Ahh Tuesday. My bad day. Not Monday. Tuesday.
So of course, this is the day my boss picks for me to help out with driving.
One guy on vacation. One guy injured in a fall at home - out til September. Of 3 drivers that run pneumatic tanks (forced air) there is 1 working this week. There are 2 others who occasionally run tanks that can help out. They are out on the road and not able to be in to help. No problem.
Da da daaaa! Miss Behavin' to the rescue. Well, sorta.
I get to take a load of Dyna K to the Iams plant about 50 miles away. I like this place. It's clean, easy to get to and the folks are super nice. Dyna K at this plant, however, is my nemesis. Always has been. I cannot get unloaded in less than 3.5 hours to save my life here.
Dyna K is Potassium in dry, powder form. It is heavy and tends to clump in any kind of humidity. Luckily today is not humid. HOWEVER, it heats up as they run it through the leg to load the tank, so by the time the trailer is loaded, it is warm. Fabulous.
I can handle this. I've run a tank hundreds of times. The job doesn't bother me. It's all the stupid shit that happens along the way that gets to me. This run proves no exception.
I work in the office until 11 getting stuff cleared up and covered. I grab my gear and head to the truck. Movin' out, feelin' good, I get to the end of the road. Hmm. This plant always requires a sample to test. I have no sample.
Flashers on, I dial the office. "Hey, don't I need a sample for this load?" Pause while boss rants about stupidity of loaders, finds out where I am, and says he'll get one down to me. To make this faster, I turn left, straighten up, back up, and come back down the road to meet the loader and pick up my sample.
Ok. We're cruisin'. Sun is shining. It's about 78 degrees, no humidity. I am quickly becoming familiar with the shifter in my hand and the feel of the clutch. Man I love this. I run down and across to cut up a back road that we always take (cuts about 20 minutes and 15 miles off the trip) to find that the last leg of the journey is under construction. As of today. Fabulous. Detour around an extra 12 miles and cut up to 224, knowing I can hit this road again north of the next town. Well, I COULD, had the whole damn thing NOT been under construction from one end of the county to the other! Argh. Keep going (on 2 lane, no where big enough to turn around in corn country and too busy to do the 3 point turn like before) another 20 miles to the big highway to go 6 miles north to cut back 20 miles west. Good thing it's a nice day out. I'm cruising along at a high rate of fuel consumption, and since I'm so local today did not bring my radar detector, so I remind myself several times to "slow your stupid ass down." heh.
I stop at a fuel stop to grab a bite and a drink because I've missed my lunch hour and I know it's gonna be a long afternoon. Walking back out to the truck, I have again found my "grain hauler walk." I know this because I have other drivers pass me and do double-takes, and many that say "hi". heh. it is a gift.
Anyhow, I have to run through one little town before I get to that country road I need. It too is under construction. I love small towns. I roll through slowly by the flaggers who stare, the guys operating the equipment who stare, and the fellas standing outside the fire department who turn and stare as I drive by. *giggle* Ok, ok, it's an ego shot. Some days a girl just needs this.
I get to the road (FINALLY!) and make my right as I notice to the left that this is the point to which it is closed. Fabulous. I will have to snake around the other way to get home. I roll onto the scale, grab my paperwork, and head in. Sign in, talk to the guards (one of whom remembers me from 2 years ago - of course, I AM the only female who has ever driven for this company) and head back around. I back in and give the guy my sample and wait for the green light. While I'm waiting, I start pulling hoses and getting stuff hooked up. This is where the Tuesday stupidity begins.
I have no gloves. Mine are at home because I haven't driven in so long I put them away with my other driving stuff. The guys usually keep some in their trucks, but this truck belongs to the guy that was hurt, so he and his wife took all his stuff out until his return. Great. I look in the sidebox, not even a shop rag. I can deal. I get my rubber mallet out, and hook the discharge hose from the end of my trailer to the load outlet on their wall. I then go up front to hook up my air line to the PTO (Extra air pump). The hose clamps are worn. The won't stay locked and keep falling. Dammit. Back to the sidebox. Grab a bungee cord and rig it up to hold the clamps. Turn on the air to build pressure. It works. Win.
