Sunday, September 30, 2012

I’d Still Be Doing It…

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…If I could (driving truck that is). I grew up on the farm driving the 2-1/2 ton flatbed that we used to haul logs, cattle, firewood and hay. Thus it wasn’t hard to get a job driving a route truck for Red Rose (Eshelman) a couple years after I was married the first time. They’d been bought out by Carnation by that time, though, and changes were underway in the company. It was interesting to me to deliver cattle and horse feed to farmers as far as two counties away, often up narrow country roads that I would never have seen otherwise. I also delivered feed and pet food and other items to little country stores and a few small-town stores in the surrounding counties. Despite the fact that a few deliveries involved carrying hundred pound sacks of chicken feed uphill to the chicken houses of little old widow ladies, I enjoyed the work. I probably would have stayed there if the company hadn’t demoted the manager with 30 years of experience and brought in some big-city kid with a college degree, no farm experience, and a know-it-all attitude to take his place.

Then, I went to work for a company that sold wood stoves and metal fireplaces, installed chimney caps and gas fireplaces, and cleaned chimneys. The best part, though, was the fact that I often delivered such items as far away as a hundred miles in my home state and over in “enemy territory,” across the big river. I would have stayed there a while, except the owner had promised himself that he’d be a millionaire by the time he was 40, and had hit 39 without making it yet. Therefore, he sold his business and headed to Myrtle Beach to spend that year selling real estate. That was back in ’79. I never heard if he made the deadline or was emotionally crushed by failure.

Learning not to put my trust in the stability of others, I worked on my own and with my dad for a few years. Then, my sister’s husband stumbled onto a job driving a mail truck back and forth to Pittsburgh. The problem was, it was a twelve hour day with a four hour unpaid lay-over in the middle of the day. He really didn’t want to commit to 70 hour weeks straight endwise, so he asked the lady who owned the company that had the contract if he could share the job with me, week on and week off. She agreed, I agreed, he agreed, so that job just sort of fell into my lap. The pay wasn’t high, but it was more than enough for me to make it two weeks on, while still having a week between to work with dad on the farm. My ex-wife would have thought that was dandy, had we still been together, but she’d already bailed out to look for greener bank accounts.

I’d leave town about four in the afternoon, drive a timed route to Pittsburg at about 50 MPH, unload at the airport freight terminal and then wait four hours to load up, go to a bulk mail facility nearby and head back home. Once back in town, I had to unload again, take the truck to the company lot and then repeat the process again in twelve hours. I spent my four hours going to a nearby mall, getting supper and/or napping in the truck. If I went more than a few miles, I’d put a little diesel in the tank with my own money. I sometimes jogged down to the main airport and back for exercise. I learned that I could fall asleep with jets taking off only 300 feet away. It was strange waking up to dead silence and then having my audio senses kick in after a few seconds! I learned that another driver with the same contractor was going down the river at the same time as I, so we started running together to keep one another company on the CB. Three things that I’ll always remember from those days are the look on the face of the woman in thescale-house when I hit the scale at 35 MPH, The big, tall black guy who stood under a huge sign saying not to throw parcels - as he threw parcels, and the look on the face of a guy walking along a straight stretch as my CB buddy and I whizzed by with no lights at two in the morning on a dazzling moonlit night. (It was easier to see the deer (and pedestrians) that way as long as there weren’t any cops around!)

Alas, my brother-in-law drove faster (thus using more fuel), ran around a lot and never put any fuel in the truck. Worse yet, the boss-lady’s father-in-law got laid off and needed a job. So, illegally, she let us go and hired him. That was strictly against the law, and we could have cost her every contract she had, but we didn’t. I went back to work on the farm full-time for a few years, but I’d be hauling mail still, if I had my druthers. © 2012
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8 comments:

Crystal Mary said...

Strange when we look back on life and see the things we did. You sure have been a worker, and have done it hard with no complaint. There is nothing more satisfying than doing a job honestly and putting your heart into it. A hug from me to you today.

Gorges Smythe said...

Thank you, dear lady!

Susie Swanson said...

This is a great post Gorges.. I agree with Crystal, you sure have been a worker in your time.. Bless you Gorges.

Susie Swanson said...

I thought I'd pop back in and say yes it was intentional. I wanted to leave it to the reader to figure it out..

Gorges Smythe said...

Thanks, Susie, sadly, my time seems to be long past.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Those all sound like very enjoyable runs where relationships could be formed with people on both ends. Back when I was running a LTL (Less Than a Truckload) route between St. Louis and Clifton, NJ, I got fairly close with the guys on the dock at the warehouse in Clifton, and I really missed seeing them every Tuesday morning after I moved on to much longer (and more varied) runs with another outfit.

buddeshepherd said...

I have a CDL and rarely drive truck. I worry about getting lost with a set of doubles. My brother drives a truck with a 53 foot trailer and delivers feed to dairies. Not sure how he does that.

Gorges Smythe said...

I know what you mean, Jerry.

Guess some folks are just blessed that way, Budd!