Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Update You've Been Waiting For

I know. You couldn't sleep last night for all your concern over whether or not I beat the weather. Or whether the weather beat me. Or whether weather is...Naw. I can't keep it going.

The answer is no. I did not beat the weather. But not for a lack of trying. Good news is that I did get everything off the truck last night and got parked safe. The bad news is that I'll not be stopping at the Petro Truck Stop in Remington, IN at exit 201 again. That is unless I need to use the rest room. And even then, I may decide to...never mind. Let's just say, it was not a good experience.

The background: Last Friday I got to work to load trucks, fired up the three that needed loaded (mine being one of them) and coiled up all the electric cords. (We plug them in at night due to the cold.)I was gonna load mine first and so I climbed up inside and the first thing that greets me is the irritating alarm for the Low Air Warning. I glance at the gauge, the air should be up high enough by now to quiet the alarm, and I see that it is. 120psi. Right where it's supposed to be. What's the alarm for then. Wait. There it is. The computer on the dash says "1 Active Fault". The nice thing about these types of trucks is that it'll usually tell you right off what's wrong with it. So after pushing 5 buttons 37 times and scrolling through the diagnostic menu, not to be confused with the diabetic menu, I discovered that cylinder #5 had a bad injector. Sooo, my truck is going nowhere but the shop.

Luckily the weather was up a little and the replacement rig fired up even though it had not been plugged in, albeit with much belching, farting and smoking. Just like a few truck drivers I know.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. I'm in a truck that is not usually mine, I'm loaded and headed towards Indy with great hopes of not getting caught up by the weather that was coming. I'm running south on 65 and my wife calls. I'm talking to her for a few minutes and then hear it. That distinctive bang that signals your day has just gone in the crapper. A quick look in the side mirror confirms this as tire strips are flying out behind me.

It was then that my wife heard me say some things she does not normally hear me say. And yes, I did apologize later.

I pull over, creeping down the shoulder til I can see a yardstick and then try to figure out the nearest town. Crap, my map is in my other truck. I call the office, gonna have them look it up, but they can't tell by the mile marker alone. Don't ask me. Finally, I see an exit ahead, Remington, IN. The boss is on the phone. Good news. He tells me there's a Petro at Remington and they have a garage. Cool. I'll call you back when I'm on the road again.

So I pull up to the garage. Tell the lovely lady that I have a flat on the trailer and after gathering all the pertinent information she tells me to put it in door one. This I do.

Now here's where it gets interesting. There's one mechanic on duty. Two others are on the clock but they are out on road calls. And this one mechanic just started eating lunch. Knowing the importance of a meal, I do not hurry him along. I wait patiently in the truck. He finally comes out and gets started as I check the weather again and see how I'm doing.

I hear the air wrench that these guys use to take our big lug nuts off. (The ones on the wheels! Get your mind out of the gutter.) But it sounds as though they are not coming off. You can tell when the nut breaks free. After listening to this for a bit, I get out and see if there is a problem. Not that I can fix it but if I'm gonna be a lot longer, I need to let some people know, right?

And here's where it gets interesting. The mechanic tells me he does not have a socket for these nuts. WHAT!?! Here is a garage with 5 bays where they can do hundreds of different repairs from changing light bulbs to rebuilding engines, and they don't have a socket that will fit my lug nuts? Now I know what your thinking, but no. They are the same size nuts as the vast majority of other trucks have. Nothing special. So he's trying to get them off with the next size higher. And now I'm concerned he's gonna bust something. My confidence is waning fast in this fellows abilities. And the fact that he moves at the speed of frozen custard is not helping.

This should be a thirty minute job. I mean, I'm in YOUR garage. You don't even have to come to me. I brought it to you! Seems the socket that he needed was in the road repair truck. They went to NAPA and tried to buy another one, but NAPA didn't have one, apparently. So we waited til the road repair guy gets back, and then my repair starts.

The expected thirty minutes turned into an hour and forty-five minutes. RIDICULOUS! Needless to say, I was not happy. And by now I know that I will hit the bulk of the weather by the time I get to Indy. The truth is that I hit it a while before I got to Indy and it was bad from there on.

The one thing I was grateful for was that it had not been raining on those roads first. That would have been a nightmare I would have parked long before I did.

But I made it to Dayton, an hour and a half late after having started out almost two hours early, and then made it to Columbus, two and half hours late. Oh well, what ya gonna do?

By this time it's bad, traffic is light but what's there is crawling, 25-40 at best and I hear that the road that gets me to the truck stop I was planning on parking at is closed. Crap. So it's back across Columbus to the west side where I have two options to park. One behind a Wendy's in actual truck parking or an old warehouse that's up for sale. But if it's for sale then there's no plowing contract and we're supposed to get up to 10 inches which could stick me fast. I opt for the Wendy's. It takes a little maneuvering but I finally get in there amongst the others, out of the way, not in a legitimate spot, but I'm in the corner and everybody can get around me. I'm done.

