Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ready, set…

We met up with Aboy’s cousin and her husband. It was nice to see a familiar face. We caught up on life, had some lunch and parted ways. The truck was being loaded while we were visiting and by time they were ready to leave, the truck was done and we were ready to go too. We had been in Houston for close to 5 or 6 hours… it was now rush hour.

It’s a 4 hour (or so) ride from Houston to Dallas. Any major metro you go to in the nation – you’re going to hit traffic. Add in people that stop in the fast lane because someone is trying to merge onto the interstate in the right lane – makes a new breed of clusterfuck. I give Aboy a lot of credit – he only blew his horn 3 times, cursed out 2 people and flipped the bird, once. Not bad – considering, I probably would have ran someone off the road. 

People in cars have the need to jump out in front of an 80,000 pound vehicle and then slow down.  It takes a little extra time for a tractor trailer to stop – but, they don’t teach you that when you take your road test around orange cones.  When we pass the culprits – I just look down in their vehicle and shake my head (the look on my face  is screaming “You’re a dumbass!”) I would make some Italian hand gestures – but Houston does have a gang problem and they may think I’m throwing up gang signs or something.

We got past the traffic. Aboy asked me did I want to drive.  What the hell, right?  So, with the truck in cruise control, Aboy stood up and I scooted in the seat. He set it for 65 mph and all I really had to do was keep his big ass truck between the lines. Not so hard. 

I drove for about 30 minutes. Aboy drives a flatbed, meaning the load is open and held down with straps. There are a lot more things to worry about with a flatbed than there is when you’re pulling a 53 foot box (correct industry term: Van).  You have to make sure the straps are not flapping around, shit is not hanging off the edges and the load stays stable (open loads tip easier). I think I did well.  I didn’t lose the load and I stayed between the lines – that’s most of the battle right there!

It is a different feeling driving a tractor trailer than driving a car. First, the view is different. You’re sitting about 10 feet in the air. Not only can you see for miles in front of you – you can look in people’s cars. Second, you can feel the power of the truck and the weight of the load you’re pulling. Third, the load is attached by a hinge (correct industry term: 5th wheel). If you’ve ever pulled a boat or a small trailer, you know if you jerk the wheel, it will make what you’re towing, sway. Finally, you’re always in “pay attention” mode. Staying in lane is harder than you think!

Once I do get my CDL, I think I’ll save all the hard stuff for Aboy.  He’s an expert at backing up. He’s an expert at traffic. I’m very competitive by nature but don’t have to prove anything when I have someone that’s riding with me that can handle all the stuff that can cause agita[i]. Besides, I think I look kind of cute sitting in the passenger seat playing on my laptop J

[i] Origin of AGITA

S Italian dialect pronunciation of Italian acido, literally, heartburn, acid, from Latin acidus
A feeling of anxiety or agitation.
Sounds like: Ahh - Jih - Tuh

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