My elder boss told me, when I interviewed, that they did a lot of salt hauling in the winter, so they could keep the men working, even though it was little more than a break-even proposition. I was sort of glad to hear that. That time has come, for I hauled some salt this week, and I was glad for the work.
A few of the guys actually hauled salt last fall as different places, mostly Department of Highways garages, stocked up for the winter. Now, we’re helping them to STAY stocked up, I would assume. I found it interesting that Monday, two of our trucks went clear to the tip of our state’s Northern Panhandle to bring salt back here to a landscaper in town who does snow removal in the winter. Thursday, I and some other drivers hauled three loads of salt from a stone yard only about 15 miles up-river, Below St. Mary’s, West Virginia, to a DOH garage an hour-and-a-half down-stream at Point Pleasant. I was running just late enough that I couldn’t get the last load delivered, so the boss just had me go to the shop (along with a couple other drivers) and told us to deliver it first thing in the morning.
I left about ten minutes before I was even supposed to be at work, so I could drive a little slower in the darkness, but I still drove as fast as I felt was safe. There were snowflakes coming down nearly the whole way and, a couple times, I was in near-white-out conditions and slowed to 40 MPH, though the speed limit was 70. Other places were bad enough that my speed varied between 45 and 65. I never did feel safe getting up to 70.
I fully expected the next couple trucks behind to pass me on the way down, but they must have caught even worse conditions than I, for they never arrived until my load was dumped, my papers signed and I was headed out the gate. The next truck was driven by a hyper, competitive fellow who always likes to be the first one on the scene. He was so flustered at being beaten by the slow-poke that he didn’t even look at me as he passed. He’s actually a pretty decent sort of fellow, he just doesn’t handle being second very graciously.
On the way back, it was obvious that I’d beaten the worst of the snow, as there was mostly just a single clear lane, going straight up the middle of my side of the interstate. (The two-lane was actually in better shape.) Four cars and a semi were off the road, the four-wheelers I’m sure for no other reason than trying to do 70 on an inch of snow. I suspect the semi that was jack-knifed in the median did so from trying to avoid a four wheeler in front of him that was losing it.
Since I was the first to get back to the salt pile, I was also first to get started on the next delivery. I was surprised to learn that it was at Gassaway, West Virginia, near the middle of the state, well over a two-hour drive away. Luckily, it’s four-lane the whole way anymore, and I made good time, despite the need for a “pit stop.” I was only about five miles from my destination when “Speedy” and his companion truck managed to pass me, as I was tooling along five miles under the speed limit. I SWEAR that I could see his mood brighten as he passed! I was sort of happy for him. Weather permitting, it’s supposed to be a rinse and repeat on Monday. © 2015