By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/21/2020
Topics/Keywords: #18-Wheeler #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver #TruckDriving Page Views: 268
An entry from Alternate Roads: Paul S. Cilwa's Truck Drivin' Journal

Saturday, September 7, 2002

So, here I was, a brand-new employee ready (according to my bosses) for the road…but cooling my heels at the Operating Center (OC) because the truck I'd been assigned wasn't fit for the road.

I plugged my computer into the OC's outlets and connected to the Internet via the local access number I had. (Most truckstops only allow you to dial 800 numbers—not local numbers. The OCs sensibly allow local numbers as well.)

Lost in my email, I jumped when a familiar voice said, "Paul! What're you doing here?" I turned and saw Wayne, my pal from the first 11 days of training!

"Me!" I exclaimed. "What are you doing here? Don't you work out of Sacramento, now?"

"Yes," he replied, "but my truck broke down. Actually, my second truck." It seems that Wayne's first truck assignment was in such bad shape, they'd given him a replacement until the first could be repaired. "I got into it," he continued, "and it failed pump-down. So, it's in the shop, and I'm back to waiting until they finish on the first one."

You have to wonder if the Schneider pencil-pushers who figured that they would save money by hiring a fleet of newly-trained drivers, took into account having so many of those drivers sit around waiting for their trucks to be repaired?

But, whatever. Wayne and I had a nice visit, bringing each other up-to-date on how the other members of our class were doing. Eventually, his truck was announced ready, and we said goodbye, promising we'd see each other again on the road.

I went back to work, until an hour later I heard another familiar voice. It was Jack, my second TE! He was speaking to someone at the table next to mine and hadn't spotted me, yet. I waited until he finished talking, and then called, "Hey, Jack!"

"Paul!" he cried. "What are you doing here?"

"Waiting for truck repairs," I said. "What are you doing here? You're normally just here at midnight!" I knew his schedule, from having worked it with him for a week.

"Truck needed repairs," he said.

"You got your truck repaired two weeks ago," I reminded him. "I was with you."

He shrugged. "Well, you know. Trucks."

So, Jack and I had a nice visit, talking about the student he'd gotten the week after me, and how she'd done, and how his wife was doing, and he asked about Michael and Mom.

Eventually, his truck was announced ready, and we said goodbye, promising we'd see each other again on the road.

I went back to work, until an hour later I heard another familiar voice. It was Dan, the instructor of slow maneuvering during JumpStart. "Paul!" he grinned. "What're you doing here? Aren't you out of training yet?"

He was the first person I'd talk to that day who wasn't having a truck repaired.

When late afternoon rolled around, I gave my nephew, Tim, a call. Tim, a saxophonist and dancer, had recently moved to Riverside from his parents' home in Florida. He was happy to hear from me, and I gave him directions to the OC so he could pick me up for dinner.

When he arrived, he confessed he hadn't been in the area long enough to actually know where to eat. The best suggestion I could make was the Yum-Yum restaurant next to the Days Inn. At least, I knew the food wasn't too bad, and it was low priced. Afterwards, he took me to the home in which he rents a room. The owners, Mark and Tom, weren't there but he gave me the tour of the house, which is perched atop a hill. He pointed at another, nearby house. "That's the one Mark and Tom owned before this one," he said.

"Mark and Tom are a couple?" I guessed.

"Oh, yeah," he answered. "They've been together thirteen years."

"And you're okay with that?" I asked. "I mean, you're very good looking, and living with a couple of gay guys…or is there something you want to tell me?"

Tim grinned and said, "Nah. I like girls. It's just that, with my music and all, most of the guys I work with are gay. It just doesn't bother me. Sometimes I've been the only straight guy there! So, I have my choice of any of the girls there—or all of them! It's great!"

Tim dropped me off at the Days Inn where, as I reflected on the day just past, I realized that a basic worry had been answered. I had wondered how long I could stand the "loneliness of the road." I was now wondering if there would be any!