Monday, August 30, 2010

Peace and Quiet

That's what I'm hearing, peace and quiet. We're all moved, and I'm sitting on the back deck of our "cottage" listening to the wind in the trees. That and the occasional sound of some piece of construction equipment backing up, you know that high-pitched "beep, beep, beep". It is so easy to sleep late up here, because we don't have the sounds of: traffic, sirens, lawn mowing equipment, trains, drawbridges going up and down...all things we had back in the big city, where we lived right on the river, smack dab in the heart of the downtown, with a railroad track on one side, and the river on the other. There were days when I'd get stopped in the middle of the bridge, with the drawbridge up, waiting for a freighter to go through, only to get stopped by a train the minute I got over the bridge. The worst was when you'd get over the bridge, but then couldn't turn into the apartment complex where we lived for another 3 or 4 traffic light cycles because of the backed up traffic. I was always tempted to drive across the grass those times, the parking lot was so close you could taste it. Oh and then there were the rare times when I actually got stopped by the same train multiple times trying to make it home across various tracks precariously situated on my route. Yeah, I'm not gonna miss it.

I came to a deep, profound conclusion this week: Moving sucks! Not only that, but it sucks worse every time we do it! It doesn't help that we never want to pay anyone to move us, so we always do it ourselves. It seems as though every time we move, we prolong the agony more and more. This particular move was spread out over 3 or 4 days and it was awful! Saturday was the final day (except for the last unloading) and it was also our wedding anniversary (12 years!). Mr. Trucker had the job of loading up those last little items that never seem to box easily, but are such a pain to move (like a KitchenAid mixer), while I cleaned the apartment. We were determined to finish it all in one day so as not to spend another night on the floor, but it was 11:00 p.m. by the time we locked the door for the last time, and we still had a two hour drive to the cottage. You should have seen us shuffle into Subway at 11:30 p.m. for our supper. We must have looked about 80! Every square inch of my body hurt so I was moving pretty slowly and Mr. Trucker's ankles were killing him from the up and down the ramp into the U-Haul and the few stairs into the apartment. I told him we should just move right into the nursing home so that we'd never have to move again, but he reminded me that we can't afford to live there. Darn! When we finally fell into bed at 1:00 a.m., I declared that I was never getting out of bed again.

The good news is that (hopefully) this will be our last move, other than moving things out of the trailer into the garage when we finally build, then back into our new home, which shouldn't be too bad. I have to keep reminding myself that's why we're doing this, so that we can have a real home again, albeit a tiny one, one that's all paid for.

We're leaving soon to drive down to Mondovi for orientation at our new trucking company. It'll be fun to go to orientation with my beloved. We've never gone to school together before. I'll have to pass him notes during class and see if I can get him in trouble.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On The Move

You should have heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Trucker household the last two days...and THAT was just Mr. Trucker. I think he'd rather have a root canal with a rusty butter knife and no anesthesia than pack up and move. His procrastination gland was acting up something fierce yesterday; consequently we didn't finish loading the U-Haul and had to sleep on the floor. I'd rather have that root canal than sleep on the floor. Ugh!

Today, I had to have a laser procedure on my left eye, so we took some time out for that and finished loading up. It's hard to believe we have so much stuff after we already once went through the process of "downsizing" from a four bedroom house to a little two bedroom apartment. It only makes us more determined to pare, pare pare. We really want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle once we come off the road for good. I think it goes without saying that we'll be living minimally in the truck!

I had my first two comments, which thrilled me no end! Of course one of them was my big brother, does that still count? But the other comment was anonymous and filled with the cynicism that could only come from someone who's been around the block a few times in this trucking industry game. My commenter pointed out that he'll be surprised if Mr. Trucker's employer actually pays him for his week of vacation (which is also, as I pointed out in my last post, his last actual paid week working for them). Well, we have yet to see if they'll pay him, which they darn well better! However, they have managed to screw us over in another matter.

Apparently, if you don't give two weeks' notice when leaving one trucking company to go to another, it goes down as a black mark on your DAC report, some "blacklist" that trucking companies keep on drivers to keep you from committing some big no-no and then trying to just go work someplace else. So, we give two weeks' notice, the final week of which is Mr. Trucker's legitimate paid vacation, which he has coming to him, and which was scheduled prior to his giving his notice. Furthermore, Mr. Trucker took time on Monday, the first day of his vacation, to drive 30 miles to the terminal to hand over his keys and his Driver Reference Guide and be "processed" out, thinking he was being a nice guy and letting them have their truck early, rather than waiting till the following Monday, which would have been his last official day of employment. Mind you, none of this time is paid, as trucker's generally only get paid for the miles that truck is in motion.

