Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Question Authority. Question your beliefs. Question your lifestyle. Question your habits. Question everything you've got. Especially, question your prejudices, your anger, your frustrations.
I have been away from the blog for a while. After switching companies, I teamed up with a guy. We hit the road; I drove, he slept, he drove, I slept. It is hard to find WiFi when the truck usually doesn't stop. Actually we did once in Missouri but that is another story.
Sitting in orientation for the new company, there were about 11 of us there. One guy stood out. He bristled with old school trucker attitude. He was negative and inappropriate. His jokes, comments and “F” bombs always seemed to creep in just at the wrong moment. He was asking these tedious detailed questions. You could tell he was angling to work the system. I even had the thought “I wouldn't want to team with THAT guy.”
The new company was looking for teams. They have some business coming up in March that requires several. A team is two people in a truck; running 24/7. One sleeps, the other drives. It is good money they say.
So, after doing lots of paperwork and getting another drug test and physical, we were waiting around for truck assignments. They were short of trucks in Grand Rapids. Some guys were getting sent out in rental cars to Kansas City or Dallas to get trucks. Another way to get a truck and hit the road was to team up with someone.
The recruiter called for me and I found his office. Sitting there with the recruiter was THAT guy. They wanted to know if I would consider teaming. I really wanted to get back on the road again. The only way I make any money is if the wheels are turning. It was the fast lane out of town. I decided to do it. The worst case scenario was three weeks out and then jump ship when we came round to home again. I teamed up.
I was pretty much spot on about the guy. He was a curmudgeonly old school trucker; working the system. And complaining about the system. He was prejudiced has hell. But he was more than all that too. He talked and flirted with all varieties of fuel desk ladies. He had a solid trucker etiquette and a big heart. When we were sitting still, the DVD choice, his DVDs and his DVD player, was always mine. We even called on his brother when we were stuck in Minneapolis. Tequila, pizza, football, Pirates of the Carribean, and a guitar fix. And he showed me huge patience, above and beyond the call of co-driver.
I drove a semi with a clutch for a week and a half; and then spent six months driving an automatic. He had 20 years of driving under his you-know-where. There should have been trainer pay on his ticket for all the help he gave me. I would never be floating gears if it wasn't for him [“floating” is shifting with the engines rpm's rather than using the clutch]. There were times when he heard me struggling from the sleeper and got out of bed to help me. So many things about driving a manual transmission, life on the road and even trucker folklore, I wouldn't even know if not for him. I came to appreciate him immensely.
A former employer called and my co-driver decided to go back to them. He can run the way he likes to run there; and no satellite [cue "Satellite of Love" by Lou Reed]. I was trying to decide if I really liked team driving anyway. His departure just saved me from having that conversation. Team driving was more like a job. I wasn't writing; I didn't have my guitar with me; I really didn't sleep as well while the truck was rumbling down the road. My caffeine intake probably quadrupled during that time.
All in all, I am happy to be back driving solo. I will, however, always use, and never forget, all the help I got driving around the country [literally] with an old school curmudgeon. NH, if you read this, thanks again.