Adventures In Drive-Away

The time is looming for me to get back out on the road.  This is a job that I love and I hate, in equal parts.  One day I love the job the next day I hate it.  Come to think of it, that just about sums up every job I’ve ever held in my entire life.

I’ve searched Google for other blogs on Drive-Away and can only seem to find the companies that hire.  Maybe I’m just not putting in the right combination of search words.

To be fair this is a job that allows me to travel our beautiful United States and see, first hand, the changing landscapes.  It is a solitary job which leaves a lot of time to think about life, love, and other pursuits.  I am THE one and only bookkeeper in this operation and need to have downtime to do that task.  Winter is when I take off to do that, along with my passion for paper crafting and gift making.

The crux of Drive-Away is it is “Slip Seat”.  Which means you don’t drive the same truck day in and day out.  You will be in one truck for a day or three then be in a totally different truck next.  Being a Drive-Away driver means you have to be flexible.  No, not twist your body into a pretzel flexible.  You have to be able to drive a standard transmission truck with 10 to 13 speeds for a while then be plopped into an automatic transmission the next.

Each truck brand has their own cab design which includes the instrument and switch panels.  This means some trucks have just the minimum of gauges on display, such as only an RPM, speedometer, air, fuel, oil, and battery gauges.  Then there are the trucks that have gauges for primary and secondary air, rear and front  axle temperatures, a pyrometer (which indicates the temperature of heated air leaving the exhaust stack…I think that is what it is anyway), water in fuel, right fuel tank and left fuel tank, turbo pressure, and the standard RPM, fuel, speedometer, and battery gauges.  These multiple gauges are spread out across the dash panel and all need to be monitored and looked at from time to time.

The headlight switch and wiper switches are never in the same place.  Fumbling around for the headlight switch in a different truck is maddening.

Check out the dash on this Kenworth if you want to see the different types of gauges that need to be monitored and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Check out this wrecked Freightliner Century Class instrument panel to see the difference.

Check out these photos of an International 9400i and the instrument panel.

Enough said about the various instrument panels.

The seats in the trucks we drive are, for the most part, air ride.  There is a shock absorber under the seat that helps with the up and down bouncing that happens frequently.  When the shock absorber is old, and in need of replacement, driving becomes a chore.  Each bump in the road is followed by a raising of the seat and a whopping hard slam to the bottom of the cylinder.  This causes backs to ache, muscle strain, and in some cases kidney damage from prolonged exposure to the hard banging the body takes.

With the advent of air ride seats, kidney damage has all but been obliterated.  The truck drivers of long ago that had to spend endless hours in a solid seat had extreme lower back pain, disk compressions, and kidney bruising.  That kind of damage doesn’t happen much in the trucks of today.

Being a Drive-Away driver a person has the opportunity to drive nearly every truck type that travels the interstates.  Singles operators have a more diverse exposure to trucks that range from dump trucks, cement trucks, school buses, U-Haul trucks, cranes, wood chippers, fire trucks, ambulances, and a myriad of other types of equipment.

The Drive-Away industry is just a bit more laid back than the regular trucking industry because we don’t have produce that will spoil within a short time frame, livestock that has a very limited amount of travel time due to the weight factor.  That is every hour livestock is being transported they poop more and weigh less than when they were originally shipped.  Therefore, the less they weigh upon delivery the less the rancher or feedlot gets paid.

The trucks we move across the country are going to a dealership.  Once in a while the trucks are already sold and do have a “HOT” time frame for delivery.  We are under a bit of pressure to get the trucks delivered but not so much that we are behind the wheel in excess of 10 hours a day every day of the year.

We do get to have more time to see the sights than normal truck drivers do.  And we have the bonus of having our personal, or “chase”, vehicle that we can use to go see the sights and not get a ration of trouble because we are taking up lots of parking spaces with a bobtail or tractor/trailer combination.

If we want to have dinner at an Olive Garden or Outback Steakhouse instead of a truck stop we can do that.  Perk of our job.

In short, other than having to work out in the elements, drive a different truck nearly every day, spend half the time trying to find the headlight switch, and the other half figuring out the shifting pattern of the transmission, or grabbing for a non existent gear shift because the truck has an automatic transmission, this job is not that bad to have.  The pay is pretty good, the hours are lousy, the hotel beds are a whole other story with the firmness factor, and the places to stop and relieve a bladder are few and far between.

I’m trying to psyche myself up for my impending return to work.  All I’ve done is make myself want to run into my craft room, shut the door, and when my husband asks “What’s for supper” he will get a muffled “Knock yourself out” as my answer.


