Posts Tagged ‘funk’

Funkin’ Truckin’

November 8, 2010

If you’re here looking for a happy-go-lucky attitude, perhaps you should go see if Elmo has started writing a blog over at Sesame Street. As long as he’s not doing an audio blog, you should be able to visit without causing any permanent hearing damage. What you’re going to get here is what I call a “funk.”

Everyone gets the funk. Now if you’re George Clinton or Dr. Funkenstein, that’s a good thing, but for the rest of it, it’s a funking drag. The funk happens when you think your life sucks. Perhaps your life has always sucked, but you’re just now noticing it. In my case, I don’t really know how the funk crept on me. It just hit me one day.

I know my life doesn’t truly suck. For one thing, I have a wife that I don’t want to murder every day. Now The Evil Overlord may be thinking just the opposite, but as long as she doesn’t follow through with it, I can live with that.

I also have my health. I’ve got an immune system that could fight off the Bubonic Plague or a mean case of cooties. But if I wanted to show off my six-pack abs, I’d have to commission an artist to whip out the body paint. And so what if I can’t run 1/4 mile without coughing up blood and wetting myself? While that is kinda lame, at least I can walk into a truck stop without panting, and although I’m not exactly ripped, at least I can still look down and see my light saber (that’s for my perverted 😉 Twitter buds, @Dean0806 and @raysunshine77). Those are two things many truckers can’t do.

And then there’s God, who loves me and forgives me, even when I don’t deserve it. Thoughts of eternity, world-wide suffering, hunger, and disease helps to remind me that all of my problems really don’t add up to a hill of beans. I mean really, at least I’m not getting raped in Africa right now. I’d say that’s something that I’m pretty happy about.

And then there’s my job; truck driving. It may not be the greatest job, but in this economy, I shouldn’t be complaining. There are many who would love to have my income right now.

So, if I know all of this, why am I in a funk? What could possibly happen that could cause such a funk? No one close to me is dying. No one I know personally is going through anything that they haven’t been battling for years. It’s nothing really, yet it is.

As many of you know, The Evil Overlord is attending college again. I feel her stress as she studies day and night for her Anatomy & Physiology class. It’s kicking her butt, but she’s managing a decent grade. This class is all-consuming. Which makes her other two classes harder to keep up with. She’s making it, but her heart isn’t in it. And there is the crux of the problem.

I don’t know how The Evil Overlord and I managed to hit our mid-life without having any passions. It’s depressing to think that we are both trying to attend college for careers that we aren’t passionate about. Now I’m fully expecting everyone to tell me that I shouldn’t go back to school unless it’s something that I’m really gung-ho about. That’s easier said than done.

If The Evil Overlord and I had our way, we’d probably both be freelance writers. She’d go with fiction and I’d do non-fiction. That would be all fine and dandy if we were younger, but we’re a couple of old turds who have little experience as writers. Well, I guess officially, she’d be a turdette. Anyway, when you’re young, you can take a chance on a freelance career with unsteady income.  But when you’ve been a money moron all your life, you need to find a good occupation with steady income. Something that you can do until you’re an old fart who farts with every step. You old farts know what I’m talking about.

So let’s say we both start writing for a living. Everyone knows it takes time to become a good writer, and even longer to get noticed. How do the bills get paid all that time? How do we save money for retirement? How do we afford health insurance? Even worse, what if neither of us ever gets good enough to make a living out of it? I’m not a big fan of government-run old folks homes. Too many weird smells for me. And this coming from a guy who is locked in an enclosed truck with himself all day.

So, it’s off to school to pursue careers that we can tolerate. Quite honestly, it wouldn’t take much to top trucking. Just a job where you’re home every night would do the trick. You can say “Pursue your dreams” all you want, but in the end you have to do what is practical for your future. And without any true passions…

Now back to funky subjects. The Evil Overlord and I are both in a funk due to our lack of direction. Add to that, the fact that we are apart. Add to that the fact that I haven’t had more than 42 hours off in a row. Add to that, my company is installing e-logs.

Now tack on the fact that my company has recently banned all cooking devices from our trucks. All because of a couple of drivers who are dumber than a retarded camel. We already couldn’t have inverters. Now, it’s nothing but cold foods if we want to save money by eating in the truck. Now if we want a hot meal, we’ll have to eat fast food, or spend even more money to eat in the truck stop restaurant. Neither is good for your health or your wallet.

That’s not all. They have a policy that if you are going to be out of the truck for more than four days, you have to turn your truck into a yard. It used to be five days. Recently, they changed it to three days. The problem is, I live about 7.5 hours from the nearest terminal. That means that if I ever want a vacation, I’ll have to waste 15 hours of my vacation time driving to and from the terminal. Nice. How do they expect to keep any long-term drivers? I guess they just assume that everyone will move close to a terminal.

