Old Red Jacket Talker

Just an old RCMP dispatcher’s ramblings . . .

New Past-time

All winter long, my friends in the curling league kept bugging me that I needed something to do in the summer leisure hours. Of course to them that meant golf. My thoughts were that golf was just about on par as watching ‘paint dry’. It is just something that had never interested me in my whole life.

Along came spring and those glorious days of early summer. James convinced me that I should at least take ‘a walk-a-bout’ of the golf course and give it a whirl. After a lot of convincing on James part, I finally relented and said that I would give it a try.

James and I are both left handed golfers, so I was able to borrow his clubs. The long and short of it was that he ‘kicked my ass’ on the course, but he did plant the seed that this might be something that I might like. Craig came out of the city and once again convinced me to give it a try out on the links. Once again, Craig also is a left shot, so we were good to go and we headed out and gave it another go. Once again I got my assed kicked as I was such a horrible new golfer. However, I do believe the seed was planted and I really did enjoy ‘walking about’ on the course and just generally being outside.

After numerous outings (many, many, by myself), I now feel a bit more comfortable out on the course. Of course Tiger Woods definitely has nothing to worry about from me, but at least I’m not making a fool of myself.

This past weekend, I headed out on the course with James and then tonite I was out again with Craig. I’m satisfied that I at least made my goal for the year in that I surpassed both of my ‘teachers’ in a round.

Now granted both James and Craig probably had a ‘crappy day/game’ on the day of these rounds, but to me the important thing is that I didn’t have to hang my head after I got my ass kicked one more time. We all have bad games, but for both of these games/rounds at least I had a better score than my teachers.

I’m sure James or Craig will have a better score than me in the future rounds, but at least in my mind I know I can hold my own. As I said above, I know Tiger et al have nothing to fear from me, but I at least have nothing to be ashamed about when I hit the links with my family and/or friends.

With that being said, yesterday (September 16th), Craig and I took Shar-Lee out for a round of golf. Like myself, Shar-Lee had never golfed in her life and was a bit apprehensive of ‘giving it a try’. Being that this is only my first year, I certainly knew her feeling well and attempted to alleviate her apprehensions. On her first go at the course, Shar-Lee had an 82. Certainly not a course record, but I personally know people that are higher than that and have been golfing for many years. As we went around the holes, I could see that Shar-Lee was getting better and better with her strokes. She has great form and with a bit of practice I know she’ll be able to have some respectable scores and give Craig, James or I a run for our money.

The nice part of living in a small town is that our golf course is not crowded and there is not a lot of pressure from oncoming golfers to ‘get on with it’. You can take your time and try to ensure you are ready to hit the ball to the best of your ability. For a grand total of $5.00 a round or $45.00 for the year, there just is no better place to learn the game of golf. Sure we don’t have grass greens, but at least you can learn the basics and when you do get a bit more experience you can then attempt the more ambitious courses that the cities have.

However, for a beginner, there just is nothing better than a small town course in my estimation. . .

September 17, 2008 Posted by | Family, Hanley, James | | Leave a comment

Trucker No More Well it is official now. James ha…

Trucker No More

Well it is official now. James has hung up his 18 wheel steering wheel for the time being. He is now going to see if he can climb towers without falling off. Just prior to starting the recent job hauling super B trailers around he had applied to ‘Your Link’ to work on their tower crew. This is the same company that ‘Uncle Ron’ works for.

James went in for an interview last Thursday and he found out on Friday that he had gotten the job. That meant that he had to hand in the keys for the Kenworth and dig out his woollies to keep warm on the new job.

I guess he has to go in to the office on Wednesday and fill out some papers and then he’s onto tower climbing. He’s been told to pack a bag when he reports on Wednesday so he will likely be working out out town for a couple of days.

The nice part of the job is that it is essentially Monday to Friday and weekends off. The pay isn’t bad either and there are benefits. Definitely sounds better than jambing gears back and forth. But then it can get a bit cool out there in the winter time. Especially if you are a hundred or so feet off the ground.

Worth a try for sure and the best of luck to James in his new endeavour.

February 19, 2007 Posted by | James | Leave a comment

Road Trip James was hired by a local fellow to dr…

Road Trip

James was hired by a local fellow to drive his semi to haul grain. This of course means learning how to handle ‘super B’ trailers which essentially are two full length semi trailers hooked together. This does make for an extra long unit to be driving around and does take extra care in turning corners. Backing up the unit also is quite a bit more complex than a single trailer unit.

