Purgatory – not the ski resort – April 17, 2017
Arriving at Purgatory is a somber and depressing event. I will be earning nothing for a few days. The highlight of the sentence are the safety classes. Then a sphygmomanometer* will decide if it wants to fire me or not. One-on-one lectures will be forthcoming about how fast the truck went and how abruptly it slowed. Already, there is an overwhelming sense of suppression of the creative process – “writer’s block”. Practical pursuits are in order. A shower, laundry duty, housekeeping. For newer readers, Purgatory is the Company Headquarters in a large City in Northern Texas that is not Fort Worth.
*Blood Pressure Cuff
The day has stretched from 3AM through the drive to Purgatory – along the Interstate of Perpetual Construction (I-35). The day continues through the mandatory all-truck inspection where I list the problems of the APU without concern, since I will be turning the truck in for Sale. The sun has yet to rise as I hasten to make use of the vacant shower room and laundromat. More hours pass while I sleep until I miss the mandatory Safety Lecture at 9:30 – there is another at 12:30. While waiting in line at the truck wash a caller mumbles something and I ask for another playback – “your company car is ready” – a one hour loaner and a trip to Sams to provision the Galley. The “window” tells me that the physical re-check can wait until June, if I so choose – I do so choose. 😉 Later, I go to see the Man of a Thousand Keys who will assign me a new truck. Here is a picture of same (on the left):
Yes, it is the same Kenworth T680 I have been driving. Apparently, the “deal fell through”.
So, now I will have to wait for the repairs to be done. After the Safety Lecture, a walk to the truck through the now-pouring rain and a nap. Mechanics always knock on the Sleeper just behind the driver’s head. The sound bleeds through into your dream and you realize it is indeed a dream, so you make a conscious decision to wake up and say “Yo, I’m up, I’m up!”. It is still pouring rain on the poor schlemiel who asks me to pull into Bay 6 for tires. With tire work I can continue to sleep until I dream of knocking behind my head again, when tires are done and I can drive back to “Tractor Row” and organize the groceries and try out the new microwave! I will need a method to heat the water for instant coffee, so one of those cubical nut-containers-turned- water-bottles will fit the bill. I found one that had no remnants of the metal foil seal after the first test subject began to burn away.
And again the knocking invades the dream and I drive the truck to Bay 11A, where they will finally fix the Air Conditioner – the one that cools the truck when it is parked. I am cleared to leave. Only the work on the truck needs be finished. After a few hours, let’s check the truck. It is now outside down at the end of the garage. I find it occupied by two mechanics, conversing casually while testing the A/C. This is the sort of thing that lets me know that I am not one of those poor souls that I’ve heard about whose trucks are so smelly that the mechanics draw straws to see who has to go in the cab. I am invited to examine their work and find it quite acceptable. As always, give thanks where it is due!
The true test is now undertaken – i.e., a nap in the heat of the day in Dallas, Texas. Sleep comes quickly in the cool darkness to be found in the Captain’s Quarters and it seems that only moments pass before the knock on the sleeper comes again. I have found that the surest way to summon a Mechanic for truck service or a Ready call at a Meat Plant or a Receiving Clerk with the news that my trailer is empty…is to fall asleep in the bunk. Doubt me if you must, but it seems to work every time. This time it’s brakes and bearings in Bay 2. This should be the last time I need to take a nap to summon the Forces of Nature to speed my re-entry to the Dwight David Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.
In Indiana I passed through Marion and a encountered sign directing tourists to the birthplace of James Dean. You need to be Cretaceous to know who that was – a mumbling method actor in the same category as Marlon Brando. You can be Tertiary and still know who that was.
Later I was running to beat my eight hour drive limit and it looked like I would make it if only I could average 60 miles per hour. That thought ended with Peru Indiana where the speed limit is 25. Now, I need to stop for 30 minutes to get back the hour and a half I have left for the day. Places to stop a big honkin’ truck are very few and many of them belong to someone who does not care for you presuming to park there. This time it was an empty lot – mostly paved – with no signs, fences or buildings. That is as non-restricted as it gets. See Google Earthery below:
The Arby’s in Peru, Indiana happens to be across the street from a Big Honkin’ Truck Parking Lot.
Don’t worry about that building, it exists now only in Google Earth. To make sure I won’t be kicked out by the local constabulary, I purchased lunch at the Arby’s and propped the bag in the driver’s window as I ate.
Peru reminds me that there are only a limited number of place names in English speaking culture – or any other culture for that matter. I have been noticing familiar place names in unexpected places.
In New York there were Mexico, Angola, Dunkirk, Fredonia and New Boston. You have undoubtedly heard of Mexico and Angola.
Dunkirk was the site of a devastating Retreat of British Forces in Europe during World War II wherein some 330,000 Allied Troops escaped across the Channel to England. Had they not done so, the War might well have gone the other way.
Besides the Fredonia in New York, there is a Fredonia in Texas. But the Fredonia I remember is the mythical country from the Marx Brothers Movie Duck Soup.
