Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The wee hours

It's early morning, just before 3 a.m. I've just parked my truck at a shipper in Wauwatosa, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee. My normal routine is to eat some yogurt and get some sleep while being unloaded and loaded. As the forklift goes in and out of the trailer, it rocks my tractor, which has a lulling effect. Every night I am joined by a couple other tractors from a different trucking company. I'm a regular, here 6 mornings a week, but every time this company sends somebody different. Drivers often park in an adjacent lot, which is good. But often they park in my way in the dock area. I either have to wake them to move or explain how things work around here. "You can break your seal, put the papers in back, and back into any of doors 3 through 5. They'll wake you up when they get you unloaded. They don't get here until 3. You probably won't get out of here until after 4." The same spiel. Morning after morning. Sometimes they don't believe me and stay put until they talk to someone inside. Last week a student driver backed into my tractor, gouging the fender. She was a trainee. Her trainer was asleep in the sleeper berth. The trailer continued to move and scrape my fender until I roused from the sleeper berth and blared the horn. This job is monotonous at times, but I like the regular schedule, the steady miles and paycheck. The route passes close to home, so I get to sleep in a bed and have dinner with family each night. Driving third shift sucks. I can never seem to get enough sleep. But it sure beats being unemployed. I make more money than I ever did as a teacher, journalist, dishwasher, or cable technician. Somehow, it doesn't seem right.