God Was With Me

Let me start by saying that this is probably the most difficult post I have ever written due to my current state of mind and I do hope that all who read it can appreciate what I am trying to say in it!

Yesterday was probably from my memory the most trying day I have ever had as a professional driver in my career. I have been going to a dieting center for over 2 years now, and my meds have been changed on a regular basis and it seems to be because I am somewhat emotionally depressed…go figure! Over 3 weeks ago they were changed again and the new meds finally came last week, they were Topamax and Lexapro. I began taking these meds as prescribed and from the very first dose I felt that this might be a problem. I began having very bad bloating, heartburn, and gas. but I just thought it might be the foods I was eating interacting with the meds. But as the days went on the symptoms got worse. Symptoms like loss of concentration, light headed, nausea, weakness, and the worst thing as a professional driver….drowsiness! Well all these symptoms came to a head on me yesterday as I was hauling 2 loads. I drove empty from Columbus Indiana to Crawfordsville Indiana which is about 106 miles and picked up a load going to Dayton Ohio.

On the way to Dayton I was having the worst time concentrating and then the stomach cramps hit me and the diarrhea and drowsiness and mercy what a great time I had. It took about an hour longer than I had planned to arrive to Dayton but i finally arrived, No damage to cargo or to driver or public either. Got unloaded, and reloaded in the same place and headed out to Yorktown Indiana. Now Yorktown is just a short 88 miles away but when you’re feeling as badly as I was it could feel like an eternity.

Two hours and fifteen minutes later I arrive in Yorktown and I get the load off and I cannot wait to get this truck home safely. I am finally empty and I head home, text my wife who is very anxious about my safety as is my dispatcher because they thought all this time as did I that I had the makings of a stomach virus. I had even taken a dose of anti diarrhea medicine but that was a waste of time and money. I was almost to Greenfield Indiana when I called my wife and asked her to look up the effects of Topamax. She asked me what I the symptoms were that I was having and I told her and she said nope, no matches! I said Ok how about the anti-depressant Lexipro? She said ok , Nausea, gas, diarrhea,loss of concentration, irritability. and I said what about weakness and drowsiness and loss of energy?  She said yes that they were also there and asked when we got the meds and how long I had been taking them? I said about 6 days and she said that the drug was well into your system.

I must have left he roadway over a dozen times yesterday, but the scariest one was about 8 miles from my shop where I park the truck. They say most fatal accidents happen within 15 miles of home and usually under 30 mph…I was coming into the small town of Hope Indiana and blacked out for just a second or so and was off the road and at that second my wife called,  I came to and she talked me all the way to the shop. She truly is my best friend and I would not and could not live with out her! I am just so thankful to God and to my wife that I have today to look forward to!

 
 

I Sure Could Use A Raise

I sure could use a raise. When you spend hours on end sitting at these steel mills waiting to load and I look around at all the other drivers, I truly wonder how they make it! Most are like me who own their own equipment and are saddled with all the expenses like fuel, tires, insurance and of course maintenance. A man can’t help but wonder how in the world these guys are actually keeping their head above water! Then I can’t help but think to myself, why even bother! It seems as if no one else really cares anyway. It would really be nice if we owner-operators were some part of a co-op where we could all agree that if the rates were too low or the wait time was just too long we as a group would not haul the loads. Yes I know, we have a lobbying organization called the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association or OOIDA for short, but they are not there for that reason. Believe me, to get a group of drivers to agree on anything at all would be something short of a miracle.

But I can tell you this, the buying public need to think about how the goods and products get to the market place and who delivers them there. Because if it weren’t for the Owner Operator competing for its share of the market, the prices of goods would be sky high! Believe me, All we want to do is survive in this world just like everyone else!

