Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oily drips, thingamijiggies and low risk of engine fire

My beloved Mack, with his 452,000 miles, has sprung some leaks. (Can I get a collective, sympathetic "Awwww!" from my 8 blog followers?)

I hope it isn't serious. One is caused by a loose bolt (not an original bolt, but one that was wrenched on at some point in my Mack's long life) at one of the 6 ports where the exhaust manifold bolts to the black square thingamijiggy that I think of as an engine block, but the mechanics called something else.

Have I mentioned that being trained as a driver is very very different from being trained in diesel tractor mechanics ... need I say we're not trained in thorough parts' identification?

My bad.

We're trained to look for connections, leaks, erosion, breaks, mysterious wetness, etc. Which led me to notice wet bolts and drips on the asphalt.

So the other leak, apparently, is a fuel leak. What I took for an oily drip was really a fuel drip that melted oily build up and made 2 black 1 inch puddles on the asphalt under my truck. Sooooo eeeeeasy to overlook. But, um, sort of important.

I mean, like the Soop said, the mechanics are going to look at my Mack on Friday. They'll blast off the gunk and drive it to try to find where the fuel leak is. In the meantime (as the mechanic told me) it's not really a red-tagging kind of problem. And (as the Soop told me) the risk of an engine fire is small, based on its general location.


Did I mention I'm off Wednesday and Thursday? Meaning the other class A driver gets to drive my Mack? No worries, gentle readers. He should read the DVIR. (That's the official log where we pass notes to one another.) Should.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Betty Bulldog's Sing-Along Blog

Okay, so Sweety Babboo accepts that I'd have a hard time choosing between him and Stephen Sondheim (or John Goodman or Aaron Sorkin), if pressed. I accept that he'd pause over a decision between me and Jeannine Garafolo or Noomi Rapace. We live comfortably with these, our celebrities, between us. (Notice, the celebs weren't given any choice in the matter.)

Ahhh, but Sondheim. He's an ex-academic trucker-grrrl's hummable philosopher-companion.

Choice. Now there's a theme ~ the thing that can galvanize us and paralyze us. To quote Marie, of Sondheim's gorgeous play, Sunday in the Park with George:

"Stop worrying where you're going. Move on.
If you can know where you're going, you've gone.
Just keep moving on.

...I chose and my life was shaken. So what?
The choice may have been mistaken. The choosing was not.
You have to move on.

...Stop worrying if your vision is new.
Let others make that decision. They usually do.
You keep moving on."


To me, the grrrl who belts out Sondheim and gets to enjoy the glorious context of all his musical numbers as I drive through some of the most beautiful country on the planet ... well, damn, ... what a beautiful world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Off-Topic shift with no segue. Christmas.

The thoughts I'm having about Christmas, tonight, are too long for facebook, so here they are.

My two sisters and I have been exchanging Christmas ornaments for twenty plus years now. Most years, the ornaments I choose for them are the most important gifts I give or make. I know the same is true for them.

Our trees are filled with our love for each other and powerful symbols of our intimate knowledge of one another. Some years, I give or receive ornaments that reflect memories or our childhood. Some ornaments speak of the receiving sisters' personalities, characters, crazy idiosyncrasies. Some reflect the giver's qualities. Some are just beautiful. or charming. or worthy of a good laugh. The moose in the outhouse ornament comes to mind.

From T, a Mickey Mouse snowglobe ornament ~ she loveslovesloves Disney. (We all pitched in and got her one share in Disney stock one Christmas, so she's an owner, don'cha know.) A paper heart from Solvang, harkening to our Danish roots and family travels. A blown glass nutcracker, reminiscent of the ballet we love and T's own collection of these toothy holiday perennials.

From the beautiful, dramatic D, a string of glittery packages, about 6 inches long, which brings her to mind each time I hang it on the tree. A fragile and lovely stained glass poinsettia, made for us by a client of hers. A tiny stuffed sock monkey, a memory of two days before my wedding when we sat around making red-heeled sock monkeys. Oh my God, we laughed and laughed that day in our crazy sowin' bee.

This year, I received two that I will fondly hold, and think about, and hang on the tree with care each Christmas. They are already among my favorites.

From T, a handmade paper, wire and bejeweled ornament that evokes her passion for scrapbooking. Her artistry, too. T is the one who has no ability to see herself truly, while she lives for others, particularly our family. She's a matriarch in training. 

From D, I received the charming and pugnacious blue witch faerie of Sleeping Beauty. To us, those faeries have long represented my great aunts and grandmother, three women who could finish each other's sentences, who probably enjoyed one another's company above all other. Bless my sister for bringing those beloved women back to us. and to our Christmas tree, each year for years to come.

I sent them, just so's you know, corn husk angels. But I can't take the credit. I asked my mother, Momala, the Mothership, to get ornaments in Brea, Kentucky on her recent visit to the home place. My dad was from Kentucky. and the corn husk angels she found? ... In my mother's china hutch for some 30 years or so, she has displayed a trio of corn husk dolls, three girls holding hands and standing in a ring. My two sisters and me.

...I can't say that I have felt the spirit of every Christmas. I know it's evaded me now and again. But in the main, I love Christmas. I love thinking of the people I love and choosing a gift or card that I think will touch them. I love making apple butter for gifts, a tradition in my family and one that my neighbor M and I have adopted over the last three years. I love that I don't have to spend a dime to give (although I usually do) ~ I just have to give my effort to think of loved ones. Really think of them.  I love making Christmas about the people I love and about mankind's better self and about a beautiful pacifist soul who lived 2000 years ago or so.

and when I look at our tree, I love seeing how others love me.

Torque & Tool


"1. Mechanics. something that produces or tends to produce torsion or rotation; the moment of a force or system of forces tending to cause rotation. 2. Machinery . the measured ability of a rotating element, as of a gear or shaft, to overcome turning resistance." (Random House via dictionary.com) 

Torque helps a girl be a grrrrl when muscling the trucks. 

Wanna look tough? Single handedly woman-handle the landing gear of a 48 foot trailer, setting it down so that it takes the burden off the truck so you can pull out from under the trailer, or lifting it so the trailer can come to rest on the truck's rear axles. How's it done? Long poles. Long poles are the key. Short poles won't do. Size matters. Length, if not girth.

The longer the rotating handle that rotates the gears that lift and lower the landing gear, the easier it is. Try this. Use a 1 inch bottle opener on your Sam Adams. Then use a 3 inch bottle opener. ... See what I mean?

I love torque. 

Which is why the academic in me does not understand the 'verb' torqued, commonly used to mean, "Angry, mad, upset. [As in,] I have to stay after school, I am so torqued!" (urbandictionary.com) 

The same goes for "tool." ... Shouldn't a tool be a good thing? So why was I calling the rat-b*stards who were doing lunatic car ballets around my rig today 'tools'? ... I mean, it was Martha Graham choreography, but without any dance training. and in a 4,000 pound tutu. Sounds heavy, but FYI, my tutu weighs a good 30,000+ pounds. 

As my Sweet Babboo says, "Let's play a game. It's called, Who ends up fired and who ends up dead? I bet I can find a new job faster than you can come back to life."

