I’m Single and Running Doubles”
I held the doubles/triples endorsements for 15 years, and only had the opportunity to use them a few times for New England Motor Freight out of Elizabeth, NJ back in 2008. I made a little deal with them….”You hook ’em up and I’ll pull ’em”, I said. When they were desperate enough, they’d use me. I would always give them back the way they were given to me….still attached. Truth is, I had no clue as to properly hook and unhook doubles, and I wasn’t strong enough to move the heavy dollys. i couldn’t see the logic in paying for endorsements that I wasn’t planning on using, so the Tanker endorsement also went bye bye.
One of a long haul drivers eventual goal is more money and more home time. Living in a truck, away from family, friends, and beloved pets, (in my case, five kitty cats), takes a toll.When a good job opportunity waves at you with a smile and the promise of a better life, you have to take it. Problem was, I had to go and obtain my doubles endorsement again, this time in North Carolina, the beautiful State where I currently call ‘home’. The written exam was no different than the one I took in New Jersey back in 1996, which I passed with flying colors on the first try. Sailed right through it. Whoopee. What a brainiac, right? Fast forward to 2012, my brain is 16 years older, and a few brain cells shy of a full load. After my first try at the test, I left the Motor Vehicle office that morning with my head down, feeling supremely disappointed in myself. I flunked. Not even close to passing. So with CDL book in hand, I read and reread the chapter pertaining to Doubles, and went back the next day, feeling way more confident that I would surely pass on the second try. It was the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, and when I left the DMV, I was choking back tears. All I needed was a big ‘old FAIL buzzer…..oh yeah, I already had one….in my head. It isn’t easy to bend your leg around to kick yourself in the butt while you’re driving, yet I managed to do that exceptionally well on the 20 mile drive home.
Government workers get every holiday off, including one’s we never heard of, but Memorial Day, I knew they would be closed. I just couldn’t enjoy this past holiday weekend, so filled with angst tinged with the hint of terror of having to retake that miserable test a third time. Have you ever read that chapter in the CDL handbook? It’s a dry read, my friends. Not entertaining in the least. Reading algorithms and string theory would have been more interesting, I think And I’d long forgotten what a “petcock” was….wasn’t that the family rooster?
So I went online for more help. Eureka! I found a site with the questions AND answers to that test from hell, and when I left the Motor Vehicle office on Tuesday morning, I wanted to skip like a 6 year old, I was that elated. Finally, I could call my potential new boss with some good news, since my previous two phones calls to him were not happy ones. He had been rooting for me all along, bolstering my spirits with encouraging words. He was just as excited as I was that joyous morning. The sun shone brightly as I drove straight to Kernersville from the DMV and enjoyed a full day of paperwork and piddling in a tiny cup the size of a thimble for the required DOT drug screen. Finally. A test I could pass without having to study.
Finally after a tense 10 days to find out if had a job, their Safety department approved me. It didn’t help that my previous employer which was Celadon Trucking, was dragging their feet in verifying my employment with them. Shame on them and tenstreet.com!
I’ve been out on the road pulling doubles for four days now. Teamed up with a nice older gent who is a cross between Jimmy Stewart and Barney Fife. I can’t understand half of what he’s saying, and he’s hyper as all hell. He won’t tell me his age but I think he’s pushing 70. Old time trucker who has three times more energy than I do on a good day.
I am learning that pulling doubles is a bit more treacherous than your standard, garden variety 53’ dry van. That fact hit home yesterday when my air line blew while I was cruising about 70 mph on Interstate 80 in Wyoming yesterday. Thankfully, when it comes to driving, I have reflexes like a cat. I only left about 50 feet of rubber on the roadway before I got on the shoulder, it would have been less, but a camper decided to break down in the exact same place that I needed to swing into. Duct tape and co-driver, Dave, to the rescue, and we made it to Laramie, Wyoming for repairs. Only one airline needed to be replaced, oh, and two “super single” dolly tires. And I thank God that this happened on a clear, bright and sunny day. Had this happened on a snowy, icy or wet road, I might not be here to share the tale. Note to self: Don’t just give the airlines a quick once over; inspect them like you’re the DOT man looking to write you up for the tiniest little kink in that hose.
I don’t want a repeat performance of that near disaster and thankfully, my panties stayed dry, although I think I gained another pound of unsightly belly fat and a few more gray hairs.
All this so that I can get home once a week and a bring home a better paycheck. Keep your fingers crossed for me, folks. I’ve got five furkids that I need to get home to. And please keep the truckers in your prayers. Those hard working men and women who sacrifice so much and get so little in return, keep America moving. Without us, this Country would come to a smoking, screeching halt……the way I did yesterday on I-80 in Wyoming.