Volume I, Edition IV



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Greetings, Chieficionados!

Time for yet another mea culpa to all of you C-nados dutifully pulling over all Swift trucks in desperate (yet worthwhile) attempts to wave greetings to The Chief (tm) at the helm: not only is he not driving the Volvo VNL 780, he is ALSO not even driving the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution!

That's right. Instead, he is behind the wheel of an International ProStar+ Eagle! (Catchy name, huh?) And what a "retro"-looking dashboard, lemme tell ya. The engine brake controls are awful, but otherwise the driving layout is good. The interior living space is actually excellent, as there many, many storage compartments and cubbyholes for your stuff. It's even better than the Freightliner, to be honest.

But the big news is that The Chief (tm) is behind said wheel as a solo driver now.

That's right, Pt. Deux! A week ago, at the Swift terminal in Denver, he was handed the keys to the current ride and told to get the hell out of, uh, Denver. Which he did, heading first to Oklahoma City (616 miles) and thence to Westborough, MA, oh -- only another 1,662 miles. Didn't go through any previously un-visited states, but did finally return to Indiana, from where he was holding a winning Powerball ticket that he could not cash elsewhere. $4 payout! Don't spend it all in one place! (Alas, he did.)

It has been very interesting. Many trucking companies will advertise -- sometimes even right on the back of their trailers -- "No East Coast Runs". Lemme tell ya, compared to, say, within even a few hours east of the Mississippi, the East Coast is a real pain in the arse. Lower speed limits, the traffic, the construction zones...the endless, often un-staffed construction zones...the potholes...the tight roadways...the tiny rest stops / service areas...yup, it's a pain. It is understandable that folks might want to avoid having to work through it all...

So, after covering the nearly 2,300 miles in just four days -- not exactly easy when you are working a-gaynst not only the aforementioned factors, but also an 11-hour per day driving restriction and a truck that can only go about 60MPH when fully loaded -- it was rather disconcerting when a dispatching oversight held up the final delivery from one afternoon into the next morning, and then further paperwork issues delayed departure from the now-completed unloading site for four hours. We were warned that things would occur that utterly defied the rule of logic, and this was one of them. The bummer was that it all cost me an opportunity to visit family in NYC, although OTOH it permitted me to take some time off in and around the Boston area, the ol' stomping grounds for 25 years or so. I don't get paid when I'm not moving, so you don't want to sit in one place for too long, but the downtime was well-utilized and we are ready to roll, awaiting the next dispatch.

So far, the actual driving of the tractor-trailer is as enjoyable as it is challenging. You absolutely have to be focused at all times, or something undesirable will happen. For example, your trailer tires (called the "tandems") will, y'know, take out a sign, a light pole, or a pedestrian as they roll over a curb you failed to correctly turn away from. Doing it well provides a rewarding feeling, even if no one else will likely notice the degree of difficulty in merely turning a corner successfully in a small town. Nor care. All they care about is, did that guy just run me over, or not? And you're doing your best to have it be "not".

Random funnies:

-- I learned the hard way that Sweet N' Lo is very sweet indeed.

-- Would you believe that I have not yet once eaten any fast food?

-- Which is not to say that I have not been inside a McDonald...because they have a "yogurt parfait cup" that is sometimes priced at only $1 and which is a very good, rather filling, and adequately healthy breakfast-y starter.

Why don't we wrap it up right there until next time!

-- Sincerely,
The Chief (tm)
a.k.a. The Pacific Standard (tm)