Thursday, January 31, 2008


I have never been robbed or assaulted, although I have received letters from the IRS. I have never had a gun pointed at me, or been burglarized, and sitting here now I cannot think of an instance where I was truly in fear for my life.

Except for Wednesday morning.

I had my back haul loaded, got it early even, and headed through Chicago. The weather reports were calling for high winds with blowing snow but not much in the form of accumulation. the snow hit just as I was getting loaded and the drive down from Woodstock to the interstate towards Chicago and south was down to 40mph as opposed to the posted 55. But still, it wasn't that bad. Usually in bad weather my rule is to keep moving if I can and slow down to a safe speed and then usually a little slower. I have never been one of those guys blowing rooster tails on a snow covered road. Through Chicago was slow mostly due to the amount of traffic. Lots of folks out there at that time of night and everybody going pretty slow.

I got to Gary, IN and stopped for fuel. Bitter, bitter, bone chilling cold due to the wind. Passenger's side wiper fluid frozen. One guy on the radio asking for help cause his doors are frozen shut and he can't get out of his truck. Just a miserable night. But traffic is still moving.

I get my fuel, run about 4 miles over to 65 and head south towards Indianapolis. Up until now the wind has been hitting me in the rear. Now I am catching it full on the side, 40 to 50 mph winds, and life is no fun at all. I'm running about 30-35 mph and staying in the right lane because ALL traffic is passing me. Three separate times I felt my wheels break loose on the road and my trailer begin to come around to the left. I had changed nothing, no more pressure on the throttle, no steering change, nothing. The wheels just hit a sheet of ice and lost their traction. The third time was the straw-breaker. It's a slight incline to an overpass, the road curves slightly to the left as it heads over the bridge and it slants to the left as well. Right at the top my wheels broke loose again, the trailer starts coming around and I felt as helpless as I have ever felt in my life. At that moment I remember feeling as if I were going for a ride and that I had absolutely no control over that truck at all. I kept the wheels straight, feathered the throttle trying to get traction back, called out to God, and held on for the ride. I really felt as if I were going over. But a few moments later I was on the other side of the bridge, still upright and moving, and on the road, although I was nearly on the left hand shoulder by this time.

Do you ever stop and think how fast your mind moves?

In an instant I thought about how bad that could have been, how fast I was now going (15mph), what traffic was behind me, what the next exit number was, and that I was done for the night. If the shoulder had been wider I would have stopped right where I was. I'm 4 miles from exit 240 which has two truck stops that I know of. I approach the exit and see that I had forgotten about the weigh station about a half mile before the exit. I crawled into the weigh station, which was already full, pulled up crossways behind other trucks in their spaces, trying to stay out of the way of other trucks coming in, set the brakes, and called the broker.

"Hi sir, this is John. I've got your load from Woodstock to Dayton and Columbus."

"Hi, how are you doing?"

"I've had better nights. Listen, I just wanted to call you and tell you that your load is going to be late. "

"Do you know how late?"

"Nope, I'll call you when I wake up and let you know then, but I am done for the night."

"That bad out there, eh?"

"Yes, sir. It's that bad."

"Ok. Get some rest and call me when you're on your way again. Be safe."

That's the kind of broker I can deal with. He could have pushed me to keep going but as he said himself, "It's easy for me to push you on when I'm sitting here safe and sound in my nice warm house."

My appointment in Dayton was for 7am. They received their Sports Illustrated magazines, all 52,000 copies, safe and sound at noon. Had I kept going they probably would never have received them at all.

But some did keep going. When I got back on the road 6 hours later, I counted 7 trucks, within the first 20 miles, that didn't make it. All but one looked as if there should not have been any injuries as a result of leaving the road but one never knows. One truck laid over on the driver's side. I hope that driver's ok.

Sometimes fear can be a good thing. It got me off the road when I needed to. And yes, I bring extra underwear.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just waiting

Just sitting here waiting to get my backhaul.

Greeny asked why the handle on the toaster in my last post was tied down in the first place. I thought that was clear. I order to make the pop tart burst into flame. That's just something men do. I takes us back to our childhood when fire was that all consuming interest. Obviously before we started noticing that girls were all nice and curvy. Then the fire...well, let's just say it changed form.

