Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Luxurious Nomadic Life

Today we went to tour the Renegade RV factory in Elkhart, Indiana.

For those of you who don't know, Northern Indiana is the
RV Capital of the World. They are serious about recreational vehicles here! The area is filled with manufacturers, dealers, service centers and sellers of all things RV. In fact, many of the guys who work at ARI, the place who built our truck, have had past experience in this industry.

We're looking at buying a new truck, but since there's nothing wrong with the old one, Ed is thinking about turning it into an RV.  When building a large diesel-pusher RV, the bulk of the cost is in the engine and the chassis.  All the rest is just fluff and add-on.  We already have an engine and chassis, so they'd just have to build a box.  This would be for us to use as a living space wherever we happen to park it for whatever the designated amount of time would be.  This obviously isn't something you hook up to a trailer to haul freight with.  That would be absurd! (Although I'd totally do it if we could figure out a way to make it work.
But look what they can turn our truck into!!  Isn't it amazing?  Two bathrooms, a queen sized bed, dinette, two couches - one of them turns into a sleeper bed for guests - and whatever color leather, tile, fabric and cabinetry you choose.
We'd go in, pick out everything we want - sort of like building a house - and they'd put it all together, building it from the chassis up.  You can be as basic or as extravagent and you'd like, it all comes down to how much you want to spend.

Look at the kitchen.  The counter space is a little less than ideal (although I can make it work), but it has a full-size fridge, which I love.  Some units have a dishwasher too, although I think that's unecessary. 
Our truck would be able to accomodate a box with four slide-outs, two on each side like in this photo.  And each side of the vehicle has an awning like this.
Right now it may be a bit of a dream, but it's not very far from something that can be a reality.  We looked at RVs several years ago when we considered using it as a residence.  We were very close to making a decision then, but now possibly have a truck to use, which would save over one hundred thousand dollars, it seems more doable.

Man, if I can entertain guests in my little 132" sleeper, imagine what I can do in this one!  I'm clearly cut out for a nomadic lifestyle, but I'd prefer this over a Bedouin tent. 

I've got my fingers crossed so tight, I'm cutting off circulation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: He’s Just As Handsome In Black And White
2011: Crab Cakes And The Chesapeake
2010: Young, Poor, Footloose And Fancy-Free
2009: Badass Badlands
2008: Proof That God Exists
2007: Spring In The Desert
2006: Shadows Of The Setting Sun
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pregnant And Dating

This new TV show is wrong on so many levels, I just don't know where to start.  But let me try.

1.  They're pregnant. 

2.  They're going on dates.

That's pretty much all the information you need to know just how fucked up these women are.

I read the bios of each woman and they all seem to be accomplished job-wise.  Two of the women were left by their men once the guys heard they were pregnant.  Bummer, but it happens to women all the time, so I guess they'll just have to deal like the rest do.  At least these chicks have good jobs.

And while I don't have a problem with single mothers, I do have a problem with women who aren't even mothers yet, dating, while they are pregnant.

Clearly, they've not had good luck with men.  Clearly, they've made a few poor choices assessing the type of man they decided to have a child with, who ultimately didn't stick around, and clearly, they seem to be a bit selfish if they think finding a new baby daddy is more important during this period than concentrating on their pregnancy and all the things they should be doing to prepare being a mother.  Going out on dates is not one of them.  I hope they're setting money aside for their kids' therapy sessions.

And what the hell is wrong with the men who date these women???  I'm sure there are guys out there who want families and don't really mind where they come from, but they probably should give some thought to the fact that the woman they are dating, is dating them while pregnant with someone else's child.  Clearly, she was with that person until very recently, especially given that she's in the first stages of her pregnancy.  I'd say the chick's a bit of a trainwreck to begin with.  WHY do you want to mess with that??

"Reality" TV has gotten out of whack, for sure.  And people don't seem to mind being exploited for money.  I can't tell you how many times Ed and I are watching TV, see an ad for a new reality show, turn to each other and say, "Seriously??  You've got to be kidding me."