 

A Truckers Life

Its a long hard road to make it today

we fight and claw every inch of the way

operating costs go up seems like daily

 it could to make a sane man go crazy

 

“Hurry and Wait” seems to be our theme

and if we complain it just gets worse

everyday just seem to be a bad dream

like everyone of us carries an evil curse

 

If it’s so bad, why do it you ask

well believe it or not a finished task

gives me an incredible feeling of pride

job well done now on to the next ride

 

So on down the highway my semi and I go

to the next steel mill to pick up my load

for over 34 years it has been the same

 for now I don’t foresee any kind of change

 

Yes sometimes I hate to admit

I had to do some serious thinking

If I were to do it all over again

I would’nt change a single thing

 

 When your on the open highway

and you see an eighteen wheeler

Just remember his trying day

and hope for him it gets better

 

A truckers life brings on age

at a rate no one deserves

 health issues can turn your page

and will really throw you a curve

 

I just take it a day at a time

run my run and deliver my load

at days end I am usually fine

and tomorrow I will again hit the road

 

Why I Do What I Do

I have been driving a tractor trailer for over 34 years. It is amazing to me how over the years the attitudes of the professional drivers have deteriorated to a point that all they are concerned about is themselves. Back when I began driving, there was somewhat of a kinship or brotherhood that we felt were a member of.

If on driver had problems while making a trip, then there were usually a number of fellow drivers to lend a hand or at least an opinion as to what the problem is. But not any more, nope your avoided like the plague if your broke down and stranded today! 

I began this little journey I refer to as my sanity savior in 1978 with McCormick Food Service. I worked with 3 other awesome drivers. I mean, today if someone wanted a career in this field, he would go to driver training school. My traffic manager 

must have seen some promise in me because he sent me out with the other three drivers for 2 weeks each to learn and work along side of them and then he turned me loose.That job at McCormick was by far the best one I ever had and had it lasted, it would have been awesome. The pay was fantastic and the benefits were also. But it was not to be and the closed up in Indianapolis in 1982 and moved up to South Bend!My next stop on my career road was Overnite Transportation Company. That was in 1982, September 21st to be exact. I started off there as a night shift part-time dock worker. About 6 months later I was certified as a driver and began my 12 years there as a city pick up and delivery driver. My day was usually from 8:30 am til around 6 pm. They often had extra work but I usually declined because they didn’t pay overtime! My first truck there was what was called an MB Mack. Those cabs were popular for garbage trucks back in those days!

I worked there for 12 years and resigned to move on to a company that paid overtime. I never claimed to be the brightest crayon in the box and it took me that long to get tired of being screwed! And besides that, my health insurance was going up each year as well so it was time to move on!

Next stop on the employment ladder was Conway Central Express, a good job…management sucked because they were only out for themselves

I spent 8 years at Conway Central Express, CCX for short and I was an exemplary employee. I started on what they called the “flex” board, nothing flexible about it if you ask me. Your on call, day and night. I started on days on Monday and by Thursday i was running night-time over the road. This was a two-year sentence, the first bid was evening dock worker. 2 more years of that until I finally got a city driving bid. There were a lot of instances when we took road runs on the weekends to keep the freight moving. I did the same thing when I was employed by Overnite Transportation Company. I won safe driving awards each year I there except the last one. I had a had a batch of bad luck the last year I worked there plus my father passed away that December. The short of it l was let go in February of 2002.
I bought a semi in the fall of 2003 and leased on with CSX railroad and began pulling containers, but that will be an entry for another blog at a later date!
The next company and I certainly hope will be my last as an employee was PittOhio Express out of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania!I hired in there in April of 2007 was a long local pedal driver for them. Sometime putting in a full 14 hours a day and all at straight pay…no overtime until you reach top scale which takes 3 years. Never made it, missed it by 4 months. Couldn’t stand working for the man any longer and had to do my own thing. I have always been an independent entrepreneur all my life with various part-time entities, but I always had to have it safe with a secure job…. until CCX terminated me. That just told me that I could make it on my own with out the security of a company and so far I have!

Angry and Frustrated

Well a blog post is designed to express your thoughts, my thoughts mostly are on the subject of money and finances. When I was 16, or legal age to work, the minimum wage back in 1973 was $1.35! Gasoline was $.27 per gallon, milk was $.89 per gallon and you could buy a soft drink from a vending machine for $.20!

