Loves Truck Stop, US-54, Hooker, Oklahoma, February 17, 2017
Halfway through a ten hour break. Shifting my drive hours to the opposite side of the clock. This puts arrivals in the wee hours of the morning and trouble with parking is now inevitable. After getting the truck into an impossible jam, I played move-and-look to get out for a half hour. That game goes like this: 1. Move the truck five feet. 2. Get out to look at the blind side that is about to crash into another truck. 3.Repeat ad nauseum. I moved to another part of the lots and managed to stab a spot with only few repetitions.
I was in line for my paperwork at the Distribution Center in Los Lunas when a call came to “repower” another driver. This is a cheesy expression that means to swap loads with said driver. It comes about because of idiotic regulations created by the Federal Government. The request was to go back to that Flying J at I-40 in Albuquerque and wait for this guy to show up. Now I was burning my 14 hour duty clock – my drive time ticking down even though I was not driving.
After a few hours the swap takes place and I am rolling back to Missouri. As I left the “J”, I tried again to photograph the sweeping vista of Albuquerque at night that greets departing guests at night. The lights tend to blur, so I propped the camera on the steering wheel. I had planned to wait until that motor home and dingy had cleared the view, but there was another rig behind me by the time the light changed.
Albuquerque at Night
The wait for the load had spent my drive time down to a critical point. I drove for six and a half hours straight and “rolled the hills” to gain a few miles per hour – occasionally approaching the actual speed limit! If I could get the remaining distance down under 600 miles, it would be possible to make the delivery deadline. I managed to do so, but I will arrive at the Receiver with no drive time left. If I cannot park on-site or on the street outside, (some Receivers are that shortsighted, counterproductive and pig-headed) then whoever planned this trailer swap will have to call a tow truck to haul my rig away or find a driver with hours and taxi him out there to move my truck for me. You see how silly this is?
A call to my manager would determine if this scenario will play out. Unfortunately, there is no phone service here in Hooker, Oklahoma. I have sent a satellite message. If I leave here at 1430, the duty clock will last until the appointment at 0430 on the 18th. The ten hours and change on my 70 hour clock would be down to minutes, but I gain about 5 hours at midnight.
There are 586 miles from here to there and I have been known to travel as much as 631 in a driving day. All this will shatter like glass if there is any delay. Unforeseen accidents (aren’t they all?) or traffic, say.
I will precede in the afternoon at the appropriate time in any case.
Further attempts at sleep were unsuccessful. It is time to give up and make coffee. I would spend a fortune on coffee if I had not gone the “Instant” route.
The road awaits.
Pilot Truck Stop, I-72 exit 144, Decatuer, Illinois – McDonalds, February 19, 2017
Trucker’s lounges like that in Albuquerque are slowly being replaced with fast food establishments. I will nevertheless camp out here with my laptop just to break out of the truck for a while. The place is noisy with beeping deep-friers and a four-wheeler clientel with lots of youngsters. The dignified ambiance of the quiet room with large easy chairs – filled with drivers decompressing – is consigned to antiquity.
The view from my Ad Hoc office in the McDonalds
Departing from Hooker, OK, a rest area provided phone coverage and a call was made to ask advice on the parking issue I will run into at the Distribution Center (DC), somewhere in Missouri. Once again, I learn through experience that calling the management at Purgatory is not very helpful. All they can tell me is that the DC “does not offer parking”.
Most load assignments include a contact number at the Receiver and Purgatory (knowing my situation by my satellite message) could have called them for me while I was incommunicado. They did not. So, the initiative is mine. I call the DC from the Rest Area. The clerk repeats the Company Policy, but happens to mentions that there is a Walmart Supercenter adjacent to the DC. She does not recommend it, you understand. She just mentions the fact.
This is a case of a Monty Python sketch where the top banana keeps saying to the straight man,
“Nod, nod, wink, wink – say no more.” She is double-speaking and telling me – by not telling me – that there is no problem with parking. So, onward through the fog and I arrive and, still a half mile from the gate, put the clock on “on duty/receiver”. From then, I accomplish and log a mandatory post trip inspection for the mandatory 30 minutes.
I just wrote a description of the nonsense drivers have to put up with regarding Federal timekeeping of driving hours. The negative energy of that paragraph overwhelmed me and I consigned those lines to a sort of Limbo. I try not to throw away prose that I labor over. But, I will leave what I wrote above so you can see the change in mood. 😉
The whole point of this blog is to sort out Life, The Universe and Everything. Bitching about clock issues is counter-productive and I’ll press on with the more esoteric, philosophical and spiritual aspects of the Walkabout.
In that direction, we admire the Receiving Clerk for dealing with Company Policy of “No Parking” by casually mentioning interesting facts about the Cultural Geography of the DC’s neighborhood.
Let me attempt to sum this up: Sanity endures and is passed on by kind-hearted and quick-thinking individuals – despite bureaucratic inertia that demands regimented deadlock.
The Walkabout is a growing and changing experience that we hope will leave “the Walker” a better, stronger, wiser person.
There was a huge flock of geese swirling around a farm field in Illinois this morning. You normally see these birds in well-ordered chevron formations, flying relentlessly in one direction. These showed none of that discipline.
Flock of Geese
Over The Road,
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