But to return to torque. Torque is a trucker grrrl's best friend. 6 inches on a wrench or landing gear bar can make all the difference. Love your torque. Stroke your tools and thank them for their usefulness. Wrap your hands around the girth and give thanks for the length. Then, raise that trailer high.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

learned learned learned learned...

Wah hoo!!! I was cleared to drive at about 1:30pm this afternoon, and OMG, I had Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues to learn my lesson. The lesson being that driving is, ironically, sooo much easier while being sooooo much better paid than any warehouse or operations gig.

I spent 3 1/2 days on the dock after my forklift mishap. 2 1/2 of those days, begging, "I've learned my lesson. Pleeeease let me drive again!"

Our dock lead / truck dispatcher walks the warehouse, the entire warehouse, for 8 solid hours per day, unloading and loading trucks. And has the unenviable job of standing on the necks of all the drivers, monitoring runs and break times, and pacing out the available equipment/supplies.

Plus, the dock lead maps out the dispatch day -- about 20 locations with 6 trucks and 5 drivers in an 11-hour spread. Plus plus, 2 trash trucks that run from 5:30am to about 9am, picking up illegally dumped donations/garbage at all our sites, every day, 7 days per week.

I had a 4 for 4 all-done dock week, and I got approval to return to the truck (thank you, clean urine sample, I love you!) ... I have learned my lesson!!! I promise.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

While I Wait for my Urine

So I was on the forklift yesterday. The one with three levers (up/down, tilt, and rotate 180 degrees). And I meant to hit the up lever, but hit the rotate lever. Thus dumping a pallet of shrink wrap on the warehouse floor. oops.

The Soop drove me to the pee-test place (what a job) where I failed to pee on my first try. 45 minutes and 30 ounces of water later, success! Me and People magazine for 45 minutes, plus the Soop dozing in the lobby ~ snoring. Really. and both of us on the clock.

Love my job.

Today and for a few more days, I will be working on the dock (no heavy equipment), waiting for my urine to tell me and them whether I was stoned. ... Maybe I'll have a cosmo while I wait?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

All Grrrrrl

Clear up until I was 30 or so, I saw my role as supporting cast. Side kick. It's funny to think of, now, because of course, I had always been the protagonist of my own life drama. I just didn't embrace it.

I was a really really good wing-girl to many a good friend. Oh, wow. Backing up my grade-school best-friend, A. She was beautiful and confident and tough. The alpha female of Lillian Larsen Elementary. (She'll laugh when she reads this, but it's true.) And when we hit the roller rink in the rival town, wheels gliding to Cool and the Gang, and she was copping rival-town girls' crushes, I was there when it came to the face-off ... there I was, just behind her right shoulder, promising to have her back if she needed to kick some preppy girl ass.

Of course, we never did come to scratching, hair-pulling physicality. Still, I was a ready wing-girl. And it felt good seeing the preppy girls' fear of two girls from the poor end of the county.

...Everyone should have an epic, my good friend K taught me. Several epics, if they're smart.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I am the central figure in my own passion play. I'm the hero. The protagonist. And my life, wow, it has been and is one hell of an epic adventure.

Academics was its own epic, certainly. Ah, but that wannabe-tough girl from the military/ag/oil fields town. That physical girl. I've missed her. And in becoming a driver, I feel like I've regained her a bit.

Let's put it this way. I am more physically fit than I've ever been in my life. And to me, that means more ready to kick ass (if put on the defensive, only, of course) and take an ass kicking than ever before in my life. Hah!

Girls, you wanna get fit, lose weight, build muscle, work on your swagger? Get a physical, physically challenging, and technically stimulating job. Class A? Postal Delivery? whatever. Just get physical. And excited.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dr Horrible

"The world is a Mess ..and I just ... uh... need to Rule it."

Amen, Dr Horrible and your fabulous "Sing Along Blog," available on both youtube and netflix.

Driving is going well, my blog-followers. Still, the end of the world awaits. At all times. Despite love and heroics. My sweety babboo vows to await me, promising to wait on the bench outside the pearly gates until I arrive. Who waits for you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to Avoid Jiggling Ta-Ta's

I LOVE my coworkers. Well, 97% of them. You already know I respect my Soop. He lets me rant. He rants. We Vulcan mind meld. All is good.

But my coworkers. God. They're fabulous. Today, Ms T, goddess of the warehouse, tipped me to the fact that if you come down the dock ramp on the left in a forklift, your ta-ta's (listen up girls) don't jiggle like an Elvira movie.

Ms T and the others are truly, truly funny and astute observers-o-life, plus I've learned SO much from them. How to handle heavy equipment, how to move my body safely and keep it healthy, how to stay sane when all about you is insane, how to weather injustice and unkindness, how to laugh.

The golden rule. I have Never seen it so strongly adhered to as I have here. The commonplace rhetoric and betrayals of administration and management workplaces rarely fly here in the trenches.

...Can I just add that my co-workers understand that a good poop is both healthy and feels really good? That's not inappropriate, unprofessional or indelicate. Be honest. A good bm ranks up there. Once you reach 40 years old or above.

They are eccentric, honest, 'entirely on the surface', insightful, intelligent, analytical, alert, aware, frank, and just plain interesting folks. and (to crib from the West Wing) I'm their driver.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Move Your Goat

My friend Colleen's grandmother gave her this advice: "Move your goat."

I'm 41 and an expert in truisms, catch-phrases, maxims, etc. I've never heard this one.

Thank you, Colleen and her grandma!

Someone will always be in your way, trying to get your goat.

As C's grandma said so well, "Move your goat."

This reminds me that work and politics are all a game. The Soop says, "Why ain't you gone yet?" ... I say, "Get me a truck, and I'll be gone." Until then, I'm moving pallets and bins, unloading. loading. Getting ready to be gone.

One of my co-workers takes all the pressure, all the critique, to heart. He's a good man and an honest spirit. He just needs to move his goat.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Her Shoes

There are shoes in which you can not walk until you're of a certain age or until you attain certain experience.

I cannot walk in the shoes of my mom, nor her friends D and L, nor my good friends E and B, all dear to me, and women who have lost their husbands. beloved husbands. I cannot say, "I understand," nor "I know what you're going through." ... I can only say, "I'm so very very sorry."

This is off topic, I know. But I'm thinking on this tonight, as I consider what it is to be 41 going on 42. I was about 16 as my mother reached her 40's. I thought she Knew stuff, that she had life figured out, but figured out wrong. Rebellious, even malicious as only a 16 year old can be, I battled against her life choices with the indignation of one who believes that grown ups have clear 20/20, that they understand right and wrong, black and white (and choose accordingly).

My 40+ friends are laughing right now. Tip to 16 year olds ~ 40 year olds feel as bewildered as teenagers, but have 25 years on you in dealing with all the lack of straight, black and white answers. Honest to God, I'm as stuck in my head, with all its self-doubt and confusion, as I was at 20, except now I have good (and legal) drugs.

My mother was my age as she was fighting for her nuclear family against all odds. Confused. Winging it.

I'm winging it today. (The only caveat I can give to the expressed purpose of this blog.) Trying to figure out what it is to be 'grown up,' and 'a career woman,' and 'a wife' and 'a daughter.'  ... I was a teacher for a very long time. I burnt out. Now I'm a class A cdl driver. I feel like the girl I was at 16, only I've learned to say, 'Ahhh, f**k it.'

