A Bad Review

My satellite unit just beeped me with a message from my overlords at CFI… they took my case over the incident in Nogales a couple months back to a board of review of a few drivers who ruled it was, after all, preventable.

You can read all about the incident preventable accident here and here.

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Scared to death… over nothing!

This morning I got up at 3 AM and ran my load from Waco, Texas to Laredo, Texas. It was originally due in Laredo at 0600 this morning but I know that almost none of the brokers we use are open 24 hours a day, and if they aren’t they almost never open before 0800 or 0900 so I had the delivery time bumped back to let me run down here easier. I arrived at our terminal for the trailer inspection in the eight o’clock hour and by nine I was in front of the broker, fourth in a line of CFI trucks waiting to get in. Naturally, they don’t open until 0930.

Eventually the broker folks arrived and got things sorted out and one-by-one the drivers dropped their trailers and drove back over to our terminal. When I returned and finished my paperwork I went by dispatch and wouldn’t you know it, they already had my trip home to Joplin waiting for me. I figured it was some load that a bunch of people had already passed on but as it turns out it is very light and the trailer is solid. Lucky me.

So, after taking care of a small issue with one of the trailer lights I refueled and pointed my rig north along I-35 and cruised up to New Braunfels, Texas which lies halfway between San Antonio and Austin.

I’ve been driving my truck for just under 100,000 miles at this point so when I enter a truck stop I have a routine I follow when I’m looking to park. I keep my eyes peeled for any easy backing situation (a pull through, a straight pull in, a slot with a lot of space in front of it, etc.) as I mosey through the lot then circle around and grab the best I can find. This time it was a spot on the end of a line of trucks where the parking lot changes a bit so there will be no truck parked next to me on one side. There was a bunch of space in front of my spot, with two trucks facing me and an open spot between them I could use to get aligned before I made a straight back.

So, I turn away from my spot and move the cab of my truck between these two trucks and come to a stop, preparing to put my rig in reverse. All of a sudden, my truck seems to lurch in reverse and no matter how hard I stomp on the brake pedal I can’t slow down!!!

It turns out that one of the trucks that I was positioning myself between decided to help me out by backing up a bit to let me make my turn and setup easier. From my perspective, though, it looked like I was suddenly in reverse and moving quickly, despite being out of gear and my foot on the brake.

Jim’s backing mastery: 0
Fresh pair of Fruit-of-the-Looms: 1

Sigh.

Wacko in Waco

There were a handful of accidents on the various roads I traveled today, including two cars and one big rig mess about twenty miles north of Waco and the aforementioned Flying J (just down the street from the Hooters, natch).

As I pulled off of the interstate on to exit 331 I noticed there were a line of trucks and four wheelers backed up a bit, and the intersection seemed to be closed. I didn’t have my camera out at the time, so after I parked I walked back and took some photos from the opposite side:

View all Wacko in Waco pics

The driver of this rig apparently took the right hand corner too fast and managed to roll it over… you can see the number of wreckers they had to call out to deal with it:

All the traffic going to the Flying J was routed through the secondary gas fuel island exit which made things exciting for us big rig drivers. After we turned in like cars would we had to take the other gas fuel island exit then make a big u-turn to come in the diesel side:

Flattened in West Memphis

I began this morning at our terminal in West Memphis, Arkansas with my pre-trip and fueling for today’s journey. My tire pressure gauge has been giving me low readings for a while now so I decided after another set of uniformly low numbers I would go down the street to the closest Pilot and buy a new one. It confirmed that my tire pressures were just fine but when I checked my left steer tire the core inside the valve stem blew and wouldn’t stop the air from releasing, flattening the tire in a minute or so.

View all Flattened in West Memphis pics


After a short cry I got on the phone with our Road Service folks and they whistled up a mobile tire changing unit to come by and fix me up. About thirty minutes later an old, beat up van arrived and the gentleman inside jacked up the front axle and had everything set straight in another thirty minutes or so.

Between the pre-trip, fueling and tire issues I was now almost two hours behind schedule and I drove from West Memphis to our Lancaster, Texas yard non-stop, where I fueled again. Barely fifteen minutes later I departed, headed for Waco, Texas to stop for the night at the Flying J truck stop just down the street from a Hooters restaurant.

Duck!

Several mornings ago I, when I was at the Greencastle, Pennsylvania Con-Way yard, I woke up to this loud chattering and various goings-on outside my cab. I’m a fairly deep sleeper and normally truck stop noises don’t bother, so I was curious what was happening. I poked my head out the driver door and saw the root cause of the ruckus:

View all Duck! pics

Yes, two large bunches of ducks doing duck things in a pond that Con-Way keeps at the back of their property. They were squawking at each other, preening and basically causing a commotion.

Eventually one group flew off to bigger and better pastures (ponds?):

I was at a pretty high zoom level with my Nikon and holding down the capture button as I turned from right to left so there is some motion blur in most of these photos and you don’t see all the birds that took off (there were probably two dozen in that group).

Eventually the remaining adult ducks split, and about ten minutes later one of the groups came back in for a landing:

I didn’t realize it but there were a handful of baby ducklings in the pond as well — their coloration makes them damn good hiders in a duck pond! Can you pick them out of this photo? (HINT: look at the center of the photo at the edge of the water)

Do you have all your ducks in a row?

On the road again…

It took several more hours for everything to sort itself out and a trailer released to me so I could run with it. I had started work at 2:30 AM this morning so by 10:30 more than half of my work day was shot just with waiting around.

Apparently there were seven trailer loads going from this plant down to Mexico with CFI and the broker that we got the loads from had some screwed up load numbering system that neither CFI or the shipper normally used. They really, really, really wanted load 1234xz-bob-666-A4 to be on trailer 12345, towed by truck 54321 and nothing else would do. Everyone concluded this was nuts and eventually we convinced the folks in the rear with the gear to let us take loaded trailers as they were made ready and just call in which trailer and load number we happened to have aboard.

I did something I’ve never done before in a big rig today. I passed an exit ramp near where I was planning on shutting down for the night and went to the next exit and made a U-turn, eating up four extra miles. Man has to do something when he’s suddenly craving a DQ Blizzard, after all.

I have a TON of pics I shot this morning; perhaps 80 or 100 images in all. I’ll try uploading them in Laredo as that many will require some serious bandwidth that isn’t available here.

Laredo, my old friend

I dropped my trailer at Con-Way very early this morning and waited for about five hours to get a dispatch. It turns out we have seven trailer loads of dishware going from a plant here in Greencastle, Pennsylvania down to Laredo, Texas, destined for Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico. It is an 1,800 mile run that will take me about three-and-a-half days to finish.

For some reason the load numbers are screwed up so I’m parked here at the shipper waiting for CFI customer service to figure out which load I’m getting. The one I was set up for left on another truck several hours ago.