Nope, not kidding.  What can possibly be next?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
They Really Don’t Want You Coming Through This Gate
2011: Deep Down, She Knows She’s A Princess
2010: A Three Hundred And Fifty Foot Long Dream
2009: Dillinger The Horror Hog
2008: Supernatural Hair
2007: They Must Have Been On Sale
2006: Sorry, no post on this day.
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It All Started With A Tweet

So, guess what?

This month, I've had the most amazing development.

I have recently been published in The Guardian newspaper's travel section!!

Yep, that Guardian. 

The whole thing started when I read a tweet from The Guardian asking for people who were travel bloggers in the US.  I tweeted in response:
Less than four hours later, I had a tweet back from them:
In the morning when I woke up, just three hours after their tweet, I had an email from the Head of Travel asking me if I'd like to write an article for them.

Seriously?  Hell yeah, I want to write an article for you! 

Since I have readers from all over the world, I'm sure there are plenty of you who are familiar with The Guardian, but for those who are not, I am sharing the same little blurb with you that I sent to my mother.  She didn't know about The Guardian, and quite frankly, if it doesn't have to do with Criminal Minds, CSI: Miami, or The Walking Dead, she's probably not going to give it much attention. 

"The Guardian is a British daily newspaper founded in 1821. It is the second most popular newspaper site in the UK and the fifth most popular newspaper site in the WORLD.  It's won several awards from National Newspaper of the Year, to the Webby Award (beating out the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Variety), to awards for its journalism. And the 4 International Media & Newspapers site ranks it among the top 200 newspapers in the world at number TWO, right after the New York Times."

Needless to say, I'm very excited.  I was also told that the site has 70 million unique users per month, worldwide.  That's a whole lotta eyeballs!  Even though my stuff has been published before, to have a writing credit for a publication as respected as this newspaper, is pretty damn cool.

My piece came out yesterday. You can see it here.

They also said they would love to keep me as a regular in the series, which they will be running over six months, and would I be happy to do that?  Uh, yeah
.  So I said yes, and now will be contributing at least six articles in total.  My next deadline is this coming week.  Cue the trumpets!

On a side note, do you guys know who Andrew McCarthy is?  Most people will remember him from the movies Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo's Fire, Weekend at Bernie's, and Mannequin, among others.  What you might not know about him is, that in addition to his acting and directing, he is now an Award-winning travel writer.

And he has an article in The Guardian that came out the same day as mine. 

Well wouldn't you know, that in the print version of the newspaper, the one on paper, that you can buy at a newsstand?

In that version, our articles are ON THE SAME PAGE!

As my youngest nephew would say...

Oh, yeaaahh.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: Waiting For Summer
2011: It Should Have Been Titled Boringpants
2010: Ed Blows A 750
2009: Another Reason I Love The Great Indoors
2008: We Think The Only Thing Worth Stealing From The House Would Have Been The Fresh Baked Apple Pie
2007: Not Nearly As Appealing As Gnocchi
2006: Working The Yard
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Big Weekend Event

Not that you can see much of it in the photo, because I refused to get out of the car, but this is the big event in Shipshewana this weekend - Kite Komotion.

It was quite the hit with the locals in the area.

My highlight of the day was the old lady I met in the cottage cheese section of Meijer.

I learned about the crock cheese and egg cheese, her mother used to make, that she moved to the area from Canada as a young girl following a boy she liked, how her first language was Pennsylvania Dutch, that her husband graduated from Purdue with a doctorate and became a scientist, whose work took them to Italy each year,  that her husband liked to hike the alps around Lake Maggiore when they were there and how the only thing she was in charge of on the hikes was the camera...

Ed milled around the cart several times, leaving and coming back because I was so engrossed in conversation.  I just felt like she wanted to talk and I have a soft spot for old people. 

Ask Ed...I know just the story he'll tell you.

So it looks like we'll have the weekend in Indiana, which is fine with me because I have a little project to work on. 

