Well, it seems trucking as a contractor is a whole lot like trucking as a company driver. You have the best of intentions……
We did not get out of Irving until Tuesday. We did not have the Cab Card (basically registration) or the license plate for the truck. They were somehow at the Tunnel Hill Georgia Terminal. Anne called and they dropped them in a FedEx envelope. I also had a tiny weenie problem with my pay card. When we signed our contract, I asked if we were getting new pay/fuel cards, they said no, they just needed to photocopy our current cards and they will switch us over. Anne’s worked just fine. I, on the other hand, had a little problem. Somehow in the process they transferred $1,008 dollars of my money to another driver. Nobody could tell me how it happened and after a number of phone calls, I got $950 of it back. It seems the other driver had spent $60 of my money. Monday I got the rest. Not a big deal really as it was just that weeks paycheck and I am not broke but pretty frustrating. I also always knew I would get the money back.
We also had a technical issue with the truck. When the USX shop installed the DriverTech computer that manages all of our communications and logs, they connected it to a power supply that shut off when the key was shut off. Pretty big problem. Irving shop fixed it in about 15 minutes on Monday.
So, Tuesday we got a load from Dallas to Laredo. It was basically just a load to pay for the fuel to move our truck. After we waited a few hours for them to find us an empty trailer, we ran over and backed into one of the hardest docks I have ever had to back in to. Two years ago, it would have been a lot of fun. They loaded us up with 44,000 pounds of chopped up envelopes heading to Mexico. Looking at it I knew we were not going to be legal but we needed to scale to prove it. About 15 miles to the nearest scale. Yep, we are 3,500 pounds over on the drive axles. We stop by the USX terminal and get our license plate. Back to the shipper. Now the guy who loaded us is gone for the day and his boss is not happy. He stacked these bales three high at the front and 1 deep at the back. He told us it would take at least four hours to reload us (he was trying to get us to run illegal I think) I said “OK, we will wait” An hour later he was done and we were finally on our way to Laredo. The loads out of Mexico cross in the afternoon so we lost the opportunity to get one that day. The next morning Connie and Steve, who own the truck, arrived in Laredo. I told them we were having a problem with the batteries not charging so we all hopped in and ran over to the TA where Steve had them install four new batteries while we ate lunch. Get back in the truck and there is a message, we have a load. Back to the terminal, grab our trailer and we are off……..for a little bit. Between Austin and Waco, it is now my turn to drive. I look at the gauges and the volt meter is at about 12 volts, should be 13 to 14. I call Steve and he says to get to the next TA/Petro. It is 95 miles. We never would have made it with the old batteries. Pull into the shop about midnight and the fan clutch assembly has disintegrated. They do not have the part and cannot find it at any place that is open so we will have to wait until the morning. I ask if they have the belt that broke and he says, “oh, no problem, we have lots of belts” The part had to come from Dallas so they finally get it in and installed at about 1 O’clock in the afternoon and then find out they do not have the belt. I learned a lesson, show me the part or order it is my new policy. Luckily, the local NAPA had the belt so it only took another hour. $700 for batteries and $1,300 for the fan clutch repair all in the first 24 hours on the road. Remember those numbers if you ever decide you want to be an owner operator.
We are then rolling to Wayne Michigan. Steve and Connie are now ahead of us by about 12 hours. We pull in about 6 PM and the Ford Plant is closed. Turns out it is a big holiday in Michigan…….FIRST DAY OF HUNTING SEASON. We drop our trailer but no empties to haul back so we camped for the night. Steve got to work on our truck again since we were having power problems. Turns out all of the battery connections were loose. We then all piled in our truck and went out for a great Italian dinner.
Just drinking my coffee, eating my oatmeal and waiting for an empty so we can burn back to Laredo to grab another load to set us up for Thanksgiving with the Grand-kids (and their parents) in Chattanooga. We are going to get to see Katie also as she will be joining us for Thanksgiving. I also get to cook. really looking forward to that.
Did I mention we LOVE the Peterbilt? We have so much more room in this truck