Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lines on the mirror, lines on her face . .

Every where I go I'm waiting in line. I've had an air leak causing me trouble so last Friday I took advantage of some flexibility and went through our terminal in North Jackson, OH. The head mechanic made me no promises, but had me drop my trailer. "Just hang out there and I'll see what we can do when one of my guys is done with the cab they're working on." I sat all day and they couldn't fit me in.

I sent a message to our Parsippany, NJ shop that I was on my way in. My delivery was in New Jersey, so I was headed that way. It took most of the day Monday, but they got my leak fixed. Now I can sleep without the Low Air Alarm going off.

I got to my delivery Tuesday morning. There were already about 9 trucks waiting at the gate. Another line!! Nevertheless, I'd rather be lucky than good. Two security guards ambled down the line with a checklist. "You're the one they're looking for this morning," they told me. "Pull on in and go to the Receiving Office." Bonus!

Carlisle, PA is one of the worst truckstops I've been to. Coming in the driveway, you go past the exit of the fuel islands. You have to drive through the parking area and loop around to get into the fuel queue. When you're done fueling, you have to make a left turn through the entering traffic to get out. If anyone, especially a rookie, is trying to back in to a parking spot, the whole process shuts down. I don't even like to fuel in Carlisle, let alone sleep there, but I was out of hours.

In the morning, I fueled and hit the road! 14.4 miles down the road I was at a dead stop. The DOT was cutting apart a bridge. When the torches were cutting, they closed the road. Another line.

After pushing through that jam, I needed a pit stop. Pulling into the next truckstop, and stepping out of the truck, I saw the last stragglers of a busload of Mennonites going in. Guess what, another line. They looked very Amish, but I heard the driver say he was driving for the Conservative Mennonite Church.

Next I was in Oklahoma City, standing in line at a truckstop. I had a couple six packs of water and a package of Mango Con Chile. "Can I help you, Hon?" she asked. She was elegant for working the fuel desk at a truckstop. There was an air about her; prairie woman beauty. A ringer for Val from Dallas [Joan Van Ark]. White shirt and black pants, the uniform for fuel desk employees, but she carried herself with more grace than the rest. "What are these like," she asks picking up the Mango Con Chile. 

"It's dried mango with cayenne pepper and sugar. Want to try it?"

She finished ringing me up and was fishing for a bag. "Want to try it?" I ask again.

"OK, sure."

I opened the bag and let her fish out a piece of mango. Taking a bite, her eyes widened; cheeks pursed [likely, both sets]. "That's wild," is all she could choke out. "Have a great day. Be safe out there."

As I walked out, passing the length of the fuel desk, I heard her say to the next in line, "Hang on just a minute, Hon." She was racing me down the length of the desk, looking for a trash can to either spit or puke in. I really wanted to tell her she should think twice before sticking something a truck driver offered into her mouth, but I want to be able to come back here some day too.

Looking at the Scale Ticket in my hand, I was still illegal for the road. I had to adjust the fifth wheel and re-weigh. Back in at the Fuel Desk, she calls me over because the line at her register is gone. "You had to reweigh, baby?" Yes I tell her, "I had to adjust the fifth wheel. Usually I just have to move the tandems, but this load is heavy." I can see that her eyes are glazed. She doesn't really care about my weight problem, or my truck's. :o) She was probably sorry she asked such a specific question; an occupational hazard I suppose. That's alright. I'm not really interested in a woman who can't handle her Mango Con Chile.

The night before, I slept across the street at the TA. I had a shower about to expire on my Road King card. I left at 4:30 am, went across the street to fuel at the Pilot. As I left the Pilot, a fire engine went flying by. I saw a plume of smoke. Huh!?!? Past the TA I see a truck, on the scale, almost fully engulfed in flames. I had slept about 40 feet from that very scale!! I never heard what happened, but that was scary.

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