February 2001

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I made my delivery at a grocery store warehouse (yuck) in Denver, CO.


Hi_Denver_CO_2.jpg (157097 bytes)The sun is out today. The temperature is a moderate 35 or so. It takes longer than it should to unload but finally the receiver calls on the CB radio that I am done. I went to pick up my bills. The woman handed them to me and said, "Thanks". Before walking away, I looked them over. This is a habit I've developed and it has definitely been to my benefit. They have noted that I am 120 cases short on the load. She wasn't going to say anything about it at all.

My reload is 400 miles away in Grand Island, NE.  That's a pretty long deadhead, but there's not a lot of freight around Denver so a lot of companies are willing to deadhead more miles to get you out of there.


snow_packed_lot.jpg (14193 bytes)In Grand Island, NE I do a drop & hook. The loaded trailer is in a "drop lot".  I got rid of the empty and went to go hook the loaded trailer, but had a little difficulty.  Many drop lots are very slick and this one was no exception.  When I tried to back under the trailer the drives just spun.  I had backed up underneath, stopped and got out to make sure of the 5th wheel height.  (This is a very important thing to do -- if you are too high, you could high hook it -- which means your trailer could fall off.)  I never fail to look and yes, there's a story behind that.... But, anyway, I wasn't going to get under this trailer from a dead stop because the surface I was on was too slick and the load too heavy. 


So, I pulled ahead and attempted to come at it at about idle speed.  All of the sudden I looked back to see that my alignment from side to side was embarrassingly off.  Hmm, I thought.  I tried again, but watched closer.  There was a groove in the snow that would push the drives over as soon as I was just in front of the trailer, pushing the alignment off by a good 6 inches.  Okay, so I wasn't going to be able to get under from a dead stop, nor from idle speed.  After pulling up again, I rode the clutch to keep the speed at not even a crawl and just before the 5th wheel would "meet" the trailer, I dumped the suspension.  It worked.  Gotta love it when it finally works.


I made it to Lincoln, NE, and went to bed.




Upon waking I discovered the weather had taken a turn for the worse... it was very, very windy, gray and snowing.  I must admit I was a little depressed.  I am sick of the bad weather.  I went into the terminal and grabbed a shower.  By the time I came out the snow had stopped and the sun was making an appearance.  Thank God for small favors.




I got up to Ft. Atkinson, WI and put it to bed at the receiver.  Any time that I can, I strongly prefer to go on in to the receiver early and sleep overnight in their lot.  They did the unloading and I was done in a couple hours, at most.  I was really tired, though, so I pulled into their back lot and took a short nap. (don't tell my dispatcher.) 


After the nap I checked the trusty Qualcomm and sure enough, it had work for me.  I was to deadhead to Franklin Park, IL to load.  The load would go to Georgia, but another driver was going to be taking it.  I just had to load it and run down to Ottawa, IL.  I was told to call or Qualcomm in first thing in the morning.  This pleased me just fine... I was really tired, under the effects of a nasty cold.  I splurged and got a motel room in Ottawa.  My dispatcher said that freight was really slow and that I might end up with a low-mileage week. 


I don't mind low mileage weeks, obviously, since I am on salary, but I do receive a bonus each quarter as long as:

  1. I average 2900 miles for all weeks I am on the road.

  2. I am not late for any delivery.  (That's my fault, like oversleeping, getting lost, etc.)

  3. I have no cargo claims that are my fault.

  4. I have no accidents, moving violations or bad DOT inspections. (logbook ticket, etc)

I made bonus last quarter, ($300) with plenty of miles left over so I'm not worried about a slow week or two here and there.  This time of year is notorious for slow freight, anyway.




In the morning I went out to the truck and looked at the Qualcomm... yikes, 7 messages.  This was not a good sign.  My dispatcher had apparently found more for me to do.  I should've known I couldn't get off so easy.