   Wow, how times have changed! My dad was actually able to raise 5 kids on his
over- the – road wages while working for the now defunct Ellis Trucking Company! And he put money away for the future, amazing! I still cannot figure out how he did that!

   Now the cost of living is going up at such a rate that wages cannot possibly keep up. As far as I can tell, there is no end in sight to this madness! I gave been keeping a close eye on this economy for a lot of years and I really don’t know if retirement is achievable for me under these conditions. I suppose time will tell but this I do know, I have never lived under a greater leader than Ronald Reagan and probably never will!

   When he got into office in 1980, he did everything he promised the American people he would for all 8 years he was in the White House.
I started driving a semi in 1978 and was a combination local and long haul driver for McCormick Food Service and from there I went on to Overnite Transportation Company. My wages were decent for a non- union company but it was here that a realization of how some industries waste a lot of money, mainly the automotive industry. I would go into the automotive plants in Indianapolis,  Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Allison Transmission Plant in Speedway Indiana and Allison Gas Turbine.

   I would go into these companies usually on a daily basis and here is what I found. I would hand my freight bill inside the window to one person, he would stamp it and my gate pass and give it to the person in charge of looking up the purchase order, when he wasn’t reading the paper. After he finished getting it all together with the purchase order, then he gave the paperwork to the dock foreman who tracked down the lift driver and he would unload my trailer! Now tell me honestly, does that seem efficient to you? Not real surprised that the price on American made autos are absolutely thru the roof!

The World Needs To Slow Down

The world is moving way to fast. It seem like life on most days is just passing us all by. I get up, got to work, and if I am lucky I might get to spend a couple of usually interrupted hours at home with my wife
But seriously, there has to be a way to slow the days down just a bit so we can enjoy the time we are here in this great planet we call earth! As a blue collar worker and a professional at the same time I can speak from experience when I say that this society and the people in it are struggling to make schedules! You see I am a professional truck driver, I like to refer myself as a Transportation Engineer! My wife gets pretty irritated when I refer myself that way but hey….I call it like I see it!

For example, just today as I was leaving town to go deliver this load, I was traveling a two lane road and the posted speed limit was 45! I was traveling at 55 and this asshole in a SUV passed me at about 65 mph but he did it on a double yellow line. And I thought, really, is life moving that fast that you have to take deadly chances? And believe me, this is a daily thing!

I can remember back when I was a kid, all the stores were closed on Sundays. We were able to actually sit down at the dinner table and have family time. I really long for those days because I believe that society has this in such a mess that most families beds at least few and sometimes 3 incomes to make it in this economy! Also back years ago we never had to worry about safety issues for our kids. I was able to stay out pretty much until bedtime and was able to go anywhere in my neighborhood without fear of any kind! It is so sad that my kids had to grow up in the society and environment that they did because I believe they would have been so much happier back in my generation!

I am always looking for ways to make money, my wife and I both work a full time job and to be honest I usually put in 14 to 16 hours per day! We also have a small vending route that I work two day per month and we cut grass for people who are not able to cut it themselves for various reasons. The grass cutting is done at a discounted rate! So all in all I usually stay very busy and always try to stay ahead of this weak economy!

Oh How I Long For A Simplier Time

I was born June 2, 1957. Seems like a lifetime ago and judging by my age, very well could have been! I grew up on the west side of Indianapolis until the age of 12! I came from a broken home, which back in the late 50s was kind of rare. My mom and dad split when I was 6 months old. Another oddity was that my dad fought for custody and won. I have 2 older brothers, Frank graduated from Ben Davis High School on the outer west side of Indianapolis. Fred went to Southport High School and graduated in 1974.It’s kind of strange really, one move in 1972 and we all graduated from different high schools.

Dad was a blue collar professional over the road trucker which made it even more impressive that he won the custody suit. Rumor was told to me that my grandparents put up their home for a second mortgage and  they paid off the judge.  Pretty amazing really when you think about it! But anyway, back to the story at hand. I loved it on Indy’s south side, as the best times of my life were when I was in high school at Perry Meridian. I was wrestler and wanted to play other sports but the transportation just wasn’t available when I was younger!

