Before I go any further, I would request of my dear readers that they first visit my wife’s blog at https://auntieemstable.com so as to catch part one of this grueling tale. Once you’ve done that, we can get on with the rest of the story…
Ready? Here we go!
Where do I begin? When my wife called me just after 3:30am, I thought she was pulling a really horrible prank. “Honey, I don’t know how to tell you this but your trailer is on its side in our yard!” Okay love, not funny… It’s only been 8 months since the last time this happened. My readers may remember back in June of 2019 when my trailer slid into the ditch and onto its side. You can read that thrilling story here. My job was in major jeopardy, but somehow I came through to the end of the day with my career still intact. This time I wouldn’t be so lucky.
It was a simple request, drop your loaded trailer at your house and bobtail back to Pullman for a different load to Seattle. It took me a little bit longer to get unhooked, but I managed in the end. I thought about putting some blocks under the landing gears, but the ground felt pretty solid. I honestly thought the gravel would hold up and everything would be fine. I quickly detached and left in order to grab the other load in Pullman.
It was only 10 minutes later when I got that frantic call from my wife. How could it have tipped? It made no sense. In all actuality, it made perfect sense… the ground was just too soft. I called my boss. He didn’t believe me and I had to repeat myself to him. I asked my wife for pictures, and when I recieved them I quickly forwarded them on to my supervisor. “We’ll deal with this later, for now grab your other load and head to Seattle.”
I did as I was told. I put my foot to the pedal and drove that load to Seattle. My head was swirling with a thousand different emotions and thoughts. I wasn’t home to be there for the recovery process. I wasn’t there to comfort my wife through the shock of such an incident. I felt hopeless, and like I was powerless in this matter. I turned my music up, the louder and angrier the music was, the easier it felt to be numb.
“Honey we have another problem” It was my wife again on the cell phone. “What’s going on now love?” “There’s water seeping up from where the container fell atop the waterline.” My stomach did a flip as all those emotions I was trying to suppress came flooding back. This was turning into a huge mess, and it was all my fault! Why didn’t I just place a couple blocks under the landing gears in order to better support the weight of the trailer? The angry music wasn’t helping anymore, I would have to feel all the emotions no matter how hard I fought.
The hours that it took to drive all the way to Seattle felt like mere minutes. Before I knew it I was at the port and waiting in line for the scale. I rolled up onto the scale and hit the intercom button. “Can I help you?” The voice on the intercom crackled. I gave my information like I’ve done hundreds of times before, and explained what I needed to do. A few minutes passed and they came back on. “You’re load isn’t scheduled for delivery until tomorrow. Contact your dispatch for further instructions.” I sighed as I pulled into a parking spot. I called up my supervisor once more and updated him on the situation, he told me to hang tight. I looked down at my hand and suddenly realized I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring or my prayer rope. I felt naked. I wanted to be home.
Finally after about two hours of waiting I was instructed to leave the port and head over to Northwest container. They’d hold the load for us, and then another driver could swing by later to pick up and deliver it. So I fired up the truck and got the heck outta there. Quickly made it to Northwest Co and got the can taken off. Then it was a simple drive back to the port district for an empty container out of Terminal 30. In and out in less than 20 minutes, and I was back on I-90 heading to Pullman. I thought this would be a simple, easy return trip. Snoqualmie pass had other plans for me however.
I knew there was a winter storm warning going into effect, but I was hoping to get through before it became really nasty. I got to the western side of the mountain and started climbing. The LED traffic sign in front of me said “CHAINS REQUIRED FOR ALL VEHICLES BEYOND THIS POINT” I mumbled another cuss word under my breath. First the trailer tipping, then the port trouble, now chains… are all my favorite problems happening to me on the same day? I pulled my rig over and started throwing my chains on. The blowing snow kept flying into places it shouldn’t have as I fought the cold and struggled to pull my long and heavy metal chains out and onto the tires. It took me over an hour of fighting with them and the occasional swear word to get them on and tight. I was surprised at how many of my new chains were already showing signs of major wear. After what felt like an eternity I got my chains on and started my climb up the mountain.
Look, I’m going to say this real quick okay? If the mountain pass says chains required for all vehicles, that means if you don’t have chains, then you wont make it over the pass. There’s no simpler way I can say that. So you can imagine my surprise when halfway up the mountain there is not one, not two, not three – but almost ten different vehicles (including several semis and a few charter buses) had lost traction and were blocking lanes at several different spots up the pass. There was so much slush and ice and compact snow on the road way that it was a miracle that anyone was able to make it over at all. I kept climbing, sometimes at 5 miles an hour, forcing my way to the top. More than once I actually got stuck. The first time I got stuck, the snowplow next to me gave me a friendly push, allowing me to continue on up. After I got stuck again, I was able to go into reverse and then back into first gear and find a patch of road with better traction. I had to use this technique more than once as I finally made it to the summit.
Slowly and surely I made it over the mountain, just to find out they had closed both sides of the pass while I was traveling. Thank God I was able to get through. My drive home was filled with phone calls to several different people. My wife and I were in constant communication and I had contacted the city shop about our water problem. They couldn’t do anything until the container was lifted out of the way. I knew my boss had shown up finally around 3, but I hadn’t heard anything since. I kept driving.