If you aren't sitting down, you should.  This next bunch of stuff is enough to make anyone dizzy.... Here was her game plan for me out of Ottawa, IL:

  1. Bobtail to Kankakee, IL and get an empty trailer that was sitting there.

  2. Take that empty trailer to Joslin, IL.  Drop it and grab a loaded one that was waiting.

  3. Take the loaded trailer from Joslin, IL to Gary, IN.  Meet a driver at the Pilot Truckstop and swap trailers with him.  He had an empty. 

  4. Take the empty I'd gotten in Gary, IN to McGaw Park, IL to drop and hook yet again.

  5. From McGaw Park, IL, go to Omaha, NE and drop and hook again.

  6. Take the empty trailer from Omaha, NE to Wakefield, NE and drop and hook again.

  7. Bring the trailer from Wakefield, NE back to the Council Bluffs, IA yard and say ENOUGH!!!

I criss-crossed Illinois so many times I'm still dizzy.... illinois.gif (41656 bytes)




All of the above finally done, I went home!  My miles for the week were nothing impressive (about 2900) but all that dropping, hooking and running around were definitely tiring. 


Not Dated


First, I want to say that I am sorry for not having written in such a long time.

Unfortunately, I've had a bad experience lately that has prevented me from having the time or energy to do much else...


In Regard to Personal Safety on the Road...


I put a lot of emphasis and importance on personal safety.  I've set my own boundaries and my own rules and trust my intuition.  I am careful about where I park, where I walk and how I do just about everything.  I'm probably to the point of paranoid in this regard.  I know there are more strange people in the world than normal people and that you really must be on your guard all the time on the road.  Going to sleep with your doors unlocked is crazy -- parking in a dangerous area is suicidal.  So I've learned things and found out other things and have, so far, been safe out on the road.  My guard is always up high and I don't let it down.  Ever.


So wouldn't it figure that when something bad happens, it isn't on the road.  It's right here at home.  When I was on the road earlier this month, someone came into my house.  They stole blank checks.  They then proceeded to go all over my fair city and write these checks.  At this point, they are up to nearly $13,000.00 and they're not all in yet. It involves three police departments because they've been written all over.  I've made a zillion phone calls so far and it will get much worse before it gets better.


Forgery is a felony but the act of stealing the checks from my home is only a misdemeanor.  It is extremely doubtful anyone will ever get into any trouble for coming into my window uninvited.   There's a fair chance of catching some of those involved in writing them and that is a good thing of course, but someone has violated my space -- my sanctuary -- and to say I am angry is the understatement of the millennium. 


When someone does this, you'll often hear that you are not the victim.  Provided that you've closed your accounts, the stores that receive the returned checks are legally the victim of this crime.  You will have to deal with paperwork galore, police reports and an ungodly number of phone calls to keep your good name good, but you still will not be classified as a victim.  With all of the technology available today, check forgery shouldn't be so simple.  You can't believe what someone with a fake ID and your checks can do. 


This is something of special concern to drivers.  If you are gone from home for extended periods of time, there's a good chance someone will notice.  When you park your truck in your very own driveway, you send a signal out that you have an empty house much of the time.  Personally, I'll never bring my truck home again if I can help it.  I'll park elsewhere.  I'd rather have my truck broken into than my house.  If you have someone in the house while you're gone, your chances of this occurring are probably a lot less, but I have someone at my house often when I'm gone and it still happened to me...   In fact, I have decent proof that someone entered my house when I was home from the road and out in town shopping.  Additionally, since you are gone quite a bit of the time, if something occurs in your account(s), it will take you longer to catch it. 


A few good ideas to start using right now:


1.)  Get a PO Box for mail.  If it piles up in the mailbox, someone can get at it and get your credit card numbers, social security number, etc.   If someone comes to get your mail for you, have them take it with them or hide it very, very well in your house.  Do you get Pre-Approved offers for credit cards?  Someone can fill one of these out, change the address and charge for a long time on your name.  You won't call it in stolen because you are not aware that you ever applied!


2.)  Don't use your mailbox for outgoing mail.  People may steal your mail and if you've written any checks, voila, they now have your account number, ABA Routing number, etc.  From this information, they can use a computer and blank check paper to rip you off blind.  They can also alter or "wash" out what you've written on the check by changing payee, amount, etc.