Anyhow, James had a dry run on Tuesday to get familiar with the rig and then he got the trailers loaded up with a load of lentils that were destined for Wilkie, Sask. Now seeing as Wilkie is the town where I was born and lived for a few years, I thought it would be a treat to travel out that way with James as a passenger.

The plan was to depart Hanley at 7 a.m. and to return somewhere around 3 p.m. James and I got to the truck just before 7 a.m. and we ran into our first problem. The fellow that was showing James the ropes set the preheater to come on but he neglected to set the darn thing to the right time. So the preheater came on at 1 a.m. and ran for two hours (ie until 3 a.m.). So at 7 a.m. when James turned the key, the Kenworth just grunted a few times and that was that.

James turned the preheater on to start warming things up and then he got hold of the owner to arrange a tow truck to come and boost us. The truck was parked at one of the local garages and it opened up at 7 a.m. so at least we could slip inside and have a coffee while we waited for the tow truck to do it’s magic. When the tow truck hooked up the cables to boost the semi, it had to just leave them in place for awhile to get the batteries warmed up enough to take a charge.

At 8:30 a.m. (give or take a few minutes) we pulled out of Hanley heading towards Wilkie. By the time we got to Rosetown, both James and I had to hit the washroom from all the darn coffee we drank. So after a quick pit stop we were enroute once again.

We finally pulled into Wilkie around noon and proceeded to get in line to unload our lentils. By 1:30 p.m. we were done and ‘on the road’ back to Kenaston for another load. All went fairly well and we strolled into the house at 6:30 p.m.

Let me tell you the walk up from the garage was brutal. The wind was coming right at us and we were almost frozen to the bone in the short walk home. But we did make it safe and sound.

February 14, 2007 Posted by | James | 2 Comments

Wish Came True It appears that someone has gotten…

Wish Came True

It appears that someone has gotten their wish to come true for them. James made it back to the Saskatoon area last Thursday and then spent the day in the city on Friday the 26th. He then had the weekend off to do as he wished.

The only problem was that the boss never called to get him back to work after the weekend. Finally James made his own way in to the city and found out his truck was going out, but he as sitting at home. A little deja vu floated to the surface as far as I could tell. As per Another Day, No More Dollars It seems that one of the senior drivers needed a truck as his clutch went out on his own truck.

The next thing James knew he was advised to clear his gear out of his truck. This was from the senior driver and it appeared to be a ‘sacking in progress’ from my point of view. James tried calling the boss/owner to find out his status, but as of today there has been no returned calls from Roger.

Of course he doesn’t know what the heck is going on, but it could very well be that he did get his wish to have more time back home in Hanley. The only problem is that he won’t be out on the road in the near future. Without actually having spoken to the owner of the company, it is hard to figure out just where he sits though.

From my point of view, it seems that the ‘parting of the ways’ has been coming for the last month or so. James didn’t seem to be happy with what was happening by being out on the road all of the time as a long haul trucker and the boss was getting a bit unhappy with the amount of downtime required in Hanley.

Too bad, but that is the way things go every now and then. Hopefully it will all get settled out in the next bit and all can get on with their respective goals in life.

February 1, 2007 Posted by | James | Leave a comment

Trip to Calgary James departed Hanley yesterday a…

Trip to Calgary

James departed Hanley yesterday afternoon enroute to deliver his load to Calgary. At about 8:15 p.m. last night he called to advise that just outside of Hanna, Alberta he smoked a deer. There was damage to his bumper and driver’s side fender but other than that no problems with the truck and he was continuing on with his trip.

One interesting thing was that James called 911 to report his accident. In Saskatchewan we don’t report accidents with wildlife as long as there are no injuries, the animal is deceased and the vehicle can be driven away from the scene. Mind you hundreds of folks do still call and attempt to report the accidents every day. The folks down in Regina have it down pat answering that ‘no if there is no injuries, deer is dead and your vehicle is drivable, you do not have to report to the RCMP. You just report to SGI and they take it from there. There are just too many deer accidents everyday to have the police respond to these type of accidents that end up essentially being SGI reports. I wasn’t aware that Alberta did not have the same policy, but I guess not.

Of course the operators in Regina have to ensure that the deer is off the road and not a traffic hazard. If not they advise the caller to remove it to the side of the road. The operators can then advise the Department of Highways of a deer along the side of the road for pickup. However, from my travels into the city I would say the Department of Highways leave the carcasses for the most part to the coyotes and ravens to clean up. Mind you these animals may be from the result of accidents that happen and are not actually called into the Regina Communication Center RCMP.

