After finishing our 34-hour reset and renewing our 70-hour clocks, we set out for the next shipper to pick up our load. When we got there, the trailer we were picking up was arranged in a way that we couldn’t hook up to it with the truck. So we called a “yard dog” to come move the trailer. They use special vehicles that are small and agile to move trailers precisely, so getting the trailer out would be no problem for them. But this yard dog had an attitude, apparently pissed off that he had to do his job and that we couldn’t angle our way in there with our big truck like he could with his little tractor. When he angled the trailer out, he barely moved it, forcing us to come way too close to the trailer in front of it if we wanted to reach ours. Rather than having my teammate cause an accident by scraping against a trailer, I climbed out and spoke with the yard dog.
“Do you think you could move it out a little further?” I asked.
He scoffed. “You can’t get your truck in there?”
“I could, but at an angle, and it would take a lot more work to avoid hitting these other trailers. You can do it in a short moment and we’ll be on our way much sooner.”
He shook his head, put down his phone, and jammed his tractor into gear, obviously annoyed that he had to put aside Candy Crush in order to do his job. But he moved the trailer sufficiently, so I was satisfied, and we left the shipper without incident.
Later that night (or rather, quite early this morning), my partner was driving through the mountains and had to take a break, so he tried to pull into a rest area that was completely full of trucks. So full that he couldn’t clear the on-ramp with his tractor and trailer and was blocking the entryway for other drivers. But instead of pulling out, he parked it in the middle of the ramp to go use the restroom, determined to use the rest area rather than park on the side of the road. As he exited the truck, another trucker yelled at him, saying he couldn’t park there because he was blocking the whole rest area and causing a traffic jam. Because of the way he’d positioned himself behind the trailer in front of him, my partner couldn’t easily get around and exit the rest area, so he was forced to drive up over the curb and onto the grass in order to get by, leaving long, muddy gouges. He pulled to the roadside about a quarter mile down the road and stopped, grinding the bumper against the guardrail in the process. He checked for damage (there was none), then used the restroom in the grass, all the while complaining about the other drivers.
I took over driving a bit later, realizing that we hadn’t traveled far enough during my partner’s clock to reach our destination on time. Even if I was going 70 I wouldn’t make it in time, and I was limited to 65mph. I informed dispatch of the issue and they adjusted our delivery appointment accordingly, though not without chiding us for poor time-management. I made the delivery 45 minutes late, and got on with my day.
Following this, there was another Amazon pick-up headed back to Pennsylvania, just like before. Another 700 miles, which I was glad to receive. But it wasn’t available for pick-up until six, so we had to spend a few hours resting at a truck stop. I took a shower (I suggested my partner take advantage of the opportunity for a free shower, but he declined), got some sleep, and felt recharged afterwards. I was glad for the rest; my partner had nothing but complaints. When he discovered that we were heading right back to PA again, he complained even more.
“We aren’t dedicated drivers, we’re Over The Road drivers. We’re not supposed to do dedicated routes, so why are they sending us this way? This is not what I signed up for.”
Well, he was right about one thing: we aren’t dedicated drivers. But that doesn’t mean we’re always going to have different routes and never run repeats. See, here’s how it’s broken down: when you are a truck driver, you can work different types of routes, each with different levels of restrictions for the routes you’ll drive.
Local drivers are the most restricted, and only drive loads to and from their hometown and nearby areas.
Dedicated drivers are the second most constricted, driving the same route over and over, but typically over a longer distance.
Regional drivers are the third most restricted. They drive all kinds of different routes in their assigned region of the United States, but never leave their region.
Finally, Over The Road (OTR) drivers are the least restricted drivers in the fleet, capable of handling any load, anywhere in the USA. But this does not mean they will never get a load that one of the other three route types would get. In truth, it means they can take any load any other route type could take, and more! So an OTR driver can drive local, dedicated, regional and OTR loads.
My partner and I are OTR drivers. Which means that occasionally we might wind up driving a dedicated run for a while. While my partner might complain about it, this is only because he doesn’t understand that this is exactly what he signed up for. When our reality does not meet our expectations, we suffer. My partner expected something different, so he suffers. I knew what I was signing up for, so I do not suffer. (Though I didn’t expect I’d get stuck with a guy who whines about every load he gets, so perhaps I do suffer, just a little.)
The load was ready at 5.
“I’m tired of this bull crap,” my partner declared, as he pulled out from the shipper. “I’m only going to drive nine hours. Then I’m gonna stop somewhere, take an hour-long shower, and do whatever else I feel like doing.”
With this, he hit the road, wind in his hair and scowl on his face. I retired to the sleeper, eager to get some rest before he quit driving at 2am, and hoping he made enough miles in his nine hours to get us there on time.