Saturday, May 3, 2014

The right tool for the job..

I loaded up a one ton pickup with a pallet of bricks, a loader full of sand, 10 bags of cement, a mixing box, a mixing hoe and two shovels and a couple of buckets. The guys I sent out to do the job about 50 miles away were obviously not the brightest but I figured they could do the work.
It was building a 4 ft square box around a water meter in Knoxville, TN.  They had everything that was required to do the job except for a trowel.  I told them to pick one up at the hardware store on their way down and they left.

Around 6 o'clock they came back from the assignment (4 hours longer than I thought it would take) and I wished them a good weekend without saying anything about it taking them so long.

That weekend I went to clean out the one ton and during the clean out I found out why it took them so long.  In the tools I took out was a tiny trowel that was about 6"s long but no regular sized trowel was in the truck.

Monday, I asked the employee I told to pick up a trowel about it. He stated that a regular size trowel was 13.50 and the small one was only 7.50 and he was concerned with saving me money.  I asked him if he thought it wouldn't have taken so long with the regular sized trowel.  He said that they could have probably done it in half the time.  I asked him to consider how much money his line of thinking cost me and then the light bulb in his brain came on. He said he never thought of that!  I told him that the cost for 2 men working for 4 extra hours probably outweighed the huge savings on the regular sized trowel seeing how I usually bill the customer 30.00 per man hour but this was a contract and time was money.  

Oh well, next time I will have to either go along and hold his hand or spell it out for them in black and white...


Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Adventures of SupaTrucka

So, here ya are. You have finished your training and you have signed a lease for a brand new 2014 shiny new truck. Your trainer had three months experience and you are sure that you now know everything there is to know about trucking. You can see yourself in a year from now owning a fleet of trucks and making a small fortune in the business. Your lease payments are only $900.00 a week so your'e sure that there will be plenty of money left over. The guys in the office told you that you can make $100,000.00 dollars a year with this truck. They seemed like honest folks and your sure they wouldn't lie to you.
So, you get all of your stuff and put it into your new truck.
C.B. radio with a 20,000 watt kicker and a curly cue antennae, check.
 Play station II, check.
 Pajamas to wear into the truck stop, check.
 Those little l.e.d. light to put in your windshield, check.
 G.P.S. to stick to your windshield, check.
Sirius Radio to blast heavy metal music with, check.
Now all we need is a high paying load to go with the new tractor and the easy weekly payments!so we wait for the combination dispatch tool/EOBR to do it's stuff....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Catastrophy of the highest order..part ten