I'll fill you in tomorrow!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Bringing The Sea To The Sleeper Bunk
2011: The Lonely Road
2010: Boys’ Town, Old Digs And A Non-Working Number
2009: She Needs To Wear A Bell
2008: Budding
2007: I Hate When He Does That
2006: The Toes Of Summer Are Peeking Out
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Still Waters Run Deep

Ed has what one might call a dry sense of humor.  Just when you think he has no sense of humor at all, those still waters bubble up and produces something like this.

Today he sent me this photo in an email.

The subject line said:  Oh yeah!

The body of the email said:  Finally!

And with just one word, he made me laugh out loud.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: The Princess Of Fruits Welcomes You
2011: I Love This Lookout
2010: There Ain’t No Rodeo On This Rodeo
2009: Covering All The Bases
2008: Ed Fantasizes Out Loud
2007: Better Late Than Never
2006: The Last Best Chance
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Not Evolved Enough To Clap Just Yet

There's not much going around here the last few days.  Been in and out of Kansas, and now on our way to getting our fridge and generator fixed in Indiana. 

You know, we rarely go to Kansas.  I can probably count on one hand how many times we've been there in nine years.  I think it's a weird place.  I don't really know why.  Maybe it's the Wizard of Oz thing.

This trip took us through Topeka where the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, ended segregation in public schools in 1954.  Seeing the signs for the National Historic Site was kinda powerful.  It really makes one think.  Especially since it wasn't all that long ago.

What sucks though, is the fact that there are still people today who are fighting for freedom and equality. 

When it finally happens, that will be the day when we'll be evolved enough to really clap our hands.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: A Cat’s Life
2011: Not So Lucky
2010: A Capitol Idea
2009: Blooming Where The Sun Don’t Shine
2008: Eddie Wakes Up Smiling Friday
2007: Gnocchi From The Gods
2006: Blurry Super Hero
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No Pity

The French have come a long way from thinking Jerry Lewis was funny. This French film is fabulously funny.  Laugh out loud funny.

You wouldn't think that'd be the case when the film gives this as its brief synopsis:  A true story of two men who should never have met — a quadriplegic aristocrat who was injured in a paragliding accident and a young man from the projects.

Omar Sy is not only the epitome of joy in this movie, but he's extremely easy on the eyes.  His smiling face is now the wallpaper on my iPhone - it's a reminder to smile and know life is wonderful - not that I need the reminder.  My mother's favorite part of the movie was the scene where he danced to Earth, Wind, and Fire's Boogie Wonderland.

You can see that scene here:

François Cluzet, playing the eccentric French aristocrat quadriplegic Philippe, is just as beautiful.  His facial expressions, his primary acting instrument in this film, convey everything you need to know.  And I love his laugh and smile.

The movie is based on a true story and its tagline rings true...

Sometimes you have to reach into someone else's world to find out what's missing in your own.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Stop Grackling!
2011: Chicks And Kids
2010: Ultima Lavada 9:00 PM
2009: Eddie Touches Up The Old Girl Friday
2008: The Morning Sun Greets Guadalupe
2007: Starting Soon. No, Really.
2006: This Mary Doesn’t Go To Pre-School
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Orange Is The Devil

First and foremost, never buy food with an orange sticker. 

Orange stickers signify sale or clearance.  Who is buying food on clearance??  I've seen these stickers, along with others like "Manager's Special" on things like meat or chicken.  "Manger's Special" is code for "Get rid of this shit quick."  It's equivalent to a restaurant "pushing" the fish because it's been in the cooler too long and they need to get rid of it before it goes bad.

Second, who is buying pre-packed sandwiches??  Tuna sandwiches no less.  That's just straight up disgusting.  First, I would never eat a sandwich from a vending machine or a convenience store cooler.  OK, sure, I'll eat at McShitterballs (Ed's moniker for McDonald's), which one could argue is as disgusting as a sandwich from a vending machine, but there's just something weird about not knowing how long your sandwich has been spinning around before someone presses E-4 to get to it to drop to the area where you stick your hand through the door and retrieve it.