Let me ask a favor here. From the policies and new rules I’ve described here, if you work for the same company that I do, you now know what company I work for. Please don’t say the name of the company if you know who it is. I know a driver who was fired from this company for posting this kind of information online. The difference is, that driver mentioned the company name numerous times and I haven’t. Let’s keep it that way. Thank you.

I’ve voiced my opinion to my boss about e-logs, the banning of cooking units, and turning the truck in. I even moved above my fleet manager and spoke with her boss. When I asked to speak to the Operations manager, I was told I didn’t want to talk to him. I said, “Why? What’s he going to do? Fire me for voicing an opinion?” The answer: “Maybe.” Again, nice.

This is not the company I worked for in the past. But it is the one I’m stuck with for now. With school in sight, it’s not worth quitting and finding a new company. I’m not saying anything new. This was all covered in Sucking it up a while back. Problem is, I’m not doing a very good job with that title.

I’m not through yet. Sorry. To add to the funk, I recently had a load to Miami, FL, which is a place I loathe. I got reloaded quickly, but I knew I’d be back to the shipper. 45-46,000 pound loads of sugar can’t be loaded all the way to the trailer doors. Any experienced trucker knows that. Unfortunately, the entire non-English speaking staff at the shipper couldn’t understand what I was saying. A long trip across Miami to the nearest scale proved me right.

As I was heading back to get reloaded, I got a call from my boss telling me that these people didn’t understand English and even the Spanish-speaking drivers had been having trouble with them. Luckily, when I arrived back, I began talking to another driver there and he explained that it was Spanish, but it had a Puerto Rican accent that was hard to understand. Since he was Puerto Rican, he explained the situation to the shipper and I got reloaded.

When I reexamined the load, I saw that they had only moved the freight a couple of feet forward. That wasn’t going to cut it either and I had everyone at the shipper mad at me when I refused to move from the dock until they reloaded me according to my specs. They finally did, and after another drive across town to scale, I once again proved to myself how truly cool I am. Hey, it’s my story. So 5.5 hours from the start of my day, I was under way. As I pulled out, all I could think was, “Good thing I’m not on E-logs yet.” *evil grin*

To cap this all off, I just got a call from The Evil Overlord informing me that my ticket for being on a restricted road in my truck had finally been settled in court (the signs were only visible AFTER you were on the road with no place to turn around). I didn’t get any points, but the $150 ticket ended up costing me $372 plus the $100 lawyer fee.

All the above is what put me in a funk. When the combination of crappy things pile up on you all at once, funk ensues. I’ll drag myself out of it eventually. I’m not looking for sympathy. That’s why I stayed offline for the past week or so. We’ve all been through rough patches in our lives. This is no different.

It might help if I had something to look forward to, but for now I’m just going to try to make myself feel better. Since I don’t cuss anymore, I think I’ll start my journey out of funkhood by saying, “Funk lawyers.” Well, it’s a start anyway.

*Please leave your funky comments and click the pretty “Like” button. No sympathy please. I’m giving myself enough for all of us.” 🙂

Perspective on Sucky Things

July 17, 2010

Photo by Yellow.Cat via Flickr

Anyone following me on Twitter knows that I’m switching trucking companies. For those of you not following me on Twitter, well, I just don’t know how you can sleep at night. As of now, I’ve quit one job and orientation for the new job starts on Monday. The ride over to the hotel has given me some perspective.

With the luck I’ve been having with my former company, I was shocked when the terminal manager allowed me to use the company van to get here. And she did this after I handed her my keys, so there’s no doubt that she did so knowing that I no longer worked for the company. Some of the drivers in the driver’s lounge said that it’s now a company’s responsibility to get a driver home after they quit, but I’ve never heard of any such obligation. If this is true, and you’re certain of it, please leave a note in the comments section so we can all know for the future.

Back to the story. I got lucky that I caught another driver pulling out in the van and he agreed to drive me to the hotel. His wife was following him in a rental car, so when I asked about it he offered to tell me what he referred to as “The Saga.” Since you readers know the way I tell long-winded stories, it won’t be hard for you to imagine that I liked this guy immediately. Especially since he asked if I minded hearing it all before he began the tale. That’s more choices than I give you poor folks.

His story began before we even got out of the parking lot, and it continued all the way to Hertz. After his wife/co-driver had checked the car in, she got into the van, listened for two seconds, and broke in with an exasperated, “Oh my God! Are you telling this story AGAIN?” Thinking that this woman reminded me of The Evil Overlord, I sat back and subdued a snicker as they playfully bickered about how many times he had told it. She soon gave in to the inevitable and waved him back into his story. I couldn’t see her face, but knowing The Evil Overlord, I imagine that there was some major eye-rolling going on up there. “The Saga” finished just as I pulled into the hotel parking lot 45 minutes later.

As these two were brand new truck drivers, I had listened with interest to the entire story, complete with her popping in to correct him every now and then. Being the thoughtful person that I am, I’ll give you the cliff notes version. His training went perfect. He got an excellent trainer who taught him well. Her trainer was a black man who constantly ranted about the white man’s oppression. Sorry, but I have to say this. It’s 2010 and there’s a black man in the White House. Enough already. @diesel_lady would be so proud of me.