As you drive towards home you think about all the things you have seen since the time the world seemed to come to an end. You have seen the worst of people and the best of people. It seems like the division of good and evil. You either have the good or bad in people come out. Having seen the good things going on in Darlington made you feel lots better about things. Hopefully small communities will be able to come together and shape up a new way of living like they are on their way to doing.
You think that the south will cope way better than the big cities. It's a more simpler way of life down here than up in the metropolitan places like New York. Not that there isn't any folks in New York that can't cope. Upstate New York has a lot of farms and people that are used to the olden ways. As a trucker you have traveled many a mile across this great land and you have see the many farms and fields that seem to be almost self-sufficient. You think about the places that don't have a chance to survive. Los Angeles, San Fransisco, Portland Oregon, Seattle Washington, Detroit Michigan, Atlanta, Georgia, Miami, Florida and some other places. Anywhere there has been gang activity will have very hard hurdles to overcome. Maybe now that there is no law enforcement to speak of they will be able to develop a new sense of order. No more trails and juries to decide if a murderer needs to die. Just a quick bullet to the head or maybe bring back the gallows.
Now maybe the Senators and Congressmen that have sucked this country dry and confused the masses have now been rendered useless. Now they can pack up their bullshit in a sack and try to eat off of that for the next few years. All their money isn't going to do those fat-cats any good now you're thinking. They will be sitting in that big house up there in Washington DC without any electricity or food just like the rest of us.
You are thinking that even with all the tragedy that this has caused it just might be the wake-up call that America needs.
You remember a tale about the second world war. After Japan had decimated Pearl Harbor it was often wondered why the Japanese did not continue their attack on the United States and try to overtake the country. The Dictator of that time knew of the Second Amendment. He figured if he tried to attack the U.S. that he would be up against the biggest army in history. The armed citizens of the U.S. By the time you count all of the hunters and farmers and gun owners in this country, you have an armed assembly of 15,000,000. He was very aware that this attack on the U.S. would have been a losing proposition so the attack was never carried out. He would have been a fool to have tried it.
Now maybe there will be new lawmakers. Not the kind that have political pull but the lawmakers that have actually gotten their hands dirty. Some folks like the ones who were first elected to congress and senate. They were neighbors, friends and businessmen who served their one term and then got the hell out. Politics was never meant to be a career. It was to bring new fresh ideas into the thinking pool every two years. Not to sit up there and suck up the benefits of being an elected official and keep tying up the courts and abusing the system and being corrupted like most have seemed to be through the years.
You are thinking that if a foreign country does come over and try to take the country over that they will be surprised to find an actual "United" States of America.
Your heart goes out to all the folks that the catastrophe has taken a mortal toll on. It's a sad state of affairs you think but in the long run, whoever was responsible will pay the price.
As you mind wonders and ponders all of this, you notice that I-95 is coming up. Another 55 miles takes you to the state line (is there any states anymore?) then it's 15 miles further south, 12 miles west and your are home.
The distance goes by quickly and you are noticing your fellow citizens down here in the south are beginning to adapt. You see lots more activity and it seems like folks are starting to cope with things a lot better. Horses, small scooters, bicycles, wagons and quad runners seem to be the choice of transportation. You even see a Model T running down the interstate and you wonder how many m.p.g. it gets. Probably pretty good you are thinking because of the smaller motor it has. I guess it was a good thing that the owner hung on to it. Anyway, you turn on to the road to home and as you near you blast the air horn. In response you see your wife and children running excitedly over from the carport area.
You gather them up in your arms and you cannot remember ever being so happy in your life and by the way your family is acting neither have they.
You savor the moment for a long while and then you look around your small home and modest parcel of land. You have the confidence that you and your family have what it takes to get a new way of life kicked off. It's sink or swim time and you sure don't plan on sinking.
Welcome home dad!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Catastrophy of the highest order..part nine

