Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trying to get up that great big hill of hope

EUGENE, OR - Damn, it's been a seriously screwed up five days. My nerves are shot, yet I'm only 600 miles away from home.

Got back on the truck Thursday morning, picked up a trailer headed into the Bay Area, had to drive on a road where trucks were heavily "not advised" because of 10mph switchback turns and one-lane bridges, backed a trailer uphill and around a curve on a one-way street with cars on both sides in downtown San Francisco, sideswiped a pole and knocked my right-side mirrors off, got lost trying to get to Oakland to get that fixed, spent the night parked down the street by the Oakland Coliseum, woke up every time I heard footsteps or voices outside. At dawn I opened the curtains to a pale gray street and saw an old homeless man stumbling down the sidewalk draped in a dirty white sheet, like the last of the night's bad dreams succumbing to the sobriety of morning.

Drove up to the North Bay to get my next load, and when I got there found that one of my trailer tires was shredded. Spent five hours waiting for someone to come fix it. Delivered 30 miles away (which is bullshit - I am not supposed to be a local driver!), learned that my next load wasn't till morning. Learned that the Bay Area has basically no truck stops, which explains why Central Valley truck stops are always so packed (yo, Record peeps, I smell a story here), called the only truck-stop-ish place in the East Bay I could find, had them tell me they're closed for renovation but the cops don't bother trucks that park on the street next to the truck stop-to-be. Drove there. Passed it, since the whole place is tarped over. Found myself in a clearly unsafe area with nowhere for a big truck to turn around. Pulled over, called 911. Several times over. Kept getting busy signal. Had mini nervous breakdown. Found my way back to the highway, and then the shuttered truck stop. Parked underneath a BART overpass, prepared for another sleepless night of listening for voices outside.

Then my boyfriend came over, braving the Oakland scariness to spend the night with me in a much-appreciated show of chivalry, and I slept better that night than all the other nights in the truck combined, and wished more than ever that I hadn't gotten myself into this crazy endeavor.

But a resolution is a resolution, so I went and picked up a trailer bound for Portland on Saturday morning. Walked around and inspected the trailer, everything looked fine. Drove more than a hundred miles north, stopped for fuel, and discovered that the trailer door was not latched all the way, so the contents -- 34,000 pounds of building insulation -- was straining at the top of the right-side door, pushing the door out a good six inches. Definitely not safe or legal to drive that way.

Yes, I know it's a classic rookie mistake - check your trailers better. This mistake cost me three days, because that's how long it took Werner to find a local towing company that would come out to the truck stop with a forklift and help me re-work the cargo so the door could be properly shut.

I spent that three days convinced that I was done with this whole endeavor, that as soon as I got up to Portland I would head straight for the company terminal up there and turn in my truck. Hence the doomy Twitter updates (naturally, I got stuck at a truck stop with no Internet access). And then I had a long talk with my dad, who reminded me to think about all of this in proper perspective, and told me to relax and drink some beer and take advantage of the down time. So I did. And on Tuesday morning the towing company finally came and fixed the mutinous cargo and properly latched the door, and I drove through some very pretty mountains to Oregon. And I still have no idea what I want to do, as always. Does this matter? Of course it does, of course it doesn't. I don't know.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there. High anxiety and rookie mistakes are pretty common when you're just starting out. I drive solo for Trans Am, and remember feeling basically the same way when I started out (not to mention making ALOT of those similar mistakes haha).

Take care,


scottt said...

yup.... everything sounds about right... that's trucking. unfortunately, no one really tells you all this before you get started. it's not all driving and eating eating the buffet at the flying J.

you knocked off a mirror.. so what? it happens, you'll probably dent a fairing pretty soon too; just look at all the Werner trucks in the yard.. par for the course.
you got stuck for 3 days waiting.. that really sucks, but it was a mistake and you learn. I surprised your truck hasn't broke down leaving you stranded, or the a/c doesn't work, etc.

You got bad directions and got lost in a shitty part of town. Get used to that... it'll happen about 90% of the time since you go to a new place every load.

there are very few truckstops in the whole state of California (I never figured that out).

Just relax and remember you're doing this as an adventure.

Decorina said...

Ahhh, Gypsy, been there done that bought the t-shirt. Your Dad is right - chill and drink a beer.

I spent 3 nights parked on the scale in the downtown SF post office after I shredded 2 trailer tires on the Jersey barriers at the Castro Street exit trying to get to the Post Office. But the guys at the PO were sooooo nice to me - they had me unhook from the trailer (once I got it into the dock) and moved the trailer to the scale with their yard goat after it was unloaded. One of them then took me inside to the employee cafeteria to eat.

I knocked off mirrors, dented fairings and tore the bumper off a JB Hunt truck that was parked in the end spot in a small truck stop somewhere in Illinois on my very first solo trip. Shit happens. But I survived and that 2 years of my life is one of the best parts so far.

Keep on.

Anonymous said...

"At dawn I opened the curtains to a pale gray street and saw an old homeless man stumbling down the sidewalk draped in a dirty white sheet, like the last of the night's bad dreams succumbing to the sobriety of morning."

Well you don't have to worry. Your VERY young AND your just in this for the experiene/adventure anyway. So...enjoy and learn from the experience. Besides, with writing like the above you will soon be out of the truck and writing. Just use this time to learn and how to write about it so you will keep your audience entertained/ informed and involved.

Good Luck....Just remember...Can't have the Yin without the Yang

jende turtle said...

Hey! I know I haven't been good with commenting or staying in touch, but just wanted you to know that I'm reading (and passing the occasional update to Anita). Keep kicking some ass out on the road! Just so you know, (lame as it is) every time I see a semi driving around NoVA, or trying to do some crazy-ass maneuver, I'm always like "hmmm....I wonder if that's what Gyspy's doing right now, in some far off corner of the country."

Anonymous said...

Okay, so here is my question to you.... You are not doing this to become a Lady Trucker.. You are doing this for the story, the book, the finished publication where all the experiences have been grammatically lain to rest. Correct?

So, is it worth it? Are you going to try and represent females in the industry itself? Because you will not get the true spirit of trucking within a one year period. Or will you instead write solely about your own experiences. I just wondered, because I would hate to see any misrepresentation of the indusrty I love so well, just because the first year was a little tough for you.

Anonymous said...

I,ve always said you can teach a monkey to drive a truck. It's the lifestyle that most people can't take. Truckin isn't for everyone! In fact it works only for a few in the long run. I love to hear about those who think it is such a piece of cake then learn it's not as easy as so many think. Many who stick it out though find they don't want to do anything else.

Terry said...

I don't want to do anything else, at least until my ship comes in..

The Daily Rant said...

Wow. What a parade of shitty events. Oakland is horrible - scary, in fact. We often fuel at a little "truck stop" there only when we have to and the entire place is covered in security bars. They only let one person in the building at a time - even if you have to use the bathroom!

As for California - there IS no parking there. The 49er in Sacramento has ample space if you're in that area, but overall, California doesn't seem to like the big trucks. I'm new to driving myself, but my boyfriend (who I drive with) has over 12 years experience.

I do what he tells me and although he's used to dealing with the crap in the industry, I have a very low tolerance level.

Hang in there!

Fuso Trucks said...

Well on the bright side things can only get better for you.