Friday, April 1, 2011

heading north to Oregon (Home)

I last left you on Wednesday morning as I was waiting for word on my truck at the shop. I know it's only been 2 days but I could probably write volumes about what transpired in that time frame. Since I'm not a doctor and not qualified to cure your insomnia, I'll try to condense the last two days to something shorter than a celebrity marriage.

I was able to pick up my truck from the service center on Wednesday and immediately received a dispatch to pick up a trailer in the Phoenix drop yard and take it to customer in the heart of the metro LA area. Now, bearing in mind that I already quit my job, I really wanted to tell my DM (driver manager) that there were only two things I didn't want to do; 1, drive in LA / 2, drive at night. I just want to get home and they are wanting their truck back, lets get both there in one piece is my thinking. Keeping in mind that LA is kinda on the way home and the delivery was at 1:00pm, I figured I could avoid some rush hour traffic and wanted to get moving in the homeward direction. So, I sent back a message confirming the dispatch.

After making a wrong turn and finally locating the drop yard, I found my trailer and was Westward bound by about 2 on Wednesday afternoon. I was wanting to make it as far west as possible so I could start later the next day and hopefully miss rush hour traffic in the LA area.

While on the way to Cali, I received another dispatch to pick a loaded trailer in Van Nuys at 7pm on Thursday and deliver in Modesto at 9am on Friday. I called my dispatcher and told her that first of all, I wasn't driving all night. For me, not safe. She told me that it was a 6 hour trip and I could drive half on Thursday and sleep most of the night and drive the other half Friday morning. Then she went on to tell me, and I quote "hun, in trucking we don't get to pick our hours." I wanted to say; Carol, are you aware that I already quit, you do want your truck back, don't you?" We also went some rounds about available hours, she said I had plenty, I said I didn't. I caved and agreed to the load because I wanted to head north but assured her, when my hours run out, I'm stopping, no questions asked.

As I got further east, I started to recall some of the stories that I heard about the Banning Scales. Apparently, they are notoriously tough and I was headed right for them. Having a prepass in my window, you can weigh in motion on the freeway and if you receive a green light, you just keep going. As luck would have it, my sensor gave me a red light. I'm already sweating bullets and hope that I just roll through and keep going. once you pass the scales, if you get a green light, you head for the freeway, if you get an arrow pointing to the right, well, that ain't as good. Again, as luck would have it, I got an arrow. After 17 minutes of sweating bullets, I was told that my truck checked out. In my opinion, I should have gotten a free t-shirt for that experience.

I made it to Ontario and stopped at a huge TA truck stop there. As truck stops go, the place was awesome! A little of everything there. In the interest of saving time on allowable drive hours, I started as late as I could and headed out to make my delivery. While on my way, I received a message from dispatch telling me that my next pickup was already loaded and I could pick up early if I wanted to. I arrived at my delivery right at 1pm and was hoping if all went well, I could hot foot it to Van Nuys before rush hour. Well, God does have a since of humor! As I was backing into the dock I heard a rather loud KABOOM!!! I immediatly ruled out a terrorist attack but knew something went horribly wrong. After inspecting the truck, I found that one of the suspension air bags had exploded. I sent a breakdown message and called my DM to tell her that I wouldn't be able to make that Van Nuys/Modesto trip. I was able to get my truck back to the loading dock and breakdown sent out some mobile mechanics to replace the air bag. The mechanics did get the air bag replaced but it was now almost 4pm, the rush hour that I hoped to avoid was now in full swing. Since I never heard back from my DM, I decided to go after my next load.

25 miles took me an hour and a half but I finally made it to Van Nuys. My personal inexperience and lack of knowledge made the process of picking up a preloaded trailer an ordeal worth an hour and a half.

noticing that I now only have 4 hours of available drive time, I decided to make it over the Grapevine and stop on the other side. Keeping in mind that you can only 70 hours of on duty time in 8 days, I thought I would wake up the next morning and would have another 4 hours since the 4 hours that I was on duty 8 days ago would drop off. Turns out, I figured wrong. The 8 day rule doesn't count the current day as I thought, it was the previous 8 days. The day that dropped off was the day before I started my trip, zero hours on duty that day, zero hours dropped off this morning. Again, I called my DM and told her that I only had an hour of drive left and wasn't going to make Modesto. She got to looking at my logs on her end and asked; What's this 3 hours you spent in the parking lot at your delivery yesterday? I told her I was waiting for my truck to get fixed. She then asked; why didn't you log that as off duty? I told her; Well, I was waiting in a parking lot, that certainly wasn't MY time! She told me that it was my time and she was going to change that to off duty. After nit-picking about a couple of entries, she was able to gain me 4 1/2 hours and told me to get my butt headed north. I questioned the legality of this but I didn't care since I wanted to get home and out of the truck, ASAP.

I made it to my delivery with 39 minutes of available drive time left. Having learned my lesson, I logged off and sat in the parking lot for 2 hours while off duty. Somehow, the trailer even backed itself into the dock while I was off duty. Just before I hit the gate, I changed the log to on duty and headed out to find a truck stop, a very close one. I pulled into the parking lot of a Flying J with 1 minute to spare. Now that's cuttin' just a little to close for me.

About the time I got to the Flying J, I received a dispatch to pick up a trailer in Woodland tomorrow (Saturday) and drop it in the Brooks yard (home base). I will only have 4 hours of drive time tomorrow so I should have just enough time to make Woodland and maybe get a little north on I5. Come Sunday, I will gain over 10 hours, should be plenty enough to get me home.

As of now, I should be home on Sunday evening. I can't wait!!!!


  1. Holy Cow!! I knew trucking was tough but that's incredible. So glad you are on the way home to your family. This does not sound like any kind of a life for you, but I certainly feel for the guys who do it all the time. I'm sure there is something out there for you that will be a better fit. Get some rest.

  2. Lord, have mercy -- I am worn out & confused from reading your post...LOL! I don't blame you -- I wouldn't want to do that job either! God bless & be safe -- you're almost home!

  3. I have a new appreciation of what truckers go through every day. Wow! Travel safely back to Oregon!

  4. Truckers have to be a really different kind of people to manage hours like that.

  5. Your DM is a world class ahole. Making you use your own time to save on trucking company time forcing you to drive is like stealing money from you.

    Personally, I hope your last words to this lady let her know exactly what you think of her and that company. I bet she gets bonus money for "creative ways" of getting drivers to log more time while making it look legal.

    I hope your trip home is a safe one Red, good luck,


  6. Erik, I couldn't agree more! But, I was looking for the quickest way home so I let it happen. I can't believe that she had the gall to tell me that standing in a parking lot in 100 degree weather for 3 hours was "my time"...?????