And tuna is a whole other animal.  I don't eat tuna out of my own refrigerator if I think it's been in there too long.  Tuna from a restaurant is out of the question.  I've worked in restaurants, I've seen what they do to tuna on a salad bar.  Nope, there's no way I'm eating it.

Clearly, things are slow around the 'ol truckstead since I'm writing about convenience store sandwiches.  Perhaps things will pick up later in the week. 

We're on our way to Kansas, so don't expect anything interesting.  The only two things I think of when it comes to Kansas is The Wizard of Oz, of course, and the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.

Now if I were seeing that, I'd have something to write about!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: Sixteen Hundred Miles Makes All The Difference
2011: In Need Of Some Color
2010: 122 Years And Counting
2009: Sixteen Days Old
2008: Racism Comes With A Convenient Handle
2007: Evening Tide
2006: Glittering Pasties And Swinging Tassles
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Live It Up!

Adam Shepard's new book is being released today.  Go to your local bookstore and check it out in person. 

Or, if you want to get the inside scoop before everyone else, get the jump on your friends, check out 
this post to find out how you can get the eBook version of One Year Lived.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: The Last Supper
2011: New York Always Stands Out
2010: Visitor Number 933 To Room 525
2009: Makes A Nice Desktop
2008: Leaning Tower Of Texas
2007: It Should Be Called “Thimble Shot”
2006: Southern Hideaway
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sunniest Black Hole

I got a text from The New York City Truckers today.  They're stranded in California.  Marlaina is getting antsy and wants to get moving.  They've only been down a few days (this time) and she's ready to get back to making the big bucks.   

California is like that.  You can get freight going out there, but when you do, you're in a black hole and you're gone for long stretches at a time.  We have been stuck there for anywhere from two to three days to two to three weeks.  It can be horrible. 

It's a real problem, this California thing.  There's no parking.  The air quality regulations are choking the trucking industry.  And there's no freight out of the state, so there's no reason to take anything into the state.  I don't know who's going to suffer more, the truckers or the people who live there.  They've already got money issues.  They'll have even more problems if they can't get toilet paper delivered.  And that guy in the picture up there, the one who does rest area maintenance, he won't even have a job.

We were there at the beginning of the month, out of Houston, but only took the load because it was a round-trip.  Otherwise, we would have passed.  And the last few days we've been getting calls from agents for loads going that way.  Ed politely declines.  I usually say, "We'd love to take your load, but there's nothing coming out of there.  It's not worth the money.  Thanks, anyway."

We're sitting too, in Georgia.  We finally got out of Houston with a load that was worth moving for, but we still need to get to Shipshewana to get the refrigerator fixed.  Everyone out of here seems to be going out west too, so we're waiting once again.  The generator was on the fritz but miraculously has been working the past few days, our fingers are crossed. 

Dinner tonight was Waffle House.  Not ideal, but it was the only place within walking distance and Ed didn't want to lose his parking spot.  I ordered my hashbrowns crisp, like everyone else in the place.

Tomorrow I plan to dine from a different location. 

Thankfully, it won't be California.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: A Visit From Woodland Creatures
2011: The Man I’m Spending My Nights With
2010: Let’s Hope This Industrious City Can Get Our Truck Fixed
2009: Free Range Horns And Humps
2008: The Earth Is Sending The Paper To The Folder
2007: Some People Are SAD; I Am Not One Of Them
2006: An Eye For Fashion…And Other Things
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Tree Grows In A Truck Stop

We finally made it out of Houston, with a very important team load that the customer ordering it needed immediately, and now we're sitting again in the Southeast.  The weather is beautiful (in the 60s), spring green is visible, and this is the view from the back door of our truck.

I don't think Ed could have centered that tree any better than he did.  Ed worked on the truck all day and I was working on a writing assignment.  We'll have tomorrow off and then we'll get back to work on Monday, trying to find a load up to Shipshewana to get our refrigerator fixed (or replaced).

