Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trying a new job on for size


I spent a good chunk of today learning about how pilot car drivers escort trucks with oversize loads on Arkansas highways.

It was the first step in a training process aimed at turning me into an escort driver, if I decide I want to continue.

I was up at 4:30 a.m., packed an overnight bag in case this turned into a two-day excursion, and drove down to one of the pilot car company owner’s house south of town.

We drove from there to West Memphis with another of his drivers in a second pickup truck where we got rear tires for the other guy’s truck.

From there we hooked up with a woman who also works for the company and our three vehicles continued to a truck lot near the Memphis Airport on the southside of the city. The two other drivers were introduced to a trucker hauling a huge piece of earth-moving equipment and after conferring about the route, set off to escort him to Davenport, Iowa.

Our load and truck driver were waiting for us at the westbound I-40 weigh station in West Memphis. He was hauling enormous dump truck tires that made for a 14-foot-wide load.

He was bound for Texas, but only needed our services as far as Little Rock because state authorities had routed him onto two-lane roads in a couple of places to avoid construction on the Interstate.

My mentor gave me a crash course in keeping the trucker advised of choke points and other tight spots on the two-lane by running out in front of him a couple of hundred yards and how to run interference for him from behind on the Interstate. It’s a job that takes a lot of focus and awareness, but I think I was catching on.

He cut us loose east of Little Rock after 129 miles because the rest of his trip in Arkansas would be in Interstates where no pilot car escort was required.

We drove home in rain – very heavy at times – and I made it to Panera by about 2:30 p.m. to check out the offerings on the Amazon Vine Program site. The pickings were slim and I ended up requesting a package of Cascade dishwasher soap. Maybe I can do better next week.

Do I want to be an escort driver? Maybe. It’s intimidating and the stakes are pretty high if you screw up. I’m open to learning more before I make a decision. 

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