Blogger's note: The following are true accounts of the life of a truck driver during inclement weather. Thusly, the gentle reader will probably experience some foul language in the course of perusing these little vignettes.
I thought you should know.
Therefore, if you are the type of individual whose eyes dissolve and melt from your skull at the sight of a four-letter word, and your entire body becomes a puddle of gelatinous goo at the mere thought of reading coarse or unsavory verbiage, you may want to give some serious thought to bypassing this particular thread.
Yes. Sometimes, truck drivers have filthy mouths, in addition to filthy bodies and minds.
You have been warned...
The trip from Indy to Fort Wayne, starting at 3am yesterday, which normally takes 2 hours, took 3.
Once there, there was an inch of ice on everything. Trees and power lines down, transformers blowing up...
Then, near Auburn, a fucking thunderstorm with greenish/yellowish clouds and a downpour of sleet/snow/rain with lightning.
At about this time in my day, I hear on the weather radio that it's 50 degrees in Indy.
Fuck. I want me some of that.
A 14+ hour ice covered no-break hell day, but I ain't bitchin'. Made it home in one piece, with no damage/accidents.
I'm a badass.
Had to work Xmas eve. Fort Wayne was again the destination.
Heard on the CB that I-69 north was closed at about Anderson due to icing. So, I decided I'd be a wise-ass and take IN37 north all the way to Gas City, and then run IN22 back east to I-69.
Follow the yellow brick road. Or something.
It was 2:30-3 am when I departed Indy. Got on IN37 and was not enjoying life. It was wet, ice covered, and slick as snot on a brass doorknob, but my customers gotta have their disposable pillows and trachea tubes, dammit!
It was still dark, and IN37 don't have no streetlights on it, so I can't see shit for immediate road conditions.
Gotta drive by feel...real seat o' the pants stuff. You feel it in your ass, sorta.... the trailer starts to slide out from underneath you and is trying to pass you. When your mirrors get full of trailer, you know it's time to back off the throttle.
Pucker factor is off the charts. I'm not enjoying my profession. Chain-smoking like a motherfucker...yeah...I'm back on those fucking things again.
Went through that town where some intardnet acquaintances live. Gave them a hearty hello and wave and went on. They were both probably in their snuggly jammies in their own separate independent beds at the time, so they probably didn't even know or care anyways...
Got to Gas City and IN22 and followed a state snow plow as it slides down an incline sideways. Thought he was gonna eat the guardrail but, he didn't.
Got to I-69 and made it to the Summit City without major issues. Made the delivery at Lutheran Hospital and got stuck going up the icy hill leading from their dock area. A friendly hospital employee saw my predicament, and threw down some salt so I could get traction.
Momentum, my friends, is your bestest buddy....
Had to make a bullshit delivery at a dialysis center on Lutheran's campus. Slipped on the ice getting out of the truck while performing a recon mission at the location...(because I'd never been there before, and you gotta plan ahead and not get yourself into a place you can't get out of)...damn near broke my fucking neck.
At this point, my tolerance for bullshit was very low. I was in no mood for jacktardery. Nobody was home at the dialysis center, and the security guard was of no help getting me in to the place, so I left the goods outside the door.
As I'm loading up preparing to leave, another guard drives up in his toasty warm SUV and asks if I wanna put the goods on an elevator and take it to the basement...
Now...y'all should know that I don't handle shit twice if I don't gotta...and I don't gotta...or wanna...
So...I curtly say, "Nope. I'm done."
I finish wrapping things up, and I drive on outta there.
I bet he thought I was a dick.
Like I care...
The rest of the day was long, but uneventful.
Made it home with body and equipment in one piece, so, it was a successful day.
Got home dog-tired. Went to church, and dozed through most of it. Watched the family open presents, kissed and hugged them all, and went to bed.
Like you care...
How was your day?
The day after an abbreviated Christmas, I have to work.
Another trip north to Fort Wayne, and then on to Auburn.
As I roll into Fort Wayne at about 5:30-6:00am, a moderate freezing rain/sleet mixture begins to fall.
I spend about an hour at Lutheran Hospital. As I complete the delivery, I hear the precipitation hitting the roof of my trailer. It sounds like bucketfuls of BBs bouncing off the fiberglass and aluminum.
“Perfect. Here we go again,” I’m thinking.
Next destination is DeKalb Memorial Hospital, about 30 miles north, on I-69.
I get back out on the highway…taking it easy and going 45-50 mph. Conditions aren’t too bad. Maybe today won’t be a total clusterfuck like exactly a week ago.
About 5 miles from my exit, I notice the road surface seems to be changing quickly. It has taken on a glassy appearance, and, once again, I can feel funky shit starting to happen in the seat of my pants…and it wasn’t poopy either.
I back it down some more. I’m heading up a slight incline towards my exit. My trailer begins some sideways movement towards the right side ditch. I slow down even more, 10-15mph, get her straightened somewhat, and notice brake lights and four-way flashers ahead of me.
I come to a complete stop and set the brakes.