Last night I learned how to make Mt Dew glow in the dark. Take a bottle of Mt Dew. Pour out all but about a 1/4 inch, add about 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and 3 capfuls (CAPfuls, NOT CUPfuls) of peroxide. Shake and serve with fireworks and sparklers. There was a video and it sure looked like it worked. I'll try it when I get home. I'll let you know. Who knows, maybe I can get rid of the lamps in my house.

Had a flashback last night to my tour bus days. (Driver, not band member). Get this picture, and remember this is pre-9/11 too. I'm taking a coach full of folks into Canada, Toronto specifically, and we stop at the border and do the inspection thing. Going into Canada is like going to your mothers aunts house. They may not remember your name but they're glad to see you. Now coming back into the US is more like trying to sneak late into English class without an excuse. "Where were you? What were you doing? Empty your pockets. Why is there a mustard stain on your tie." You know how English teachers are. And Border Patrol folks have NO sense of humor.

Anyway, we had fun in Canada, came back through Niagara Falls area and stopped at the Border. The Man gets on the coach, asks a few folks for ID, asks a few about their citizenship, and then comes to me. Maybe I should just carry a sign with me that says, "Don't take anything he says seriously". The Man asks me "Where'd you go? How long were you there? Did you bring anything back with you?" . And I answered, "Toronto, 3 days, dirty underwear." I should have noticed his frown at the last answer but I forged ahead.

Next question, "Are you carrying any guns?"

MY answer, "Well, how many do you need?"

The mattresses in the cells at the border crossing are very very thin. And quite uncomfortable if I do say so myself.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Things are slow at work right now, so much so that the company has enforced the no overtime rule. No overtime at all unless it's absolutely necessary. My run next week will take about 39 hours and that's just Sunday night through Wednesday morning. Friday is the first day of the pay week so I'm sitting at home right now. I miss the overtime. Sure looked good on the paycheck. I'm drinking tea to try to get my voice back. Nasty stuff. I hate tea unless it's iced, or the hot green tea in the Korean restaurant.

My dreams have been quite weird lately. Which worries me. Next week I'm going after the meds Chantix to try to help me quit smoking and that really whacks your dreams out. If they're strange now what will they be like when I'm on the psycho stuff? They start out fun but then deteriorate into strangeness. I would give you an example but there are some people who read this that might cut me out of their lives. Just cause you dream about something doesn't mean you're really that person. Does it?

Anybody know a really good driving job in Texas with good health insurance, three weeks vacation, paid holidays, 8 weeks sick leave, and provides the driver with a cell phone, laptop, ipod, and a mini bar? I am so sick of this cold weather.

I saw a quote the other day that said "Write a wise saying and your name will live forever." but I don't remember who said it. Sorry.

Did you know that if you put strawberry Pop-Tarts in a toaster and then tie the handle down on the toaster so that it cannot pop up when it wants to that eventually the Pop-Tarts will burst into flames? Pretty cool, huh?

I took Sheila out last weekend and we went to the Outback Steakhouse and to see a movie "Sweeney Todd; Demon Barber of Fleet Street". Two things. I remembered why I haven't been to Outback in a while. Good food but a bit more than I usually spend. Sheila, who drinks very very seldom, (or is it seldomly? help me out here AM) ordered the Wallaby Darned. "The Famous Australian peach Bellini. Tickle your tongue with this frosty combination of peaches, champagne, Smirnoff Vodka and DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps." She enjoyed it and was very fun to be with the rest of the night. The movie was alright. Not my cup of tea. I liked the music although I must say that I didn't realize how much music there would be going in. Some of the scenes were long and drawn out more than I thought necessary. My two oldest thought it was the greatest movie ever made. But then Hana's in love with Johnny Depp and Ben is just weird. Wonder where he gets it?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I'm a documentary nut.

I'm a documentary nut. Anything informational and I love it. I used to watch a show on PBS called Adventures in Scale Modeling. Get a life, right?

I was watching a documentary the other day called 'The Devil Came on Horseback' about the atrocities in Darfur as witnessed by a UN Peacekeeping observer. I am not usually one that pays a whole lot of attention to the news and I found myself frustrated that I didn't know more about what was going on there. It was pretty graphic and quite disturbing but then I'm sure that was the point of the film.

It made me wonder. Is there anything that I am so passionate about that I will devote my whole life to? Would I be willing to give up my comforts here in America in order to make a difference somewhere else? And could I actually make a difference?

And then I think, I have, hopefully, made a difference in the lives a few kids here in this country, in this state, in this county. Is that enough? I guess I'm on an introspective roll.

