Enjoying an odd mixture of pride and relief, I pulled into the Laredo OC this afternoon. Relief because we encountered two outside bands from Hurricane Dolly, one near Houston on I-10, the other north of Laredo on I-35. The clouds closed in, the sky blackened and the tropical faucet opened. A deluge. Pounding rain, sloppy, greasy raindrops smacked the windshield and created a curtain of mist once it hit the ground. My worst driving conditions so far. I slowed from 65 MPH to 60 to 55 and finally to 50 and put on my four-way flashers.
Do people not realize that using their headlights in a driving rainstorm is so other drivers can see THEM and avoid hitting THEM. I can’t pass someone that has no headlights because I can’t see them to get back into the right hand lane – duh!
The storm’s moving. We’re moving. Soon the rain fades away and the sky lightens. Greg now tells me that we drove through the eye of Dolly. Her eye was battered and bruised and breaking up.
The second reason that I was relieved to see Laredo is that this is the fourth time that we’ve pulled into Laredo, six if you count the two times we went to the OC to have the trailer inspected, then delivered it to the customer and returned to the Operating Center.
This time I knew exactly where I was going, which exit, which lane and which left turn. And pride because I pulled up the street, between the illegally parked trucks – no rules in Laredo – made the S turn, right and left into the yard without hitting the curb. I think that spells progress.
Greg did an unbelievably fantastic parking job when we dropped our load of military vehicle seats from Richland, Wisconsin. Half built military vehicles were strewn across this small lot. Greg had to start the backing from a curved road, which is difficult. He tried a driver side back – the safer way – not enough room to bring the tractor around straight with the trailer, and finally had to do it from the blindside – the most difficult. He did it. He was soaked in sweat. Once the load was dropped, he drove across the street to a small truck stop, we fell on the bunk asleep.
We sent a message on the Qualcomm that we were empty and available. But nothing. I got 10 hours of fantastic non-moving sleep. Greg slept about seven hours. At 0900 they told us there was no freight out of Houston and sent us the 288 miles to Laredo.
While the sleep was great and I’m not complaining, if the wheels aren’t turning, we aren’t earning. We are paid for every mile that we drive whether its bobtail, tractor only to pick up a trailer, deadhead, tractor pulling an empty trailer or loaded. We had an empty after dropping at the military contractor so we deadheaded.
The days flow one into the other, we need a calendar to keep track. I barely remember the load that we dropped in Wisconsin. The last I wrote, they had pulled us off a great load to Georgia, 2,221 miles to do a load save. We took our load to Rayville, Louisiana to meet a driver, who couldn’t finish his deliveries north of Dallas because he ran out of hours to legally drive.
We swapped trailers, and headed back to Irving and Sherman, Texas then Dallas.
In Dallas we picked up a load of 52-inch Sony TVs and headed for Columbus, Ohio. In Columbus, we picked up a trailer heading to a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Menomie, Wisconsin. The air is cool in the north, it look likes Canada, evergreen trees and pretty nice roads at 65 MPH. In Menomonie, we waited three hours for a load and decided to go to a movie. We saw WallE.
By 2100 our Qualcomm said take a trailer to Richland Center to pick up seats heading to Houston.
Greg is on one of those country roads that we think, a big truck should not be allowed on this road, let alone with a speed limit of 55 MPH. He’s doing about 45, it’s dark, even with the waning moon, it’s dark. He sees deer grazing at the side of the road – they call them deer, but here they are really big dogs compared to Canadian deer. There’s no one coming or going, he’s alone with the deer. He takes his foot off the fuel, slows to about 40 and pulls into the middle of the road, straddling the yellow line to give Bambi more room. Schneider policy is not to swerve to hit a deer, you can do far more damage by rolling a trailer or jack-knifing.
Bambi looks up, starts running in the direction of the truck and suddenly turns and jumps left into the passenger side.
Bang. Down goes Bambi.
It was so loud it woke me. Because the road was narrow with no shoulder, it was another 10 miles before Greg could stop. The passenger side behind the door looks like someone took a baseball bat to it.
Our first deer.