Time And Miles

Specialized hauling, that’s what I do.  Running an old Peterbilt with a Cummins and 18 gears pulling a gooseneck, haul mostly machinery, construction vehicles, and some military stuff.  It’s a life and I don’t get rich, that’s for sure.  An independent owner operator, means I have hustle my own loads and pay my own way.  I suppose if I pulled dry vans or even refrigerator on a dedicated route I could make a lot more money but then I’d have to work for an outfit that would try to cheat me and maybe move me to irregular routes.  It’s a chance you take.  One way or the other, that is.  I get paid by the mile and specialized is good money by the mile.  But I drive by the clock, only got eleven hours driving and thirteen hours a day to drive.  Time and miles, the eternal trucker’s dilemma.

So I pull out of Savanna with a military vehicle, a five ton straight truck with a communications load.  The five tons is what that truck can carry, not what it weights.  With the communications shack in its bed the load is pushing 43,000 pounds and my 13 feet, three inch height limit.  That’s why I have a goose neck, it skims the pavement at six inches, makes railroad tracks a challenge sometimes.  Been out a week already and only had two showers, the one luxury every trucker treasures.  So these Navy people are slow in getting me loaded.  I’m forth in line and they are eating up my thirteen hour day.  I’ll be lucky to get our before rush hour.  If I don’t than add an hour’s worth of travel time as I head up I-75.  My goal is to get north of Atlanta to a truck stop an hour out of Chattanooga where I can stop for the night and grab a shower in the morning.  I don’t relish standing in line for three hours tonight just for a shower.  Tonight’s mean will be dried soup with some canned chicken added, god knows I can’t afford to eat at the restaurant, both financially and calorie wise.  Besides, the meals are grossly over priced and pretty tasteless.  For get what they use to tell you about truck stop food, it’s garbage.  With some luck I’ll be able to head out by five in the morning if I get bed down soon enough.  Got to make it through Chattanooga before rush hour and then over to Knoxville.  I ought to get there about noon if I keep the hammer down.  Unlike most company rigs mine isn’t speed regulated, I can do the speed limit even if it’s 80.  Of course I pay a penalty going that fast.  Takes a lot of fuel to most that much air out of the way and my rig is not aerodynamic in any sense of the word.

Atlanta was a nightmare, it always is.  The only way to get through it is late at night, I mean after ten at night.  I’m not much for running at night, vision is cut to about a quarter and I don’t like those odds.  So now I am bed down on an off ramp, truck stop is full and I’m out of time.  Sometimes the troopers roust us and we have to find some other spot to park.  At least I’ve got a donkey engine to run the air in summer and heat in winter.  Cheaper than running the Cummings all night long.  But no shower in the morning.  Oh well, just have to heat some water for a sponge bath.  You learn to carry several items.  The first is water in two and a half gallon jugs.  The second is a camp propane burner to heat water and cook with.  Nothing like a hot cup of coffee or two in the morning.  The third is your own food, mostly dry and canned.  The forth is a set of tools.  Repair shops will rip you off.  so you carry extra light bulbs and fuses and and many other things.  It is a self contained life you lead.

So I’ve got eleven hours before I can move again.  I”ve got a weigh station ahead fifty miles from hear and If they pull me over and check my logs I better be right or I’m out a lot of money.  So I can move until nine tomorrow.  At least I’ll get through after the rush hour but that puts me into the afternoon at Fort Knox out side of Knoxville.  Searching for a load to pick up tomorrow, I may have to sit for a day before I find one.  Might find one before I move tomorrow morning.

Trooper woke me up at five this morning, said I had to move.  Told him I couldn’t before nine.  He said he understood, was nice about it.  Sometimes they’re real pricks.  Went back to sleep for another two hours then got up and did my sponge bath routine.  Feel a little better but a shower would have been nice.  Going on three days and expect it will be four before my next one.  Made some coffee and started scanning the load sites.  Yes, cell phone connections for your computer are nice but i’m paying a hundred or more for access to the internet each month.  Just another expense to take against income, assuming you have any income.  I’m lucky if I make fifty thou a year.  I swear, I’m barely making minimum wage.  Set a text to my girlfriend, at least I think shes still my girl friend.  Might be another five weeks before I see her again and then I’m almost a stranger to her.  And by the time we just start getting comfortable with each other I’m back on the road.  How can I miss you if you won’t go away?  Yeah, exactly.

Books on tape and CDs, about the limit of my entertainment.  It does while away the time, keeps boredom at bay for a while.  does nothing for loneliness.  Truck drivers aren’t socialized, they just blow their horns inappropriately.  Ain’t it the truth.   Well, I’m through Chattanooga and on my way to Knoxville, expect to be there about one pm.  Found another load for tomorrow morning.  Means I lose half a day since I have to drive to Huntsville and pick up a couple of Humvees for some national guard outfit in Pennsylvania.  That’s a lot of unpaid miles.  But Willow Grove Pennsylvania is a day and a half trip.,  Not bad.  could be worse.  I might be able to get an New Holland load to Nebraska or beyond.  Long hall pays better.  One can only hope.  Still, a lot of back roads to Blue Balls and Intersourse.  About half a day’s drive from Willow Glenn.  Diesel prices been going up on the east coast.  Well, always carry about ten extra gallons in jerry cans just for emergency.  It’s a love hate relationship, this trucker’s life.  Not sure what I have to look forward to.

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