New Boston, New York reminds me of New Boston Texas where my father was born.
The clock stands at 17:30 – winding down to 1900 when the truck is allegedly to be ready. They shut down the Break room in the main building at 16:30 and the Driver’s lounge is full and noisy so I am back in that chair at the garage waiting room. I have literally spent entire days here and decided to haunt this place if I am doomed to walk the Earth after death.
Flying J Truck Stop, I-70 exit 188, Warrenton, MO – April 22, 2017
As usual, the wait in Purgatory was longer than I could anticipate. It was finally 800 the next day before word came that they were through with the truck. Things never happen as estimated in this place and it is always disappointing and frustrating. But, who expects to be happy in Purgatory? I tell ya’, this place was appropriately named.
At last I departed on a trip to Illinois. Time was short again and on the next trip as well. It is confirmed that there is an uneasiness that creeps up on my soul when I am not writing. My time has been all spoken for in just driving and sleeping. I suppose I should be content that insomnia is not dogging me as it has before. I have gotten plenty of sleep – and it is much-needed.
The next interval will be another Marathon. I have 625 miles to make in the next 12 hours. It is just barely possible. The destination if Fort Worth and I suspect there is another problem -not yet revealed to me – that will call me to Purgatory. They never send me to Texas unless that is the case. There is a freight company in Houston that is looking for drivers. I don’t have much information about it, but I know the current situation is troublesome.
I have a theory about Corporations that I developed decades ago. The very word “corporation” – from the Latin “corpus” (body) means an embodiment or personification. A corporation is in practice, a legal “person” who has certain rights and responsibilities and can bring lawsuits or be tried in court for civil or criminal offences. My “theory” (“Crackpot” as it may be) says that a corporation can also exhibit aspects of abnormal human beings, such as vindictiveness, misanthropy, neurosis or psychosis. I also learned that there is no use even imagining that companies will change for the better and they do not deserve any devotion or loyalty unless they show the same to the employees. To continue working for an employer who treats you badly is a situation similar to “Battered Wife Syndrome” and is to be recognized and corrected. Jill the Navigation Computer has a message for me about my pending anniversary of employment. I will be free of my indenture for driver training. Now is the time to find another job. It will almost certainly be another driving job. That is all that seems to be left for me.
I must get ready for the long overnight trip now.
Pilot Truck Stop, US Highway 69 @ US 61, April 23, 2017
I did not make the appointment for 0800 this morning. In truth, it was doomed from the start. There were 635 miles and eleven driving hours to accomplish same. If I could average 60 mph then it was just possible. That average is completely possible on Interstates. Alas, most of this journey was along US Highways, which pass through towns along the way that have speed limits as low as 25 mph. When it happened that I had more miles than minutes to drive them I also had a fatigue that would kill me if I did not find parking soon. This was despite my sufficiency of sleep and one and a half Green Stanley Thermoses (Thermi?) of coffee.
At that point, it mattered not how long I kept driving. The lack of drive time has now doomed me to spend 10 and one-half hours stationary – before arriving at the final. An eight hour break would only gain me the same hours of drive time that are left on the clock at that point – which I have already decided are not enough to get there. The best course of action is to stop immediately and drive the distance after sleeping. I did.
Technoblurb: I have not posted recently because my laptop refused to connect to my iPhone hotspot.
I will just wander down a back-alley of random thought now: One of the most misquoted aphorisms is that taking the same action repeatedly and expecting different results is insanity. Actually, it matters not if it is misquoted, more that it is not really a valid observation. If you turn the key and your car doesn’t start, should you immediately give up and call a tow truck? How about if you ring a doorbell once and nobody answers? Answer the phone, “hello?” and no one speaks? If at first you don’t succeed…Quit? That doesn’t sound like the definition of sanity to me.
So, I kept trying to re-connect with the hotspot and it never worked. After all, it could be some local condition, since I was at different places. These days, if I am not at a different place from day to day, the truck is broken down. So, you might say that it is not the same action necessarily, since things have changed – and you would be correct.
Having said all that, the reconnection never happened. I asked “Bing” what to do and got a lot of advice that also did not work. But, somewhere in the process, it occurred to me that maybe the laptop has jumbled the password for the iPhone hotspot. How would I fix that, since it does not ask for a password? Well, I suspect it does not ask because it “remembers” the password from before. Therefore, I need to make it ask. There is a whole list of wireless networks in the configuration settings, including my iPhone. Some of those are from hotel and truck stop WiFi’s that I have not used in weeks or months. After telling the laptop to forget most of these, I tell it to forget my iPhone as well. Don’t worry, the iPhone broadcasts its presence and the laptop lists it in the wireless networks and I can ask for a connection. Having no memory of the iPhone, the laptop asks for a password, which I have dug out from the iPhone Settings under the hotspot configuration and can thus provide.
Now, it works.
And if truth be known, seldom it is when “trying again” that do we not change some aspect of the attempt.
Over The Road,