Friday, April 22, 2011

Comedy of errors?

Saturday afternoon in January, dry, and dusty, sun’s a-shining and everything is fine. I had picked up a loaded trailer in Detroit going to a car show at Seattle Seahawks Stadium. I was pushing and sweating the weather, so far so good.

I’ve got Pipestone, Lookout and Fourth of July passes behind me. I’m just 165 miles from Seattle, just get over Snoqualmie Pass and it’s downhill from there. I’ll be in there before dark, camp out ’til Monday morning, drop the trailer and go pick up a piece of portable machinery going back to Chicago that pays me an extra two grand above the norm.

Why was I so concerned about the weather? Simple. Delivery time was critical and I kept thinking about that high-dollar load coming out. I had chains as required by law, but I had a few concerns about having to chain up. My chains had been hanging in their racks for 12 years or more. I didn’t know if they were the right size and I couldn’t put them on if I had too because I had full fenders.

So, here I am. I’m about 165 miles from Seattle and I start making one bad decision after another.

My first stupid move, I was just going past a rest area when I noticed my air pressure was down a little. I could have gotten into the rest area … I didn’t. As I continued, the air pressure kept falling off, and the next place I came to where I could get off was an unimproved scenic view turn out overlooking the Columbia River.

I pulled in the turnout and dropped the trailer just in case as I ran out of air. I couldn’t find the problem so I called a mechanic who walked me through a couple things. No luck. I decided I needed a new air compressor and called a local shop. They said they could fly one out of Seattle on a commuter flight. We’ll have it out there around 4 a.m. Sunday.

It’s getting dark so I settle in for the night.

First, I start my genset. I had a habit of running the passenger-side window down to listen to it crank up. I got to listen to it all night because that air window ain’t going back up. No air, remember dummie? So, I tarp-strapped a couple of jackets over the hole. So much for the scenic view, it’s dark as the inside of a cat out there.

The mechanic shows up around 4 a.m., installs new compressor. I still don’t have air. He wastes another couple hours on my clock trying to figure out the problem. I finally sent him packin’.

Sunday morning coming down, I call another mechanic out. I knew when he showed up I was in trouble as his only tools were a brand new set of “made-in-China” open-end wrenches. I think he just came from a flea market. I gave up and called a wrecker who towed me 40 miles back to Moses Lake and set me down in front of a shop.

The man came in Monday morning, crawled under my truck and said there’s something wrong but I can’t figure out what. It suddenly came to me … I know what’s wrong.

A few years back I had an airline plumbed out on the frame to air unload tankers. Didn’t need it anymore, put a plug in it and stuffed it up under the sleeper. The plug came out.

I could have fixed it with vise grips in 10 minutes. By now I felt like I had fell out of a Brain Dead tree and hit every branch on the way down.

That extra two grand, it’s gone.

But not to worry, it won’t look so bad in April when I’m looking for tax deductions. Besides that, everyone knows there is no crying in trucking.