My mom is in her mid-sixties. She takes road trips. She's driven the western states, mostly by herself. Sometimes with companions. She's seen the Tetons. Remote jeep-access regions of New Mexico's Navajo reservation. Yellowstone. Taos. Bryce Canyon. Yosemite. Next year, she's venturing further east.

I wonder if she feels at 66 that she's the same girl as she was at 41 which is the same girl she was at 16. In an aging body and a timeless mind that is nuanced, but doesn't yet have all the answers.

Monday, October 25, 2010


The stores and donation centers think the central warehouse is capricious and picky. That's what they tell me at the stores and dc's. I say, "I feel ya."

The warehouse thinks the stores and dc's are deliberately screwing with directives. That's what the tell me at the warehouse. I say, "Yup yup yup."

Every store says, "WE help you more than any other store to get your run done." That's true of at least 3 stores, each with its own strength. At each one, I say, "Damn straight."

Ah, Switzerland.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

a rain poncho at the office

wowwww. mucho lluvia today. rain. rain. rain. LOVED IT!

Cargo pants over my polypro long johns; my "Big Basin" thermal long sleeved tee shirt. hiking boots (serving until my boot voucher comes through), beanie cap with girly flowers (cuz I'm a girl). Rain poncho.

and SOAKED to the bone as I, two dock guys and a first day community service volunteer unloaded and loaded my truck as fast as we could. Tarps, wet gaylords, damp wares and textiles. ankle deep puddles.

Tarping a wet pile of enormous cardboard boxes, grinning like a fool. "What a beautiful day."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So the sweet babboo has close to twenty years of stories, among them variations of the "We gotta cut down overtime, dammit" story, which translates to "You gotta work harder so we can get more for the same pop."

My brilliant husband 1) says 'Sure thing, boss,' and then ignores it or 2) says 'I'm willing to do this faster. Just show me how.' ... He had one manager take him up on the offer and the guy was begging for a bus stop (to get back to the office) by 2:30.

So when the Soop says at 8am "No overtime," I don't even blink when I say, "Fine with me." At the end of the day when he wants me to pull the rig out of dock 2 and swap the 28 foot trailer for the 48 footer and dock it, I tell him, "I'm 5 minutes from clocking out. It'll mean overtime...." ... and just as Jim has taught me, wait for the "Welllll, it's gotta be done. It's only 20 minutes. oh, and keep your phone on tomorrow (my day off). We might need you."

I'm glad to work. Glad for the OT. Glad when I get to go home at night with no OT. ... Funny sorta job being hourly vs salaried. being vital vs ...something else. 

Friday, October 15, 2010


I have hair that is neither long nor short. At the moment. If you've known me in the past 20 years, you've seen it bra-strap long ... spiral permed (thanks, 1994), straight and braided, bunned and pony-tailed; and Demi Moore Ghost short. My fav pic to take to the stylist is Meg Ryan in French Kiss. 'Make me look like her. ... No pressure.'

So here I am, cinching my hair into a rubber band each day, pleased by the look around my face (with the bangs I've had since I was 5), but unpleased by the lack of body and what I believe to be a flat back of my skull. OH!, to have a melon-round head that lent itself to perky ponytails. Mayhap the skull is round, but the hair too thin to offer any za-za-zing. (I still think it's the flat-backed-head). A blow-dryer could solve this, except that I'm lazy. Long hair takes soooo long to dry. Like 10 minutes. eternity.

On the other hand, I fantasize about the Judi Dench pixie. So cute and perky and feminine on her. Classic even. ... But too many people said to me, "Oh, but I thought you were a lesbian," in my college years (the Demi Moore Ghost hair years). Today, when I wear my work gloves, I am always working out ways to take them off.   'Look, I'm married. US Federally-sanctioned married. Not just New Hampshire married. ... Not that there's anything wrong with that.' (Long live my lesbian friends! May you have federal marriage rights soon!)

If I become a truck driver with a pixie cut, will I be a cliche? (It would be sooo light and cool in the truck. *sigh*)

Will I miss the long locks and regret the 2 years it will take to grow them again?(I have to admit, I can't help enjoy the wolf whistles and looks as I'm driving. Is the hair choice a part of this? oh dear.)

Earth Mama or punk-grrrl? hirsute or shorn? Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday or Breakfast at Tiffany's? Oh, the very important, truly important on a big cosmic scale dilemma.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

48 Feet

Not only got to drive my Mack yesterday to the regular stop And a new stop (such a brave BettyBulldog to work out a new sitcheeation) ... but also got to swap out the 28 foot trailer for the 48 footer. Woo hoo! Alley docked that baby in just 3 pull-ups. I rock!

What's involved in a swap, you ask? Well, mainly dis.
  1. Unhook -- remove the primary and emergency air brake lines and the electrical. 
  2. Lower the landing gear (ie crank n crank n crank the big jack-in-the-box handle on the side of the trailer). 
  3. Hook the release-latch, plant your foot on your duals (tires) and pulllllllharrrrd while simultaneously yanking to your left so you can lock it in an open position. (It's good that this is hard to do since one relatively little lock around a ball is all that holds trailer and truck together.) 
  4. Get in the truck and carefulcarefulcareful pull out, watching that the landing gear holds before completely pulling out from under.
  5. Hook Up. Back under the other trailer until THUNK, the plates meet and the latch closes around the ball.
  6. Try to pull forward (with the trailer brake on). If you can't, you're connected. 
  7. Hook up the air and electrical.
  8. Lift the landing gear (ie crank n crank n crank, only dis time the other direction)
  9. Feel the burn! Wipe the brow! Screw the gym membership! woo hoo!
And then, baby, back that thing into a dock between a 40 foot rail on one side and the trash compactor on the other. With just 25 feet or so to play with to the front and to the left of you. A good day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

ice cream sam'mich

So after a 10-hour day yesterday, the phone rings before 7am this morning, and the Soop says, "How soon can you be here?", bypassing the 'heysorrytowakeyou' pleasantries. I'm there by 8 (when I was scheduled for 9:45).

... Short version because the Sweet Babbo wants to watch Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Morning stunk. Truck broke down ~dunno why. Guessed fuel pump. Rotten loading dock at one of the stores ~ had to organize a debris field of shtuff in my way before I could load the gaylords and bins. Lunch. Brought back ice cream sam-miches to everyone and felt better. Did another run. Got off work. Mechanic arrived. A fuse had melted + some corrosion.

Day done. Sweety Babboo calls.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sorta about the Soop

I started on a Sunday, so I guess next Saturday marks my one-month-iversary, but as this is my Friday (remember, Fridays are Mondays and Tuesdays are Fridays in my world), I'm marking today as my one-month. A good day ~ started by unloading and loading two trucks by myself, 8-10am; making a run; taking lunch; making a run in my beloved Mack tractor trailer; and unloading a truck. It sounds like so little, but really, that's a pretty solid day. I got drive time away from peoples (you know how I feel about peoples). I got warehouse cardio time (feel the burn, baby!). I got time with the peers and the Soop (my supervisor).

