honest, I generally only work hard enough to keep my income right where I want it. I know that sounds weird. But it's not about how much you make, it's about how much you get to keep. So I stay within a certain tax bracket. 
One of the upsides to tailoring my income is that I usually stay home anywhere from a week to a month and a half. I call that "quality time". It involves camping trips, zoo trips and being schedule free while I'm home. So long as I don't get carried away and spend too much while I'm home, it's actually a nice balance. It's like getting a vacation every month. What can I say, being my own boss means my boss is usually pretty cool with being generous to me. 
I still have to drive and work while I'm out here. During the summers my ex wife gets 6 weeks of visitation so I try to capitalize on that and run hard for 6 weeks, stock pile money for their school supplies and clothes, and start setting aside for Christmas and birthdays. It's not a perfect system but it works. 

Now here's the rub. You get days like yesterday. Or weeks like this one. Different things stress me out sometimes and I don't exactly get restful sleep. I wake up every hour or two and have to fight to go back to sleep. Then I get up at 7 in the morning, headache already there, drive 70 miles to pick up a heavy load. Three nice, heavy tarps later and it's fully covered and I'm fully drenched in sweat. Get back in the truck and the ac isn't really blowing cold air. Excellent start. 
Since I picked up the load in Rhode Island I've gotta drive through Connecticut, New York and New Jersey to get out of congestion. That's not like just driving around the block. All the while that headache is going "hey, I thought I'd keep you company today. You've been thinking about other shit so I thought I'd remove your ability to focus on anything but me." Gee, thanks buddy. 
Stop and go traffic. Wrecks on the highway causing us to stop before we can even go. When we do go it's UUUUPP and down across mountains. Throb, throb. "Dear god, I must have an aneurysm. It's 1,800 miles to Houston. Tell me I'm halfway there already. Crap. 1,500 miles left."
Construction, flashing lights and stopped traffic. "Are my ears bleeding?! Am I having a 3 day stroke?! Make it stop! Make it stop! 
Ok, get it together, man. Find a truck stop that has room for your truck and try to sleep it off. Take a fist full of ibuprofen again. Eventually it'll kick in."

So I finally find a truck stop that's got room for my fat ass and my truck at about 9:00 pm. Of course, that's if I pay $15 for a reserved spot. "Here, take my money. Just let me get off the road for the day." Of course, we've gotta play 20 questions under the glare of the fluorescents first. Truck color? Maroon. Truck make? Western Star. Company? Mercer. Truck number? 11168. Here's your ticket but we're out of tape. Just put it on your dash. Ok ok. 

Now, I've got a routine I follow and I adhere to it strictly when I know my brain is in hyper drive. Because I know me. I focus on shit and forget to do things like eat. So I take a can of tuna and put it on my dash. If I stop and get something to eat then I put my can of tuna away. If I forget to eat then my tuna is there as a reminder. Days like yesterday? I couldn't be bothered to open the can. Straight to bed. Asleep. Awake. Asleep. Awake. I finally crash out pretty hard at one point then BANG! BANG! BANG! Someone's pounding on my door. "Driver! Hey, driver!" What?! What do you want?! "I need to see your ticket so I know you can park here." I might've been a little cranky. "Seriously?! You effing woke me up pounding on my door for THAT?! They have my truck info inside. You couldn't just check there? No. You had to wake me up in case I was a DIFFERENT maroon Western Star with the SAME company and truck number. Leave before I let my dogs eat you."

So I was wide awake, head still pounding, when this dude walked off. At 3 in the morning. 
And that, my friends, is the day in the life of a trucker.