Saturday, June 7, 2008

Trucker Time Out

I got sent to trucker time out last night.  Had to sit there for hours.  Felt very foolish for being there - all the trucks that drove by knew I was sitting in time out.  I totally deserved it though (well, sort of...).  The Department of Transportation officers of the different states take their jobs very seriously.  You all should thank them for keeping you and your grandchildren (and my grandchildren) safe from drivers who get distracted, stressed, too tired to care, or any other myriad reasons why they might let safety slip from the absolute first place it deserves.  

  Here is the story . . .  we were in El Paso at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon.  ICK . . . DOUBLE ICK . . . El Paso traffic isn't the greatest under the best of circumstances, but it really sucks (traffic wise only) on a hot summer Friday during rush hour.  Tony did his usual thorough job on the safety inspection of the trailer we just had loaded.  He told me (it was going to be my driving shift) that there were 2 non-adjacent loose lug nuts on one of the rear trailer wheels.  
So, my female mind does some quick math that went something like this:  10 lug nuts per tire " x 18 tires = 180 lug nuts.  Only 2 loose?  Seems like good odds to me.  I promised Tony that I would drive FORWARD to the absolute next truck stop and get them tightened.  He wanted me to drive BACKWARD through El Paso nightmare traffic to the CLOSEST truck stop and get it fixed.  Here is the real rule:  If there are 2 non-adjacent, then you may proceed forward.  3 out of 10 or 2 adjacent and you must deal with it now.  So, against my co-driver's wishes (nasty argument), I chose to proceed along my merry way.  In addition to all of this mess going on, I had also chosen to take a US highway instead of the Interstate. There I was tooling up highway 54 toward Alamogordo when I came upon a New Mexico Port of Entry.  As I pull in, there is an obviously bored officer sitting in the elevated taco hut at the side of their inspection area.  
"Pull on around and come into the bay for a Class 2 inspection" he says. 
 "Oh crap" I think, "this could get ugly!"
Sure enough, he not only finds the 2 loose lug nuts, but horror of horrors, the 3rd one is missing entirely!  In truth, the wheel was obviously crying out for help and attention - right damn now!
He smiled as he explained to me that he was putting me OUT OF SERVICE and to bring my log book and permit book and follow him into the office.  
Put yourself back into about the 7th or 8th grade and imagine that nasty vice principle that everyone hated telling you to grab your ill prepared essay on the reform policies of the New Deal era and follow him to his office.  That is about what I felt like.  Lucky for me, my log book is a marvel of neatness and perfectness.  Our permit book is always up to date (thank you Con-Way) and everything else about our rig is the very model of neatness and in good order.  It also helped that Leo was being Mr. Cute and doing his best to charm the guy as well.
When we sat down, the officer slid a dog biscuit through the little half moon cut into the window.  "For your co-pilot" he said.  Leo had done his job well!
After all the papers were examined and I drank 14 little cones of cold water, he got to the nitty gritty.  "I am giving you a verbal warning only and placing you out of service until a service truck can come and replace/tighten the lug nuts and get you on your way."  
"No ticket?" 
 "Nope, just have to call your service department and have them send someone out to get this done."
And that was that.  Unfortunately, on Friday night in the middle of nowhere, it takes a little longer for a service call.
So I got to sit for 5 hours waiting and reflecting.  In retrospect, I'm not sure that I would have made a different choice.  When we checked, only the 2 were loose.  I know that Tony will be more pushy for the "get it fixed now" options and I will argue that we spend more time getting Con-Way's trailers fixed than any other driver.  

That is why there are 2 of us and why we make such a good team.


BMc said...

I so-o-o know that feeling. Except for me, I feel my bangs sliding up my forehead into the pixie cut I had in kindergarten!

Terlingua Community Garden said...

you're both insane. LOL! Love keeping up with your blog.

Golfer Girl said...

My ex-husband used to be a big rig driver and I never could understand why he loved it so much. He said it was a pretty powerful feeling to have that much power in your total control.

It must have been fate stepping in to keep ya'll safe with that inspection. I'm glad for it, so I can read more about the Adventures ya'll are having.