April 26, 2009

Life Takes a Turn

I'm borrowing a title from one of my Mom's last posts on her blog, because its an appropriate title, and as you all know, I'm rotten at titles.

Life takes a turn. I think life takes lots of turns on its journey. For us, its taken many in our short 7 years together. It will have been 7 years since we married, 7 years on July 6. Hard to believe.

OK, here's the scoop.

After several weeks of frustratingly slow freight, and it not picking up enough to make a significant difference, we started looking at the big picture.

Under the micro-scope what we're doing didn't make sense any more. We're over here at Steve's for two reasons, because we get home frequently and because we like hauling cattle in the fall and spring. In the in-between times we haul a reefer for him, and we don't mind doing that. That's when we get the home time every week, a day or two here and there. But when you get down to the naked facts, they are these:

1. his rates are down, not keeping up, and not high enough for the limited miles. We're only making $1.22 a mile right now.

2. cattle aren't moving this year. It's so bad that even the cow haulers who refuse to pull a reefer....they're pulling reefers out of desperation for work.

We got to considering our options, and came down to three.

1. stay put, grit our teeth, cinch our change purse strings and bare with it

2. change to another company that a friend works with

3. buy another hopper and go back to doing that

We pretty much ruled out option two. Brandon gets good home time and a better rate, but Malcolm just didn't get a good feeling about it, and I told him to go with his gut feeling.

So it was stay or go with the hopper. And he's been pulling his hair out over it for days and days. We talked about it allot, trying to decide, because they both had their sacrifices. In a list of pros and cons though, the hopper was the clear choice.

If we go pull our hopper we loose:
1. a repetitive, redundant route that gets boring quick

2. frequent home time

we gain:
1. working with a broker we really enjoyed working with

2. going somewhere different every trip

3. traveling all over the country

4. being able to stop in Tennessee to see family more than once a year

5. doing what has turned out to be our favorite form of trucking so far. We've missed it since we left it last September.

6. less frequent home time, but when we get it its at a predicted time and for a set length. We take a week off, instead of having a day and a half during which you don't feel like you can start anything because they might call at any moment and want you to leave on a trip.

7. working with people in small towns, who are friendly, happy to see you, unlike these corporate warehouse personnel where your just the 300th truck they've had to unload that day.

And mostly, like I mentioned, we really really really liked hauling our hopper last summer.
Its been my favorite type of trucking, Malcolm's too, and to be honest, we've regretted leaving it since last fall.

So, last week while we were home we made a decision on several trailers we've been looking at, and bought a 2007 Wilson. Its in Iowa. When we get home we have a few days to get things together, do some things to the truck, and then we'll leave Saturday to go get our trailer. And Malcolm's already talked to our broker, Mark, and we've got a load lined up already. We'll get our trailer on Sunday and I think on Monday morning we're loading just north of there and going to western Washington to a pet food plant we delivered too several times.

You know how it feels to make a decision and then wonder if you did the right thing? It eats us up.

I find it rather ironic that our first load is going to the very place that we have mentioned "remember going to" the most in the past weeks as we tried to decide what to do. How weird is that?

And then here we are on our last trip to California with Steve, expecting to unload and then spend a day or so in Salinas reloading. Malcolm was stressing over only having a couple days at most to get things together at home before leaving. Then this afternoon, while we waited to get unloaded, one of the guys at the office called and wanted us to switch trailers with another driver that's already loaded in Salinas and head back. So, here we are, rolling back east towards Billings after less than 24 hours in California. We'll be there Monday evening instead of Wednesday as expected, and now we have practically the whole week to get ready to go.

The post office said they'll hold our mail a month, Mark said he'd get us home every 4 weeks, our neighbors always offer to watch the house for us, and I now use a cordless clipper so I can cut Ella's hair outside in the grass and the fur can fly without getting the truck a mess. Every things falling into place.

Things aren't moving as fast in the hopper business as they were, but Mark said he can get us more work than we're doing now, and that's enough. We're both excited about going back to it. So we're setting our sights on new horizons, literally. If your going to miss hearing about yet another trip to Yuma, AZ to load produce, I'm sorry. Personally, I'm looking forward to having different places to write about!

Our new hopper waiting for us in Iowa.


Meagan said...

So glad you two made a decision that you are both happy with and looking forward to! :-)

Does this rule out teaching or staying home for you in the near future?

I am MOST excited that you might actually make it to TN!!!! I sure hope you're planning on coming during the holidays and maybe this will help that happen!

Sari said...

This was so painless! Yeh! I can post my thoughts, at last without jumping through hoops (which I don't have time to find! Thanks, Sarah! Whatever you did, it worked!