Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A day on the road

I had an interesting (albeit tiring) day today.  I drove to Memphis, where I met two online friends of long standing (and the wife of one of them) for the first time in meatspace.  Traffic was heavy, with all sorts of trucks making life difficult as they passed each other in long lines.  I haven't figured out why truckers can't agree on a steady speed amongst themselves and stick to it.  There's nothing more frustrating than to have a truck doing 50 up a hill, with another truck doing 55 pulling out from behind it to overtake (while slowing down) . . . and a long line of cars that had been doing 70, suddenly forced to slam on the brakes and queue interminably behind the overtaking truck as it takes three or four miles to get past the slower hauler.  It's very frustrating!  Even more frustrating are the heavily-laden trucks that accelerate down hills, going from 50-odd mph up to almost 80, and passing slower traffic in the process, only to decelerate dramatically on the next uphill stretch.  Since they seldom leave the fast lane while performing these yo-yo-like gyrations, getting past them can be an adventure - and an exercise in self-control!

Anyway, I made it to Memphis at last.  At the recommendation of one of my friends, we rendezvoused at what I understand is an institution in that city - The Cupboard restaurant.  It's got quite a reputation for Southern cooking and 'soul food'.  I tried their country fried steak - which, served with brown gravy, proved to be one of the nicest I've had in years - accompanied by Italian spinach, corn pudding and sliced beets, followed by strawberry cobbler.  Yummy!  (So much for my diet . . . )

After the meal, we swapped boxes of ammunition from car to truck and vice versa.  I'd brought along several hundred rounds of .308 Winchester / 7.62x51mm. NATO ammo that was surplus to my requirements, and one of my friends had brought several thousand rounds of .22LR and .22 Magnum ammo.  We did a swap, both of us exchanging what we didn't need for what we did, to our mutual satisfaction.  Combined with other purchases and swaps, I now have a very useful stash of .22LR, enough to support training and plinking needs for some time (plus enough .22 Magnum to keep Miss D.'s PMR-30 in action for quite a while).  Even nicer, it's cost me very little in cash.  Most was obtained by swapping ammo and other things I didn't need, but others wanted, for their excess stocks of rimfire ammo.  Everyone came away happy.  What's not to like?

The drive back was much more tiring than the drive out . . . which may possibly have had something to do with the amount of good Southern food in my tummy!  The trucks were even worse, if possible.  I-40 running through Tennessee is really in need of upgrading to three lanes along its entire length, to deal with the amount of traffic it carries;  but given the costs involved, I don't see that happening anytime soon.  Certainly, on the few sections that did provide a third lane, a long line of cars would zip past heavy commercial trucks at way above the speed limit, trying to get clear of them before the road narrowed again.  At any rate, I got home after about 7½ hours on the road in all, with my fused spine and nerve-damaged leg letting me know in no uncertain terms that they were Not. Happy. With. Me. At. All.

I won't put up additional posts tonight - I'm a tired, aching puppy.  More tomorrow morning.



acairfearann said...

I played leapfrog most of the way across Nevada on US 50 with a truck. Me in a elderly two-door Civic, he in an overloaded 18-wheeler hauling hay. I'd pass him going up the hill at about 40mph, he'd pass me going down hill at about 75mph. I think we were thoroughly tired of each other by the time we hit Fallon, NV at the end of the day.

Ian said...

Truck drivers are the only citizens required to record and produce where they were, and what they were doing for the last seven days including days off, and are legally limited to how many hours they may work. Top it off by being paid by the distance traveled in those limited hours, then traveling at the maximum speed available to them becomes the correct economic policy.

Stopping to eat also is effectively prohibited.

Wraith said...

Ian is absolutely right. Add to that the fact that most company trucks are governed at a certain speed, and the only way to surpass it is to freefall down a get the picture.

It's not a matter of 'agreeing amongst ourselves.' You assume that we have any choice in the matter; we don't. If company drivers had a choice, our trucks would go as fast as the motor, drivetrain and weight would let them...but our opinion means nothing compared to that of a bunch of bean counters who've never seen the inside of a truck, yet think they know better than we, how we should do our jobs.

If you'd like additional information, give me a shout. After 17 years on the road, I can tell you dang near anything about why us truckers do what we do.