My good friend, Mike hauls chickens around Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Mike has a pretty good job, as far as hauling chickens can be. He does make a fair wage, but I do not feel drivers make enough money these days, but that is another story we do not want to go off on now. He is generally home one or two days a week which is good when you think about all the drivers that stay out for weeks on end.
Mike has a good truck driving job, as far as truck driving jobs are but he is always worn out. When he leaves to go on his runs, he is tired. After he gets loaded, he is tired, and when he gets home, he is tired. Maybe we should examine this and see what is going on? Are all chicken haulers wore out or does Mike need a shot of B12 once a week?
Mississippi to Dallas
It’s Thursday evening, and Mike is just now driving into the Petro in Jackson, Mississippi. Finally, got unloaded at the plumbing supply warehouse in Jackson. He spent most of Wednesday night driving up from Houston with a load of water heaters. Had to wait for most of Wednesday getting loaded in Houston and then had to drive most of the night to make his appointment in Jackson, only to sit and expect to get unloaded at the plumbing warehouse. Something about having to make room in the warehouse for them? Sound familiar?
Anyway, it is Thursday evening, and Mike has his load already sent to him for a Friday pick up at the chicken plant over close to Laurel, MS. He is feeling pretty good; it has been a long three weeks out, going to get home for the weekend. Spend three days at home with the family, maybe sit back cook some steaks on the grill, drink a couple of Buds and take life easy. Right? He went to work for this company about three months ago, pays good, but they told him he would only be out for two weeks with three days off. Mike’s been driving for a few years now, so he knows many companies have a hard time keeping their promises.
Like all good drivers, he is sitting in his truck getting the new trip all figured out. Get the old Google maps pulled up on his iPhone to find out where he has to go to get loaded. After a few calculations, he figures it is about 90 miles to the chicken plant. His on the ball dispatcher has already sent directions to the chicken plant, so Mike has it all concluded. To make further plans, Mike ask Google how far from Laurel, MS to Dallas and finds out it is roughly 500 miles.
Aha, life is great! Stay here get a good nights sleep, wake up about 5 AM to be at the chicken plant by 8 AM to get loaded.
Take a couple of hours to get loaded and on to Dallas. Should be able to knock that out in about ten hours and arrive at the chicken plant in downtown Dallas Friday evening. Get unloaded Saturday morning, take the truck to the terminal, turn in paperwork and be home with the little woman Saturday afternoon for some much-needed time off! Yes, Mike has it all figured out! “Think I’ll go in get a good shower and have a big dinner.” Right?
Petro in Jackson Mississippi
Soo, Mike heads for the restaurant, but the first stop is the shower desk, where he finds out there are eight ahead of him and “we will call you when your shower is ready.” Some things never change, Right? Being the patient person that he his, Mike goes ahead, eats dinner, took his time, and enjoyed the meal, listened to a few trucker stories, but after two hours is still waiting for that shower! FINALLY, they call his number. Ends up being midnight when he gets back to the truck and being the genuine Christian that he is he asks the Lord for tolerance in the day ahead and falls to sleep.
Been asleep maybe a couple of hours and hears a knock knock knock on the door. “Who the hell could that be?” Gets up to see a skinny lot lizard looking for company. Mike does not even roll down the window, just motions and yells at her to go away. Poor girl, “it is a sad thing they have to try to get money that way.” But we can’t take care of everyone, and it is hard enough taking care of my family. So he goes off to sleep, again.
Been asleep about two more hours and there is a load Roar vibrating the truck. “What the hell, ain’t no mountains around here, why does someone need to use the Jake at 4 in the morning?” “Damn, I guess when they are that dumb, there is not much you can do.” Try to go back to sleep, and he is just dozing off, and the alarm goes off – telling him it is 5 AM. “Thought I was going to get some good sleep, guess I guessed wrong there!”
Mike crawls out of the sleeper, grabs his coffee cup and head to the restaurant for some coffee. After a good hot cup of coffee, he fills his cup for the road and goes back to the truck. Checks the oil, a quick tap of the tires and off to pick up his chickens!
An excellent trip to the chicken plant and Mike arrives about 8 AM and heads to the shipping office. Of course, the usual happens, they tell him to wait in the truck, and they will call when they have a door ready. He peeks down along the docks and sees there are only two tractors backed in and there are eight others empty? Oh well, some things don’t make sense in life. Guess I’ll rest a little, catch up on the morning news, maybe they will be ready by then?