You bring it to a stop and set the brakes. She comes over and meets you as you climb out of the cab. She is crying and her face is all swollen and red. You notice how she is very disheveled and the black rings around her eyes. Her dress was flimsy and torn and it looks like she has slept in the same clothes for a week. Her kids are filthy and both red-eyed and crying.
She tells you that her husband has been murdered, they have been robbed, she has been beaten and raped and the children witnessed it all. She asks if she could get a ride into town because their car won't start and she needs medical attention. The phones are also out and have been for two days. She tells you that the robbers had probably taken her husband's money he kept out in the barn in a bunch of mason jars. She is pretty sure that one of the robbers looked familiar and he more than likely knew it was there.
You look at her and your heart goes out to her and her children. You explain to her as best you can about why her car won't start and why the phones don't work. You also tell her that the town she wants to go to will probably not have any hospital that's open but you'll be glad to take her and her kids to town.
She looks back towards her house and then looks at your with pleading eyes and asks if you could please do one thing for her before they left. She explains how her husband has been lying in the floor for two days because she hasn't the strength to do anything with him and could you please help her with it.
At this point she is on the verge of hysterics and you agree to help. After you explain that taking him to town would probably be a bad idea, you both agree that a burial on the farm would be for the best.
You go to the shed and acquire a shovel and she points out the spot where she'd like you to dig his grave.
After a painstaking hour, you have dug a grave that should be sufficient. Without a ruler you can tell that it is deep and wide enough. No time to build a coffin so by the time you have the grave dug she has re-dressed him in some good clothes. You bring him outside and try to lower him into the hole gracefully. That doesn't work out to well so you have to go down and cross his arms and straighten him out a little. You climb back out and she is standing beside the grave with her hands down by her side. Her children are standing there in what you think might be shock. They have just seen their dad murdered, their mom assualted and now they are watching their dad get buried.
She looks up at you again with those pleading eyes and asks if you can please say something for him and offer up a prayer.
You remember a little bit about when you used to go to church so you recite some verses that you might think appropriate. After you finish the eulogy for the man you have never met but just buried, you ask the wife for a glass of water or something cool.
She brings out a small glass of water and explains that is almost all they have because the pump won't work without electricity. You down the glass in one gulp. The digging has left you sweaty and thirsty.
She says while you finish she will go and try to get herself and the kids presentable and pack a couple of things to take with them. She tells you if there is no hospital, she has some friends that she can stay with.
After you fill the grave back up with the sandy soil, she meets you back outside with the kids and a couple of tote bags. She has cleaned herself up and gotten the kids in some clean clothes. You feel so sorry for them and you still wonder about your family back home.
You get them loaded up in the truck, let off the brake and push it on down towards Darlington.
So much for getting home in a couple of hours you think.
You make it to the intersection of 151. There is a convenient store on the corner that is not open and you think to yourself that it's a wonder that it has not been broken into yet. Maybe it has but you can't see any evidence. A few hundred yards down the road you notice a couple of folks on horseback. They look somewhat official and you drive down to where they are.
They are sitting in the parking lot of a long-closed fast food restaurant called "Cindy's". It was a spin off of one of the other similarly named restaurants but it's your guess that it never caught on.
The folks on horseback are both armed and have badges on. You explain what you have just been through and then they notice the wife in the truck. They go and talk to her for a bit. You gather that they are part of a neighborhood militia and they knew the woman in your truck.
They come back and ask if you would be so kind to take her and her kids on down to the auditorium in town. They have set up a temporary shelter down there and they tell you that the woman and her kids will receive aid at that location.
You comply with their request and take them on down into town. As you pass by the raceway you think that there will probably never be another race held there. At least not this year.
You arrive at the auditorium and you notice that the community has set up a care shelter for all the folks in the county. There were lots of folks moving things around. Some of them had horse drawn buggys bringing in barrels of water and bags of food and others in older type cars and four wheelers were bringing in blankets, cots and other supplies. Generators had been set up and emergency lights and power were keeping the folks in electricity and giving them hope.
A lot of the residents from the local nursing homes had made their way there. One of the buggys was actually bringing in some port-o-lets.
You were thinking about how everything has gone back to the old days in a hurry. You watched and you learned about how people were setting themselves up to survive and you needed to get home to get your survival plan up and running.
The woman can't tell you enough how thankful she is and plants a kiss on your cheek. You tell her she's welcome and you watch her as you pull away. She is standing there with her two children and you hope that your wife and kids are not having to go what she just did. "God bless them" you think, and you start grabbing gears towards home again.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Catastrophy of the highest order..part eight we have the ole girl in gear and she's running good. The load is light and you have the ears laid back and rolling hard down highway 1. State route 52 is just past Cheraw and then the state park to go through. Continue south to 15 and through Hartsell. This puts you just west of Darlington. You know the area and most of the roads are two lane but very un-inhabitated.
You are concentrating hard on the road signs thru the park. Lots of switchbacks and a few hills that make you want to drop that trailer and let it all out. But, you hang on to it. Heck, you never know. It might happen to come in real handy back home.
It had been a while since you had come through Cheraw but you do remember a way around it. It was not that big of a city but you remember it having an airport at the outside of town. You could either run east over to Bennetsville or go through Cheraw.
Time and fuel and safety. These are all the things that you are calculating in your head, hoping to make the right decision. Time and fuel tells you to blast through Cheraw but safety tells you to go through Bennetsville. The attitude in your head agrees with time and fuel and you decide come hell or high water that you were gonna be home inside of 3 hours. You make the right hand fork down highway 9 and put it in the wind hard and heavy to Cheraw.
You see the "Welcome to Cheraw" sign and the social activities sign that states how they have a lions club, kiwanis club and all other kinds of cultural clubs. Then you see the speed limit sign that tells you that 35 m.p.h. is the Maximum speed, how it's strictly enforced and controlled by radar and blah blah blah.
Seeing h0w there isn't any cop cars that are running at the present time you are not too awfully worried about breaking the speed limit. You would check your speedometer if it was working but with no electronics you just have to give it an educated guess. The closest you could estimate was around 70. That was in 13th gear running about 1350 r.p.m.
You come up towards the center of town and around a long sloping curve. The road is four lane thru town with a median, parking on the side and large sidewalks and no trees to speak of. The non-operating red lights seem eerie to you but so does the lack of any other traffic. You have seen some folks standing around store fronts but up to this point not many. They were all surprised to see anything moving and would probably have loved to ask you some questions. You are sure that they are as just in the dark as you are so you feel no need or urge to stop and chit chat.
Up ahead you do see the same scenario as before in the previous town. People camped out in front of the local grocery store making the most out of all the food that was inside. Lots of folks had carts loaded up and were pushing them away. Probably out to their homes or taking them to other folks that needed it. Maybe some of them could be good Samaritans and be bringing the much needed suppies to hospital or local nursing home. You thought that would be nice and you let that though run through your head for a bit. It gives you a bit of comfort to think that something nice might just be happening instead of all the bad things you have witnessed.
Anyway, you have business to take care of. The end of town is in sight and you are glad that no one has seen fit to try to stop you. Just as you had thought. Nobody was wanting to chase down or try to stop a speeding semi-truck.
A bridge at the end of town more or less signals the end of the commercial district and after you cross it the sides of the roads turn into fields and pastures with barns and farmhouses.
About 25 miles on down the road the terrain starts to flatten out even more. You push it a little harder and you estimate your speed to be around 85. You have gotten over to highway 15. Staying on 52 would have ran you into Darlington and Florence. This little by-pass would run you across 152 but north of Darlington and well away from any populace.
Up ahead, about 10 miles away from that intersection something catches your eye. Outside of a small cottage, a woman is standing out in the road. Beside her are two small children and both of them seem distressed. She was wearing a white dress but was now mostly red. She is blocking the road by standing directly in the center of it and waving her arms frantically while jumping up and down.
You wonder what to do. What if this is the very same thing that is happening to your wife and children right now? What if they are in harms way? These thoughts are combating themselves in your mind because if you stop, you are taking away from your family if they are in trouble and possibly putting them in danger. Also if you stop how could you help. As far as you know there isn't any hospitals you could take them too. Shouldn't you just count them as casualties and keep moving? On the other hand, wouldn't you want someone to help your wife and kids if they were in this kind of predicament? What would happen if they didn't get out of the way. Would you just run them over?
Wait a minute!!! Did you just actually think that? Have you become that kind of person too?
Now you are deeply ashamed of yourself and you begin the process of gearing down to see if you can offer any assistance.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Catastrophy of the highest order..part seven