Have a great weekend! 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: The Herb Whisperer
2011: Turning Tables With Adele
2010: A Different Kind Of Dumster Diving
2009: Federal Glow
2008: My Mother Is An Oxymoron
2007: The Restroom Shell Game
2006: The Pressure
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Burst Of Power

We recently did a load of
these pieces for these poles

We had two pieces stacked on our truck and the photo is taken from one end of the trailer, looking down the inside length of the pole. 

I think it's pretty cool.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: If This Worked, I’d Become A Cannibal
2011: How I While Away The Hours
2010: Incredibly Average, Yet Heroic If Necessary
2009: May I Take A Message?
2008: Doing The Speed Limit In Your Sleep
2007: Now I Can Go Back To Watching The Show
2006: Ten Of Life’s Simplest Pleasures
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Glories Of Our Journey

What would you think if your son, your brother, your boyfriend or your best friend said they were planning to take a tarp, a sleeping bag, a gym bag, the clothes on their back and $25.00, and wanted to be dropped in a randomly chosen city to prove they could go from homeless to not homeless in less than a year?

The first words out of my mouth would probably be, "What the hell are you talking about??” Except instead of "hell", I'd probably use what polite people like to call "the F-word".

Yet that's exactly what Adam Shepard did.

This was his premise:

"I am going to start – almost literally from scratch - with one 8' x 10' tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag, $25, and the clothes on my back. Via train, I will be dropped at a random place somewhere in the southeastern United States that is not in my home state of North Carolina. I have 365 days to become free of the realities of homelessness and become a “regular” member of society.

After one year, for my project to be considered successful, I have to possess an operable automobile, live in a furnished apartment (alone or with a roommate), have $2500 in cash, and, most importantly, I have to be in a position in which I can continue to improve my circumstances by either going to school or starting my own business."

He had some ground rules – he couldn't fall back on anything from his previous life (friends, family, education, credit history) - and essentially entered the new city as a guy with a high school diploma who just moved into the area.

And he wrote his first book about that experience:

His experiment, if you want to call it that, was in response to Barbara Ehrenreich 's Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, two books which spoke on the death of the American Dream. Adam Shepard wanted to prove there was still hope for the American Dream, and his story details his journey.

Self-published, his book got attention from The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, and NPR. Then he sold Scratch Beginnings to HarperCollins and made appearances on the Dave Ramsey Show and 20/20. He was likewise featured in the The New York Times, the New York Post, The Atlantic, and The Christian Science Monitor.  He appeared on over 140 radio stations.  And Scratch Beginnings has now been used on the curriculum or as a First Year Common Read at over 90 colleges and universities in the United States and translated across the world.

This guy is friggin' everywhere!!

Including my in-box

I know that sounds suggestive, and yes I know he's quite the handsome devil, but whadya think I am, some cheap hoochie who'll fold for a hot young author? OK, you know me too well. But seriously, it's better than that. There's adventure and free stuff involved. Read on.

Adam Shepard recently contacted me. He came across my blog and had an idea to work with me regarding the release of his second book, One Year Lived.

When he said, "It's the narrative of my one year trip around the world. I mustered cattle. I volunteered with children. I went scuba diving. I grew a mullet.
I fought bulls. I made love on a beach." I was hooked. Although I'm not so sure about that mullet part.

Adam hopes his story will inspire young people to get out in the world and start living their lives. And I completely agree with him. He talks a little about that
here .

He is the embodiment of my principal creed - ONE MUST TRAVEL.

This sentiment is mainly directed at Americans, because it doesn't seem as if people from other countries even think twice about doing it. I can't tell you how many people I've met - young people, old people, people on my trip to Italy, people on cruises, people in airports - who have traveled extensively.  They're never American.

My friend says we have a wealth of "socially uneducated trailer dwellers in this country".  I agree.  And that needs to change. For too long people have had the belief that America is the greatest place on earth.  They have no desire to see any other countries.  No penchant for discovering.  No wanderlust.  No craving for other cultures.  No longing to explore.  Adam really said it best, "In this increasingly global world, it is essential that more Americans (young Americans, especially) step foot out of this country."

