Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I cut off my last entry with my arrival to Palm Springs on Sunday night. And now, the continuation;

Every night when you finish driving you are supposed to send in a vehicle inspection report on the qualcomm (satellite communication system.) On Sunday night I felt it was prudent to tell them that a check engine light was on and the splitter button on my shifter was leaking air. For those of you not familiar with big trucks, I have a 13 speed transmission and 2 different air actuated switches on the shift lever that you need to select the correct gear. Whenever you use one of those switches you will hear a quick burst of air as the switch does it's job. The splitter switch was letting out a steady stream of air until I wiggled it enough to make it seal. This is of particular concern since the brakes on the truck are operated by air and if you have enough of an air leak to cause loss of pressure, your brakes will lock up on you. Obviously, the brakes locking up when you're not wanting them to can be detrimental to the life and health of yourself and people around you.

When I heard back from breakdown, they wanted to know if the truck was movable. I told them yes and that I would like to make my delivery in Gila Bend the next day and then they could route me to service. That was agreed upon by all parties as a workable plan.

And so, I woke up early the next morning and made my way out to Gila Bend. Starting out before sunrise and heading east was awesome as the sun started to rise behind the mountains in the distance. As the the sun started to get a little brighter I was suddenly aware of all the little bugs that had committed suicide on my window the previous day. As it got more and more difficult to see, I made the huge mistake of smearing them around with the windshield wipers and washer fluid, now I was almost driving blind into a glaring, yet beautiful sunrise. As luck would have it, I came across a gas station with truck parking next to it. I washed my window there and also waited about 20 mintues for the sun to get just a higher in the sky so as not to be shinning directly into my eyes.

I arrived in Gila Bend ahead of schedule. Passing through the small town you felt like you just stepped way back in time. I was almost expecting a covered wagon to pass by or maybe see Wyatt Earp shoot it out with some bandits. I made my way through town and made it to the mill I was delivering at. As I was leaving the mill, I had to stop and take a picture of an old run down building that I thought was a photographic gem. I also had to take a picture of my truck. After this, I was on my way to Phoenix for service.

I made it to the Peterbilt dealer at about 2:30 Monday afternoon. After a couple of hours, they finally told my that they would not be able to look at my truck that day. I called my driver manger and told her this and she told me to stay there in my truck. Now, bear in mind that this is in the middle of an industrial area. Once they close the shop at night, there are no bathrooms, showers, laundry, food....anything! And, they close the gates with rolled barbed wire on top so you can't even get in or out. But, they told me I was welcome to spend the night in their parking lot. I asked the service writer what I was supposed to do if I got up in the middle of the night and had to pee, was I just supposed to pee in the middle of your parking lot? He just looked at me with a blank stare and shrugged. I contacted my driver manager again and she told that I could take the truck to a truck stop and stay there.

The next morning, I arrived at the shop at about 7:15. Once again, not knowing where I was or where I was supposed to go to get food. I ended up walking about a mile up the road and found a Junk in the Box and got some chicken strips and iced tea. There was also a Circle K right next to the shop where I could get some water, but I refused to eat anything in there. Feeling somewhat abandoned and completely lacking any control over my situation, I came to the end of my rope. I don't like the feeling of being trapped somewhere and lacking the ability to make basic decision for my self. I felt as though I was at the mercy of somebody that was making decision for me while sitting in an comfortable office a thousand miles away. Along with many other highly stressful factors that play into being an over the road trucker, I decided that I was in a career that I wasn't prepared to handle. I called up my driver manager at about 2 that afternoon and asked her to route me home when the truck got out of service, I needed to move on. She tried to talk me out of it and told that not every day would be a breakdown. I told that there were just way too many factors that I didn't calculate into this job and I just didn't think I was cut out for it. I then called my wife and told her what I just done. She was very supportive and told that we'll just have to see what happens next.