"Welcome to South Carolina" the sign says. It also states how it's the 'palmetto state'. "Too bad palmetto's aren't edible" you think to yourself. You are a bit hungry. You had planned on asking the store owner for some food to take with you on your trip home but whoever did the owner in took care of that idea. Having food available has never seemed to be a problem before. Not in this country anyway. There has always been a place to grab something to eat. All you had to do was pull in a place, exchange some currency for some substanance and be on your way. The proprieters were always happy to see you and provide you with this very basic necessity. " I guess you never miss the water till the well runs dry" you think. Then you think about water. As you keep thinking you think that it might bode you well not to think to damn much and concentrate on gettin home.
You see a wide spot on the side of the road up ahead and pull over to check out your cabinets. Not that there were gonna be anyone speeding past you but you don't think about that. Better safe than sorry. You know that you had some cans of stuff put away but you couldn't remember exactly what they were. You find a half full (or could it be half empty now) 32 oz water bottle from a few days ago. A small can of diced peaches with a pop-top catches your eye so you pop the top and swallow the whole can down in two gulps. You take the cap off the water bottle and turn it up to kill it but you catch yourself about halfway through. "Better conserve it" you think "Not sure where the next bit of water might be coming from". So you cap it off and place it beside your seat. You now think about how you need to protect it. You wonder how something so simple as a bottle of water now has gotten all of your attention. You suddenly realize that the water bottle and the small amount of what it holds is probably worth way more than money right now. How strange it is that your values can change so quickly. You are thinking your way into a frenzy but it's problems that will quickly be needing to be addressed. You just need some time to think is all.
Before you take off you grab a stick off of the side of the road and stick it down in the tank to take a measure of the fuel level. The bypassing of the E.C.M. has left all the guages, lights and warning buzzers unworking and that included the fuel gauge. The stick comes back with about 12 inches of the bottom of it wet. Plenty of fuel to get on home and then some. With both of the tanks registering that much you should have at least 60 gallons and that should take you around 350-400 more miles.
You check the map and you see that there will be some populated places that you will be traveling through. You think about the way those people at the grocery store looked at you and the folks in the wagon. You are still glad that you have decided to bring along the trailer. A larger vehicle is more intimidating than just a bobtail. It also helps with the stability and the weight. You are thinking that if you have to ram your way through a road block or run a barrage of bullets, the trailer will protect your head and also add to the momentum to push you through and past obstacles. If you can speed through the bigger towns and cities quickly and in a big ass hurry you will have taken them totally by surprise. Seeing how there is no fuel available the chances of someone chasing you and burning all of theirs up would be slim to none.
So, this is your plan of attack then. Hit the towns hard and fast and get on by. No one needs to know where your going, where you have been or what you are hauling and you don't plan on stopping from here on in. Home is now only three hours away if you push it and you can't wait to get there.
With a determind look on your face and a little bit of an attitude, you release the brakes and commence to lay that hammer down.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Catastrophy of the highest order..part six

