It was an angry moon, red and glowering, that hung low in the sky the first night I spent in truck 5585. I watched it through the windshield from the lower bunk. The upper one was folded up and out of the way. Late that afternoon, all of us champing at our bits to get out of here, a lucky few already dispatched, the Angel of Death came for my training partner. He had, said the Angel, during training phase 1, failed to bump a dock in the Northeast.
He had been fearing the arrival of the Angel all week. He was the fifth in our class whose trainer had let him down. Let him down, you see, in that like most of the others he had actually completed the requirement. The trainer, because he gets paid by miles driven by both himself and his trainee, had him log that particular chunk of time, the one in which they docked the truck, in the sleeper berth, line 2, instead of on duty, line 4.
This, I am aware, means nothing to the uninitiated. Until I’m brave enough to tackle the intricacies of logbooks, the improper filling out of which puts drivers out of compliance more often than any other event, be content to know that by keeping my partner logged on line 2, the trainer was looking after his own best interests, maximizing the number of miles my partner would potentially be able to drive later that day.
Obviously, this did not work out very well for my partner, who now had to get on another truck and haul out to the Northeast, bump a dock and get it properly logged, and get back to the yard. Supposedly there was someone leaving for New Jersey the next day.
It hadn’t worked out too well for me either, as now I had no partner. There might turn out to be someone else similarly stranded, in fact it was even likely. The Angel had already struck again. A team already dispatched had been instructed to turn around. One of its members seemed to have driven down only one mountain instead of the required two. Supposedly, no one should have been in class that week without having completed his requirements. Why were these things not caught earlier? That’s a question we all would have liked answered. Our facilitator had been driven to distraction.
Maybe I would have a partner by tomorrow. If so, he would probably be one of the many guys in class I would really rather not share that closet with.
My chosen partner had been thrown together, at random, from the moment we arrived at the pestilential city. Were roomed together, found we got along. From completely different backgrounds, we shared a sense of humor and a love of bebop. We developed, that first week, a sort of Odd Couple thing, decided very quickly to partner up for Dumb and Dumber.
After the frustrations of classes and training trucks, we were really looking forward to having some actual fun on the road. This can be such a miserable job that you really have to take your pleasures where you find them. With the right partner, you can find them anywhere. Or not. Watching the angry moon, alone in what was our truck, I feared what the morrow would bring.