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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Roads More Traveled

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 7/22/2024
Page Views: 651
As my experience with trucking expanded, so did my disillusionment.

So, in theory, I was now a seasoned trucker. Certainly there wasn't much I hadn't seen, included the promised miles per month, or an improved truck, or enough money to actually live on. But I was committed to keeping my promise to drive for them for rest of my year, and I intended to keep my promise even if Schneider seemed reluctant to keep theirs.

Of course, their promises were always coached in, We'll do our best… and If we can… and We'll try… So, they could always claim to not have broken any actual promises.



By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/4/2003
Page Views: 545
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
We may be only 10% of the population, but we are everywhere.

In the restaurant I went for the buffet—it was actually cheaper than anything al la carte—and was working on my eggs and incredibly crispy bacon (Michael would have loved it) when a man entering the restaurant caught my eye. He was an older guy, at least seventy, whose clothes didn't fit him well and whose well-worn T-shirt had the following message emblazoned on the back: Never underestimate the stupidity of the American trucker. Truckers are dumber than Gays. Gays are better organized.

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The Nature of God

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/9/2003
Page Views: 1890
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
About time zones, global positioning satellites, and the Deity.

Over a thousand years ago, religious scholars announced that certain attributes were Divine. One of the statements was, God is Eternal. That means that God exists outside of time—quite a sophisticated notion for the period; I wonder if the scholars of that day truly understood the implications. If they were right, then for God there is no past or future; only an eternal now. An additional implication of this attribute is that, for God, there is no cause or effect; because those are time words. For God, what is, is. If there is a relationship between, say, driving while tired and an accident, the only connection (for God) is God. (This is why lawyers are uncomfortable with this whole concept.)

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A Smooth Operation

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/13/2003
Page Views: 355
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
You gotta wonder what they do with the log pages I send them.

The trip was uneventful. I played a book-on-tape and, almost without realizing it, found myself in Illinois. Amazingly, there was no snow on the ground anywhere along the way, although it was bitterly cold outside. I was worried about the lack of precipitation—wouldn't this impact the crops? But locals weren't worried. Apparently, they haven't had much snow in the winter in years, but get a lot of springtime rain to make up for it. Only the older folks remember snowy winters. And some still say the climate isn't changing!

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Weight of a Rainbow

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/15/2003
Page Views: 372
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Weighing the truck, and my willingness to be out of the closet.

In the morning, I walked from the little Amoco truck stop at which I had spent the night, over to the grocery store a half block away. I asked for, and was almost surprised to find that, the missing registration for the trailer I was towing had been faxed to me. For the cost of a dollar, I could now drive legally.

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Gary, Indiana

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/21/2003
Page Views: 350
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Karma can be stickier than Gorilla Glue.

Carl Jung, the psychotherapist, believed in a force he called synchronicity. He didn't want to use the word coincidence since, for most people, that word is synonymous with random and partnered with meaningless. Jung pointed out that, for two-dimensional beings living on the surface of the ocean, the movement of the waves would not be perceptible to them—yet would have an effect on their lives, nonetheless. He suggested that, if there is a multidimensional reality to the Universe beyond the three spatial and one temporal dimensions that we know about, it might only be perceived through the existence of synchronicity, the coincidence of events in time in such a way that they have great meaning to the percipient, and extreme unlikelihood of having occurred at all.

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Goodbye, Larry

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/24/2003
Page Views: 356
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
I'll be getting less support than before…as if that were even possible!

No new truck. No passengers. Less support. Apparently I've just passed a milestone, but it doesn't seem to be one that benefits me in any discernable way. Unlike, say, passing a kidney stone.

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From Sea to Desert

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 1/30/2003
Page Views: 364
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Might I be getting the hang of this driving thing after all?

As one continues eastward, the landscape gradually becomes drier. The thick, green, grass gives way to scraggly bushes; the occasional rock outcroppings begin to dominate as the rich loam of the Central Valley becomes thinner and then disappears completely. Even so, the constant winds provide one, last, crop before the desert manifests in earnest: electricity. The hilltops become fringed with windmills, hundreds of them, in every size. At any given time, some of the windmills are off-line for repairs, or simply to save wear on them during those times of the year and the day when the full capacity of electricity is not required. The fact that many of the windmills were not turning last summer, when there was supposedly an energy shortage in California, belied that story for those who bothered to look.

