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Old 04-05-2009, 09:12 AM   #760
squonker OP
Eat my shorts
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Yellowknife, NWT
Oddometer: 4,058
Originally Posted by GSD4ME
Here we go...

I had a beer or two with one of the managers from Tli-Cho yesterday and used it as an opportunity to tell him what I thought did and didn't work this past season. It was his first year on the job so he had nothing to compare it to, but he did agree that it was a disaster and even said that he can not himself understand some of the (political) decisions that were made during the season. I also found out a bit of the scoop on next year, and a couple of things he told me I'm guessing he shouldn't have - but I'm pretty good at keeping secrets. It does sounds as though things will be much better next year, but there is one important issue that he was vague on and I think it was more due to his not understanding what I was saying rather than being so deliberately. We'll do it again some time and I'll bring up the same point again and see if I make him see it from the drivers' point of view.

Actually, now is a good time to bring it up again here. I've mentioned before how the fuel haulers are required to run legally and yet we are expected to go 24hrs a day. It was never a problem before - we're paid by the trip and the road is only open for x number of weeks, so in order to maximise my earnings I need to do as many trips as possible and that means working 20 to 22 hours days every day. We knew that and accepted that, but this year with the RCMP and Highway Patrol pulling people over and checking log books it became a problem. If I were to run legally I'd have Carl and my dispatcher on my arse wondering whether I was on holiday, yet when I go that hard I'm going to be fined if I'm pulled over. The way I dealt with it this year is that I worked as hard as I wanted, and because the fine for lying in your logbook is about ten times the fine for driving over your hours I was completely honest in it and accepted that if I were pulled over it was going to cost me a couple of hundred bucks.
This manager is saying that next year dispatch is going to check over our log book sheets as we hand them in after every trip, so the obvious question is what are they looking for? They can't give us shit for going over our hours when they themselves ask us to, and if Tli Cho is now going to require us to run legally then two very important things need to happen: One, they need to make that expectation clear in our orientation, and two our bosses have to increase our pay because we'll all get fewer trips in. I wasn't going to take it, but it does now look as though the fuel job I was offered for 2010 is the one I should be accepting.

Anyway, I had logged on to write up trip #6....

It's Fri Feb 13th - oh oh! Because of the delay in getting loads I managed to get a proper night's sleep - in bed by 11pm and up at 5.30am. Shortly after 7am I was in the quarry being loaded with cement for Diavik, and Simon and I left town at 12.20pm. We arrived at Diavik at 4am and within an exceptional 40 mins we were both unloaded.

When the marshall came to escort us back from the unloading area he asked us whether we were going to go, or whether we were going to sleep. We said, "Sleep" and instead of taking us back to the main truck parking lot where the dispatch trailer is, he took us to some back corner of the mine and had us park up on the side of a road along with a handful of other trucks that were already there. I was a bit taken aback because this was bullshit - he had dropped us off where there were no facilities of any sort. The fact that I had planned on cleaning my teeth before I went to bed is minor, but there was no food, no water and no toilet facilities here. Unbelievable. Talk about making it clear in what low regard you hold us. At least if I shut my dog out in the back yard I give it a bowl of water. I just shook my head and determined that if I decided to sleep at the mine again, that when the marshall came to collect me I'd tell him I was leaving, and then when I got back to the main parking lot I'd use the facilities before telling them that I'd changed my mind and was staying after all. Fuckers - I'm still pissed that they'd treat us like that.

So when we got up at 9am we called for a marshall to take us back to dispatch, collected our paperwork and headed out. We left Diavik with a tanker driver I recognised from previous years, and stopped at Lockhart on the way back for lunch. I noted that the ice in the hammer lanes seemed rougher than usual for this early on in the season, but that it was a beautiful sunny afternoon.

At the Meadows we stopped as always to clean off our lights before hitting the Ingraham Trail, and I noticed that I had no air suspension on my tractor. Must have happened literally as we were pulling in to the Meadows because it is very noticeable from the diver's seat. I didn't know whether it was ok to drive back to town like that and neither did Simon or Arnie so I used the satellite phone at Meadows Security to call Carl and ask him what he wanted me to do. He said take it real slow, but bring 'er in - and so I did. I drove in at around 40 km/h to 50 km/h and got back to town at 8.30 pm. I dropped my trailer off and called Carl, who was waiting for me in the shop. As I backed up towards the doors he opened them for me, then hit the button to close them behind me and walked around to the back of the truck to guide me in to where he wanted me to park it. By the time he'd given me the signal to stop and I had shut the truck off and jumped out, Carl had fixed the problem! There's a linkage system behind the fifth wheel which was hidden by the trailer, but he had seen it and put it back together by hand by the time I'd even stopped the truck rolling! A little embarassing, but he didn't seem to mind, and I'd know if it happened again...

I think I was trying to take a shot of the moon here.

When I had been in the quarry to drop off my trailer I'd checked my cell phone messages and there was one from Pierre, who was my boss when I'd been in Eureka in the fall. He was in town for a night on his way back up north but by the time I'd parked the truck up (Carl said that as I'd been told there'd be no loads until the morning I should leave it in the shop overnight) it was too late for him to go out (he was still on Toronto time), so I went and had a beer with the girl I was seeing instead. It was Valentine's Day after all, and although I refuse point blank to treat that day any differently I know she was glad that she got to see me. I had told her before hand that I'd get her no card and no present, but she gave me two cards and honestly didn't care that I had nothing for her. Pretty cool! But better yet, I had already decided that even if I was going to meet Pierre for a beer I had better bring her along because I didn't think she'd find it very funny if I called her the next morning and said, "Oh, I've been in town all night, even went for a beer and everything!", but when I told her I'd thought about it she just said, "Well, pretty much like any other guy would have done, I suppose" and really appeared not to care. Note to self: this is one cool chick!

Oh, one thing the Tli-Cho manager I had beers with told me - I'd mentioned that I'd seen Hugh Rowland in town and apparently he and Alex are doing to another series, but this time in Alaska. I had heard rumours about their trying to do a show on the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay so perhaps that has been arranged. Anyway, it'll be interesting if for no other reason than that there's no love lost between Hugh and Alex.

Ride Report: Canada North to South 2008 here
Drive Report: Ice Road Trucking 2005-2014 here

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