I’m a long way from The Big Rotten Apple. After waiting an hour and a half at the Vince Lombardi Travel Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike for a load I finally got one. By the way, this service plaza had several hundred trucks parked and another few hundred cars in the four-wheeler section. It was the absolute busiest rest stop I had ever seen. I asked a maintenance guy if it was always like this. Lifting the full bag out of a trash receptacle, he just nodded.
I went inside the plaza that had half dozen franchise food places and got myself a Starbucks since I hadn’t had a coffee in more than a day. It was as good as Pilot coffee. I was impressed.
On the way out there were two society looking older ladies and one of them was telling the other in a very upscale Yankee accent (there was a lot of that in this area – wonder why) that they would be having dinner in the city before they drove up to the Hamptons. Wooo. Swohawk was impressed.
I was to pick up a load of Hersheys product in Hazelton, Pennsylvania at 5 p.m. that very afternoon. Unfortunately, I would not be able to make it by then given the 90 minute delay in getting the assignment. I messaged that I was on my way and would get there as soon as I could.
As I pulled out of the lot I realized that I would have to clean out the trailer. Ya think I could spot a truck wash along the way? Nahhhh.
It doesn’t take long once you’re west of New York City in the New Jersey hinterland for the scenery to go from Bronx grime to Manhattan skyline glitz to forested countryside. The Delaware Water Gap is really quite beautiful. And it stays rustic and beautiful most of the way through Pennsylvania on I-80. Seeing no truck washes and very few truck stops, I pulled into the last truck stop before I-81 where I would cut to the south.
Climbing into the trailer, I had a sinking feeling. It was nasty. Not just a dusty, dirty coating of crud on the back half of the trailer but there were big patches of what looked like mold growing. I wasn’t going to be able to just sweep this one out. Walking into the truck stop fuel desk I asked a trucker walking the other way if he knew of a truck wash within 20 miles. Almost. The one he told me about was 50 miles past where I had to turn off.
I asked the clerk at the fuel desk if he knew of one. Why yes he did. And it was right on the way. I saddled up and put the pedal to the metal. I was bumping up against my 62 mile an hour limit the whole way. I found the truck was and it was almost across the street from the Hersheys plant. Cool.
The nice young Indian (Punjab not Native American) dude took care of my trailer and collected my T Check. He was multitalented. And even though I told him it was the nastiest trailer I had ever seen, he laughed and said I ain’t seen nothin’.
Starting up my truck to pull out of the wash bay, the QualComm chick told me I had a message waiting. I stopped and called it up. I was informed that my load had been cancelled and that I was slated for another load from the same place at 5 p.m. The. Next. Day. Steam slowly curled out of my ears.
I called dispatch, it was after regular business hours so I steeled myself for a long hold. After only a couple of minutes my target answered the phone and I unloaded. I was not a nice guy. Of course none of it did any good. The load was gone, but the ray of sunshine was that I would probably be able to pick up the new load by midday. Either way I’d have to find a place to spend the night.
With my ear steam slowly dissipating, I drove out of the truck wash, past a teensy truck stop just across the street which was already full. I was going to drive back east to the truck stop where I was going to sweep out my trailer but my smartphone truck stop finder app found a Pilot that was a bit closer. It too was full, but I found an almost legit place to park on one of the driveways between the rows. I didn’t think anybody would chase me out of the spot, howsomever my truck ended up on a very noticeable incline and would be tilting to the left. I spent the night with my head significantly lower than my feet but survived.
The next morning I was just coming out of the mens room with contacts in and freshly brushed teeth and was on my way to get a coffee. Now one of the little known facts about many truck stops, especially Loves and Pilot truck stops, is they play music, oldies, that takes me back my youth. Today they were playing songs from the 80’s (okay – just past my youth) and I heard Men at Work’s “Land Down Under” as I was approaching the front desk. Just then what looked to be the manager say to everybody waiting in line, “Tell you what. A contest. I’ll treat the person who can answer this question to a 16 ounce coffee.”
The question? “Who can tell me what vegemite is?”
“It’s the national spread of Australia – they spread it on crackers and it’s kind of yeasty stuff,” I answered. BOOM! Free coffee refill!
I picked up my load of KitKat bars and Rolos (no samples) and was on my way to the Illinois side of St. Louis. An uneventful trip. I spent the night at Loves in Clayton, Indiana, and grabbed a shower. I discovered that I had made Platinum Club! Unlimited drink refills and showers for the month of June! Woohoo!
I woke up early and made my delivery in Edwardsville. Another simple drop and hook, and I actually got a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup on the way in. It wasn’t Hersheys Milk Chocolate, but PBCs are my second favorite candy treat. In fact, this was the nicest drop I think I have ever made. The people at the security shack were very positively bubbly and smiling as were the people at the receiving office.
After the drop I had only to wait to see what I might be hooking to. Alas, I would be catching a hook, but it was not scheduled until 1:30 … tomorrow. Sigh. I checked back with the shipping office and they were confident that it would be ready by 8 a.m.
Fine, except that the load isn’t scheduled for delivery until the 9th at 7 a.m., two days away. Two days to cover 800 miles. Sigh. I messaged my worthless DM and inquired as to whether I might be able to make the delivery early. He responded that he didn’t think so. Thanks for going the extra mile for me dickhead. I’ll call the receiver sometime tomorrow but don’t expect a positive reply. This receiver is not trucker friendly.
Well, at least it will get me within 200 miles of home and my next stop is Houston and five or six days of time off. And just to show you that no matter how bad you have it there’s always somebody who has it worse, on one of my walks back to my bobtail from the FJ, a little round man gave me a “How’s it goin’?”
“Not bad,” I replied and before I could take another step he informed me that he’d had the week from hell. He was in an accident in Spokane at the beginning of the week and on the way into St. Louis his brake drum blew up and he ended up hitting another car. A twofer bummer. And all I am, for the moment, is bored spitless.
So here I sit at the Flying J. Thankfully I have enough bandwidth on my 3G smartphone to watch a movie, Punisher: War Zone (juicilly violent, but not bad) and a couple of Longmires. And I’ll be able to sleep in. I can get practiced up for my time off.