About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

6 responses to “Adventures In Drive-Away

  • Lynn Claridge

    And when the air con doesn’t work you fry or it might work extremely well and then you freeze 🙂 Just another couple of things I remembered from last year!

    I bet your crafting mojo has now gone into overdrive becase you will soon be out on the road.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Too right on the air conditioning. Thanks for reminding me of that 🙂 Are you getting ready for the onset of whining, complaining, drama, and my minute by minute meltdowns?

      Yes, I’m as busy as a wallpaper hanger in a stiff breeze. I failed at getting the birthday gifts made through August this year. Last year I had some good mojo going, this year I’ve wallowed in self pity and drug my feet. Now I’m trying to play catch up. When will I ever learn?

      Love you – Leslie

  • Maureen Mathis

    Why don’t you let us help you with the gifts? You can say that you “commissioned” them, and tell us kind of what you want and colors you want to use, and put us to work so WE’RE not sitting on our arses! I’d love to do something for someone in your family!

    • Message In A Fold

      Oh my goodness!! Get the sand bags positioned back around your house!!! Now I’m blubbering all over again from your kind offer.

      I tell you what. You have a beautiful teenage daughter, just a bit older than my granddaughter in Colorado. Last year I made the “Friend” mini for Logan. Her birthday is in May and I am going to totally miss making her gift. Because I made that pink box for her sister, Sydney, last year. A “little birdie” told me that all the girls (Logan and Reilee) were totally jealous of the box, and so was Tiffany (my daughter and their Step-Mom). I have made both Tiffany and Reilee’s boxes (haven’t mailed them yet (Super bad Mom and Grandma)). Would you be willing to make a wooden box for Logan. I get the boxes at Hobby Lobby for $1.99 and use the papers I have around the house and my abundant supply of flowers that I am just now getting a bit excited about playing with.

      I would like to commission a box for Logan. Her favorite color is burgundy. She is totally in love with, oh crap the name of it escapes me. A Disney computer game…Kingdom Hearts. I don’t have much of a clue what it is but she knows all the characters and everything about them. She is also a die hard Guitar Hero fan. She writes some absolutely wonderful stories based on characters from Twilight and Kingdom Hearts. Her characters are then made into her family and she gives them all quirky idiosyncrasies as the family has in real life.

      Logan will be 15 this year, I think. She’s a lovely girl who is not a fashion hound but she does dress well. In a lot of ways, your youngest daughter reminds me of Logan. Logan is quiet and seems aloof at times but she is just a bit shy around strangers. Last summer she had a job at the local swimming pool as a life guard and took her job seriously. Last time I spoke with Logan she was taking a Foreign Language – Japanese – and was excelling in the class. She was involved with the school drama clubs also, so after she got comfortable with me she showed her “Hammy” side and I about snatched her away from her family to keep with me forever 🙂

      I had planned on getting some paper from Graphic 45, I can’t think of the name of the collection but it is about acting. Curtain Call? Lordy, I don’t know what it is. You let me know how much you spend and the time you have in it and I’ll be so happy to pay you for making a gift for Logan. I’ll even pay the shipping to Colorado when you are ready.

      Logan is the one I’ve been the most worried about. Everyone else are adults and they’ll get over it until winter comes. But I don’t want to disappoint Logan. I will love you forever, I already do but I will love you even more 🙂

      Thank you for your so generous offer to assist me.
      Love you – Leslie

  • Lynn Claridge

    Oh Maureen what a super idea and how very generous of you. I never thought of helping Leslie out like that – what a failure as a friend I am 😦 My talents, skills and creativity wouldn’t ever live up to the standards of you and Leslie though.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      What the heck are you talking about?! I drool over the things you make. I sure do appreciate your offer but you luck out here because you are so far away and the postage would be horrendous.

      What standards? I have not standards 🙂 I don’t even know what I’m doing half the time. I fly by the seat of my pants and most of the time my butt cheeks are all but laid bare from my excursion into crafting. I mean, who in their right mind would be so thrilled and excited to get a computer motherboard and see possibilities in the innards? Tell me, who? Yes, only a loony bin escapee would do something like that. Normal people make cards and regular scrapbook pages. Not this lunatic.

      You are NOT a failure as a friend. Knock, knock, knock do you hear me tapping on your computer screen? You are NOT a failure as a friend. I am so happy with you as a friend to give me a right good kick in the seat of my pants when I need it and tell it like it is from time to time when I need to have a virtual head slap. You are one of the friends I treasure because you don’t “blow smoke” up my arse and tell me I’m wonderful but never speak up when I’m in dire need of “Get A Grip Girl”. You do tell me to “Get A Grip” in your sweet British manner and I really admire you for that.

      Thank you my VERY GOOD friend.
      Love you – Leslie

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