March 13th, 2007


Mr. Programmer, I've got my hammer

he final week with LARM was a doozy. We left Frankfort, KY on Tuesday morning and were in Seattle by Thursday. By Sunday morning we were in Atlanta.

Coming out of the deep south and bound for New Jersey, the solenoid went bad in the transmission and I lost my low range of gears. Not a huge deal as I was highway driving, but not a lot of fun pulling a 42,000 pound load when I had to get off the interstate for a detour in Baltimore. I told dispatch I could take it as far as Allentown, PA but then they needed to find someone to finish taking it to the customer: there's no way I was going to try manuevering and backing that heavy of a load in the high-range reverse.

I got here around 06:00 and passed the trailer off to the driver who would finish the delivery then took a nap for a few hours. Earlier, LARM had been given approval to exit training and process out to get his own truck. We went for breakfast and I tidied up some of the loose ends of his training then I handed him over to the training department at the terminal. I was due for my annual review, which involved a good amount of routine corporate bullshit that tied me up for a couple of hours.

I had turned-in my repair request to the shop that morning but still hadn't heard anything. I checked with the shop foreman and was assured I was at the "top of the list". It was after 19:00 before they finally got the truck into the shop. They can't get the parts for it until tomorrow afternoon so here I sit. The good news is, it's a relatively cheap and quick fix. I'll be heading home this weekend, then plan to work until Easter. Over the course of those three weeks, I'm planning to spend some time in the Omaha area getting my windshields replaced as well as a water pump. Finally, I'm going to get the alignment done on Sally as well.

Lately I've been giving some serious consideration to ditching this lease agreement and purchasing a truck. I've considered a new one, but the thought of a 60 month or more term with payments much higher than what I have now doesn't sit well with me, even for the promise of less repair headaches for the next couple of years. This truck will be paid for in another year.

What irks me though is that by the time I'm done paying for the truck, I'll have paid nearly twice what it's worth. At first this didn't bother me, I've known this from the beginning. The reason I accepted this lease is because I was unsure if I even wanted to be an owner/operator, and the lease is pretty much no strings attached. If I want out, I just take them the truck back. I'm out the money I've paid every month, but I'm not stuck with a truck and loan. After doing it for nearly a year, despite the hassles involved, the independence which comes with it trumps. I've been pricing some used trucks at a dealership in Kansas City which offers 3yr/300k mile warranties on any trucks with under 425k miles, and they have several listed for around $50k.

A 36 month loan/lease agreement would be payments comparable to what I have now, for a truck that has half the miles (and presumably half the headaches) of Sally with a warranty to boot if anything major were to occur. I'm not sure that I can secure the financing necessary to do it, but I've submitted one application today just to see what happens. Cross your fingers and wish me luck.