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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Hunger Games

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/23/2024
Page Views: 211
As my experience with trucking expanded, so did my disillusionment.

As I started the new year, my experience as a trucker had certainly increased. Yet, most of the experience wasn't driving, which I did well; it was trying to wrestle with Schneider's very poor management of things like directions, loads, repairs… and my increased experience with that suggested it wasn't going to get any better.

Add to that the new information I'd gotten,suggesting that Schneider was actually in business, not to move frieght, but to train drivers for the government subsidy it got them. Would they actually try to annoy me so much I'd quit at the end of my year? Or would they then fire me if I didn't?

Time would tell.

An Average Week

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/1/2003
Page Views: 1309
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Driving a lot one day, but then hardly at all, does not give me the average miles I was promised.

This was not Schneider's fault. They had given me a day and a half in which to deliver this load, which was completely reasonable for the mileage. But I'd been home for a couple of days, and whenever I start out from home, it seems to take me for freaking ever to get going. And, by the time I got to the Tonopah Hot Springs off I-10, just about 60 miles west of Phoenix, I was too tired to drive. I thought taking a quick soak would substitute for a longer nap, but it just made me sleepier. Then I figured if I napped for a few hours…so I set my alarm clock, but slept through its going off. The next thing I knew it was day. April Fool's day, and I still had over 800 miles to run.

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Irony, He Wrote

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/6/2003
Page Views: 1365
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Sometimes it almost seems like they WANT me to quit.

I don't like to awaken to the alarm clock. I've studied the human sleep cycle a bit, and experts agree that if you have to be awakened, you didn't get enough sleep. People can build up a sleep deficit of up to 14 hours; after that, it comes out of your health and creativity. I don't have enough of either to spare; so I make sure I get enough sleep.

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Blue Volvo

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/15/2003
Page Views: 1310
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
They tell you to run legally, but they don't really want you to.

About six months ago, I was picking up a load from Reckitt Benckiser, just outside of Phoenix, when my attention was drawn to a beautiful, shiny, blue Volvo truck. Its driver was coupling to a trailer next to the one I was getting. The driver, a dark-haired guy in his thirties, I guessed, had a few white streaks in his hair and a four-inch long goatee. We got to talking, and talked for almost an hour-and-a-half, about UFOs, mostly—he had seen one with his brother, in an episode that included some missing time—but also about his kid, and ex-wife, and my kids and ex-wife, and my husband, Michael, and the fact that he didn't want a partner, and so on and on. This was his first week driving for Schneider, and he was interested in whatever insights I might have into driving for the company, though I'd only been there a couple months, myself. By the time I finally returned to the office for the paperwork I needed for the truck, the woman there thought I had experienced missing time. Where the heck were you? she asked. I thought you'd left without your paperwork.

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Bathroom Breaks and Other Delays

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/22/2003
Page Views: 1303
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Stupid is as stupid does, whether one is a lone idiot, or a corporation full of them.

I'm actually more concerned with the paper dust. Having picked up loads at paper mills, I am aware of the chemical warnings posted there. Paper isn't just made of wood; there are a lot of chemicals, some of them nasty, involved in its manufacture, as well. Add to that the chemicals that make Pampers absorbent, Wet Naps wet, and Charmin charming, and you have an aerosol soup that can't be a treat for the lungs.

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I Think, Therefore I Amble

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/25/2003
Page Views: 1327
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Sometimes, even cows get the blues.

With a very heavy load of cardboard from Port Townsend, Washington, I headed back to the L.A. area. Another moderately long run, which is a good thing. The loading hadn't taken very long, and the trip down the I-5 corridor is uneventful. I filled the time with an audio book version of Even Cowgirls Get The Blues by Tim Robbins. This is a terrific tale of a young woman who is the world's greatest hitchhiker. For her, it becomes an art form and a reason for being. She hitchhikes for the pure joy of it, not particularly to get anywhere. She simply enjoys the motion.

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Timeslip

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/2/2003
Page Views: 1273
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Timing is everything.

In my truck, I turned on the CB to the specified channel and lay down to take a nap. Four o'clock came and went. Five o'clock came and went. Sometime in between, they must have called the other Schneider driver because he and his truck were now gone. At six o'clock, my truck was finally called and I started it up. Docking was fairly easy, since I knew the place was unreasonably tight and I took my time. I probably took fifteen minutes to do it, but I didn't hit any of the boulders they inexplicably have blocking the loading docks, and found myself perfectly aligned with the dock door when I was done. I returned to my bunk to await loading.