People in the org ask me how I'm doing, whether I'm enjoying my new job, and 100%, I say, 'Way!" (Actually, I say, 'Hell, yes' ... yes, I've found a home for my potty mouth.)

Sweet Babboo warned me that my comfort level in the truck would outpace my skill level pretty quickly,  and I think about that when I'm on a run ~ whether it be in a class C bobtail (basically, a U-Haul with a lift gate) or my Mack big rig. I'm so aware, so conscious of driving and all the actions and decisions involved in every moment. I feel challenged, physically and mentally.

Also at one month, I'm very aware that I have the exact supervisor any newbie driver would want. He's been a driver himself (class A), so he knows drivers' challenges in completing a run. He's pragmatic, but also pushes us. And he protects his drivers. ... ie, don't f**k with our dock. And the warehouse had better keep things moving so that we can keep the trucks rolling. Warehouse grumbles about him; I appreciate that my boss has my back.

If I just keep hold of Sweet Baboo's number one advice to keep the rubber side to the road, I think I'll be okay going into month two.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Humble Pie

After feeling plagued (plagued, I tell ya!) by my last blog post, I enjoyed a humbling day. Even as I was posting yester-eve, I was thinking, "Boy, missy, you sound smug. Think funny, not self-satisfied, silly girl." Even considered editing the post.

Too tired. First run today -- they were mad I showed up mere hours after the first truck. "We don't have enough right now to fill a truck, but we Will. Later!" Second run -- not bad. THIRD RUN ~ two hours doing a one-hour trip. Argh!

Do you remember those little puzzles, 3 inch x 3 inch or so, where all but one square had a tile in it? You had to move tiles around and slowly arrange them? Maybe the puzzle was a sequence or numbers, "1, 2, 3, etc" or an image.

Transferring one van filled with empty bins into one van filled with full bins. ... Sisyphus, I have a new appreciation for you, my dear damned man.

And when I got back to the yard, the boss says, "If you put out your lift gate, you have a staging area." ... "Doh!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Friday Monday (Monday Friday?)

I've been a Monday-Friday worker for far too long, just as I've never outgrown my upbringing along a North-South highway .... Bay Area freeways confused me for years, messing with my sense of direction with all their bends and curls and cohabitation along the same stretch of road. Was I on 80 or 880? both at once? Who knew?

One of those qualities I love about my adopted home is its adherence to the poles. I'm back on a north-south line, as I should be.

And now, there's these Monday Fridays, by which I mean today, Friday, is my Monday. I couldn't figure out why it was all nuts-to-butts traffic this afternoon as I was trying to make my second run. Then, illumination! Friday. ah. I'm going to learn to hate my Mondays. But oh, sweet Tuesday and Wednesday. Lighter roads. *bliss sigh*

But the 'off' feeling of beginning a week as most others end theirs. This feeling of being 'other.' There are so many ways in which compartments are created ~hierarchies. Weekends. Carpet vs concrete. Suits vs day-glow vests. Cosmetics vs axle grease. Didja know the office staffers have 3 times the holidays of the infrastructure workers?

3 times. That's fine. I have no beef with it. We're trained to think carpet, suits and more holidays equate with power, with satisfaction, with choice. But I've taken paths that have given me more ability to decide my life than most people.

Hell, I feel like the most powerful person in the company. I can say, "I Choose This." Plus, I can turn off that truck at night, clock out and head home to a hot shower and my sweet babboo. If I'm passing couples on their way to a Friday night on the town as I think about what I want in my lunch bag tomorrow, it's a more than fair sacrifice. Maybe Friday is one habit I can outgrow.

Monday, September 27, 2010


"Sweety Babboo..."
"Take a picture of my bruises."
"C'mon. Take a picture."
"Forget it."
"Why not?"
"They'll think I beat you."
"Mary Sissy Pants. Take a picture."
"Not gonna happen."
"I've counted 32 today. Look."

He's winning the battles, but I'll win the war. I have some Epic bruises. It would be a shame not to document them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

a buck at a buck fifty, part two

Okay, so pug Frank didn't have anything to do with the cost of going to work vs the wage brought in. I was punch drunk on all that overtime.

He's doing well, by the way, and soaking up the attention. Our best guess is he had an adverse reaction to the 1/2 aspirin dosage our vet recommended as we treated him for Another eye ulcer.

What I meant was, I'll make less slightly less money earning my wage than I did on unemployment. ... Yes, I paid into unemployment all those years, but still, work is ...well, it's dignity. Of course, it's dignity at the price of a buck fifty to my dollar. ... but what the heck.

(Never can say 'dignity' without thinking of 'Singing in the Rain.'  Have you seen it lately? Do.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

making a buck, at the cost of a buck fifty

two eleven hour days -- yayyy! overtime. boooo! tired bettybulldog.

home and our pug is vomiting profusely. 8:30pm, and we're off to the emergency vet.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Sooo sleepy after five days on, but not as wiped out as I was week one. Sleep. The reward of good physical and mental labor, although I never slept nearly so well when I was in the purely mental labor business.

I counted 30 distinct bruises, from ankle to hip and wrist to elbow. Begged Sweet Babboo to take a picture but he refused. "They'll think I beat you." Sissy.

Days of climbing into and out of trucks; pushing several hundred pounds of gaylords (those roughly 4x4x4 boxes) around with pallet jacks; rolling hundreds of pounds of wheeled bins around; pushing metal trash bins (5x5x2 or so) up ramps and into trucks, then out of trucks; (wo)manhandling lift gates and ramps and truck hoods and every sort of 'donation.'

Sundays are a particularly goofy day for donations. The dump is closed, so lots of charming folks drop their dump runs right below the signs that say "It's against the law to leave your shtuff here when this donation site is unattended." ... What do they leave? The shtuff no salvage/thrift shop can use, but have to pay bucks to dispose of, I think. (Maybe the trash folks cut us a break? I dunno.) Anyway, I've dragged torn up and broken couches, desks, etc off the trucks. A refrigerator. A stove.

Side note: it's amazingly easy to (wo)manhandle big furniture when you're not trying to protect/preserve it. and fun!

and I've had the easy part of the trash runs -- just pulling misc stuff off the trucks, then consolidating it onto a 'trash run' truck. The other drivers have had to go to the sites and load up. Plus go to the dump to drop all these 'donations' off.

So, I deviated. Really, in the big scheme of the organized chaos that is the thrift business, the dumpers are small in number. Many donations are lovely and given with thought towards the good that they can bring to the organization and the home they can find with new owners. I took in a set of vintage punch glasses that had belonged to a woman's aunt. She couldn't use them, but you could feel her fondness for her family and her wish for good things to come of her gift to us. I like that.

And still, I deviate. I Must be tired. Punch drunk, maybe? ... My point, if I had one, was to say, "I'm all bruised up and dern'd proud of it."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chick Driver

I have to say, being a girl driver is a hoot. I mean, if a 40 year old man introduced himself to a coworker as 'the new driver,' would she reply, 'Good for you!' ... love it. Love that women are asking me about it. Love that the men I'm working with are taking it (almost) entirely in stride. I suspect, but maybe I'm wrong, that the guys are helping me out more than they would another guy.