You can certainly have pride in your country. It's admirable and sure, it's patriotic, but it's also critical to embrace the world. It's imperative to champion diversity. It's crucial to educate. The masses, and primarily our youth, need to know about what's happening in the rest of the world. If we want to have a country, a society, achieve greatness, then we need our citizens to move forward as a whole. Don't let any person, any corporation, any politician, or any thing stunt your growth. Grab onto someone and bring them along. Bring everyone along.

Adam Shepard, in One Year Lived is giving us an inside look at how he traveled to seventeen countries on four continents in one year and did it for under $20,000.00. We spend that on fuel in just four months. I may not have a desire to grow a mullet, but I'm certainly up for seeing the world. Now I just have to figure out how to convince Ed not buy fuel for four months...

Anyway, Adam has been gracious enough to allow me to GIVE AWAY copies of his new book, One Year Lived, for FREE. A FREE eBOOK, I say.

To You.

To my friends.

To your friends.

To anyone, actually.

Here's the easiest way ever to GET A FREE eBOOK:

This giveaway has ended, but please feel free to share Adam's story! 
Thank you to everyone who participated!


Here's the link for sharing:  http://www.salenalettera.com/2013/04/the-glories-of-our-journey.html 

Do it one of the following ways:
Share the link to this post on your blog or website.
Post the link to this post on Facebook.
Tweet the link to this post to your followers on Twitter.
However you choose to get the word out, let me know it's done by either sending me the link to your blog or leaving a comment telling me where you shared it.  Once you do that, you'll have to give me your email address (either leave it in comments or email it to me at salenalettera@gmail.com) and I'll send you a link to the magical place you can download the eBook for free.

In the meantime, tell your friends. Say something about Adam. Say something about his new book. Share his story of travel. Share his website. Share his bullfighting video. Entice your friends by telling them how easy it is to achieve world travel. Or sex on the beach. Whatever it takes.

And remember…

"We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey."
~ John Hope Franklin


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: The Herb Whisperer
2011: The Switch Between Morning Glory And Country Strong
2010: Name That Tree
2009: Getting Plowed
2008: Eddie Friday In Squares
2007: The Color Of Elizabeth’s Eyes
2006: The Result Of A Little Flax In Your Diet
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stadium Seating

As seen from the Major Deegan Expressway in Bronx, New York.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: Where Ed Was Found Roaming The Aisles
2011: If You Happen To Have A Few Hundred Million Lying Around, Have I Got A Deal For You
2010: Another Day At The Port
2009: Buggin’ Out
2008: Hangin’ Out With Ray Stoker Jr.
2007: Sunset On The Move
2006: Happy Easter
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Difference A Zero Makes

This is a typical "Day in the Life of a Truck Driver" story.  It'll show you how easy it is for a trucker to get screwed. 

A few weeks ago, we booked a load from Tennessee to New York.  We already had a piece on our truck, a coil that weighted 20,000 pounds and took up about five feet of our 48' trailer - this is called an LTL, or Less Than Truckload - and we booked something else to go with it. 

A lot of agents don't like to book loads when you have an LTL, but since our job is to fill our trailer to make as much money as we can, we try to find stuff that will fit together, and is generally going in the same direction.  This was one of those perfect loads.

Except it wasn't.

The second part of the load, according to the agent - and I confirmed this information at least five times - was supposed to take up 40-45 feet of the trailer and weigh 5,000 pounds.  Perfect.  We had plenty of room. 

It picked up on a Saturday, which was unusual, but we got there as the sun was rising, just before 7am, as requested.  It was a nursery and we were picking up a load of trees.  Something we've never hauled before.  The workers at the nursery started loading the trailer, working their way from the coil that was already on there, backward.  Then the nursery owner showed up.

That's when we found out that he was expecting to load fifty thousand pounds on the trailer, not five.  Well, not only was that impossible because we already had 20,000 pounds on the trailer, but even if we had been empty, we could only scale 45,000 pounds max. 