Two hours later Mike has read all the news he wants to learn and rested as much as he needs; sooo we go back to the shipping office to find out what is going on? The supervisor tells him “we had some problems getting chickens from the distributor last night, so we are running behind, just now starting to butcher – we will call you when we get em ready”! Same ole story another day “why does it always happen when I am trying to get home”? Mike heads back to his tractor, maybe catch up with friends on Facebook, rest some more. About two hours later Mike is getting upset, is tired of Facebook and tired of relaxing, but his phone rings and they tell him to back into dock eight, chock your wheels, unhook your trailer, we will call you when we get you loaded!
Soo he does all that, gets into his tractor and waits – again! Mike gets into his sleeper and tries to get a little sleep, so to be rested for his drive. He hears the forklift go into the trailer once and then nothing, but he falls asleep anyway, and about two hours later they are ringing his phone to tell him that the load is ready and come to the shipping office for your paperwork. “Aha great, it is about time”!
Mike gets his paperwork and finally, is on his way, but first, we have to weigh and find out how much fuel we can put on. He sees there are a couple of truck stops in Laural, “I’m sure one of them has a scale so I’ll go over there and weigh, I can get fuel in Jackson.” Better do a quick calculation here, let’s see took two hours to drive up here, and I was sitting here for six hours, so if you put all that together in the ELD, it only adds up to six more hours he can work. That barely gets me half-way to Dallas? Now Mike is passed being upset he is p—-d off!! Been away from home for three weeks and now I can’t even get home in decent time. Have to take a ten-hour break about two hundred miles from the house, ought to throw that ELD out the window and say the hell with it!!
Soo Mike drives into Laural and gets the truck weighed. What he finds out the weight is OK, just slide the trailer axles a little, be OK. Better call dispatch and tell them that he is not going to make the delivery on time. “Hey, guys you put this ELD in here now I have to take my ten-hour break, even when I am not tired.” That gives him some satisfaction because being late is the fault of our government and not his. By then Mike has settled down somewhat and drove to Jackson to get his fuel.
Arrives at the Petro in Jackson, MS about 5 PM, “just need to get a little fuel, maybe grab a snack, and make Shreveport before I run out of hours.” Sweet Mother of Jesus, must be 100 trucks waiting to get fuel! “Probably half of them taking a shower while they park on the fuel island!” About an hour and a half later Mike finally has his fuel. “Not enough time to make it to Shreveport now, guess I’ll have to see how far I can get before I run out of hours.” Mike winds up his 68 MPH truck as fast as possible and heads west. Maybe make it to Minden, LA by 8 PM.
About 7:45 Mike is east of Minden about 45 miles. Not enough time left to make the little truck stop in Minden, “guess I will have to stay at the pickle park.” Man is this great or what”? Parked out here on the ramp, cause there are no places to park in the pickle park. “All I can do is sit here and play candy crush on my phone and whatever else I can do to kill time!” Soo Mike is stuck for the night on the on-ramp at the rest area east of Minden, LA for the night. “Good thing I grabbed some crackers and a thermos of coffee, least I have something to snack on and a little cold coffee for in the morning”! “What a deal! Set the alarm for 6 AM, in case I fall asleep.”
The alarm goes off, and it is 6 AM. Mike didn’t sleep very good, trucks and cars whizzing past him all night.” A cold cup of coffee, some crackers, and he is off to Dallas by 11 AM at the latest, maybe get unloaded in good time and go home. And it goes well, as far as getting to Dallas, not too much traffic on a Saturday morning. He pulls into the receivers a little past 10:30 AM and carries his paperwork to the receiving office only to find out that he missed his appointment at 8 AM and had to wait a while to get unloaded. “Should a known that”! He is too frustrated to argue with the man. Soo Mike goes back to sit in his truck to wait again.
Mike finally gets unloaded around 4 PM and drives to his terminal in South Dallas, to turn in paperwork and drop his tractor in the shop. “Hope they can get it serviced in time for me to go back out on Tuesday now because I am going to take my three days off no matter what.” Mike gets to his terminal, drops his trailer, and goes to the shop to turn in the post-trip and write up what repairs he would like to get done. The mechanics assure him everything will get done in good time, so he is off to the dispatch office. When he gets to the dispatch office the conversation goes something like this:
At the Terminal
Bill, the weekend dispatcher, says “Welcome home Mike, how’s it go”?
“The usual waiting for loads and fighting traffic every day, just the normal part of truckin, but otherwise everything’s alright.”
Bill says, “Got you fixed up for a Monday morning load to Houston, can you be in by 6”?
“Think I have been out for three weeks and I am going to take my three days off, not my fault they couldn’t get me loaded in time in Laurel”!