And I really doubt a hetero-lookin' youngster would say "You have pretty eyes" to a male driver. ... but I do have pretty eyes. Nice dimples too. a few gray hairs I'm proud of. Ears of a 40 year old. Nose of a 3 year old. and a bad ass swagger in my boots, cargo pants, t-shirt and day-glow yellow safety vest. The boots make the swagger. Not the vest.

Speaking of being a girl driver, the looks from the street are most excellent, too. Pan in. Pause. Double Take.

I get the feeling I'm the only one who feels I need to prove myself. Everyone else has been welcoming and just plain nice (or indifferent. Both are good.) Me, I feel like I need to prove I can lift it, haul it, cart it. Tough Grrrl.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Girl Moment

Three days of hard physical work & gained two pounds...*sigh*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the hubris of the class a

When I interviewed for this gig, the boss said, "Everybody in the warehouse wants your job," meaning the driver job, most especially the class A driver. So Mack Girl is top dog! lol.

... Okay, so he overstated it a lot ~ a good number want nothing to do with getting out there in a big truck (nor a little truck for that matter). They got their own groove goin' on.

Still, there's something to it. I've already been asked about my license a number of times. How and where I got it. What it cost. etc. And the women have universally cheered me on. As one girl coworker said, "Alright, they hired the chick!"

The other is that I feel like I'm where I want to be, at the level I want to be. No envy for anyone -- not my supervisor, not the CEO. I'm Class A. Driving. Being physical. Being mental. (in the good way )

I've been through the front office a few times. The folks in clean clothes, in climate controlled and carpeted rooms. Just a different kind of assembly line. A different kind of warehouse. More power to 'em, particularly the ones who like their work. For now, my delight is right where I am.

(thanks for the name, bro-in-law!)

Monday, September 13, 2010


Okay, six months of looking and I got a job ~ no need to dwell on that necessary (and, really, by all accounts, not that long) period. Craigslist, Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed ... I give you my thanks and my adieu.

Yesterday. ooooh, my First day on the job. I'll be driving for a thrift/recycling/salvage organization, mostly bobtails (those class C, U-Haul style trucks), but then also a gorgeous Mack with a good half-million miles on it -- plenty broke in!

Added some more to my truck-girl lexicon -- pallet jack, lift, and my favorite to-date -- Gaylord. Yes, a 48x40x36 big-a** cardboard box that gets moved by a pallet jack or forklift has a very dignified, British moniker. Gotta wonder how that came about.

So much more to talk about! A day spent loading and unloading trucks and even a run in my Mack (I got to drive day 1 - unheard of!) to switch trailers. The best night's sleep I've had in Ever. My very own yellow vest with reflective stripping. etc. ...But I have to get ready for work.

Mack Girl

Friday, February 19, 2010

Graduation Day

Well, I have a certificate, a letter of recommendation, and a class A. ... I'm so sad!! I had a great experience these past weeks, and I'll miss it. I'm going to give myself the weekend to mourn its end, and to fear the Monday morning aimlessness of unemployment.

I can drive a big rig well enough to be the new, low guy on the totem pole. I've pulled dry van trailers and a flat bed. I've slid axels, switched trailers, and learned to adjust slack adjusters and to log log books. I've pulled forty plus feet of vehicle around ninety degree residential corners. I'm now comfortable with a big piece of machinery that was a complete mystery to me a month ago.

And I'm sceared I won't find a job.

But only til Monday. Come Monday, no fear. Craigslist and Monster, here I come.

...I'll also have to figure out what to do with my afternoons now that I'm not blogging about becoming a truck driver. Sweet Babboo will be glad for the extra time I'll have to try out new recipes, I reckon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Final Week Regret & Anticipation

I'm in my final days of truck driving school. And I'm sad about that. But also happy in that I realize the guys I went through most of these five weeks have moved on -- with, at the very least, a class A in their pockets. Hopefully, jobs soon. A new crowd is coming in, and it's time for me to move on, too.

I've had a great time, but I won't wax poetic on that until Friday. Except to say, my trainers have been Fabulous. Okay, 'nuff of that, for now.

So today, I had good runs in the 10-speed and the 9-speed, and I moved between them more easily than a week or two ago. I'm still working on the reversing thing, but had a pretty good day on that, too.

Anyway, back to cappin' on the new guys. They're all fine fellas, but watching them coming in just highlights for me my own tragic flaws. ... The half-lidded, jaded conceit of the square-jawed 'veteran'. lol. Newbie-one is too young and too cavalier right off -- he'll get some humility soon. Newbie-two has done Evvverything we've done, but Tenfold -- if I have a headache, he has a brain tumor; if I've been to heaven, he has season tickets. (I stole that from the very wonderful film Shirley Valentine.)

...I reckon it's time for me to graduate.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Holiday Guest Contributor -- He Just Doesn't Know It

Okay, so it's a holiday -- no school, so no chance to ponder my school day. But I've been telling you about Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft, right?  Here's his thesis, as it were, from the Intro. The italics and bold are mine:

"This book advances a nestled set of arguments on behalf of work that is meaningful because it is genuinely useful. It also explores what we might call the ethics of maintenance and repair, and in doing so I hope it will speak to those who may be unlikely to go into the trades professionally but strive for some measure of self- reliance—the kind that requires focused engagement with our material things. We now like our things not to disturb us. Why do some of the current Mercedes models have no dipstick, for example? What are the attractions of being disburdened of involvement with our own stuff? This basic question about consumer culture points to some basic questions about work, because in becoming less obtrusive, our devices also become more complicated. How has the relentless complication of cars and motorcycles, for example, altered the jobs of those who service them? We often hear of the need for a" "upskilli"g" of the workforce, to keep up with technological change. I find the more pertinent issue to be: What sort of personality does one need to have, as a twenty-first-century mechanic, to tolerate the layers of electronic bullshit that get piled on top of machines?"

He's got a great line about how you open a hood on some new cars to find a set of smooth compartments, without hoses or wires or the familiar motor elements -- basically, they put a hood under a hood. Who does that? Why?

Thank you, Mr. Crawford, for your contributions to my blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Girls, Horses, Trucks

You know all those things they say about girls' passion for horses? ... a big truck is kinda like that.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Right Means Left

Had a nice run out into the countryside today -- I'm getting used to the 9-speed, trying to embrace a 'new truck' after growing so comfy with the 10-speed. What's the big deal, you ask?

In a 10- speed, you begin the pattern, selector down and the gear low and inside -- 1st. 2nd up, 3rd down, 4th up, 5th down. Selector up. Move over and down for 6th.

In a 9-speed, it's closer to your H pattern car. Selector down. 1st is up, 2nd down, 3rd up, 4th down. Selector up. 5th over and up. 

When you're new, the shift pattern change is tough to wrap your head around. Most of the other students are "car guys" and even they have trouble. My Sweet Babboo despairs of ever teaching me the difference between a '63 Cadillac and '69 Cadillac. Grills. Lights. Fins. blah blah blah. Do they have airbags? That's what I want in a car. Airbags, crumple zones and good engines.

Anyway, we spent most of the day working on backing up the trucks. The primary difference between a class A and a class B or C is the ability to reverse a tractor trailor. Honest.