In the summer of 1973 I was fortunate enough to enroll in Driver’s Ed. I think the fee was $45.00 back then but a short footnote, 2 years ago I paid over $200.00 for my daughter to take it and it was NOT offered in school! I had Mr Mullinix for my in car instructor. For the life of me I cannot remember who else was in my class! I never would have imagined that in 1973, Drivers Ed would pave the way for my employment future!

My first car, a 1964 Chevelle, 4 door and I was so ashamed of that car that driving it to school.,.not an option! But today, I wish I had it and could fix it up, that would be a nice change. I had a lot of friend there at Perry Meridian and had a lot of fun. I went to three Proms, no wonder I was always broke in April and May! Two at Perry Meridian and one at Ben Davis. My work options back then were John Brehob Nursery for one season and gas station attendant for the remaining 3 years. Can you believe it, I actually had to check the oil and clean the windows back then.

I had classes with a lot of the athletes like industrial arts and home economics. I graduated about mid class which is no huge surprise, no brainiac here! But after graduation I joined my older brother, who had a masonary business and worked for him for over 2 years. But family will mess you over every time.
He was withholding taxes and not paying them in, good thing I kept all my check stubs.

During that time I married my high school sweetheart that graduated from Ben Davis in 1977. Sheila and I married in 1978 and stayed together until 1982. After my ordeal with my brother over the taxes, I began driving a straight truck for a “small” spice company called McCormick. In 1980 the traffic manager gave me the opportunity to learn to drive a tractor-trailer. I jumped at the chance without any haste and never looked back. That job lasted 4 years because the company leased the building, trucks, and some of the other equipment. The factory workers were union and there were issues between labor and management. The drivers were not union but the company did not want any backlash of problems by keeping us on so when the truck leases were up, we were gone. they did give us a fair severance pay for all the problems we had to encounter. The rift was so bad that the company laid all of the employees off and moved everything to South Bend where they owned the land and had room to grow!

After McCormick (by the way, I love that job) I got a job with a freight company called Overnite Transportation Company. I was there 12 years and left to better myself at Conway Central Express. I was terminated from there as a result of a bogus customer claim. The that’s when the real fun started. After Sheila and I divorced in 1982, I remained single til 1987. I remarried and divorced in 1992. I had a 3-year-old son in that marriage that will have nothing to do with me. I remained single, but I was in and out of a relationship with my daughter’s mother several times over the next 7 years til I met my best friend and love of my life Debbie! We have been together going on 13 years, a record for both of us and have been married going on 2. We got married in Pigeon Forge Tennessee and had all our closest friends there with us. During our relationship , we got custody of Avalon who was 7 at the time,  after a court battle and she was with us until she turned 16.

After the job at Conway ended I bought my first truck. A 1999 International and leased on with the railroad ( CSX). It was alright but they didn’t pay enough and I really wanted benefits so I went back to company driving. Huge mistake! Once you’re out on your own, working for someone else really sucks! That lasted almost 4 years and I could not stand anymore. Bought another truck and a flatbed trailer with a sidekit and leased it on with BESL Transfer and the rest is what I refer to as the future! My next blog is going to be about my driving experiences. Thanks for stopping by my site and looking around. stay as long as you like and please feel free to give me any feedback you desire.

 

About Me

Deb and GerryMy name is Gerry Jones and I reside in Columbus Indiana. I am married and have a daughter. My wife and I are business owners, I am a steel hauler by trade! My favorite pastime are my friends, family, and riding my Harley Softail. I have many, many things to be thankful for and my blogs and the many post will hopefully convey my true feelings about my blessings. I am a Christian by faith and a conservative politically. I believe that an honest days work for an honest days pay!I also believe the the political system in our country, what once was the most powerful country in the world has been taken down by it’s own politicians and big money backers!

Harely logo 3

My Harley Pic #2