If We Were Having Coffee – August 23/2015

Terminal Territory – a New Beginning



Paul Your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul; I’ll be your barista today. I’m happy to see you have come for a cuppa and a chat. I am delighted to be back at Willow’s serving you, our treasured readers, a cuppa and sweets while we chat. Please come into the garden and make yourself comfortable. Willow fluffed the cushions on the chairs and set the tables in the garden so we can have a cuppa and chat as we soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful plants. She has also brought out the heaters so we can stretch our outside tea time further into the fall. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax amongst the flowers while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?

Well, my week had a few rough moments but things seem to be improving now so all is good. In preparation for writing this post I was pondering restarts and realized that I had told a trucking story while guesting over at Mark’s, about the very first time I pulled into the terminal with my new truck, starting a new job – and my thoughts and feelings.  You  can read it  here. I realized that the very last time I was in that terminal was an interesting story as well and thought I might tell it here, if you’re interested. It actually happened in the second week of October some years ago and it marked a new beginning.

After 6 years of working for the company in Maine I was offered a position with a home town company doing really interesting work – hauling all the stuff that no one else wanted to, or could, haul- oversized, nuclear, overweight, multiple extra axles, escorted, military weapons, biohazards, etc. The company was a specialized carrier – meaning they did what no one else would or could – and elite outfit. No two loads were the same and a lot of thinking went into each load – the reward wasn’t for getting it there the fastest but rather the safest. My forte, so I switched companies. I had worked for them for about 3 months when I had an accident and rolled my truck – just body damage, no load damage or injuries, and while I was waiting for repairs to be done I drove a company truck for a few months.Then one day in Massachusetts, my dispatcher told me to come back to the yard in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia empty- a very rare occurrence. I was in one of the highest density transport corridors in Eastern North America (Boston- New York) with an empty flatbed and I was going to drive 1,000 kilometers (about 660 miles) empty? No, there was something going unsaid here. I told Jennifer – the dispatcher – that I would need money for fuel and food. Typically, I would draw an advance when I had a load aboard but heading back empty I need the cash now. We used a number of fund transfer systems, but most commonly a system called Comchek. They had an account at Comchek and if I wanted funds they would authorize release for whatever the agreed upon amount would be and give me an authorization number. With that and their account number, I could pick up the cash at any Comchek agent – which was virtually every truck stop in North America – and it was debited from their account. Jennifer hesitated and told me to call from Dysart’s – a truck stop in Bangor Maine that we all used prior to turning east to Canada. Flashing alarm bells went off in my head – it was irrelevant where in the universe I was, Comchek was centralized- if I couldn’t get money in Mass, I couldn’t get it in Maine. I had just enough fuel to get to Dysart’s but then would have no money for food or fuel. Typically, I ran close on cash and this didn’t bother me – it was a minute’s work to get cash anywhere 24/7 with a Comchek number – but apparently that was no longer an option.


I grumbled but walked out to the truck and climbed in to head out to Bangor. The trucking part was old hat now and I enjoyed the feeling of the big diesel rumbling as speed built on the interstate. The trailer was empty and followed neatly behind, ever vigilant. I could feel all the normal vibrations and taste the smells that constituted the personality of the truck. It was home now and I was comfortable and alert here. Surprises were rare and easily handled with the experience I had accumulated over the past 7 years. During that time there had been some exhilarating moments, some very sad moments and some excruciatingly hair-raising moments of unparalleled terror. All of it used to shape and guide future behaviour. I was a part of this world now and it a part of me. I could glance at a truck and tell you how heavy he was loaded, if the driver was new or just didn’t care or if I was looking at a professional. Feeling a little under the weather I plugged in Red Sovine’s Teddy Bear to have a pity party – I would never admit to the other drivers that I listened to Red’s music, but when I was down it helped.

Would you like another cuppa. We have adult beverages to add to that if you like. And perhaps a sweet or two? We are going to have some fun here, so get ready. The 239 miles to Bangor passed uneventfully as I pondered Jennifer’s cryptic comment. I used to assess customers’ ability pay for the company and I could smell a cash shortage a long ways away – and this had that stink. Sure enough when I called the office from Bangor, the owner came on the phone and told me to bring the truck back to the yard. I explained that my fuel tanks were empty – perhaps enough for 20 miles and I had no food. Mike – the owner- would give me no more info but just insisted that I find a way back with his truck. He got very blustery and reminded me that I had his equipment and any attempt on my part to do anything other than return it to the yard would result in him taking legal action. That was so out of line – my being an employee driving for him for many months at his request when I was where and when he asked me to be- it was clear to me that they were going bankrupt. He had gone to a route response, without considering the impact of his words. Hmmm, that gave me information and offered options that I didn’t have before. I told him I would get back to the terminal and we disconnected – in many ways.