By the time I reached Othello, the roads were getting worse. Snow was falling and the roads were quickly being covered in ice. I dropped my speed with every loss of traction event. It’s not fun sliding around on ice, and it’s even worse when you know your trailer is going the wrong way. I went down a large hill, even 25 mph was too fast as I felt my tires slide. Slow down Ian, slow it down! I started the climb up the other side of the hill, trying to make way home. I lost traction and started spinning out. I was now stuck, in the middle of my lane, on the middle part of an up hill grade. Another swear word, followed by Lord have mercy. I set my brakes and climbed out of the truck. There was no one behind me, and no one coming my way. The wind was howling and piercingly cold. I nearly lost my footing several times as I walked around the truck to get my chains out once more. I grabbed two and got to work putting them on the back drive tires and tightening them down. Suddenly from behind my trailer I saw blue and red flashing lights. It was a sheriff officer. “Sir, are you aware that you are blocking the lane?” I looked at him and chucked. “Yes sir I am, but as you can see I lost traction trying to climb the hill and now I am forced to put my chains on in order to continue.” He looked at my snow chains and then at the ground. “Okay, how long do you think you’ll be?” I told him give me ten minutes and I’ll be moving again. He then got in his truck and drove away. If he had offered to help me I would have been very happy to accept, but alas he just didn’t want me blocking the road. I finally started up the road once more, sometimes using the rumble strip for extra traction. It was a slow climb, and an even slower drive back. Emily called me again, it was now past 9pm. “The can is off the water meter, can you call the city shop guy again?”
I made the call and got the water to the house shut off. Our water bill was high enough. I called my wife again as I got near a rest stop. “I’m stopping for the night here love, the roads are too dangerous to continue.” It was almost 10 pm, and I was exhausted. I said my good night over the phone and climbed into the sleeper berth. I was exhausted and had probably one of the worst days of my life. My heart was heavy and my mind filled with anguish. My dreams that night however were about family, and adventures from my childhood. A Dodger’s game, exploring through my grandma’s basement, and other happy things that make me smile. It made sense that my subconscious would try and cheer me up. I awoke refreshed and thankful for the pleasant night of sleep.
I called my supervisor and checked in with him. They had gotten most of the chickpeas off the road and onto a trailer. The trailer was upright again and according to him I still had a job. Thank God. I fired up the truck and left the rest stop. I still had to fight plenty of slush and muck, but the roads were ten times better than they were the previous night. Finally I made it to Hinrichs in order to get my empty Seattle container loaded. My boss was there.
I had been in communication with my supervisor pretty much all day, but hadn’t actually spoken to my boss, the owner of the company. I pulled onto the scale and walked into the office. After some pleasant chit chat and asking how I was doing, I pulled around the office and saw them unloading the chickpeas from my house. I looked at my boss, and he wouldn’t look back at me. My stomach sank. I pulled into the dock and the loading crew got to work. Soon my boss was unloaded and I knew he wanted to leave. Again, he wouldn’t look at me or even say I word. I tried walking over to him, wanting to say I’m sorry and please don’t fire me… but he wouldn’t even look at me, so my words just stayed on my tongue. He finally managed to leave. It only took a six point blind side u-turn back out onto the road from the parking lot and around my truck to do so, but he made it out. No looks at me as he came within inches of my truck, no words, nothing. It was as if I was dead to him. It really hurt inside. This man over the last year and a half had become something like a second father to me, and now it felt like I was cast away from him, never to be seen again. It really hurt.
After about twenty minutes I decided to send him a text message. I wanted to keep it short and simple. “Hey, I know I screwed up yesterday and I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me, but if you want my resignation in light of the recent situation, I would understand. Just let me know what you want me to do. Thanks” No response. This was 10:30 am.
Soon my supervisor texted me. His instructions were to park the truck and trailer in Pullman and to take my pick up home. I knew what that meant. I could read the emotions and read between the lines. I no longer had job and I knew it. I parked the truck after loading it and cleaned all my stuff out of it. Brushing the snow off of my pick up, I loaded it up and went home. After picking up a few gallons of water from the local store, I came home to a relieved wife who was happy to see me. Thank God for this woman, she makes me a better person and keeps me up when I fall.
I brought the water and all my stuff in and surveyed the damage. We still had no running water and my boss wasn’t talking to me. My wife and I prayed and played with our son. Around 2:30 pm, I finally got a text message from my boss. “Resignation accepted. Paycheck available tomorrow, final pay check in two weeks.” That was that. I was now unemployed. Orthodox Trucker, but without a truck. I went out side and grabbed a bucket of rain water. This is, at least for the moment, how we are flushing our toilets. No more job, and with the water broken, no more inspection and house appraisal. The loan that we were working so hard on for months, now fell through. We wouldn’t be able to stay here much longer and a move is now in order.
As I sit here at the computer typing out this hard tale, I watch as the local guys from the shop in town work to fix our water. I had contacted them this morning in order to get it fixed, with all that is going on, Emily and I just don’t have the time or the skills to get it done fast enough. Big questions remain. What is next for my family and I? Where will we go? What kind of job will I get? Should I go back to trade school? Do I want to continue in the trucking industry? Can I still be Orthodox Trucker, if I’m no longer a trucker? Lord have mercy.
I would never have imagined anything like this happening. But in a funny way, God answered my prayers. See, a few weeks ago I had prayed asking God for help. We needed guidance and didn’t know whether or not we should stay here, or move somewhere else and be closer to an Orthodox community. Tipping my container over was definitely one way to show us his will, because now we know what has to be done. We just need to figure out where to go.
Keep us in your prayers dear readers, and until my next post I am