Anyhow when James called 911 from his cell phone to report the accident. After he hung up he tried to call someone else and his cell phone would not work. He got a notice that his phone was ‘restricted to emergency calling’ (or something similar). What he had to do was actually power down his phone and then power it back up and the phone would be back in business. Now I’m not sure if this is a phone specific thing or all cell phones that call 911 are restricted in the same way.

It’s funny, but I have never had to call 911 in my life. I’ve answered thousands of the calls, but I’ve never actually had to call one in myself. In actual fact most people have probably never had to call 911 in their lives. Then there are some people that seem to have the number on speed dial as they use it 4-5 times (or more) a day. When I was working we used to call these folks the ‘frequent flyer’ callers. They misuse the 911 system for everything from minor thefts that occurred weeks (years ago) to stupid calls such as ‘their 10 year old kid won’t go to bed’ and wanting immediate police action.

Of course all calls have to be answered and dealt with as you don’t know what the call is going to be until you have actually spoken to the complainant.

January 23, 2007 Posted by | James, RCMP | Leave a comment

Out of the States James is steaming northbound at…

Out of the States

James is steaming northbound attempting to get out of the US prior to the next big storm coming through. I spoke to him at 10:40 a.m. this morning and he was just entering North Dakota. According to NOAA, there is a large snow storm moving into South Dakota today however, James will be long out of that area prior to the storm hitting. Mind you, the majority of his trucking time is down into that part of the country, but for this trip he has safely traversed the ice and snow.

If all goes according to the plan, James should be up in this neck of the woods by about 5:30 to 6:00 pm tonight. It depends on whether he is going to take his unit right into the city and let it sit there until Monday or stop here in Hanley for a day or so and then carry on. The load is destined for Calgary and James was scheduled to take it all the way for delivery early Monday. Of course plans change.

The idea would be that he would take the load up to Calgary, pick up something else and make it back to Saskatoon for Thursday. He would then get a few days off at home rather than sitting in a foreign place such as Houston. Mind you as he sits, his mileage stays at zero which means less dollars. But I don’t really think that the monetary reward is where his thoughts are at this stage of the game.

January 20, 2007 Posted by | James | Leave a comment

And He Is Off I had received a call from James th…

And He Is Off

I had received a call from James this morning and he was still sitting waiting for the go ahead to depart. It would appear that there were a few more hoops to jump through prior to his permits being in order.

The bad part was that even with the permits the weather in north Texas is horrible. Ice storms are coating the highways and snow was in the forecast. From what James had heard from other truckers, the highways north towards Dallas were being closed down due to the unsafe driving conditions. The talk was that the roads were going to stay closed until about Saturday.

James was seriously thinking of just walking away from the truck and catching a flight back to Canada. Just sitting doing nothing is wearing heavily on him. The boss advised him that he would reimburse him somewhat for sitting last weekend, but with the weather being an act of God, it is unlikely there would be any payment for lost miles since Monday. So once again just sitting making no miles strikes at James pocketbook.

At about 1:15 pm James called back to say he was finally on the move and heading northbound. He has no idea how far he can travel before the road conditions shut him down, but at least he is moving a bit. I did do a search for road conditions in Texas and Oklahoma and it definitely does not look very promising. The rain falling is freezing and coating everything a couple inches thick. That does not bode well for the roadways themselves. The temperatures are right around freezing at around 30F so the ice is not likely to melt right away. I’m not sure if they actually use salt on the roadways or just use sand. If it is just sand then of course it won’t be helping with the melting.

I’m just hoping James doesn’t get stuck out in the middle of nowhere or worse yet parks in a ditch. Sometimes a little patience goes a long way to getting to your destination.

January 17, 2007 Posted by | James | Leave a comment

Another Day – No More Dollars It would seem that …

Another Day – No More Dollars

It would seem that in Texas trucking is handled a bit different than the other States. The State allows everyone to enter, however, to load up and depart the State requires extra steps that the other States do not require.

In James case, he is overweight and possibly over height. In the other States you get a permit and pay your money and away you go within the limitations of the permit you acquired. In Texas you can’t just pick up a permit and pay your dollars for the right to drive, you must get a broker and then still jump through a bunch of hoops. The end result is that James is sitting in Texas for another day. He is hopeful that maybe tomorrow he can leave, but there is no guarantee.

As he sits in the parking lot he noticed that there were 6 trucks with Saskatchewan plates parked there. On speaking to a few of the other drivers he certainly found out it is not worth the hassle of being overweight or height. The hassles are just so complicated. The other drivers are loading up with their legal loads and departing back to the Great White North.

So James gets to sit another day and of course seeing as he is sitting and not making any miles, he is not making any money. On a normal day a trucker can drive for 11 hours. If the speed limit is maintained the trucker would be making somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1100 kilometers or 687 miles. At 41 cents a mile that works out to be about $282.00.