So, I was in Maine, 450 miles from home with empty fuel tanks, no money for food and the company was bankrupt. No problem. My previous employer, the company in Maine, was about 100 miles away on the route home so I gave the owner a call. I knew that the two companies did business with each other and that my current employer owed Dale – my past employer – for a number of loads, likely $10,000 USD or more. When I got Daleon the phone, I told him I had a deal for him.

“Dale, I am here to make your day brighter.” “More likely you want me to help you, you mean.” Dale could be so cynical. “Well, I may end up getting some benefit, but you will come out the big winner, guaranteed.” “What do you want Paul?” “Mikey is going bankrupt and no one but you and I know yet. I know he owes you and you’ll never get your money – unless of course you have something of his.” “What do you mean Mike is going bankrupt? He has two of my loads right now.” Ahhh, the stakes grow. I explained my request for fuel and food and Mike’s surreal response. “So what do you think that means Dale?” Dale was no man’s fool and had dealt with other companies for years. “You’re right, he’s losing it. What do you propose I do?” He knew I wouldn’t be on the phone to complain – I had a plan or I wouldn’t have called. “Well, you send me $100 for fuel, $200 for food and travel expenses and I will deliver to your yard one tractor-trailer that is the property of our common friend Mike. There is no way he will be able to get at it being as he is in another country and you can hold it as collateral against any money he owes you. If one of your guys will give me a lift to Dartmouth so I can get home, I’ll be happily on my way and you can be assured of getting paid.”

There was a long pause on the line while Dale processed this. “You mean you would sell out Mike?” “Dale, I am obeying orders – he told me to find my own way home and left me 450 miles away with his equipment and no money. I promised him I would get home. He just assumed I would bring his truck with me but if I have to sell it to you for the amazingly low price of $300 then that is what it takes. He has other creditors who would be interested too, I’m sure – it’s just that you’ve been good to me before, so I am offering you this amazing deal first.” Honestly, I should have made a living selling used cars. Ha! “Done. But how do I know I can trust you?” “Come on Dale we worked together for 6 years, you know you can.” “Right. OK. Here’s an authorization number for $300 by Comchek” as he rattled off a number, “When will you be here?” “Give me 2 ½ hours and you will have $100,000 worth of collateral; Don’t mention this to anyone until I am in your yard – if Mike gets whiff he could have the State Troopers stop me. That would be bad for both of us.” Ahhh, co-conspirator of mine,

With a spring in my step, I crossed to the fuel desk, gave them the Comchek number and received my $300. I put in $100 worth of fuel (less than ¼ tank), grabbed somesandwiches to go and headed down the Airline (Route #9) for the terminal.



The truck was purring along, not even caring that it was headed for purgatory through no fault of its own. In fact it felt surprisingly jubilant. I pulled into the same now-familiar yard on a late fall afternoon with the leaves changing in rural Maine. There was a light breeze as I parked in the line-up and grabbed my already packed suitcase to step down from the truck. Dale was standing waiting for me as I crossed the lot and I held out the keys and then dropped them in his out-stretched hand. “There you go sir, as promised, one tractor trailer for the princely sum of $300. The best deal you ever got.” “Tom over there is going to Dartmouth as soon as he is done his paperwork, you can ridewith him.” “Thanks Dale. Oh, and Mike will likely try to steal this back so you should have one of the mechanics remove a critical component or two.” Dale just nodded. That was the last time I ever saw him or the terminal yard where so many memories had been made. It felt like a cheerful parting.


Not long after Tom and I headed out to home. With only 350 miles to go, we took turns driving and chatting and we were in Dartmouth in the wee hours of the morning. I had my girl friend pick me up from the industrial center where Tom was delivering and we dropped my paperwork from my last load at the office and then went home to sleep. The next day, bright and early I called Mike. “Hey Mike, I’m back. Thought you’d want to know.” “Where’s the truck Paul?” Apparently he paid attention to what was, or more specifically wasn’t, in his yard. Ha! “Well, remember I said I didn’t have any money and you wouldn’t send me any?” “Where’s the fucking truck Paul?” “So”, I continued,” I ran it until it was out of fuel and I had to leave it in a safe place, because you know you wouldn’t send me any money for fuel for your truck.” “The fucking truck Paul, the fucking truck –WHERE IS IT?”


I was enjoying this far too much. “Well Mike, I knew you would want it safe so I left it all locked up in Dale’s yard.” “Bring me the fucking keys Paul.” “Well, Dale’s yard is quite small and he needed to keep the keys to move it when he needed to. I thought you would be happy that the truck was safe Mike.” Bwahahaha!

On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and enjoy the garden. Sweets anyone? I hope you didn’t mind the story today, it seemed to mean a new start for me- a Fall new start as so often happens in life. Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all happy that Willow is back and honored that you all dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here for sweets and beverages of your choice again next week.

And of course  the


over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s



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