The weird thing is that I sat there, in the seat, staring out the window for probably ten more minutes, listening to the weather band on the radio. Doing Nothing. Just Sitting.

I think they call that "detox"?

Anyway, I was parked, empty and safe. The boss calls me today after I woke up. Sit tight he tells me. They got hit harder than Columbus did and the road into our plant wasn't plowed at all. No way could I get the truck in there. So here I sit. Again. Still. Behind the Wendy's, (God Bless You, Dave Thomas) with a full belly, and a good broadband signal. I'm warm and safe. Other than being home with my family, I couldn't ask for a whole lot more.

As my mother would say, I'll be home tomorrow, Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Racing the weather

I'm in the garage of a truck stop in Remington, IN. Another blown tire on the trailer. Big major winter storm is running west and should be in Indianapolis by 3. It's 12:40. I'm a hundred miles from Indy. I need to get in front of this thing. Got to get to Dayton and Columbus. If this storm stops me I may be stopped for a while. It looks like a big one. I just want to get to Columbus this evening and then get empty. Then it can do what it wants. I'll watch after that.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Daughter's dream

My daughter was mad at me this morning.

She had a dream last night that I died and my spirit possessed the minivan and wouldn't let her drive over 50 mph.

She was not happy.

When I die I'm gonna ask God if He can work that out.

Stream of Consciousness

As with nearly everyone else in the country, it's been way too cold here as of late. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, not because my hands are sore though. It's just been going on for so long. It was 14 below when I went in to work yesterday. Had three trucks to load and got two of them started. They didn't want to start, but after much belching and groaning and smoking, (the trucks, not me) they finally got running. One straight truck refused to run at all. So the boss is gonna come in on Sunday when it's supposed to be warmer and see what he can do. The straight truck only gets one tub on it anyway so it's an easy load.

Today is supposed to be better. It's 3 degrees right now but we're supposed to get up to 22. Yeehaa! But the wind is blowing which is putting the wind chill down around 25 below.

I went to the doctor last week, due to regular, frequent, screaming, make you cry and then throw up headaches. She diagnosed Cluster Headaches. I get a series of them once or twice a year that lasts about 5 or 6 weeks and then I'm fine. But when they come, well, I'd do anything to make them stop. The good thing is that the headache itself only lasts about 30 minutes before it's gone. And she was not happy to hear that the best way for me to get rid of them is to sit on the porch and smoke a cigarette. But she understood why that works. It's a result of the constrictive actions of smoking. It constricts your blood vessels and that seems to clear the headache out. She gave me some stuff to take for the next cycle, since it appears I am out of this last one, plus she suggested a change in my regular meds to discuss with the family doc. She also told me that smoking is the biggest aggravater for cluster headaches and told me that I have to quit, even though it seems to help them go away, it actually makes them worse when they get there. Went to the family doc on Thursday and made that med change. All is well so far.

Went down to Columbus yesterday and picked Ben up to bring him home from college for the long weekend. He is really enjoying it at OSU. On the way home he was telling me all kinds of stuff about his school, how big it is, how diverse it is, what kind of food they have, how far he's walking. Sounds like this is a great thing for him. But I sure did miss him while he was gone. His girlfriend and a bunch of his friends were over last night so it was pizza night and Sheila and I sat and watched "Bangkok Dangerous" with Nicholas Cage, (meaning he was in the movie, not sitting there with us watching it), while all the kids watched other stuff elsewhere and played on the computer. It was a good night. It was also a good movie, even though, as usual, I had to rewind the last 20 minutes because I fell asleep before it was over. Don't take that as an indication of the quality of said movie. I fall asleep in all movies. Doesn't matter where or when. At home or in the theater. That's why I don't go to the theater. Why pay $7 for a nap. I can get one at home for free. Although I did make it all the way through "7 pounds" when Sheila and I went to see it a couple weeks ago. That was a good movie.

I was supposed to start announcing this morning for Upwards basketball, but they cancelled the games due to the bitterly cold wind chill factors that we were expecting.

So that's pretty much it. There's not a whole lot else going on. I still have a job, thank you God, and I still have my wife, thank you God, and I still have all my kids, can I get some help here, God? Actually, I am very thankful for my life. It's not perfect. I would love to be in Texas right now. But apparently, I am where I am supposed to be right now.