If you want to push the trailer right, you steer towards your left. My trainer-gurus have a great way of simplifying -- if you're trailer is drifting right, steer right. In other words, they focus on where you don't want to go. Strangely enough, that works. Quite well.

I have a tendency to get in my head and overthink things. (Surprise!) ... I'm-a-werkin' on that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Good Place for a Foul Mood

All you long, aimless drive enthusiasts already know this, but I want to state the obvious ... when you're in a foul mood, get behind the wheel.

On the surface, that doesn't sound right, does it? I'm not saying the road is the place for the rager. No no. I'm saying, when you're mad, usually it's peoples who caused it (not Sweet Babboo, of course). And getting away from peoples can solve it.

Let the bad vibery fall away, put on some good tunes, adjust your mirrors, relax your shoulders. Sink into your air-ride driver's seat. (Big truck seats are way cool, by the way -- cars oughta have 'em.) Grip that big ol' wheel, punch off the parking brakes, and ease out onto the road.

You're six feet above the cars, you're tooling in the slow lane, and your speed limit is 55. Who's going to 'push' a big rig? Just watch the traffic. Concentrate on your truck and your driving. Let the rest go.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday ... the OTHER Monday

I'm combining my two half-days into one and calling this Monsday. or Muesday. Yesterday, I waited for unemployment to call to confirm that my training is approved -- ie, I can go to school while on the dole ("2 a (1) : a giving or distribution of food, money, or clothing to the needy (2) : a grant of government funds to the unemployed b : something distributed at intervals to the needy; also : handout 1 c : something portioned out bit by bit.")

Portioned out bit by bit, indeed. But I'm a-grateful fer it.

Today, I had an a.m. meeting.

So for the past two afternoons, I was getting in a few hours' practice, but feeling sort of static. Full days are much better. I get the afternoons as a second attempt at the things I screwed up in the morning.

I saw a report this weekend on the demand for / good pay for blue collar jobs. Imagine that! ... We're finally figuring out that you can't outsource plumbers. and that "information workers" as we geared ourselves for during the 90's when we were shutting down our shop classes can be found oversees quite handily. It's not necessarily right, but it's happening. Meanwhile, my plumber is the town catch.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hazmat, part the-ree

Me and co-student Mustached-T went to the city today to register with the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). Smooth drive, easy in-n-out. Not bad. ... but ohhh, the weird comedy of the whole big-brother thing.

I began the TSA background check process with a phone call. "Have you been convicted of a felony?" No. "Have you been found innocent of a felony due to insanity?" Excuse me?

Today, was the 2 id's, money order and fingerprint part-o-the-process. Apparently, my skin is dry. The poor woman was smoothing grapefruit lotion into my fingertips and pressing them again and again onto a glass plate, hoping they'd take. ... Success. Maybe. We'll see in 20 working days.

I appreciate the government's effort to ensure that anyone carrying hazardous materials is the kind of person you'd want to carry hazardous materials ... so I feel nothing but good will for the process. Still, I'm allowing myself to enjoy the humor in it, too.

I still have a few weeks of training, but I'm going to start applying for jobs, too. I got brave today and went into a local office. As a first effort, it was relatively painless. They were cordial and welcoming, plus invited me to fill out an application for future consideration. Wow. Yay. I had expected them to say, "We only look at drivers with 2 years' experience." I'm just happy they didn't dismiss me, right off.

A good week, by any standard.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hazmat, part two

On the to-do list today ~ passing my hazmat test. First though, I had to drive the scary 9-speed cab-over International with the 40 foot-ish trailer. ...Because my trainer was taunting me and calling me a wuhsy for hiding behind a hazmat test he had no doubt I could pass, no problem.

It's great to have the trust of all these guys ~ they've been completely, 100% supportive and professional. There's comaraderie and a fair bit of joking, but also a lot of plain old good will. And purpose. We're either focused on learning or teaching. And the proof of skill is entirely objective ~ you see when you've screwed up in the angle of the park, the popped clutch, the ground gear.

There's no b.s.ing your way through it. The best drivers are clearly the best. When they're behind the wheel, the ride is smooth; the drive is well executed.  ... Have you ever watched the charming and the soulless shmooze the image of competence? Then you know what I mean when I say watching true skill is refreshing.

Will that count out there in job-ville? Ohhh, experience whispers one thing; hope whispers another.

By the way, after my drive, I passed my hazmat test. 100%.

Next stop, the TSA security check. I guess with that, if I don't end up driving, I can get a job screening passengers at the airport.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Didn't wanna say before, but this morning, I had an appointment to take the driving test for my commercial driver's license. I made 7 errors (out of 28? allowable errors of 100 points possible) on the pre-trip inspection, moving/parking/docking skills test, and road test ... and I now have 
a Class A!

happy dance
happy dance
happy dance

Still have a few weeks of school to build my skills and still have the hazmat to do (which involves the written test and a TSA background check). ... but  
I have a Class A!

happy dance
happy dance
happy dance

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Truck Driving School"

When people see that "Truck Driving School" sign on the trailer, I think they have one of two reactions: give this thing a wide berth and hope it isn't going my way for very long OR drive like a lunatic because that poor owner/operator/instructor must have wayyy beyond basic collision coverage.

Peoples is funny. No collision, but another adventurous day on the road.

On a similar note, I pray pray pray for red lights, but today, I got a green on a left turn onto a highway entrance. Wouldn'tchaknow, the yellow hits Right as I am at that "should I stay or should I go" line. I'm also, for the first time, in the cab-over 9-speed instead of our usual Volvo 10-speed. I'm fiddlin' with the gears, rolling through the yellow and feeling panicky. In my mind, I'm thinking, "Get round this corner and up that hill to the highway." It's Miata time. Only big trucks with flat-bed trailers don't turn like Miatas. I took the back axle up over the meridian curb. ... rats.

My confidence was dented, but overall I did alright in the cab-over. I had a nice afternoon run in the 10-speed, and I had some parallel parking practice time.

We have some newbies starting this week. So there's, like, 3 generations of students going through right now. The three guys who started the week or two before me. My threesome "class". and three to five (or more) who are three weeks behind us. I did a run with my "class" today and we waxed nostalgic on our first day together, just two weeks and several popped clutches ago. (I started just before they did.)

A good day. I think I'm learning as much about "man-talk" as I am about driving. It entails a lot of long pauses in conversation. and tacit agreements to not speak of one another's foibles -- "what happens in vegas, stays in vegas" sort of man-loyalty. ... I swear, it's like being on another planet.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Forget passenger endorsements. That was folly. Passing the paper test is just for the permit -- if ever I do passenger, I'll need to learn on / test on a passenger vehicle. No no. That's not the direction I'm thinking about just now.

Ah, but Hazardous Materials. While not an appealing prospect, the endorsement will be valuable. Sweet Babboo has almost always worked in hazmat transport (except for his brief stint in regional bus driving).