3.)  Go Buy A Shredder.  Shred everything that has your account number, social security number, credit card number, etc.  Get rid of all of it.  They only need a few of your personal numbers to wreck an account and cause total chaos.


4.)  DO NOT use your Social Security Number on your Driver's License OR on your checks. Protect that SS#!!!  Can't stress this enough.  Don't let anyone write your SS on a check.  You can go to the DOT and request that they use a number other than your Social Security number for your Driver's License number at no charge to you.


5.)  Review your credit file fairly often.  Make sure you recognize all the accounts.  Close accounts that you don't use anymore.  Although I don't necessarily endorse it, check out America's Most Wanted's "Street Smart".   I don't know how well it works nor how helpful or useful it is, but I am going to try it. 


6.)  Shred checks for closed accounts. People will go through your garbage to find things like this.  Checks on closed accounts are nearly as good as checks of open accounts. 


7.)  Have some sort of security system in place.  You don't have to arm your house like Fort Knox, but motion sensors, detectors and alarms are good things.  I'm ashamed to admit that my error was an unlocked window.  DUH.  I can't believe I left it unlocked -- but it is very easy to do.  Go check your windows and make absolutely sure they're locked.  I wish I would have.

Alert your neighbors (if you trust them) that you're gone from time to time and that no one should ever be there when you're away.  (or tell them who would be the only one who should be there)


8.)  Use Online Banking.   If your bank offers the ability to go online to look at the status of your account, look at it often.  If you wait until your statement comes, you've likely given someone weeks of time to be out writing checks.  I caught the problem just 5 days after the first check cleared, but they've managed to write nearly 70 checks anyway and they're not all in yet.


9.)  Be careful who you tell about the kind of work you do.   Since my episode started, nearly everyone I've told about it says, "You know this person."  Nothing else was taken except checks.  I didn't even know anyone had been in my house.  They didn't disrupt anything else.  After much thinking, I do have a fairly good idea as to who might have either been the one to enter my house, or tell someone else about me.  I could kick myself because it is a person that I didn't trust.  It is a natural conversation topic, though, to tell someone what you are currently doing for a living.  Especially when you first start driving, it is only natural to be proud and happy of your new job.  Knowing what I know now, I will either lie about my job and/or schedule when talking about my profession.  I will now go to extreme effort to just "pop" in at home anytime I'm going through my town.


10.)  Notify police and bank(s) ASAP!  Although unclear, some research that I've done indicates that you will not be held liable in most instances provided that you caught the fraudulent activity in a "timely fashion."  If you don't balance your checkbook but every three months and a fraudulent transaction is caught 3 months late, you may be held monetarily liable!!!!


11.)  Many retail stores, grocery stores, etc have their own databases for bad checks.  Call them.  Ask them to add your stolen account to their database.  The criminals only have a limited time to write these checks to the big retailers and if you can make it harder for them, that's all the better.  Eventually you'll be entered into the check verification systems' databases, but from what I am seeing, this is not a fast process.  Although it isn't my "duty" or "obligation" to make phone calls all over town, I did so anyway.  I think it helped because as the bad checks come back to me, I am not seeing the places that I notified.


I read that it costs a victim of full Identity Fraud an average of $33,000.00 to sort out the mess and return life to normal.  Oftentimes their credit is decimated and they cannot get loans, checking accounts or credit of any kind.  All this because someone is too lazy to hold down a job and be responsible for their own living. 


Identity Fraud is a CRIME ... (in most states). 


Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act

In October 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) to address the problem of identity theft. Specifically, the Act amended 18 U.S.C. 1028 to make it a federal crime when anyone:

knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.

Violations of the Act are investigated by federal investigative agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted by the Department of Justice.


Links About Identity Fraud and Other Scams:

Yes, I will continue the journal soon.   Life will get back to normal now (I hope) and I'll even let you know when they catch (notice I said "when", not "if",)  the thieving  *&*#@*.



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