And Bill makes Mike an offer, “Man I need that load delivered Tuesday morning, and I don’t have anyone else to take it. I will make you a deal, you take that down there, and I will work on getting you a load right back here, OK”!
Mike says, “NO Way”! He has heard that story too many times before. And he gets ready to leave.
Bill yells, “Mike I need you to watch a training video before you go home, seems you have three out of hours violations on your logbook”!
Now Mike is getting p____d!
“NO, I am not watching no video now! I am going home to the wife and kids for some much-needed time off, understand”?
I think Bill understands now that Mike is not a happy camper and tells Mike to go home.
Mike says, “I’ll see you Tuesday morning”! And he walks out the door.
Mike gets into his pickup and heads home, it is already 7 PM, and he is tired, not from working but from waiting and arguing with everyone. Had every intention to be home by now sitting in a hot tub of water, with a cold Bud and the little woman rubbing his back. We see how that all worked out! Regardless he is happy and looking forward to time with the wife and kids.
Home At Last
Mike arrives home at about 8 PM and is met right away with his happy wife Laura and one of his sons Christopher. Right away they start telling him everything that has been going on and what all has happened since he was home last. Chris tells him that he is having trouble with a carburetor he is trying to rebuild for his pickup and Laura informs him that she would like to go out and eat (Mike thinks just what I want to do) she has been dealing with these two boys for three weeks now and needed a break. She also has that look in her eyes that it is going to be a long night as she has been alone for three weeks, also!
Mike asked, “where is Mark”? Mark being his other son, and Laura tells him that he is in his room, seems the boy hangs out in there a lot. But Mike goes in to see Mark, and of course, Mark is glad to see him, but he also tells Mike that he needs a little help with his 4H calf, seems there is a show on Monday. Mike thinks to himself, “man I just got home and now I am going to be busy until I go back to work.” So he gives in tells his wife to gather up the kids, and they can all go out for a hamburger or something else. Everybody is happy then! They all have a great meal, of course, it turns into a fun time, catching up on everything going on with their friends, school, sports, and listening to the wife tell stories about the neighborhood or the community. Back home by about 11 PM and off to bed for everyone, but Mike and Laura are up a little longer than the boys!
Sunday, it is off to Church and then home with a couple of friends. Mike and Chris fire up the grill and start to work on his truck. Chris has his carburetor in about a hundred pieces, and it takes all of four hours to get it all back together and get the old truck running again. Throw some steaks on the grill, have a couple of Buds with his friends, and Mike thinks maybe I can catch some Sunday night football. They have a fantastic meal, some delicious steaks and Lisa fixed up some excellent potato salad, corn on the cob, and chocolate cake to top it all off. Mike’s off to the living room and here comes Mark to inform him about the 4H show tomorrow that he forgot. Oh boy, “let’s go check on the calf, see how she looks and get her fixed up for the show.” While they are at it, they go ahead and get the trailer hooked up to go to the show.
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Once again it is 11 PM, and Mike is off to bed. He is suddenly awakened from a deep sleep by the ringing of his cell phone. Being half asleep, he answers it anyway, and it turns out to be his office calling. “Mike we need you to come in, we have this hot load needs to be in Houston tomorrow morning, can you make it?”
“No, I think I told you guys yesterday, I am not going back to work until Tuesday!”
“Man we need to get this delivered, and I promise we will get you a load right back here so you can take another day off!”
Mike thinks to himself; they must think I fell off the turnip truck yesterday, “No I am not coming in, and I will see you tomorrow morning!”
Mike goes ahead and gets up, and to his surprise, Laura has prepared an excellent breakfast. After a great breakfast, the family goes off to the 4H show where much to his dismay, they find out Mike has been elected to cook hamburgers at the show. They all have a fantastic day, helping dad cook hamburgers, visiting friends, looking at some great livestock, and enjoying what many in our nation think of as irrelevant now, family and friends!
Before he knows it, it is Tuesday and time to go back to work. Mike crawls out of bed, has his last decent breakfast for a while, says his goodbyes and goes off to work. He arrives at the terminal at about 8 AM and goes to the dispatch office.
Cliff the day dispatcher is glad to see him, or so it seems, Bill, his safety man, comes from his office “you were supposed to watch that training video the other day so now you have to watch it before we can dispatch you!”
And Cliff speaks up “When you are done with the video, we have this hot load that has to be in Houston tomorrow morning by 6 AM sharp!”
“Great, I thought that load was hot yesterday, guess it is hotter today!”
The daily life of not just a wore chicken hauler, but all truckers in general.
Everyone wonders why they are fatigued all the time!
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