In James case he as been sitting since bright and early Friday morning, so for 4 days. That works out to lost revenue of about $1130.00. Mind you if he takes his weekend off (even though it was not at home), then he only has lost 2 days or $564.00. That is still a chunk of change. I don’t believe anyone would like to just loose $564 off their paycheck for the week. However, that is the life of a long haul truck driver. If you have to wait for a load or whatever then usually the boss pays you some down time, but it no way adds up to your lost revenue.

Seeing how James was away from home for the weekend, he wants to take a few days off when he gets back to Canada. That may be during the week, so he will again loose a couple days pay when he takes those days off due to not driving. Whether the boss will put another driver in the truck and try and recoup some of the lost income from the truck is another matter. After a few times of replacing the driver with a replacement, maybe the replacement driver gets to take the loads and the original driver gets to sit waiting for an opening in the driver’s seat.

I’m hoping this doesn’t happen to James, but from the track record of the company he works for nothing would surprise me.

January 16, 2007 Posted by | James | Leave a comment

Stuck in the South When I got home from curling I…

Stuck in the South

When I got home from curling I had a message waiting from James. He wanted me to give him a call when I could, so I returned the call. He did get loaded, however, now he is over weight and needs permits. He is now sitting on the north edge of Houston.

The boss was trying to line up some permits for him to start trucking again and hopefully would have them today. It was interesting that the boss suggested that maybe James would be able to leave this evening sometime. That gets me to thinking… permits and evenings.

To my thinking, most of the scales are closed in the evenings. So if he is wanting James to travel in the evening/night, then maybe the permits are not actually there, and he wants James to bypass a few scales. That doesn’t sound too cricket to me.

James did comment that he was tired of driving at night and wanted to do some driving during the daylight hours. Some truckers like driving at night, and others prefer the daylight hours. I know that James was looking at another job where he would be just driving within a 2 hour limit of home (or so). As well it would be just a Monday to Friday driving job.

It would appear that he is comparing the two jobs and leaning more to the one around home (if it actually materializes). He wouldn’t get to see as much country, but hopefully there would be some stability in his life.

My thoughts are you don’t throw away something without first having a heck of a good replacement first. Hopefully it all plans out for him.

January 15, 2007 Posted by | James | 2 Comments

Houston, We Have A Problem ! The problem is that …

Houston, We Have A Problem !

The problem is that there is one extra long haul truck driver parked just outside Houston in the small community of Brookshire (just west of Houston) with nothing to do. Yup, it is James and he has been sitting in Brookshire since early Friday.

Originally James was to get loaded Saturday morning and then head for home, however, the company needs a crane to load the trailer and there were no cranes available until Monday at the earliest. With no real other choice, James gets to sit and bide his time until Monday morning. The sitting idle has not pleased James too much, but then he can’t really zip home for the weekend and then back again for Monday morning as it is nearly 3000 kms to Houston from Saskatoon.

James has amused himself by watching a bit of TV, a couple dvd movies and he even went for a long walk. While he was out walking yesterday it started to rain. However, he was able to make it back to the truck prior to the real downpour. He got a bit damp, but nothing too serious.

I talked to James Saturday night and he was pretty bored with the whole situation. He was able to find another truck stop that sold cheaper wobbly pops though than the one he was parked at. If I remember correctly what he said, he could buy 6 king cans of Keystone Lite for about $4.80. He had picked up a movie, some Chinese food for eats and 6 king cans and was settling in for the evening.

He still has all day Sunday to go, so you could fairly well say he has had about enough of south Texas. I took a quick peak at the temperature in Houston just prior to starting up this blog and the temperature was sitting at +22C. Then I looked at my temperature gauge and it is showing -29C. Let’s see, where would I rather be?

The one good thing about sitting in Houston for the weekend is that most of the ice storms that are going through the north of Texas and into Oklahoma should have moved on prior to James travelling northbound. From the weather reports from the south, the ice was snapping off telephone poles as it coated everything and then the wind was so strong. From the weather reports, most of the storms should have dissipated by late Sunday. There may be the odd icy section on the highways, but nothing like what it was like late Friday, early Saturday.

As of yesterday, James was not certain where he would be heading when he leaves Texas. He thought the load was destined for Calgary and was hoping he could take it all the way there to unload. With another quick run to the States (down to Iowa or Missouri) and home and he should have enough miles for the month that he could maybe get a couple days off back in Hanley.

The boss may have different ideas though so we’ll have to wait and see what transpires.

January 14, 2007 Posted by | James | 6 Comments