I build the pressure up and I get the green light. Sample's good; I can start unloading. Free the air and start moving product into the line. Spend the next 25 minutes unblocking the line because it has clumped and sticks and causes a plug. Fuckers. To do this I have to alternate opening air passages, air release, product release and occasionally kicking the hose because I am pissed off. Think to myself I'd still rather be out here doing this than inside at the desk. Call my boss to let him know progress, make sure everything is ok with my stuff at work and ask him if he hates me because he knows every time I deliver K to this place it is a "challenge." He calls me a rookie. I remind him I did NOT have to have another driver come finish the unload because I unplugged it myself. He laughs. That happened once when I first started. Never again.
Call my daughter. I'm 20 minutes from where she is with her dad and ask if she wants to meet for dinner before tennis practice. I'm thinking I'll be out of there about 3:30. About 3:20 I call her and tell her it will be another hour. She decides she's gonna visit her grandparents and she'll meet me later. Practice isn't til 7. Cool. 4:30 she calls, and I am fighting the THIRD plug. I've only emptied 2 of the 4 hoppers on the tank. Sonofabitch. I tell her it will be at least 530 by the time I finish this and get to her town. She understands. I finally finish unloading, blow the lines out, and depressurize the tank. I unhook the back hose and load it back into the side carrier. I flip all my levers back where they need be (by now my hands are raw and sore because the levers have a squeeze mechanism to make them move and I have no gloves.) The fun has just begun. I have to unhook the air hose from the PTO and hang it back over the hook at the front of the trailer.
Now, blowing air through a 4 inch hose at 15psi (pounds per square inch) tends to heat up the hose. And the aluminum coupling. A lot. A very fuckin' lot. No gloves, no shop rag, no nothing. I also have to undo the rubber bungee cord that was holding the clamps. The hot rubber bungee cord. I now have a little melted spot on the side of my index finger on my left hand from this. It's healing pretty well, but it was sore for a couple days. *grumble*
5:30 I make it out of the plant and turn onto the 2 lane highway to go to my daughter's town. I call her to let her know I'm on my way. She's getting ready to leave her grandparents so it will be about the same time we get there. 20 minutes or so... 5 minutes later I call her back. The road is detoured a-fucking-gain. *sigh* I ask her if she's left (she has), does she have a map (yes - good girl!) and a safe place to stop? (she will pull over and put her flashers on) I have her double-check to make sure I can get back to a road that goes into her town (I can) and apologize for this being such a hassle. Btw, both my girls know how to read and follow a map and to know where they are at all times. This is a good skill to have.
I roll into town down to the little dairy dip place we're gonna meet. I turn into the lot across the road and turn around so I'm facing the way I need to go when I leave. I call my other daughter to let her know what's up and when I'll be back. There's a whole other story there but we'll get to that another time. I see my babygirl roll up across the road and park.
I get out of the truck and "grain haul walk" across the road. Heh. She is amused at the stares. A fellow with his family asks if I'm hauling flour. I tell him no, Potassium to the Iam's plant. He smiles (he too is a driver) and we go on inside. She's telling me about the first day of tennis camp, brutal, and the new Harry Potter book she got from her grandparents. We get our food and go out to the tables. It's 6:10. She tells me about playing tennis with her dad today.
What???!!!! That's OUR fun. Since when does his lazy ass pick up a tennis racket? Apparently since she joined the team. *sniff* I'm sad. For a moment. Til she tells me she beat him and he was pissy because she's "Not as easy as L is to beat" (L being his current live-in). heh. I can still beat her. *gloat*
Ok. Moving on, we chat a bit more and it's time to go. She's so grown up. It's so awesome to sit and talk with my girls over dinner and be "friends." I head back to the yard and get my stuff to go home. By now it's 7:30pm. My boss walks in while I'm doing paperwork wondering why I'm back so late. Told him I stopped to have supper with my daughter (he's met her) and I'm out of there. Whupped. Ready for bed when I get home. No way. Still have a test and a final to take for Geography. Ugh. I study a bit (try to) and pass out. I have til Friday noon to get them done, so I figure I'll hammer them out Wednesday night when I get home from the office.
Not to be...
I get to work the next day to find out that I'm only working a half day at the office and I am taking a load out to Erie PA for the next morning. Cool.
I like the run (I've done it before) and it's a nice trip. I'm familiar with the place; it's an easy unload. And, bonus, I go right by my mom's place so I can stop and see her. I call her and ask if she wants company for a late supper; she asks what time I'll be in town and she'll come pick me up.
And there is where I must stop because my rich boat people await me to serve them chicken dinners and be nice. Yay. To be continued...