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Michael Comes Too

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/6/2003
Page Views: 177
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
An entry from Alternate Roads: Paul S. Cilwa's Truck Drivin' Journal

Michael, my husband, is going to spend two weeks with me as my passenger. Finally, finally, he is going to see what it's like to be a truck driver.

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The Homecoming

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/14/2003
Page Views: 173
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
An entry from Alternate Roads: Paul S. Cilwa's Truck Drivin' Journal

I had asked for a guaranteed time at home. This is somewhat different from time at home, which we also have to ask for. If I request time at home for, say, next weekend, I might get home on Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or even Monday. Time at home is approximate. But guaranteed time at home is supposed to be different. It's used for doctor appointments, or court dates, or birthday parties. Schneider drivers are limited to six of them a year. I'd had one back in January or February for a doctor appointment. Now, I asked for another one, for May 16th, for two reasons: Michael had to be back home in time for his first class at Glendale Community College on Monday, and our grandson, Zachary, was having his fourth birthday party.

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Miracles

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/20/2003
Page Views: 183
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Miracles are not a matter of faith, but of timing.

Another Schneider truck pulled into the lot, almost too late, I thought. The driver got out and walked to the office, his shoulders sunken, the picture of misery. Lord, I thought. I wonder if he just found out they're going to make him drive another year before he can quit. I continued to work on my messages, and then updating my driver's log and journal on my laptop, as he exited the office, found his trailer, coupled to it, and returned to the office for the paperwork. Since the office was still open, I decided to make a last-minute pit stop before leaving for California. I nodded to the driver as I passed him and went into the bathroom. He was waiting for Jeff, the office guy, on the other side of the glass window. But, while I was in the bathroom, I heard a sound from outside. I swear, it sounded like the driver was sobbing!

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The Spirit Trail

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/22/2003
Page Views: 177
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
We are not products of our past, but a vision of our future.

I had to check out of the motel at noon, but the first shuttle of the day leaves the motel at 2:00 PM. So I had brunch at the International House of Pancakes next door, then returned to the motel lobby to wait. The clerk was a man who looked frighteningly like Gene Rayburn, that host of the 60s TV show, The Match Game. When I had checked out, he expressed interest in my last name. That sounds like an Indian name, he said. What tribe do you belong to?

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Justice

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/28/2003
Page Views: 183
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
The day I was stood up for my court date.

I had spent the previous several days running up and down the I-5 corridor, running mostly relayed loads to and from here and there. Shafter, Los Angeles, Porterville, Fontana, Woodland, Modesto…basically, the breadbasket of California. I didn't complain. I knew they were keeping me in the area because I had a court date in Fowler scheduled for…today.

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Man vs. Machine

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/30/2003
Page Views: 188
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
Man and machine are like peanut butter and jelly; they go well together, but sometimes they get messy.

In the beginning, man (and woman) didn't need machines. Our ancestors did just fine, thank you, with the occasional twig or rock. As she does for all her children, the Earth provided all we could eat, just for the picking. See the lily of the field, the Gospel says. Not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as finely as one of these. But that didn't stop us from trying to gild the lily.

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Options

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/4/2003
Page Views: 183
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
It's nice to have options. It's nicer to know they don't all have to be exercised.

After spending the night at the Schneider drop yard in Auburn, Washington (a facility I like because it's usually not crowded, it's quiet, and it includes a building with a shower), I spent the day getting giant rolls of paper from a mill in Tacoma. The first load they sent me for, was a relay load; I returned it to the Auburn drop yard for someone else to take to New Jersey. I was a little envious; I could have used a nice long trip like that. But they gave it to an owner-operator who asked my advice on how to best get to the Garden State.

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Another Lean Week

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 6/10/2003
Page Views: 195
Topics: #18-Wheeler #TruckDriving #BigRigs #Schneider #TruckDriver
I�m so broke, I can�t even afford to pay attention.

Driver wisdom says you get more miles, and therefore more money, if you don't go home. Ever. Now, I'm not sure exactly what driver's wisdom is being referenced, here. Everyone buys into the idea now; but who is the first person to think of it? I don't know. Perhaps he retired off the huge amount of money he made by never being home.

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