Darfur. I will never understand why people do these sorts of things to one another. Never in a million years.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Didn't happen

Life has been way too busy and I've been still dealing with the creeping crud. three weeks now. Guess I should maybe, if I get a chance, think about getting to the doctor to see if there might be something there. Oh well, maybe I'll think about calling tomorrow.

The three year old...didn't happen. Then we got a call for siblings, 4 and 2, then that didn't happen. they found relatives for them. Then we get another call for a different 4 year old. We said yes to all these kids and they sent them somewhere else. Four kids in two weeks. We stiull have the same ones that we've had. Life goes on.

Started working on my taxes yesterday but I remembered I haven't received the paperwork from my investment adviser regarding my properties in Texas, California, Alaska, or Madagascar. He sent me the ones for my properties in DC, Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela, but he said the others were waiting on some permits to be refiled. Anyway, the taxes have to wait.

I was coming home last night, short run, three stops, and thought about trying to get all the way home. Would have been out of hours by the time I got here and I was tired anyway so I stopped in Mt Comfort, IN at the Pilot. Woke up to snow on the ground this morning. Crap. It wasn't much but you still gotta watch it. Lots of wrecks from people just plain going too fast for the conditions. Had one happen right in front of me. Here comes this 69 Camaro flying down the highway, followed closely by a hopped up 49 Merc. They both must have been doing 80 and they blew by me like I was standing still. The Camaro comes back over to my lane and loses it. Round and round she goes. Snow and slush flying everywhere. I can see the Merc trying to slow it down, brakes flashing, she's trying. Can't do it. The Camaro's sliding sideways now and the Merc smacks her in the side on the drivers door.

"John, you keep saying 'her'".

Yeah, I know. two ladies driving.

"How do you know?"

I'm getting to that.

I slow down and straddle the center line, flashers going to slow down the traffic behind me and give them a chance to get their cars off the road. The both get to the shoulder and I pull up behind them to see if everyone's ok. As I'm walking up to them both their doors fly open and these two ladies bail out fo the cars like they're on fire. I stop dead in my tracks. Both these ladies look like they're in their 70's or 80's. Granny dresses, little white hats, white gloves. Looked like I was looking at Miss daisy's sisters. They were some pissed.

"Can't you drive worth a damn," I heard one of them yell and the fists started wailing. "Camaro" had started in on "Merc" and was giving her a beating about the head and shoulders. Merc it seemed, was going more for the body.

"I'm not the one who lost it in the middle of the road," Merc yelled.

"Why didn't you go around me?" Camaro screamed.

"I had no room," Merc screamed back. "You were taking up the whole road, ya hog. Why didn't you put it in the ditch if you can't drive it straight on the blacktop?"

And then the cursing and name calling commenced. I tried to step in between them and break it up since traffic was backing up due to the roadside drama. About that time Merc came at Camaro with a roundhouse just as I stepped between them. Caught me right in the eye. I said forget it. You ladies settle this between yourselves. And they did. They rolled around in the snow, pantaloons flashing as they kicked and clawed at each other.

Turns out they were from the Richmond, IN Ladies Car Club, President and Vice President respectively as a matter of fact, and they had been up all night piddling with their cars in Camaros' garage. Figured they would take them out for a run and see how the new turbo chargers were working. It appears they were working fine.

The cops showed up pretty quick and separated the two. Seemed to know them by first names. I heard one police officer say that if he had to pull Merc over again he would call her Dad and talk to him. Her dad? She looked to 75 or 80. Her dad had to be pushing 100. What's he gonna do? They finally got things settled down, the two ladies ticketed, and since the cars were still drivable, let them go on their way. The police thanked me for trying to help but said that in the future I should leave the battles to them. I agreed. I asked the officer about "Calling her dad". What could he do?

"Miss Elsie's (the camaro driver) father will take the car away from her."

"She's got to be in her 70's. He's got no control over her anymore," I said.

"She's 81 and no. He's got no control over her but the car belongs to him."

"Your kidding me."

"Nope," he said. He's the best race mechanic around and still builds those cars from the ground up. Miss Elsie can't build them but she sure can drive them. He wants her to stick around the house and help him out since his wife passed about 15 years ago. So he told her he would keep her in any car she wanted if she would help out around the house. The only stipulation is that he won't sign the cars over to her. They still belong to him."

