Wednesday, February 13, 2008

You know what I'd like to do with this iron bar here?

Day 108
So here's roughly what happened. First of all, I got lost in this city in Massachusetts. It's not that I messed up my directions, or didn't follow them properly, it's that a. the map did not indicate that I would be driving through the heart of downtown of an old New England city, b. these cities were not built with cars (much less big trucks) in mind, c. the intersection were such that it was unclear whether I was going straight or turning, d. the streets were not clearly marked, e. the besides the main drag virually all other streets were restricted (either because they were too narrow or had low clearance bridges), f, there was nowhere to stop to get my bearings that would not be obstructing traffic. Until I saw that parking lot. Sure it was covered in snow and a little tight but I'd gotten out of tighter spots before and I really needed to stop. This would be my third time stopping to get my bearings since getting off the freeway but at least I wouldn't be blocking traffic and I was getting frustrated and needed to chill out for a minute. Well, skip ahead a few minutes to where (after some difficulty) I manage to get into the parking lot...and get stuck in the snow. Not just snow, snow on top of water on top of ice. My feet are now soaked, it's getting dark, I am only four miles from my destination, and I don't like the look of the nieghborhood. My efforts to get "unstuck" have been in vein so I make the call to roadcall to get me out. "Hmmmm..." says roadcall, "it's going to be very expensive to get a tow in that area...did you try putting chains on?" Not being sure whether putting chains on in a downtown area was something I ought to do, I had not. Big sigh. "I don't think I can get them on, but I'kk give it a shot...:" the snow is wedged high up around the tires and frozen. I wrestle with the chains for a few minutes and give up. I really don't like the look of this neighborhood, and would prefer to spend less time out of my truck and more time inside waiting for a tow. I express my concerns to roadcall. "Well, it's going to be $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to get a tow out there...try moving the snow out of the way..." At this point I am WAY beyond frustrated. Move the snow out of the way?! Why don't you @#&$! move the @#$%&! snow out of the #&$%@! way!!! (I did not actually say this to roadcall. I did scream it aloud in the privacy of my truck where no one was there to hear me though...) I had tried to move the snow but may have been increasing distracted by the people loitering in my vicinity in this not-very-well-lit part of town in a city which I had never been in before. I fumed for a few minutes in my truck. They really weren't going to help me. Panick set in. I sent a frantic message to my fleet manager (now the night manager - my regular FM had gone home for the day) explaining that I felt unsafe getting out of my truck here and roadcall was not helping. I was not happy with the reply. "Try to get the chains on..." I was losing it quickly now. I had fantasys of creative uses I could have for the iron reach bar as I got it out of my truck and tried the chains again. There was the idea of quiting. Walking out. Yeah. Brilliant. Walk away from your job...in the middle of friggin Massachusetts in some city you can't even remember the name of...it's only 3,000 miles home, what am I gonna do, walk? Take a bus? I try to collect myself enough to give a genuine effort to getting the chains on. They were not going to help me with this one. I am on my own. If they bail on me in this situation, what other situations might they leave me out to dry in? Getting the chains on seems impossible. The ice around the tires won't move even when I try digging it out with my hands. Finally, using some chain extenders I manage to barely get them on one side. They'll be loose as soon as I move (if I can move) but it's the best i can do under the circumstances. The truck moves...and there are alot of banging/chain rattling noises that accompany the movement, but before I can do anything about it, several things have happened. First, the several red lights I have never seen before light up on my dashboard accompanied by an ear piercing BEEEEEEEP!! Second, I can no longer hear any noises from the chains, third, I am stuck again somehow only this time I have managed to pull the front of my truck into traffic. Hmmmm. Let's see what my friends in the office have to say. By some miracle they have now become very helpful and are sending a truck. I express that I am not feeling very talkative and end the phone call after giving the necessary information. if I can avoid pissing anyone off, the situation (and my job) may be salvagable. Currently the only thing endangering my job is my intense desire to leave it. I realize that this may pass after a hot shower and a good nights sleep. I'd settle for just sleep. Tow truck arrives, I get unstuck, no one can locate the chains I used, I make the delivery, and go to bed. Next morning I wake up still a little aggravated about the previous night, but with a much clearer head and no desire to leave my job. My regular manager calls and of coarse wants to hear the story. As it turns out this episode, by some standard procedure of the company, makes me eligable for more training. "We're pulling you off the road, probably just for a day - for some more training. Either in Tacoma, WA or Tenessee..." Tenessee it is, apparently, unless I am delivered by some miracle. Nothing against Tenessee...just....I feel more understood in Washington. And more training. On what? Chaining? Navigation? Anger management? The later would probably be the most useful of the three. Well, we'll see what happens. I am trying to keep a good attitude about it, but it's hard when something this discouraging happens. Oh yeah, home time? Feb. 25th in Fontana, CA? Uh....probably not. We'll see what happens. I'll keep you posted.

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