So what does said company do? They put him down as terminating on Monday the 21st and cancel our health insurance as of that date, even though he is on the payroll until the 30th. We didn't find this out until today when we arrived at the eye doctor to have my laser procedure, the second of a two part procedure (the right eye was done two weeks ago) and by the way, this is NOT Lasix, but a surgery for a pre-glaucoma condition. When Mr. Trucker called the benefits department at his company, they confirmed that they are no longer deducting for his health insurance and that it cancelled on the 21st, the day he is listed as exiting. This is just wrong! He gave a two week notice, as expected, and his last day will be the 30th, so he just happened to turn his truck in early as a favor to them. It made us think he shouldn't have given notice at all, but then he would have gotten the big black mark on his DAC report, so it's like they screw you either way!

I'd love to write more, but I'm riding in a bumpy U-Haul, as we take our stuff up north, and the light is fading fast. We will store our belongings at our "cottage", and I use that term in a very loose sense, as it is nothing more than an OLD beat-up trailer with windows that don't seal, a floor that slants, and little critters living in it...but the garage is big and well-built. Basically, a typical Wisconsin cottage: A wonderful garage filled with boats but a trailer for living in.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Well kids, get ready for the adventure! This blog blasts off soon! This week we're busy packing and moving out of our apartment, but on Tuesday we attend orientation at Mr. Trucker's new company and then we're off in our new home to deliver refrigerated goods so you can all eat! Save this url as a favorite, and tune in regularly. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss 10 bucks goodbye! OK, I'm kidding about the ten bucks part.

Today, Mr. Trucker is getting a haircut, and doing battle with our cell phone carrier, who LIED to us when we got our new phones and data plan!!! Don't you hate big business? It's so maddening, cuz now we're roped into a new 2 year contract and we're past the 30 day window to cancel. Mr. Trucker went down to the apartment manager's office to use their fax machine about an hour ago and I'm beginning to wonder what's taking him so long. Aside from the usual, which is that he could talk the hind leg off a mule... One of my jobs for today is to try to figure out how to create a Distribution List from the contacts in my email address directory, so that I can send out a group email giving everybody the pertinent info on how to tune into my blog and stay updated.

Can you think of anything more exciting than this adventure, or do you think we're out of our friggin' minds? We'll be living together in a space the size of our bedroom closet, with no running water or toilet, seeing the country from the interstate and (hopefully) living to tell the tale. I went out for the entire month of July with Mr. Trucker, as well as for two weeks in May, and I must say we did pretty well. Aside from the fact that this is the hottest summer in history and living in that semi truck is like living in a sardine can over a bed of hot coals! I'm not even kidding! That is the biggest reason we're switching companies. Mr. Trucker's recent employer doesn't believe driver comfort is a priority and the only way to run the air conditioning in his current truck is to be in motion, or to idle. Of course they don't want you to idle, cuz it costs them more money, they'd apparently rather you just cook to a nice, slow death. Mr. Trucker started asking for a new truck with an APU (ooh, my first piece of "trucking" jargon, it stands for Auxiliary Power Unit--which would allow us to run air conditioning and a little refrigerator and microwave)about 4 or 5 months ago. They just ignored him for the first couple of months, then when he started to insist that he needed this, his dispatcher told him "this is the first I've heard of it". He uses that line a lot when he doesn't want to deal with something.

When we were out in July, they found out that Mr. Trucker had applied elsewhere and finally started to offer him a series of, let's just say less than satisfactory alternative trucks. The first of these was trashed inside and the mattress looked like it had been used in a brothel, so we politely declined. The second truck LOOKED quite a bit better and we had gone so far as to move our stuff over into it, all the while hoping the odd smell would go away, when we discovered that it was infested with cockroaches. I am NOT making this up! The odd smell was the bug spray that the previous driver had sprayed all over the surfaces everytime he saw a pest, possibly not knowing that they were cockroaches and couldn't be killed by bug spray alone. We got the heck out of Dodge quick before the little critters could move into our cardboard boxes and informed the company that we couldn't live with that. Do you know that they left that truck in the terminal lot in Gary, IN and recently gave it to a driver for two weeks as a temporary loaner while HIS truck was fixed. Mr. Trucker happened into this driver down in Gary last week and got the whole story.

Finally, a week into Mr. Trucker's two week notice of termination, the company came up with an "acceptable" truck (I use that term in the loosest sense), but Mr. Trucker felt it was too little too late. Our new truck with the new company will have an APU and, we believe, a second, upper bunk (good for storage if nothing else) and an air ride passenger seat. So Mr. Trucker is on his week of vacation, which is his last week with above-mentioned "company" and we'll be ready to start this adventure with a new truck and hopefully a better company.