Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

on Random Stuff 2.0

Okay, sorry about the long absence. I kinda took the weekend off, just because, and then, work became a major pain in my posterior. It has taken me until today (Wednesday) to recover from Monday. Monday was that bad. I mean, honestly, truly, had-to-talk-myself-out-of-quitting bad. I have had only about five days of work, IN MY LIFE, that were as bad as Monday was. I had to put in a 14 hour day (stupid DOT rules...) just to be able to get to the point where I could finish my route...on Tuesday morning, right before I started my 12 hour route in another town, almost 50 miles away.

My Monday from Hell was a series of chain reactions that started last week, in Illinois. You see, our Cockford Rockford branch had a truck fire that destroyed four of their residential trucks. Well, a normal branch keeps two or three residential trucks around as spares, just in case a truck or two (or three...) breaks down. Well, Rockford only had two spares...and lost four trucks. So, we sent two of OUR spares down to Rockford, to give them the absolute minimum number of trucks that they needed to do their routes. In addition, we have a truck that is down with a trashed engine, so, we don't have any spares, either. When we were told this, during our weekly safety meeting on Friday, it was explicitly explained to us that we had no spare trucks left, and that there would be a lot of helping out of other drivers when a residential truck broke down on a route. (please note, I said WHEN, not IF...) Well, my truck has been breaking down recently with a rather alarming frequency. Garbage trucks actually aren't designed to handle the abuse actually picking up garbage can heap upon a truck. In fact, most tanks aren't designed for the abuse picking up garbage heaps upon a vehicle. Driving a residential garbage route is tough on both the driver and the truck, and no amount of engineering can solve either problem. Well, my truck is nine years old, or so, and just about everything that can wear out on my truck has decided to do so...right now. (Okay, not really. But, it sure seems that way. There are about 100,000 or so moving parts in my truck, and only about 50 of them have crapped out on me) Anyway, my fuel filter on my truck decided to take a vacation on Monday, which caused my truck to act like it had run out of fuel. It hadn't, because I had plenty of fuel. So, there I am, 30 miles away from the shop, and my truck won't start because there isn't any fuel getting to the engine. (I didn't know that is what was happening at the time...). A technician makes a run down to the town I am working in, and, with a lot of cussing, fiddling, and ether, gets my truck started. Now, this took two hours to accomplish. "No problem", I tell myself. I'll just aks Antonio to come on over and help me out, and I'll be caught up in no time. (calling for Antonio's help is rather like calling for the cavalry: when it looks bleak, and you have no hope, along comes Antonio to save the day. He is FAST!) So, I drive on back to the shop, (I had shut my truck down to prep for my trip back to the yard to empty my truck...), empty my truck, and head on back to my route. Well, I started working the second half of my route, and my truck just up and quits...exactly like it was out of fuel. Again. So, another call for a technician, another 45 minute wait, and I'm getting my truck worked on again. Well, I know that Antonio and Jason have been doing the second half of my second half of my route, so, I know that I have some time to play with. Plus, there is another driver working the route right next to mine that I haven't yet asked for help. But, hey, I figure, "I've only got two hours of my route to do, and it will only take half an hour to get my truck running (I thought I had run out of fuel at this point...), so, I won't bother Brian." I should have bothered Brian. Because of DOT regulations, I CAN NOT work longer than 14 hours in a day. Well, I had started my day at 6AM, took 15 minutes to get my truck ready for the day, and then had a 1/2 hour drive to start my route. I worked my route for 4 1/2 hours, broke down for 2, drove back to the yard (1/2 hour), unloaded my truck (1/2 hour), and then drove back (1/2 hour). I then worked my route for 1/4 hour, and broke down for 2 1/2 hours. Keeping up so far? Good. As I said before, I had two hours left of my route, and then a 1/2 hour trip back to the yard, and 1/4 hour to shut my truck down. For a grand total of 14 1/4 hours. If nothing else went wrong, or no other delays were encountered. Now, I didn't find this out until every other driver in the town had already gone home. So, there was no one to help me out. In short, I was screwed. So, Tuesday morning, I had to clock in at 6AM again, (stupid DOT regulations mandate that I cannot clock in until 10 hours have elapsed from my last shift, so, I couldn't even start early) unload my truck from the previous day (it takes an hour to unload in the morning, but 1/2 hour later in the day, due to pre-tripping and paper work), head on back to finish up Monday's route, and then drive 1 hour to start my Tuesday route 2 hours late. Fortunately, Antonio-to-the-rescue happened again, so, I didn't have to repeat the exercise today. But, having to work for two days, behind the entire time, with only about 4 hours of sleep between the two days, meant that I was tuckered out. REALLY tuckered out.

But, today, I'm feeling, not exactly rested, but not dead tired. Which is a definite improvement. So, I thought I would correct my lack of posting with an explanation of why. My weekend excuse isn't so good, but, my weekday excuse is first-rate.

Oh, the cause of my problems? My fuel filter is faulty. The fix? A bypassed fuel filter. Not exactly good for the truck, but, it got my truck running, and it has been running for two days now. Which is almost a record. But, tommorrow is Thursday, and my truck has broken down every Thursday for 2 1/2 months now. And Thursday is the one day that still kicks my butt. I can't finish my Thursday route in less than 12 hours right now, so, I don't really have the time to spare. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get through this Thursday without a breakdown, because of my Monday breakdown. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country