So...until further notice, I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and going where I go, and all should be well.
But I am not cleaning out that litter box anymore!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I know. It's been a week and you've heard nothing from me. Life has not been busy all that much so I can't use that as an excuse, but it has been cold. Does that count?

It's Saturday and the house is quiet this morning. Preston is the only one awake so far and he's playing Spyro in the Ps2. We got a little snow last night, about 3 inches, but it's snowing pretty good out there right now and they're calling for 8 to 10 inches by this evening. That's not a lot compared to some places but it's enough for me. I thank God that it's Saturday and I have nowhere to be. I will have to call the boss tomorrow morning and make sure that a path is plowed for me to get into and out of the shop tomorrow afternoon since that's when I'm leaving for my run to Michigan and Chicago. They are telling me that I may be going to Chicago every week soon since we've got a customer that took over a bunch of the clients of Republic Window and Door Factory that recently closed their doors up there. Bad for them, good for us. You might have read about that outfit that closed it's doors and the workers staged a "sit-in". It sucks when companies treat their employees like that.

The snow was falling last night and my daughter mentioned how bad it must be to be a dog.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Cause when they've got to pee and poop outside in the snow, they've got to squat they're butts down in the snow to do it. I think I'd hold it."

My children are so deep.

Upwards basketball is getting ready to start their games next week at the church and I'll be spending today getting my music together for that. I do all the announcing for the games and play music in between quarters and games and such. They run all day on Saturday for about 8 weeks. It keeps me busy and I have a blast with it.

So between that and looking for a job in Texas, I'll be pretty much busy all day.

By the way, I got my daughters laptop working but alas, she did not clean her room. One can only expect so much.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mr. Fix-it

Kimmy has said this before. Apparently, women get excited about a man helping out around the house. Why my mother never told me this, I'll never know. It might have saved me a lot of trouble, and made me a happier fellow. But it's true. I found that out again today.

I fixed the washing machine.

Earlier this week the washer quit draining or spinning. I hate working on appliances, but I've learned a few things about it from a previous job I had in Texas and worked with a fellow who could fix anything. So I had a little bit of an idea about where to start looking. And I found the answer fairly quickly.

You know that switch right there on the top that stops the tub from spinning if you lift the lid? That switch broke in our machine. I needed to check and make sure the switch was bad before continuing on and, alas, it was. So, I pulled the switch, took the wires off the contacts, stuck the two wires together and wrapped them up with electrical tape.

Viola! Working Washing Machine! The only thing now is that if you lift the lid, the tub does not stop spinning. So If you're ever here for a visit, and you decide to do laundry, don't stick your arm in my washer. I may have a new switch on by then, but I may not. You never know.

But I do know that my wife is very happy. In her words, I have just scored some major brownie points.

Now, I'm working on my daughters laptop. Maybe she'll be happy enough to clean her room.

Maybe not.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Today is a good day. At least it looks as though that will be the case. Why, you ask? Well, it appears that my wife is going to the big bad Wally World. Now, normally, I would not be excited about my wife going off, checkbook in hand, with visions of winged dollar signs dancing in her head. But she and I have an agreement. She can go to Wally World and I can go to Wally World, (although I only go when I am in the big truck and then only to replenish some supplies.) But we do not go to Wally World together.

Again, I here you asking why. Be patient.

You see, at Wally World, we have two different agendas. My agenda is to walk in, find the various items on my list, and walk out. I do pay for them though. I guess I should add that little note. I do not interact with others in that store more than to bump them out of my way, or ask where the Smooth and Slick Head shaving cream is located, or knock the little kid off the demo display of Guitar Hero so I can do a wicked rendition of "Sweet Child of Mine". I get my stuff and I go.

My wife, on the other hand, goes to Wally World to take inventory. Not of what she needs, but of what they have. She walks down each aisle, counting each item, picking them up, reading the labels, checking the fat content, counting the carbs, perusing the level of niomathianicide in each and every item. The question "Is this something that I need?" is running constantly through her head and each item is held up to this justification. Many items appear to fall into that category while she is in the store, only to be discovered later to carry the label "what was I thinking?". But she keeps the receipts and some of those "what was I thinking" items end up going back to grace the shelves of the almighty conglomerate. Thank God for small favors.

So the good news is that if she is going to Wally World, I am not. What, you may ask, will I be doing all day. If the Lord is a good Lord, which I believe He is, then I will be doing very little. Nearly Nothing, if I can get away with it. That was my goal for yesterday, and it was not accomplished. Not even close. I drove 120 miles yesterday going to a water park I couldn't play at, right next to an amusement park that was closed, only to eat fast food once again. Oh too much fun.

So, if all goes according to Hoyle, I will be squatting right here, in front of this beast of electronics, searching the vastness of the world for items of interest.

Wish me luck.