Attitude & Altitude

Posted By Frank Milne: Retired Driver, Lease operator and company owner On 2021-07-13 15:48:52

If you have an open mind and a good
attitude, you are more likely to
climb up the ladder of success – and
that is the altitude. There is no such
thing as a perfect driver, me included.
In the beginning, the old-timers would
teach me and push me up the ladder of
success (altitude). The following are
three stories I was involved in.

Don’t touch (This was me
learning).

An old-timer wanted a ride to pick
up a truck about 200 miles out of
Vancouver. So off we went. About half
an hour later, we on the freeway, and
in conversation, he said, “I notice you
don’t ride the clutch.” “Oh no,” I said,
“an old-timer explained to me that it
wears out the throw-out bearing and
causes other damage, so I don’t do it.”

“Well,” he said, “I’m glad you
paid attention to him because he was
right, so if you see anyone riding the
clutch, ask him to take his foot off of
it. If he says there isn’t any pressure
on it, tell him to lift his foot an inch
off the pedal & suspend his foot there
& see how long that lasts. However,
I notice you have a bad habit. Is your
right arm tired because I see you rest
it on the gear shift leaver? Now don’t
tell me you’re not putting pressure on
it because you are, same as the clutch.
Lift your arm an inch and leave it there.
You’re putting pressure on the gears,
and you are wearing out the forks.
Don’t tell me you are ready for the
next gear change; that being the case,
why don’t you put your other hand on
the Jake brake switch, so you are ready
to use it. By the way, you just ran out
of hands, and the truck is steering itself
down the road”.

When the truck is in motion, there
is only one thing in this cab that is
used all the time, and that’s the
steering wheel. Even the fuel
pedal isn’t used when you go
down a hill, so you put both
hands on the steering wheel
whenever possible. Rule of
thumb – if you’re not using it,
don’t touch it.

He just pushed me one rung up the
ladder of success (altitude) because I
had a good attitude.

Jump and run (It was my turn to
teach)

This time, I was in the passenger
seat getting a ride to pick up a truck
150 miles from Vancouver. Even
though we worked for the same
company, I didn’t really know him.
When he did his pre-trip – he slowly
walked around the truck and thumped
the tires, then slowly got into the cab
and got comfortable in the seat and
started the truck – waited for the air
pressure to build. Then all hell broke
out. He shoved the clutch down to the
floorboards and, at the same time, put
it in gear. The truck gave a bit of a
shudder – then he let the clutch out and
put the fuel pedal to the floor at about
the same time. The front left fender
came up at least 3 inches, and the truck
bucked forward. He went through all
the gears the same way. After a while,
I said to him, “don’t you think you are
a little rough on the truck?” He replied
that Kenworth’s were tough, and so
what if it breaks? That is why we
have mechanics. That’s when I found
out that he had a bad attitude. We had
gone about 90 miles when he decided
to stop for coffee. He geared down
every gear until he had around five left
(Jaked on every downshift) and came
to a halt. I said I want you to do one
thing for me. When you get out of the
cab, don’t bother with the steps, and
when you hit the ground, you run as
fast as you can to the coffee shop. He
looked at me and said, “do you think
I’m nuts?” I said, “no, but that’s how
you treat your truck – why not your
body.” Needless to say, it wasn’t a
pleasant trip, and with his attitude, he
didn’t gain any altitude, and I failed as
a teacher.

The Young Buck. (Him teaching
three old drivers – I was 28!)

I was dispatched out of Vernon to
pick up a load in Spokane, so I stopped
at the Husky in Osoyoos for a bite
before crossing the border. I parked
beside quite a new Trimac truck and
tanker. So I went into the restaurant
and saw two guys I knew that were
sitting with a younger guy. I sat down
with them, and they introduced me to
the young guy. They said he had just
got a new truck about three weeks
ago and was on with Trimac as a lease
operator. I asked him how old he was,
and he said 21. I said I thought you had
to be 25 with five years of experience to
get on with Trimac. He said yes, but it
was his Dad’s truck, and he had gotten
really sick, and Trimac had agreed to
let his son drive because he had a good
record with another trucking firm.
However, before he got sick, his Dad
had ordered a new Kenworth, and he
had taken delivery of it three weeks
ago. They asked him how he liked the
new truck and the 335 Cummins and the Jake brake (in 1965, 335 Cummins
and 318 Jimmy were the big power,
and Jake brakes were becoming
popular). They asked him how many
bugs had he had to fix so far. He said
that nothing had gone wrong so far
and that he had never even adjusted
the brakes. (No automatic adjusters
in those days) One of the guys said, “
Do you tell me you have driven it for
three weeks over four mountain passes
between Vancouver and Trail and
never adjusted the brakes. He looked
at us and said, “yes.” One of the guys
said, let’s go out and have a look. One guy went under the back axle, came out
a couple of minutes later and said the
red paint on the adjusting nut and the
keeper had not been broken and that
the brakes were in good adjustment.
We asked him how he got away with
that, and he replied the only time I use
my brakes is to stop. I come down the
hills at the same speed as before and
use the Jake brake. We looked at each
other – he had just taught us a lesson.
He had put us “old-timers” up the
ladder a rung, and we had gained some
altitude.

P.S. The firm I worked for had
bought new trucks with Jake brakes
and a mechanic told me they were
replacing brakes on the new trucks
more frequently than the old ones
because of the speed coming off the
mountains. Maybe they should have
listened to the “Young Buck.”

P.P.S. When you listen, you learn.
When you talk, you teach. Last but not
least, you can’t learn with your mouth
open.


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