Back to Mr. Racist. He drove on her log book, which for you non-truckers, means that he showed her driving, but did a lot of it himself. He didn’t help her learn to back the truck. He allowed her to take five whole showers in four weeks of training. This guy spent the entire training period using her as a tool to make big bucks, instead of taking it slow at first and teaching her the ropes. She admitted that she didn’t learn a thing.

This whole “bad trainer” thing bugs the crap out of me. I won’t go there right now because my next blog will cover that and more. A lady named Becca left a comment asking for some advice for people who are thinking of becoming truckers. Stay tuned for that by the end of the weekend.

Onward. After both of their training was over, they had to take a rental car from Ohio to the Chicago area to pick up their truck. When he told me that they were supposed to pick it up from an International shop, I knew what was coming; and so do you truckers. But first, the truck wasn’t even there. Someone had picked it up and taken it to the company yard. After tracking it down, he hopped in it and turned the key, which produced nothing but a string of curses. Back into the shop for a new starter and it started right up. Ready to roll? Hang on.

Now they were informed that they couldn’t take the truck because it was missing two marker lights. Uh…wasn’t it just at the International dealer? Were they fresh out of lights? Well, it seems that the lights were being overnighted from another company terminal instead. Two days later, the lights still aren’t there. These are lights, people. You can get them almost anywhere. Ugh. In the meantime, he’s talked to his trainer on the phone. The trainer is coming through there and takes the initiative to stop into an International dealer and pick up some lights. Yes, I’m confused too. What is it with these stinkin’ lights? Are they coated with caramel or something? So anyway, now they’re under way, right? Nope, their very first load with their very first company gets double-booked (two drivers show up to pick up the same load), so they sit, frustrated, until the following morning.

Finally, they get a load to South Texas, they haul butt, and they get there early. They turn off the truck to take a shower, and yes, of course, the truck won’t restart. Now they sit for 7 hours and no one will respond to their satellite messages or phone calls. Finally, one of their messages gets a response. Messages that say stuff about quitting tend to do that. One of the higher-ups calls them, listens intently, and shoots off a couple of emails. Within a couple of hours they’re back in a rental car heading to the Dallas yard to pick up a brand-spanking-new truck. The same model that I’ve had in the shop twice in the last three weeks. I pray that I just had a lemon. And that’s when they meet me.

I mentioned earlier that this van ride put some stuff into perspective. It’s not just this story, but also the time that I’ve had to think. Yes. Pass the Excedrin please. So what exactly is my insight on this situation? Well, sometimes stuff just sucks. How’s that for deep and profound?

We all go through bad patches. Some last longer than others. Hopefully leaving my old team-oriented company will put an end to my hellish marathon. The fact is, if a company is team-oriented, it’s a good chance that it’s gonna suck for a solo driver. Likewise for a team at a solo-oriented company. This isn’t always true, but I think it’s a darn-tootin’ good rule-of-thumb.

This new husband/wife team knew that I had just quit. Yet when they asked me what I thought of their decision to work for the company, I told them that I thought they made the right choice. Sure, at times The Evil Overlord and I have been madder than a couple of cats in a bathtub. I told them as much. Still, I told them that the company was one of the best for teams. So how bad could it have been for The Evil Overlord and me?

Sure, the miles weren’t as plentiful as they were in years past. Maybe that was because the economy sucked harder than the national hickey-giving champion. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated because I couldn’t get a response to a question and when I finally did, it was wrong. Perhaps that was because this company chose to lay off office personnel instead of drivers when the hickies started flying.

When my truck broke down in San Antonio, did they get me a nice hotel room? Yep. When it broke down three weeks later for the exact same transmission problem, did they allow me to leave the truck at the shop and go home so the nephews could spend four days pile-driving me and trying to hit me in the junk? Yep. Kinda pissed at them for that one actually.

When I realized I had accidentally signed up for the more expensive insurance plan after The Evil Overlord quit, did they let me change it and reimburse the overcharge? Yea. Did they totally screw up my paycheck and leave me without any money this week when I really needed it? Yes. Did they fix the problem and make an emergency electronic deposit into my bank account? Yep. Sure it’s not going to help much right now, but they could have made me tough it out until next Friday. Did they save me $60 by letting me use the company van, even after I had quit? Yup.

Have I been whining about my company for the last month? Yes. Have I had a job? Yes. Did I manage to go from one job, straight into another? Yes. Are there good people out there who have been without income for many weeks or even months? Yes. Should I stop crying like a little girl and appreciate what I’ve got? Uh… maybe?

*So what do you do when you’re in a funk? How do you pull out of it? Tell us all how you stay so upbeat and perky (and annoying) 😉 by leaving a comment. And if you’ve got a friends who’s down in the dumps, pass this post along to them. Thanks.*

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