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Meet Eric Idle

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/2/2003
Page Views: 1536
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
You may as well get to know my truck, since it appears I'll be living in it for awhile.

I know that, before I got Eric, I was very curious as to what these trucks actually look like inside. We didn't drive the same kind of vehicles in training. Eric is a Freightliner Century Class, probably a 1998 model though there is some question about that. It says on the door frame that it is a 1998. However, one of the mechanics who worked on it a few months ago said it was "a lot older", though he would elaborate. It has a Detroit engine. That doesn't mean the engine is from Detroit; it means it comes from that company, one of the three that make diesel engines for big trucks (the other two are Cummins and Caterpillar). I know very little about engines, but this one is fairly clean and uncluttered. It does look like it means business—nothing fancy about it at all, which is another reason to give it a man's name.

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Show Business

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/3/2003
Page Views: 1596
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
An entry from Alternate Roads: Paul S. Cilwa's Truck Drivin' Journal

I remembered reading that, to overcome stage fright, all one had to do was look out over the audience and imagine them naked. I tried it. It didn't help. Actually, the thought of the nuns naked made me a bit queasy. I quickly mentally re-clothed everyone, though while doing it I did mentally create better outfits for some of the girls.

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Midnight at the Oasis

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/6/2003
Page Views: 2235
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Sometimes you see weird things after sending your camel to bed.

Some people might dismiss this as a spooky, campfire story.

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Stormy Weather

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/12/2003
Page Views: 1612
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
It gets complicated when heavy weather is brewing on the road AND at home.

I received my assignment days ago: a load of electronics from the Schneider Border Drop Yard in Otay, California, to a warehouse in Sparks, Nevada. However, the starter on my truck gave out and had to be fixed. I recommended to Debbie, my dispatcher (they call them STLs but I'm about ready to give up on all these acronyms—truckers seem to be worse than programmers in that regard) that she relay the load to someone else. Unfortunately, there was no one else—not a single unoccupied driver within a hundred miles, so she said. I was sent to the dreaded Days Inn motel while they worked on my truck, where I realized I had forgotten to bring my contact lens cleaning kit. So I had to sleep in my lenses and hope I'd be able to open my eyes the next day.

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Big Waits

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/18/2003
Page Views: 1596
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

This morning's delivery was scheduled for 8 AM, near the Fontana Operating Center. It came from Phoenix, and I was supposed to have started out with it around ten in the morning. But I got a late start, having to fill my high blood pressure prescription before I left town; and then, after I did get started, I couldn't resist stopping at the El Dorado Hot Springs in Tonopah for a quick soak. So, by the time I got to Fontana, it was 1:30 AM. Legally, I was required to shut down for eight hours. But, since my log indicated I had arrived at 11:00 pm the previous night, reality and fiction collided once again and I pulled into the consignee's yard at just 8 AM—still needing a couple hours' more sleep. I figured I would get it while they unloaded my truck, which was estimated to take two hours.

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Hellish Detergent

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/21/2003
Page Views: 1602
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Driving truck means never having (time) to say you're sorry.

And then there had been a call with Michael on my cell phone. Schneider had deposited only $157 into my checking account, after a week's worth of work. Michael, himself looking for work, hadn't yet heard from the hospital at which he'd applied, even though they'd promised to give him an answer two days ago. It was the same old conversation; and, when I pointed that out, Michael said I was saying the same old things, too. I knew we were both frustrated over the lack of money and the best move was to end the call. I quickly said goodbye, then turned off the phone.

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Donner and Blitzkrieg

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 2/24/2003
Page Views: 1677
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
It's possible to recover from a jackknife-in-progress, but few truckers know how.

A jackknife happens when a driver hits the brakes and the tractor slows down, but the road is slippery and the trailer keeps moving forward. The front can't move because it's anchored to the tractor, but the back can; and it swings out sideways, one way or another. It's pretty dreadful, because cars wind up plowing into the trailer; drivers get decapitated; truckers get fired, and so on. All I knew about them was what I'd learned during training: That it's easier to jackknife with an empty or lightly-loaded trailer than it is with a fully-loaded one. But they hadn't told us how to recover from a jackknife in progress, implying that such a feat was impossible. And they didn't really tell us how to avoid one altogether. So I had filed all that information under G, as in, Gee, I Hope This Never Happens To Me.

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