A Ryder rig has jack-knifed on my exit. Exactly one week ago, another rig jack-knifed in the same exact spot in the same exact attitude. At that time, I was able to go north to the next exit, do a flip-flop, and get back to where I needed to go.
A wrong mistake. Epic fail.
Both lanes of the interstate were covered with a quarter inch of ice. Nobody could make it up the hill. It was 7:30am, and I was stuck, 100 yards from my exit.
The southbound lanes are no better. A rig had partially jack-knifed there on the entrance ramp, effectively blocking the ramp, and the driver was constantly bleating and bitching on the CB radio about her predicament. After listening to this for an hour or so, I wanted to gut her like a carp.
It would be 9:30am before a DeKalb County highway truck would appear to lay down some salt, and another hour before the salt would take effect enough that traffic could begin moving.
Better late than never. Kinda. The salt trucks had to reverse down the highway in order to get enough traction to spread their material.
I give the DeKalb County Highway Department an “F” for their performance. They knew for at least two days that this kind of weather was going to happen, did nothing to prepare for it, and took 2 hours or more to respond to it.
Some say that tight budgets and salt shortages are to blame. I blame George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Halliburton.
Obama will make this shit right.
At about 10:30am, conditions had improved enough that I was able to get to the hospital and complete the delivery. I sat in the truck for a while and monitored the CB radio, the local AM radio station, and the weather radio.
I needed to head back south on I-69, and what I was hearing was not good.
The State Police had pretty much closed the interstate down. The southbound ramp I needed to take was still blocked by the mouthy female in the partially jack-knifed rig, and, south of that, conditions had not improved enough that southbound traffic could get up an incline.
I figured I’d wait right where I was at the hospital until conditions improved.
I always carry a cooler full of chow and drinks, but, I had already eaten everything, but still had a good supply of beverages. I wasn’t too hungry yet, so I just sat my fat ass in the truck, listening to the radios, and restlessly dozing.
An hour goes by and I start feeling the need for some grub. I find the hospital cafeteria, and order a pizza and some fries.
The “meat lovers” pizza tasted like a freeze-dried mud flap with ketchup smeared on it. It had to have been four hours old…sitting in the warming tray… coagulating and getting stale as fuck. It looked like a massive, pus-encrusted scab…and pretty much tasted like it too.
Now I’m starting to get a little depressed. Ain’t nothing more of a bummer than shitty chow on a day like this.
After my sumptuous meal, I head back to the truck.
Another hour or so has passed.
I have spent about two hours at the hospital in Auburn, waiting for things to get better on the big road so I can get home.
It is nearing 1pm…the magical cut-off time.
See…Department of Transportation rules say I can’t work for more than 14 hours straight, or I’m gonna be in big trouble and get me an ass whippin’ or something.
I figure if I head back to Indy right now, I can make it in time and still be DOT compliant.
So…even though I still have six pallets of freight on my trailer to deliver back in Fort Wayne, I’m outta time, and I decide to head back south to Indy.
The freight can be redelivered (by someone else) Monday, and I ain’t working Monday! Hah! Thank God.
I get back out to the interstate, and the northbound lanes are moving nicely.
Too bad I ain’t going north.
Southbound is still a train wreck, and barely moving.
I’m not getting into that shit.
I’ll take state roads and detour around the mess. It will take a little longer, but I won’t be in bumper-to-bumper bullshit traffic, and I won’t go postal either.
Sometimes, it is risky to take unfamiliar routes, because one never knows what kind of crap one is gonna run in to. Some state roads in Indiana are oftentimes nothing more than glorified wagon trails, and driving the big rigs on them is not conducive to safe interstate commerce.
Fortunately, I experience no problems on my little detour, and I safely reconnect with I-69 southbound. Conditions have improved greatly. The temperature has warmed to a balmy middle 30s, with dense fog, and moderate to heavy rain…but no ice!
Life is wonderful!
Now…I have a piece of advice for my fellow travelers, and as a courtesy to us all and for your, your family’s, and my safety……
Please. Please. PLEASE!
Whenever it is raining, with fog…even in the daytime…TURN ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS!! Not just those retarded daytime running lights either. All of them. We need to see your tail lights too!
In the spray and mist and fog of a crowded highway, your vehicle is almost invisible without lights. And since everybody today drives vehicles which are painted gray or silver or other some such camouflaged pigment, you are as stealthy as an F-117.
You are not driving this!
But you are not in an F-117…being sneaky and trying to get somewhere to bomb and destroy enemy targets. No. You are in an SUV or a minivan or a fancy import, and you are carrying people who are precious to you, and I don’t want to kill them because I can’t see you.
I noticed that, besides many dumb Hoosiers who drive in bad conditions without their lights on, there are many idiots from Michigan who do the same.
I thought Michiganders were supposed to be smarter than that.
Anyhoo…I got back to Indy safely, and, eventually, home…to the warm and loving embrace of my family.
It is my wish and fervent hope that all travelers are able to do the same.
Help make it happen.