He walked on the water and swam on the land
-"Jesus Was Way Cool", King Missile
Roger and I made into Reno around 11am on Sunday morning. We didn't have to be in Benicia, CA until Monday at 8am so we opted for some gambling at the Boomtown Casino right on the border. The gambling gods were not nice to me... I 'd have a nice run every now and then at the blackjack tables, and then it'd all go to hell. Seems to be my luck the past few times I've been. I had a good time, regardless, but I have a geat time when I win.
We headed out of Reno around 10:30pm and struck out across Donner Pass on I-80. After two years at doing this, this was my frist drive over Donner. I guess that makes me a real truck driver now or something. It was dry and clear plus our load was light, so it was no trouble. We got into Benicia around 1am and hit the sack.
Monday morning we made our stops in Benicia, Livermore, and San Jose then called it a day. It was only 3pm so I made tracks for Santa Rosa, home to democritus and psycat90. The alcohol, food, and conversation was welcome after battling the traffic on U.S. 101 between San Quentin and Santa Rosa. My gracious hosts fed me, gave me liquor, and even managed to find a bar where we could smoke! How.... civilized. All these public smoking laws are annoying enough, but c'mon... the bars? I digress. I had a really good time over the course of an evening filled with pirates, screaming homeless people, and a palm tree lit like a Christmas tree complete with star on top. I also learned that Santa Rosa was the home of Charles Schultz. All of that plus making the acquaintance of two really cool, fun, and nice people. I will definitely look forward to coming back to the area again.
But, like every good VH-1 Behind the Music episode.... and then disaster struck.
The plan had been for me to return to the truck later in the evening and Roger would drive us over to Sacramento. Earlier in the day, we had gotten in a rather fierce argument over his current state of abilities. See, the traiing department had notified me at the end of last week that I could drop him off for processing at the next terminal I went by. But my thoughts are, he's not ready. He can drive a truck... he's been able to handle the truck since the day he came aboard. But the actual skills of operating the vehicle are only a fraction of the total skills needed to function out here every day. Things like planning, organization, following directions, and digesting trip information as it arrives to the truck at various stages over the satellite are all skills in which Roger is still deficient. We got into it yesterday afternoon over this and he went on a tirade about how well he can drive and back and (occasionally) find his way without any help and that in his opinion he was ready to be dropped of at a terminal. His standard argument ahs been that he "could've" done better if he had just planned it better... blah blah blah. In other words, "I can do it, I just didn't do it". I keep telling him he needs to show this hidden ability to me. I'm not just going to take his word on it. So yesterday afternoon I told him that, since he is so confident in his ability to take complete responsibility for the truck, that I would back off and give him the chance to prove, one way or the other, where his abilities stand. I'm merely a fly on the wall. Beginning in Santa Rosa last night was to be the start of this test of his ability.
So back to last night. I returned to the truck and Roger was taking a nap. He woke up when I entered the truck, so I asked him if he was going to get up and drive now or if he wanted me to set an alarm for morning. I also offered to drive it myself so he could start fresh in the morning in Sacramento, which would've involved me sleeping off some of the alcohol first. Incidentally as a side bar, the legal limits for intoxication for commerical drivers is much more severe than the common driver. In most states, the legal limit these days is .08... for commerical drivers it's .04. Yeah, basically if you've smelled some liquor you're legally drunk. Anyway, Roger said that he was going to head out right then and got up. I asked him, since I was essentially turning over the truck to him, if he had any final questions about anything before he started. He said no, so I crawled into the bunk and zonked out while he began preparing for his trip.
Fifteen minutes later he wakes me up. He can't figure out how to get back on the freeway from the Target we were parked in. This is no big deal, a lot of freeway exits in metropolitan areas can have very convoluted ramps for returning to the freeway. I climbed up front and watched him figure it out, which to his credit I must say he handled rather well. So I went back to bed.
Two hours later I'm being woke up again. We're sitting somewhere in the Oakland area. Roger had missed his turn off of U.S. 101 that would've taken him over to Vallejo and I-80. With the torrential rains and mists and fog and traffic he missed it. Instead of finding a way to going back along the route he planned, made the assumption that, upon seeing I-580 at the end of U.S. 101, he could just work his way back that way.
There is an ounce of truth to that, but he didn't take into account the issue of tolls. See in the San Francisco area, it's free to get into the bay area over the bridges, but there's a toll to get out. Kinda like New Jersey, just on a smaller scale. He decided to pull over finally at the exit just before the birdge on I-80 that leaves the bay area, just north of Oakland. He relays all of his trouble and turmoil to me, with blanket excuses about the weather and condition of the roads. Now here is where you think I am being harsh. Yes the weather was rough, but he is a professional driver, one who had just told me that afternoon that he was ready and I was just being nit-picky about his abilities. Roger broke two cardinal rules about route planning: 1) plan your route and stick to the route, 2) if for some reason option 1 becomes impossible; STOP and re-plan your route... don't go off half-cocked about it.
So here we sat with a dilema because, I didn't have any cash on me for the toll. I told Roger that he would have to find some place he could get the truck into with an ATM machine. And I left it at that... we ended up on some hilly, curvy backwoods road we had no business being on and by some incredible luck he found a place to turn around and we ended up being back at the exact same spot about an hour later. He then proceeded to make his way back to Oakland and, with a little help from me, found a convenience store open.
Now here's where my blunder made things worse I apparently overdrew on my bank account when in Reno the previous day. I had money sitting in my savings account but no way to access it from the ATM machine. This was when I took over. With no toll money, there was only one option... drive down I-580 over to Stockton then back up to Sacramento... a 3 hour drive. His missing a turn back in Novato, CA had now made a two hours drive into a SIX HOUR ORDEAL. Since I felt partially responsible for not having the cash to get him across the toll bridge, plus the fact aht he would have to get some rest to drive today, I took over (any lingering alcohol buzz now long gone) and finally got us to the customer in Sacramento by 5am.
So now we're in Ukiah, making our second and last stop for the day. Roger is sitting beside me talking aloud trying to plan his route. He's already making obvious errors that is going to screw this up. For one, the next customer we have to deliver to in the morning is in Medford, OR. The trip information in our onboard computer has told us plainly that there are no computerized directions available for this customer, so a phone call will have to be made. Since it's going on 3pm, if he doesn't do it within the next hour or so, he's not going to know where in Medford he has to be in the morning. The other thing is that we have to stop in Redding, CA and check out tire chains before entering Oregon. He has taken care to check into this situation, but he hasn't taken enough care to determine where exactly in Redding he's supposed to stop, and I know he's gonna blow right by it. He also only has 1/4 tank of fuel with at least 150 miles to drive before we got to Redding, which is ample... but if he misses it and it takes him too long to realize it, it could wind up being a problem.
Well I'll be damned... he just figured out a few of these things. Of course he's been sitting here for an hour since getting unloaded here in Ukiah... but at least he's taking his time. Maybe he'll pull this off after all. Should be a fun night. I won't get to post this entry until we get to Redding... so I will know the outcome by the time I post this... but after we finally get there, I may not feel like completing the story until later. Pray for my sanity, I'm going to go take a nap since there's a good chance I'll have to bail him out again tonight.