PORTLAND, OR - I've had so many crises of faith, so many emotional/mental/psychological blocks throughout the last few months. But what pushed me over the edge and made me turn my truck in and finally quit Werner was a physical issue.
Thursday morning I got an assignment to pick up a trailer full of scrap, mostly old pallets, and take it to a waste management facility 20 miles away. I groaned at the shortness of the run, but whatever. Go pick up the trailer, take it where it's supposed to go. Which turns out to be the city dump. The city dump does not usually get semi trucks, and they're not sure what to do with me, and they're not even sure they can take the specific kind of checks that trucking companies use to pay for services (in this case, the fees for dumping stuff into the landfill). So I sit at the dump for about four hours while they decide what to do with the checks, until they finally decide that yes, they'll take it. And they send me up.
Mind you, I'm at the city dump. There are no docks, no forklifts, no one to help me unload the stuff. I mean, I'm at THE DUMP, where garbage truck drivers back up to the edge and tip their trucks up so all the junk just falls out. I don't have that kind of mechanism on a dry van trailer. My dispatcher confirms that yes, I am supposed to unload it. Open up the trailer door and find that most of the pallets are oversized ones, huge and heavy. And there's a big steel platform in there, and I can't even lift one edge of it by myself. I drag one pallet out, and call my dispatcher to tell him that I am physically incapable of doing this work, and whoever heard of a long-haul driver being sent to the city dump to hand-unload a trailer full of trash, anyway?
His first question: "What, are you real small? You can't lift pallets?" It's not a question of my size, idiot, it's a question of this kind of work being completely beyond my job description, as well as a question of the trailer contents being too heavy to lift for any one person, no matter how big and buff. In a fit of rage, I shoved two more pallets off the trailer after getting off the phone, then went back into the cab and started making panicked phone calls to non-idiots, like my old trainer Dana, who suggested I call my dispatcher's supervisor, who in turn gave the same bullshit that my dispatcher did - sometimes these loads are necessary, I guess we'll have to send a guy on this load instead.
I didn't get to leave the dump until about 4pm, after spending about seven hours there. I wanted to drive straight to the terminal and turn in my truck, but thought I'd sleep on it first. I did. Then drove to the terminal first thing in the morning and turned it in. The response from the guys at the terminal: this is a ridiculous ordeal, why didn't Werner just contract a waste disposal company to do this? Because drivers, especially rookie drivers who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, are so much cheaper. I mean, I made about $40 that day, all in all. This shit is not worth it.
I'm spending the weekend with my Portland friends, who were thankfully willing to pick me up from the terminal and put me up for a few days. Then I will take the bus back to Cali and try to get my head together, figure out what I'm doing next. Maybe another trucking company, maybe not. Right now, there's a cup of sludge-thick Pacific NW coffee calling my name somewhere around here, and it holds more promise than anything that's happened over the past week.