It was around 9 o'clock and you were making pretty good time rolling down the four lane. Out in the country like this even on a regular day traffic was real sparse. You think that you'll be home in a short short.
What you didn't know, and what you don't have the resources to find out, is that a electro-magnetic pulse had hit the U.S. A terrorist group had detonated nuclear warheads 100 miles above the earth's atmosphere in 3 critical locations. The results were that it knocked out the power grid immediately and fried all the electronic components in every piece of machinery and communication device. There is no way that you will be able to find out the horrors that it has caused or is about to cause. A few of the passenger jets that were above the atmosphere weren't affected but the control towers were. Some of them landed safely without any ground guidance but others simply ran out of fuel trying to find a clearing or an open runway and crashed. Others that were in the process of taking off or landing had their guidance and control electronics compromised and just crashed. No rescue vehicles were able to respond because they were rendered useless also. A lot of tragedy had gone on during the first few hours of the crisis. What also happened and what was happening was the people in this country who were insulin dependent had their medication compromised. Insulin loses it's shelf life after 1 day from not being refrigerated. At this very moment thousands of people were going into diabetic shock and not recovering from it. These and lots of other sad stories are things that you don't know or realize right now. If you put thought to the matter you'd probably figure it out. However there was no way that Ann Curry or Matt Lauer could pass the information on to you or anyone else. What you also didn't know was that the power grid wasn't going to come back on for a long time. It was going to take about 3 years to even establish one again and that would be just for the metropolitan areas. Maybe they will redesign the grid to become pulse-resistant in the next application. But right now at this moment, you are left to figure that out all on your own. Could the U.S. be under attack right now? How could you know if it was or not. What about all the people in nursing homes? Who would bring them their medication or food? How could they survive without care, medication and nourishment? Thinking of death makes you wonder what or who would take care of the bodies that are bound to be piling up. There most certainly won't be any ambulances to carry anyone away nor will there be any morticians in business if they couldn't be paid to carry out an internment. There is now not any money to be had and even if they were, what good would it do you? No one is going to want money now. What they will be wanting is food, shelter and water. How are they going to get those items? There is already rioting in the bigger cities and the shelves in every grocery store within a 50 mile radius is bare to the walls. Employees of the stores had been killed and ran over top of. Even some of the looters who had made off with the goods were killed for the food they had just stolen. It was bad and getting worse quickly.
You wonder about your sustainability and how you will be providing for your family. These are thoughts that are boggling your mind as your continue your drive home.
Just as you wonder about how you are going to be taking care of your family, you see some folks up ahead taking care of theirs.
A group of people had set up a make-shift camp in a parking lot of a grocery store and had gas grills and coolers set up all around. There were a few all terrain quad cycles, a few tables and chairs set out and a few tents. It was obvious that they were taking care of the food supply that had been in side the I.G.A. supermarket. That was probably a pretty good idea to cook all the perishable meats before they spoiled because that would make them last longer. You also notice that there is a camp-fire set up right in the middle of the lot with some of the meat on a type of a pyre. You hope that it's meat out of the store and not from some other source. As you draw closer you notice that there are some armed spotters in each of the corners of the parking lot. Two members of the community are each setting on a quad-runner making a total of eight of them. You guess that this party is by invitation only and you're not invited. Everyone gives you a curious look but no one is threatening you and you pass quickly on by.
"So that's what I have to look forward to later on" you think. You wonder how close knit the community you have just passed will become once the food in the grocery story reaches a very low level. Only time will tell you think.
You are still thinking about all of this and how it's going back home.. You are now getting ready to cross the state line into South Carolina. It's eleven o'clock.