Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Karmic Deficit Imbalance

So, just when I thought I was pushing my luck with Weigh Stations, I hit the jackpot and drained my Karma all in one fell swoop. I'm upside down like the Chinese Trade Deficit. I had passed closed stations when I knew I was pushing the GVW limits, I've gone East when only the Westbound Coop was open; only to find the West closed and East open as I passed the other way. I bless my luck but thought I was near the end. I even wove my way through the Irish Hills of South Central Michigan to avoid scales on I96 and I94; wasting hours and driving miles I would never get paid for.

Monday I picked up a load in Lexington, KY. I meant to scale at the Pilot at the 129. Talking on the phone, I drove right past my exit - oblivious. Suddenly the Kentucky scale on I75 Northbound appeared around a curve. I was "all in" whether I wanted to be or not. I rolled on through and assumed I had been blessed. No holy water or chants, but I figured if they didn't stop me my weight was OK. You know what they say about A S S U M E.

Well, I sauntered my way through the hills of Kentucky and down into the Ohio River Valley. I passed through Florence Y'all and into Cincinnati. The bypass is a broad circle and way too many miles. In midafternoon, after hitting I71 just over the river, I pulled right through town. I was on a tight schedule, but was doing good. I had had to take a 10 hour break in Lexington and picked the load up at the very end of my pickup timeframe. This left little time for breakfast or any other goofing around on the way to Delaware, OH.

As I came upon the Ohio Scale, their sign glowered "OPEN." No problem - I've been blessed by Kentucky DOT. Imagine my shock, dismay and general put-out-ness when Ohio had the audacity to tell me to pull around behind. Damn! This is never good and often the worst possible thing.

I gathered my logbook, checked that I knew where my Medical card was, got the Bills of Lading and climbed out of the tractor. The scale lady poked her head out of the building and told me to pull back around front, but stop on each axle.

I pulled around and got rechecked and carefully weighed. This is the trucking equivalent of a colostomy. Her voice scratched and tore at the intercom, "Pull around back again and bring in your truck and trailer registration."

She didn't say logbook, and I was at least 45 minutes ahead of my log, so I left it tucked away in the cab. I pried open the trailer capsule and took the paperwork inside.

"Today's your lucky day," she cackled.

"I don't feel lucky at this very moment," I moaned.

"Well, they just called my Trooper away to an accident," she informed me. "There's no one here to write you a ticket. They just saved you $157."

If it wasn't for the clinical stainless countertop, the security cameras and her badge, I would have climbed over and hugged her. Instead, I thanked her and made my way to the door. I fought off the smile until I was completely out of the building, out of sight.

Then it hit me. I need a Trillion Dollar bailout just for my Karma. I've been walking old ladies across streets, kissing lepers, dropping change in tin cups and prostrating myself in front of all kinds of craven images ever since.

I'd rather be Lucky than Good, but this is ridiculous!

We stand for freedom!

A regular feature on the Prairie Home Companion, "Dusty and Lefty, The Lives of the Cowboys," is a old timey radio show featuring two cowboys, one a poet, often trapped somehow in the modern world. I heard one recently that was fabulously appropriate.

Dusty, played by Garrison Keillor, abruptly finds out that Lefty, Tim Russell, is considering retiring. They argue a bit back and forth. Lefty says "There aren't Cattle Drives anymore, beef is delivered overnight to your doorstep. They don't need us anymore, come with me . . . just retire. Dusty says "They do need us. They may not know it, but America needs us because Cowboys stand for freedom; like Hobos, and Truckers, and Sailors." If I bought a cowboy hat or some boots, I'd be 4 for 4!! It's just a service we provide. Fly and be Free.

The Cop and the Corn

I’ve written before about the DOT regulated hours I have to track as a truck driver. I can drive for eleven hours a day, but once I start,...