Here's the thing, though. Learning what all those placards on the sides of those trucks stand for ~ yowza! Class 1 -- Explosives. Yah. (I'd swap the #1 slot with #7, but I didn't get to choose the order.) Class 2 -- Gases (flammable, poison, etc). Class 3 -- Flammable liquids. Class 4 -- Flammable solids, spontaneously combustible materials, and materials that are dangerous when wet. (Class 4 is my personal favorite for scope and strangeness.) Class 5 -- Oxidizing materials. Class 6 -- Poisonous and Etiologic (because the word 'infectious' just wouldn't do) materials. Class 7 -- Radioactive. (I told you it should have the #1 slot.) Class 8 -- Corrosive. Class 9 -- Miscellaneous Hazmat. ... You mean there's somethin' out there that isn't covered by 1 through 8??

Next time you're breezing by a placarded truck or 'waking' in its blind spot, think about that.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday ... the OTHER Friday

No blog yesterday. I have to admit, with no small chagrin, that I drank a little last night (given that it was Friday) and then entered a Youtube challenge with my sweet Babboo. This one was truck driving songs -- I kicked it off with "Wolf Creek Pass." We got in Eddie Rabbit, CW McCall and Jerry Reed and some others ... then hubby cheated by pulling up Red Sovine (in my opinion, a ringer, as king-o-the-trucker-song).

Sweet Babboo says it was just 'knowledge' that aided his win. I say it was Red Sovine. and stand by that.

I had another good week behind the wheel. My trainers are careful and thorough -- a father/son school with two complementary temperaments, and both have taught me a tremendous amount in a short time. Each brings his own style, but share in a steady, patient approach to teaching. I'm really lucky.

I added tanker and doubles/triples endorsements to my permit this week, too. That leaves the hazmat endorsement test and gov't background check. I think I might test for the passenger endorsement, too, just to round it all out, although I have no desire to drive a vehicle filled with people. People's who I'm hoping to get away from by being in the truck.

Maybe my next youtube challenge to the hubby should be girl-and-her-dog songs / boy-and-his-dog songs. "How much is that doggy in the window?" umm, "Me n You n a dog named Boo" , etc. No peoples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shifting Gears

Okay, the semantic ambiguity of 'shifting gears' is just begging for a cliche ridden riff on the phrase's physical and metaphorical implications.

In the simplest sense, I learned today how to shift gears without the clutch. Get the rpm's up to 16, 17(00) and while on the accelerator, slip out of gear. Release the accelerator and slide up into the next gear. If you're downshifting, accelerate to get up the rpm's as you slide to the lower gear. (Remember what I said about the conundrum of accelerating to decelerate?) Sounds so simple! ... proof again that simple is not the same as easy.

And on that note, it's certainly true that shifting gears mid-career and mid-life may be as simple as those "50 ways to leave your lover," but easy it ain't. I worry about career happiness, career health, career potential. blah blah blah ~ the voice of anxious unemployment yammering in my brain. Did I mention career paychecks?

I tell myself, "Self, you're unemployed. You were essentially laid off from Three jobs at once ~ all of them the communications career fantasies of most any English major. And when you did those jobs, Self, you were always a little edgy with stress and doubt. Often pulling procrastination-fueled and deadline-driven weekend sessions. Sometimes wondering what the point was."

Honest work, satisfying work, and the chance to shut it down, clock out and go home to my honey. That's the goal, perhaps just fantasy. I hope I get there. I hope that when I get there, I am, in the main, content. What is it Annie Lamott says? Her most frequent prayers are "please please please" and "thank you thank you thank you"? ... Something like that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Obama won. Although I'm typing even as he's wrapping it up.

Great day driving and parking and pre-tripping. Love my trainers, my school, my fellow students. And I'm looking forward to the jobs coming from the Obama administration.

Solid state of the union. I never agree with all of it (liberal that I am), but solid. I always love the writers of these things, be they democrats or republicans ... good writers are good writers, and they always make me feel gooey-happy about the potential for human communication. Still, this year's writers ... all I can say is kudos. Gravitas and humor wed in one well-spoken speech. WOW.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Props to them Truck Drivers

So I'm home now, hot showered, and jammied. The slippers are on, and they ain't comin' off until bedtime. That's 9pm, if not earlier. I'm beat ... in a really good way. In the way I was beat yesterday, but without the mood. It feels good, and ironically enough, different, to be tired at day's end in the physical sense.

I'm intellectually tired, as well, which is a feeling I've often had with jobs (and appreciated, so long as it wasn't accompanied by the yucky kind of stress). It's satisfying to end a day feeling as though you engaged with your work and did something good. Good being subjective to each of us ~ for myself, it has generally been attached to doing something that contributed to the well-being of others.

When I was teaching, 'good' was helping a student to build communication skills. As a student-driver, 'good' is not running down a pedestrian. (Yes, I had another 'good' day, today.)

It's also lifting that doughboy-pool-sized hood all by myself or unhooking the trailer all by myself with my own limp-noodle girly-strength. (The trick is leverage and/or tools that give you torque.)

I'm starting to get the pre-trip inspection steps, without looking at the book (albeit with lots of hints from the guys ~ who have been flawlessly kind and supportive to me).

Off the top of my head (so pardon any omissions or imprecise language): outside, you check the general condition of the truck from the front; then lift the hood. On the driver's side, check the drive gear elements, air system, suspension and brake system under the hood. Check the side of the cab, the battery box, the frame, drive shaft, air hoses and hookups, electrical. Front trailer suspension, brakes, airbags, lights and plates, kingpin, locking mechanisms. Landing gears. Side of the trailer. Rear trailer suspension, brakes, torque arm.

Back of the trailer lights, doors, electrical, air connections, mud flaps, pintle parts. "Don't tread on me" bumper sticker -- just kidding.

Start up the passenger side -- point out differences like the spare tire rack and missing landing gear arm. Up at the cab, add exhaust system to the inspection. Under the hood, point out oil system, coolant system, belts, battery spark thingy -- um what is that? -- darn, can't think of it right now. ... Alternator! yeesh.

I'll talk about the inside another day. By the way, any one of those I listed may have 2-10 smaller steps within them. And a driver performs this inspection before and after any given driving day. I've always suspected that being a good, professional commercial driver took a great deal of knowledge, talent, skill and experience. When I began dating Sweet Babboo (who has been a class A for some 15+ years), I was further convinced. Earnestly. Honestly. Seriously. Until you're doing it, you can't know the full truth-o-this.

Bad drivers, shame on you. Good drivers, hats off! You rock!

Monday, January 25, 2010

First Blood

What a drag ... Matthew B. Crawford (author of Shop Class as Soulcraft) is saying it ten times better than I could ~ with a great voice and highly readable writing style. ... In other words, I've read pages 1 through 10 to my darling husband, and we're really enjoying it! Drat. No need to blog now.

Also, I pinched my left pinky finger in the tongs tonight (while turning the pork loin). Drew blood. Typing with a band-aid on your little finger is a drag, too. Yes, I'm in a mood.

The day was Fabulous ~ I drove the 'route' through town, parked the small trailer, backed under the long trailer (like a pro), attached the glad hands and electrical, practiced alley docking and just had a lovely 'useful' day. Plus Mr. Crawford offered a very apt, very sharp rebuttal to my 'simple life' yearnings (post #2) ~ lovedlovedloved that. And I found a great new read for me and the Sweet Babboo.