After I spent 11 hours hanging out in a parking lot at the service center, I decided to take matters into my own hands and called a shuttle to take me to a motel for the night. At least I had the comfort of knowing that I was in an environment that was designed to provide basic necessities.

It is now Wednesday morning and I will once again call the service center and see if my truck is done. I really feel the need to be home right now.

I don't know what's going to happen next for me, I'm not really sure if I just made the best or worst decision of my life. I will continue to do the best I can to make life wonderful for me and my family. I've had to reassess what I really feel is important many times in the last year since I was laid off from the Federal Reserve Bank. Once again, I am reassessing and will try to make the best decisions for my future.

I'll keep you updated.



  1. I know in today's economy it's hard. You just have to have faith that God is in control & will lead you. We will be praying for you, Red.

    Be safe & God bless!

  2. Red,

    It's hard to say if you made the correct decision or not but in your situation I probably would have done the same thing. The trucking company should have at the very least put you up somewhere so you could wash, eat and sleep.

    The trucking company is trying to save a buck and in doing so lost a very good driver. How much money do they save by now having to hire a replacement and train them? I have heard there are good trucking companies out there that treat their drivers very well, perhaps you can find one and get hired on and make good use of a skill that you're obviously good at.

    I am in a similar situation where if my current job ends, I'll end up probably having to change careers and at 47 years old, I don't know what it would be or how we could survive financially.

    I wish you luck and God speed getting home.

    Safe travels,

  3. Wow, that's a heavy load but know that there are people who will help you bear it. You have a wonderful, supportive wife and a beautiful daughter and those are treasures beyond measure. You will find a way. Praying for you as always. Wonder what Pat at PCB has available??? Just a thought...

  4. I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I pray that God will make your path clear to you.

  5. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes it takes a while to figure out why though. You've got the training and skills, maybe try to find a local driving job for the short term? Good luck regardless....

  6. I echo Donna aka Froggi's thoughts. Maybe there is a possibility for you to find a local or short run driving job.

  7. I read your folks blog and got hooked into reading yours from a link they had in theirs. I can really appreciate what your going through. I spent 20 years on the road driving everything from a city delivery truck in Los Angles to log trucks in Oregon, and just about everything in between. Like you, my first driving experience was in the military. Driving GMC 20 ton dumps in Viet Nam, and duce and a half’s and buses in Germany.

    It's a big decision, going on the road full time. My wife and I raised our two daughters while I was mostly gone from home. You can't replace those times away, and a phone call is not like being there. I justified the job because we needed the money and things seemed to be tight all the time, plus I made good money pushing freight down the road for a couple million miles.

    Eventually the uncaring dispatchers, broken equipment, and crazy drivers will just be so much buzz in your ear. Like a fly in the cab if you know what I mean. Once you get hardened to the rigors of over the road trucking, the everyday issues of missed loads, late deliveries, lost weekends, and missed connections will just be a part of the “Job”. Shucks, you haven’t even had to make a delivery to West Coast Grocers yet. That’ll be an education.

    I finally wised up and got out of the cab and now ride heard over my clients computers as a technical support manager. I'm home every night, and I now see my grand children way more often than I saw even my own children when I was driving. My last gig for 5+ years was doing a weekly run either to California or Montana that got me home every weekend or I might have dropped out of the truckers league sooner if not for that extra home time.

    After the kids grew up and left home, my wife told me she didn't want to be home alone anymore. I realized that I needed to find something new. It took several years but I was able to train in a new profession and now am happily approaching retirement.

    There are local hauling positions available, so don't give up on making a living jammin gears yet. But, be selective and put family first. Take it from someone who knows, those family times and memories cannot be replaced and there is no make up test.

    There's still a bit of the trucker in me I guess, I maintain a CDL with all endorsements, just in case I get the itch. But I would have to take my wife of 39 years with me, or it's a no go for me. Oh, and I'd have to figure out how to take the grand kids too, and the dog, and my Mom. Cuz I'm not leaving anyone behind this time. Just my 2 cents worth.

    Good luck, and keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down.