October 2001

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It is my mother's fault that I haven't written. 


Really, though, she told me long ago that if I didn't have anything nice to say that I shouldn't say anything at all... I've abided by that fairly well lately.  I knew I was in trouble when reviewing my notebook, I found this entry:


"Truth be told, I've reached by **** tolerance threshold and am giving a fair amount of thought to bailing out of this horse and pony show that we call trucking.  It may be that there has been just one too many straws placed upon this camel's back."


To say the least, there were a couple of very difficult weeks in the near past.  It is hard for me to sit in front of the computer and write when I know that what will come out will be less than wonderful. 


I have to wonder if I'm just "lucky" or what.  Do other drivers have the same troubles that I do?  I have to believe they do.  Misery loves company but it is only somewhat reassuring to believe that it's just plain tough all over.  It makes it worse when it all comes at you fast and furious.


The start of the fall began with a lousy parking ticket.  That doesn't seem like such a big deal, does it?  I didn't think so either until the police officer told me how much the fine was..... Take a guess.... C'mon, guess how much the fine is if you park a commercial vehicle in a posted "No Parking" zone..?  (State of Missouri)  Okay, okay, the outrageous and ridiculous fine is $203.00.  Yeah, I know, I couldn't believe it either.  Heck, running a stop sign with a commercial motor vehicle only warrants $83.00; going the wrong way down the interstate gets you for just $20.00 more.  So now you ask, why was I so stupid to park where it was posted "No Parking"?  That's a good question but unfortunately the answer is just plain dumb.  I wanted to watch Dan Rather.


I had just loaded in Millstadt, IL (just east of St. Louis, MO) and had heard a commercial for that evening's edition of 48 Hours.  (It was just after the Anthrax thing had started and it was on the subject of chemical and biological weapons.)  I would've stayed in the shipper's lot but they didn't have the room.  I estimated that I could make it to Foristell, MO just about the time the show was getting ready to start.  I was right -- I made it to Foristell all right, but underestimated how early the truckstops fill up there.  There wasn't a spot to be had.  After cruising the lot, I gave up on finding a spot and pulled onto the onramp to the interstate.  I'd been there an entire 10 minutes when the red and blue flashing lights appeared.  Bummer. 


I was shocked when I got a look at the fine schedule, which is below.


I decided to try to appeal to the state of Missouri, city of Foristell to reduce this fine.  Here is a copy of my pathetic and whiny letter to them.... :)


Some Fine Amounts in Missouri

(Click on image for larger view.)

In the end, they agreed to reduce the fine to $125.00.  Still a hefty fine, but better than $203.00.




There are a lot of companies out there who say they will "protect" your CDL for you for a monthly fee...I have to say that these are really a colossal waste of money.  For the most part, unless you get into a great deal of trouble (and shame on you if you do) then you can take care of most things yourself with phone calls and letters for far less money.  I admit that I was so upset about this ticket that I called a couple of companies that claimed to help drivers out of jams and yadda yadda but each of them told me that since it wasn't a moving violation I should shut up and pay.  My opinion of these companies has since gone even farther down.  None of them so much as suggested writing a letter.  They were of absolutely no help -- probably because they couldn't see enough of a cut for them in the situation.  Tsk, tsk.


Don't ask me why but after getting the ticket I was on the lookout to see just how many trucks I could find parked on ramps.  There were plenty...


Parking, as I've mentioned many times before, can be a major hassle.  Some states post "No Parking" signs but do not enforce them.  Some do not post them but DO enforce a No Parking rule.  It can be tough to know where in the heck to park.



Hit & Run


One day while sitting in the T/A truckstop outside of Jacksonville, FL, minding my own business after having made my delivery, a driver hit my trailer and drove off.  I was in the bunk taking an afternoon siesta when WHAM!, somebody hit me.  With the prevalence of air ride on tractors and trailers today, the slightest "bump" is very noticeable.  Just someone standing on the trailer bumper can be felt in the tractor.  Anyway, I hopped out and sure enough, the driver had his trailer up against mine.   I walked back to see if there was any damage and to get his company name, tractor number and plate number.  I saw that there was just the smallest bit of damage to my trailer -- not enough that anyone would ever notice or care.  I waited for the driver to finish getting himself out of this situation, thinking he would come talk to me.  That's how it is done -- if you hit someone, you go say you are sorry for being a horse's ass and if needed, you file reports, etc.  (Thank the Lord I haven't had to make the horse's ass admission yet for this particular sin...but I knock on wood as I say that, too.)  This joker didn't bother, though.  He just drove off.  This made me far angrier than being hit.  In fact, I called it in to the company as a hit and run solely because he left as he did.  If he had 'fessed up, I would have let it go.  If I would have called the cops, he'd be toast, but I didn't want to go that far for the minimal amount of damage that it was.


He'd been trying for a very narrow and tough spot when he hit me.  (Though the image doesn't reflect what it was really like -- I'm not much of an artist, I admit.)  If this guy had come and knocked on my door when he saw that he was in trouble, I would've been glad to pull ahead so he could get in.  In fact, after this guy drove off, another silly person tried to get in the spot and got in a jam, too.  Fortunately, the second driver to try this spot was indeed smart enough to acknowledge he was in trouble and politely asked if I would please pull up and I was happy to do so.



The Lumper Scam


Another incident which definitely paled my outlook this month was being ripped off by a lumper.  This was the first time I've ever been truly scammed by one.  Sure, I've been overcharged many, many times, but this time he just plain got me. 


How it happened really is a long story, but if you would like to read about it, you can do so here.  This letter is a copy of one that I sent to my company afterwards.  In fact, I sent it to the CEO and several presidents underneath him.  (It is slightly edited from the version sent to them.) 


I was very disappointed in the response that I received over the letter, but not surprised.  What I got was one reply in the form of a phone call.  I was told that it was very important to observe strict personal safety rules while on the road.   DUH.  As a lone female driver of 8 years I have become quite well aware that you absolutely must watch yourself, and others, all the time.  I was very much insulted by the inference that had I better followed safety rules, this would not have occurred.  Carriers are literally slaves to shippers and drivers, sadly enough, are their whores.  There is nothing that the shipper could have done that would have merited the carrier becoming involved or taking any action.  They simply will not risk alienating the shipper and losing business.  Sad, sad thing. 


Tying in to that, check out a series done recently by the Kansas City Star about drivers, fatigue and the general malaise in the industry:  Dead Tired.  I felt compelled to reply to this series and if interested, here is my letter:  Dead Tired Reply


From (fairly) Recent Travels....



Statue of Lincoln atop Sherman Hill, between Laramie and Cheyenne, WY on I-80.



West Virginia, I-70, October 2001







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