Get. This. Book.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Improper Debrief

The first seven work days have passed, if I count the time I spent studying for my permit on Thursday, Friday and Monday. I've been in the truck for three days ~ and my head is spinning-spinning-spinning! Thank God, this is a blog, not a biographical how-to, a coherent narrative. (hah! that hasn't happened. Maybe this weekend I'll have time for a proper debrief.)

wow. so where am I, this Friday night? tired. in that Best sense of the word. I have an amarretto in hand and a sweet babboo waiting for my attention. ... I won't be staying long.

Ah-hah! I remember what I wanted to say. I spent the morning learning pre-trip inspection procedures, both inside the cab and outside the truck. At one point, I was crouched under a flat-bed trailer, trying to really 'see' the slack aduster. My trainer (I LOVE my trainers!!) was telling me it looked kinda like Princess Leigha's donut-hair. and I was asking, do you mean that thing that looks kinda like the space-ship that took Han-Solo to Jabba the Hut? The thing that looks kinda like a hair dryer, pointed toward the ground? ... God, that was great.

So I learned more about the pre-trip today. (My sweet babboo is working with me on what does what -- like the alternator -- which I have to point out in the inspection, I think -- is part of what gets the battery sparking the engine. kinda. I'm still learning. still confused on a Friday night.)

OhhhhGod. It's Friday. I had a Great Week. I can't remember when I enjoyed work this much.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Five low, Five high

Day two behind the wheel, and I enjoyed it as much as day one. I got wet, cold and grimy. I stood in the rain for half the day, drove some of the rest of it and watched others drive some, too. It's fascinating. Really. The experience behind the wheel is just part of that. And of course the technical information.

Coming from liberal arts academics, I can tell you that the leap from instruction to implementation isn't a big one. You work with words to teach people to be able to work with words themselves. The tools, whatever ~ they're related. Words, book, word processor. Read, hear, write.

And then there's this kind of learning. The written and spoken instruction is invaluable and yet foreign to the act. The act is lifting a hood the size of a doughboy pool (I exaggerate only a wee bit). or shifting by running through ten gears in five slots -- first flip the selector down; then 1 2 3 4 5; then flip it up and slide into the 1 slot which is now the 6; then 7 8 9 and maybe 10. Come to a stop by down shifting to 6th (which is low and inside); then flip the selector back down and at about 5-10mph, slide up and away into 4th.

While you're doing that downshifting thing, brake just a little to lower your speed; let go the brake as you clutch (just part way); then tap the accelerator getting the rpms to about 1700 to slide into the lower gear (otherwise you grind and fight the gear). Unlearn the belief that accelerators and deceleration Don't go together. 

... So. Find your gears. Downshift. Plan your position for any turn. (Plus have other possible tasks come up, like your wipers, defroster, etc.) And do it while in motion in light traffic. ... The book is completely forgotten. But you're totally Engaged. It's very cool.

Another fascinating thing, speaking as a girl here now, is the comradery of men. Do they have ESP or something? They stand in clusters, hands in pockets, watching others do pre-trips or alley dock the truck. In the 40 degree rain. No talking. No problem. What's that about??

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Evening Showers

My calves are sore. My shoulders ache. My thighs are thinking vicious thoughts about me. I feel great!!

and ohhhh, I now understand the bliss that can be found in an evening shower.

First you have to spend the good part of a bone rattling, rainy day in the sleeper of a big truck, watching the other drivers go through the route and practice their skills. Then, take your turn behind the wheel. It's familiar (if you know manual transmissions), but different. Like that chicken / frog legs thing. I've had frog legs -- they taste vaguely like flies, if you've ever swallowed one and know what I mean.

Anyway, I'd talk more about driving, which I love love loved. But ohhhh, the shower when I got home. Hot shower, I love you.

(Sweet babboo welcomed me to the 6-feet high club tonight. Nooo, not that way. A kiss and an appreciative ear as I shared my first war stories.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have my permit!

I'm tempted to leave it on that jubilant note, but for my bro-in-law who's thinking of a California class-a one day, I'll add just a bit-o-what-that-means:

4 Multiple Choice Tests
  • Strangely enough 18 questions of the class-C test (where I missed the 2 booze questions, go figure). 
  • 50 questions of general CDL knowledge
  • 18 questions on combination vehicles (tractor trucks with 1 or more trailers, generally speaking)
  • 20 questions on air brake systems
My trainers recommended (very wisely) taking one at a time and studying for each one individually, although certainly there's some cross-over info. I spent five days with practice tests and the cdl handbook, covering everything. Then, school is close to the dmv, so this was my day today: studied for the A, took the C and general knowledge A tests, studied for the combo's, took the combo's test, studied for the air brakes, took the air brakes test.

Badda bing, badda bang. Permit in hand!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rainy Days & Mondays

Both rainy and Monday here, plus Dr. King's birthday holiday. All good things.

"Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is part of the earth man walks on. It is not man" (MLK). So many ways to think about that statement. For myself, it's about letting go of burdensome attachments to things (and holding dear my attachments to those people I love).

A buck and half got me a coffee at Starbucks, a dry and caffeinated study day with my CDL (commercial driver's license) book, and a parade of friends coming in from the rain. The benefits of a small town.

It's not hard to imagine that for Dr. King, the question may have been, "What are your 'right to assemble' regulations at city hall compared to the rights of those who are assembled here?"

Tomorrow, I take my tests for my permit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Place Just Right ... What's That?

Why "The Place Just Right"? My favorite favorite song/hymn/dance is "Simple Gifts". (Well, isn't it everyone's? I mean, really.)

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Aren't we all seeking that place "just right"? I think I have that white-collar delusion / romantic ideal of the blue-collar arts. I'm itching to read Shopclass as Soulcraft and maybe find a kindred spirit. I would love to bend and bow in delight. I hope the honest labor of understanding a big piece of mysterious machinery and controlling it -- well, I hope I find soul satisfaction in that. I ain't ashamed to say it.

Why sign off with Copland? Shaker elder Joseph Bracket rocked, but WOW, Aaron Copland took it to another plain.

I have to admit, so far, I'm finding far more complexity than simplicity:

brake adjustment on S-cam brakes.
air compressor governor cut-out pressure test.
don't confuse "trailer hand valve" with "tractor protection valve".
proper braking: a myriad of factors confused by myriad hazards.
pounds, psi, feet, inches -- #s, #s, #s to memorize. to understand.
brake drums, shoe lining, air suspension, main spring.
glad hands -- no, they're not the Glee cast in white gloves

Still, I've LOVED days one and two. (Remind me of this a few weeks or months from now. Deal?)

You be your delight, and I'll be mine.

And Sweet Babboo is still amused.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day One: The beginning of the beginning

Day one at truck driving school. "Oh My God, that's so cool!" -- My friend tells me he lives vicariously through me.

"I want to go work in Costa Rica," I announced and did. That was back in '93. "I'm starting truck driving school tomorrow." That was, well, yesterday. I tell him I like looking at my life through his eyes. It looks interesting. Not random. Not dumb.

My life through my husband's lens, I think, would be a comedy. Right now, he's amused. My sweet babboo.

So day one. Woo-hoo! I'm mid-life, and I took my first pee-test today! 20 years as a white-collar 'professional' and nary a drug test. I had to pee before I could even crack the books. Peed and studied the CDL book. That's what I did.