"How old is he?" I asked.

"Turned 100 last year," said the officer.

"That's amazing," I said.

"Yep," he said. "Amazing. My daughter won't help at home at all." And he walked away.

I think we had a little different frame of reference here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

My wife is...

Sweet. Kind. Caring. 5'3". Curly headed. Good in the kitchen. Good in the living room too. Bad in only one room, but I won't talk about that here. Insane. A fair driver. A garage saler. A voracious reader.

Wait one minute, John! Did You say INSANE?!

Why, it seems I did. How did that get in there? Let me look.

I see the problem. I typed it. That's how it got in there. Maybe I should retract that statement.

Hold on, let me check.

(Jeopardy Music Here)

Nope, can't retract it. I have sworn to friend and foe to be honest here and I must say that my wife is insane.

Ok, I see you're wanting some background on that statement. Here goes.

I'm tooling along I-65 headed from Indy to Louisville, home of the Slugger, and my phone rings. I can't talk well right now but I answer it cause it's her ring. The usual "how you doin"'s are exchanged and then she says,"Par... called me."

Par..., also known as Par... Family Advocates, is the agency that Sheila and I are associated with in regards to fostering children. Now you all now that we just adopted the last foster child to come into our home, which puts us at 4 kids. When you add the cousins, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and the Bush Twins, we're pretty much busting at the seams. All the kids were playing in the yard last summer and the Police charged us with congregating without a permit. But I digress, and also digest but that's another topic.

So what did PFA want you ask. Seems there's this little boy that they are interested in us taking in as a foster child. Sheila starts reading me off the list of things that he's dealing with, battling with, and doing to others around him, his requirements, his needs, and his shoe size and I'm thinking 'No Way'. How can we take another child in when Preston is settling in to the idea of being adopted,when this new boy would require his own private room, and when
we still haven't gotten all the tar out of the cats fur?

She says, "what do you think?" I put my best 'man of the house' face on, which is stupid since she's on the phone and can't see my best 'man of the house' face, and say, "well, what do you think?"

Hey, I know which side my cats buttered on.

"I think we should do it", she says.That's when I break and say "are you insane?" And I outline my fears, which really only scare me it seems. Then I realize I don't know if it's a teenager and I'm assuming it is.

"How old," I say.

"Three", she says.

Three. How can you say no to a three year old. She says, "He still has a chance."

I think it's already decided.

We'll know tomorrow I guess.

PS: I love my wife. She's got a monstrously humongous heart.

But she's still insane.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lousy Weekend

My ear was stopped up for 5 days and finally had to go to Rapid Response to get it blasted out. I was trying to clean it and got wax pushed up against the drum. NASTY! I tried everything to get it out. Peroxide. Debrox. Ear Candle. Car Keys. Cork screw. Comet. Cat. Nothing worked. Finally gave up and let the pro's do it. Now I've got the creeping crud and I can't talk. But at least I can hear now.

The weather is warmer which means the snow is melting which means my yard is a mud farm again. I think I'm gonna replace all the grass with stone of some kind.

Apparently I wasn't very nice to my wife yesterday. She pointed it out to me and I apologized. You know, when you're feeling rotten, it tends to leak over onto the others around you. At least that's the way it is for me. I didn't even realize I was doing it. She forgives easy though.

I think she should go to work for the IRS.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

This holiday season has really thrown my schedule off. But it actually feels nice. I usually leave out on Sunday or Monday but due to the holiday it was Tuesday or Wednesday this week and last. Which puts me home on Friday and then I'm done for the week. And since our pay week ends on Thursday and we're only allowed to work 40 hrs right now(things are real slow) then it takes some figuring to get back in off the road and keep it at 40. How many hours do I have so far? How much time will loading take on Friday? If I work too much on Friday will that put me over for next week? I can only do so much before I just quit worrying about it.

I think I'm going to Vegas. Walked down to the soda machine again at the laundry and dropped my 4 quarters. the machine dropped 4 sodas and then spit my quarters back. JACKPOT! It did that once before. Maybe should call someone.

Good trip this week. 7 stops with 7 windows. Slow for the company but the same miles for me. Cold weather though. Lucy doesn't like to poop outside when it's real cold. I can't really blame her though. neither do I. It's supposed to be warmer next week. If it stays cold though I may have to wait til spring bring her with me again.

Lucy is my dog, by the way.