Friday, February 4, 2011


This blog started out as a collection of cab stories. I'd read Hack and said to myself, I've got so many more stories, and better stories.............

I told myself that when I started actually writing the book, I'd go back through the posts, and one by one take them down, as they went into the pages of the book. Otherwise, I wasn't going to go back and read my own writing. Lately, I did a little reading of my own writing, and it's evolved. I now see why people don't write in certain ways. You don't say, "Ah, yeah................ Ah, am, er.... and so forth", before you begin to speak like you would if you were actually speaking. Readers won't tolerate it. They just put the book down, or click into the next website, or what ever they do. When I started this blog, I put that stuff in on purpose because it's how I'd actually tell the story if you were in my cab listening. I, the reader would put the book down too.

Perhaps my writing has improved.

There are a few reasons for reading those old posts. How many of you keep a diary? Do you ever read that diary? How much value is there in reading your own diary?

I came across a letter that I'd written to my daughter. I've written dozens of letters to my daughter, and only ever mailed 2 perhaps. Last time I saw her, she was 5. All the stuff I'd write to her is on real paper, so to get it here I'd have to transcribe it. Last time I talked to her, she told me I'd have to do some really off the wall things if I ever wanted to talk to her again. Some time later, my mother told me she'd had second thoughts, but what she'd said to me was sufficiently off the wall that I said to myself, I should be afraid of somebody with that much hate in them.

How did I come to be talking to her? I had hunted her up on the internet, I sent an email to someone who was probably her. Bingo, it was her. I'd sent an email to one, Lisa Sherrill Schumaker of the Tuscon, Arizona area, employee of the State of Arizona. Over the years, she'd kept in contact with grandma, and my sister, but not me. I was this monster or something, and everyone was to hide her from me. Something she probably never realized was how off the wall my relationship with my mother was. Her total image of me was the one painted by my mother, her mother, and her mother's family. Great portrait.

Back in the early '70's her mother figured out that it was much more profitable to not have a husband. She had a live in boyfriend who paid 1/2 her rent, and a female room mate who paid 1/2 the rent on the house, and she went to my mother and grand parents frequently with her hand out asking for more money to tide her over until next months child support check came. I'm sure she never hit on her own family. In spite of the fact that her father was a salaried consultant to a major automaker, and a tenured professor at the University of Michigan, and a staff officer in the US Air Force, he never had any money. Just like her. She asked my dad once, and he asked what she was willing to give him for it. For ever more, she'd claim that my dad had propositioned her.

So do you ever read your own diary? Huh?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A dangerous Ground Hog Day

I've seen cold, and I've seen snow, but..............

Last night was the first time I've ever laid in bed and said to myself, if the electricity goes out, I'm in a lot of trouble. I thought of the flashlight, and said to myself, "The truck will start, and the tank is full." The last time I really remember something like this was when I moved here in January of 1979. I lived in a huge old converted frat house on Lake Mendota, south shore. I can remember watching those waves of snow sweeping up against the house off the lake. It wasn't scary then. It never occurred to me that the heat or electric could fail. Where I'm at as I write, the heat is electric, so if the electric failed, well, the dog and I would be in a lot of trouble.

The national news, (NATIONAL, not local, NATIONAL), mentioned 7 cars out on an Illinois interstate highway, about an hour from here, stranded for over 12 hours. They say a snowmobile club is trying to rescue those people from their cars. Before I moved here, I'd seen blizzards before, but they were pretty warm compared to here. Heavy wet snow. This snow is really cold, and blows good. Snow that blows good, creates drifts, and it doesn't take a drift over the top of your house to put you in a lot of trouble. A drift across the highway that's 12" deep is enough to trap the car in front of you, then your, then....... A truck sliding off the highway can drop an electric pole that will kill the power for 1,000's of people. And, as if it wasn't bad enough, they say that tonight the low will be around -10, which is around -23 centigrade.

The news people have been making a big deal out of the 'thunder' snow. I heard the thunder last night, and it didn't worry me that much, but perhaps it should have. Another way to wipe out an electric pole and kill 1000's of peoples power is a lightning strike on a power pole. Where there's thunder, there's lightning.

They say that in Indiana the electricity is out in places and they don't expect to restore it for days. They also say there is an inch of ice on some highways. I've been through Indiana in a truck during a storm like that, it requires very careful driving. The biggest problem in a storm like that is you can't get off the highway. Imagine pulling down the exit ramp and the only place you can go is back up the on ramp. And the on ramp looks kind of sketchy, but you can't park in the middle of the highway, so back up onto the interstate you go. Indiana is a lot warmer than here, so they'll get warm air and rain that will burn it off.

In Egypt there are riots with soldiers trying hard to not kill people. The news just announced a molotov being thrown from the roof of a building into a crowd of people. The result of the unrest in Egypt is a 10% overnight increase in the price of gasoline. So in this neck of the woods, gas is around $3.20/gal, and diesel is around $3.40. That means that driving a truck around is getting pretty expensive, figure a dollar a mile for where ever you're going, round trip. Wow, a trip to Seattle, just for fuel, is around $2,000.............. Wow............

Oh, yeah, the ground hog. Since he's under snow, he's unlikely to see a shadow. So, why should he be scared of it, and go back inside. If I was the ground hog, I'd be digging a tunnel through the snow looking for some frozen greenery to eat. So, I'm guessing, the ground hog prediction will be early spring.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

One of my first lessons

That first fall, back in 1988, I drove Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings. I started as early as I got it together to show up, and I had to park it at 10 am.

There was a regular ride that went out of De Forest at around 5 am. They'd read it off, and take bids like normal, then say, the same guy was up, every day.

I tried hanging in the north, I tried hanging by the end of the airport runway. Not even close. What was going on?

They'd lied to me when they hired me, and when I was trained. They told me that sitting on time calls wasn't allowed. Sitting on a time call, what's that? Joe Blow has a regular ride at so and so a time, and it's a big money ride. So, you go and wait for it. 1/2 hour, 45 minutes, what ever it takes, as long as it's worth it. It's done in all cab environments, dispatching or no dispatching.

It was my first serious exposure to the lying and cheating that is the norm in the business. Eventually, I was there when Mader showed up one morning. Nobody was happy about it. But it stopped being his personal shift starter. 3 days a week, it became my shift starter, most of the time. How early did I have to go there? About an hour early. Coffee and the Wall Street Journal became the start of 3 shifts a week.