Someone seriously screwed up in the placement of their zeroes.

This little scenario started a shitstorm of phone calls between the customer, the agent and the horribly evil broker.  The agents are bad enough, but the brokers today are the equivalent of the horse traders of yesteryear. They are dishonest, they lie, they mispresent themselves or the freight, and they constantly bug the shit out of you if their stuff actually makes it on your trailer.  Which is why, if we have the choice, we don't work with or speak to brokers at all.  It's becoming harder and harder though, as more companies work with these thieving bastards.

After being mocked on the phone by the broker, who told me that he "didn't care what I had to say, we were going to haul this load", I told him that we didn't need his load, we weren't taking his load, and he needed to get those trees off our trailer as soon as possible. 

Because it was Saturday, and we weren't running up to New York with a partial on the trailer, we would have to wait until Monday to get another load to go with it.  I was pissed.  This happens more often than one would think and it's always the driver who gets screwed.  Whether it's time or money, we are the ones who suffer.  As was the case here.

They finally got the trees off the truck and I requested what's called a Truck Order Not Used (when they order a truck and wind up not using it for whatever reason) and detention for the five and a half hours we spent there.  Neither is guaranteed. 

There's nothing I hate more than having my time wasted.  It's just not something you can get back once it's gone.  Ed is used to it, after having seventeen years in the business, but it makes my blood boil.  I want to get paid for my time.  I deserve to get paid for my time.  And I deserve even more to get paid for showing up and sitting there waiting to get loaded and then unloaded because they screwed up. 

We made every effort to inform these people what our situation was coming in.  Which, if their load actually weighed 5,000 pounds as the bill of lading we signed off on indicated, we could have just gone on our merry way.  But I'm not happy and I'm not going to back down when I have to lose time and money because someone else wasn't competent enough to handle their end of the shipment correctly.   

We wound up sitting for the weekend and booking another load that Monday.  It took at least two weeks to get any money, and it wound up being several hundred dollars less than I requested.  Needless to say, the entire experience was less than pleasant.

I had a boss who used to say, "If you don't ask, you don't get."  So whenever I find myself in a situation like this, I always ask.  For compensation for my time, to be paid extra money for extra work - additional stops, tarping, changes in route, etc. - for layover and detention pay.  Anything I do that's not in the original agreement, I expect to be paid for.

Whether it's 5,000 or 50,000 pounds, or how much money I get in my pocket, one little zero can make all the diference.

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2012: Pre-Digital
2011: The Sun Sets On The Roughrider State
2010: Diamond Studded Proof
2009: How A Book Defies Its Cover
2008: How To Up Your Chances For A Sweet Monkey Lovin’ Romp
2007: Activities Director
2006: Ah, But It Is SO Worth It
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Doris Day Spends The Weekend In Texas

A friend of mine used to call a close parking spot "Doris Day Parking".  That's exactly what we got this weekend at the hotel we're staying at. 

We pulled up, hoping to be able to go around the building, but Ed decided he'd just drop everything off instead and then go park down the hill in the big lot designated for the hotel overflow traffic.  You can see the truck in the left of this photo, right across from the
When Ed checked in, he asked about parking and the guy at the front desk told him he could stay right where he was.  Score!  In this picture, Ed is on the trailer (I have no idea what he's doing) before he headed into the building.
The hotel is brand new and the room is beautiful.  This is going to be a nice, relaxing two days.  The weather's beautiful, the laundry is done, we've had dinner, and on Monday, we'll go back to work.  Ed seems pretty happy here, all waving and shit, doesn't he? 
He might not say it out loud, but he loves staying in hotels as much as I do. 

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2012: Evening Ball
2011: Taxes And Ta-Tas
2010: Ah, The Subtle Contrasts Of New Jersey
2009: A Fishy Pishy Is Never Dishy
2008: Before The Luck Ran Out
2006: Five Guys I’m In Love With This Week
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!