This story is from 1985 or 1986. I was new to car hauling even though I had about 25 years of other experience on the road. I had not worked in a union environment before but was taught that you worked hard and did your best no matter what.
I was at the bottom of the seniority list, so I got the trucks and trips that the senior drivers didn’t want. The truck was a 1970 Conventional Cab Chevrolet. It was a company truck that had been driven like a rental. It had a 671 six cylinder Detroit engine, a 5 speed transmission with a 2 speed axle and a pusher axle. The truck had only 1 axle but they had added an axle in front of the original one so it looked like a tandem and could haul more weight. It was gutless and harder to drive but it payed the same as the other drivers.
It was in the middle of summer and I was sent to Lethbridge from Calgary. I always carried my own tools, in case I needed them. I loaded a full load of vehicles in Calgary and went to Lethbridge early in the morning. I left Lethbridge after reloading and all was well until I heard a “Boom” that you might have heard in WW2. I pulled over only to find one of the tires had the warranty expire. A blow out! I had a box of tools but no jack. Just then a truck pulled and it was a driver I knew so I borrowed his jack. It was an inside tire, so we took both tires off and put the good tire back on to carry the axle.
When I got to the yard I told the terminal manager what happened and he was a real jerk about it. He said I was not allowed to work on any unit because it was a union shop. I asked him what I was supposed to do in this situation. He said that the Tac o graph tells management when you are driving and when you are off duty. He said I should pull over and put a mark on the Tac o graph to show you were on duty. Then you are paid by the hour until everything is fixed. After making the mark, I was told to phone him for instructions. When it is fixed you make another mark on the tach and continue in your trip. I thanked him and put my tool box back in my pick up. I didn’t understand the ways of the unions but why in the world would I question this?
About two months later, I was in Edmonton on a Friday, planning to be back in Calgary at 9:00 pm and home for the weekend. At 6:00pm in Nisku, I heard that familiar loud explosion. I looked in the mirror and saw a wall of rubber pieces flying. I thought to myself okay I’ll do it your way. I got out my pen and marked the Tac o graph and phoned the manager’s home from a gas station in Nisku. He answered and I asked for further instructions. He said, “Get the closest repair shop to come out and when it is fixed, go back to where the tire blew out and pick up all the rubber pieces because I’m going to get warranty for this tire.”
The gas attendant said the nearest shop was in Beaumont but he said the guy is really expensive and doesn’t like truck drivers. All of a sudden there was a complete change in my attitude. I phoned this guy and told him I was in Nisku. He said he would come and look at it but there was a $100 cash charge for after hours.
I said that was no problem, I was in no hurry. While I was waiting for this clown, who also was in no hurry, I was still getting paid by the hour. About an hour later he showed up and said he needed $180 cash before he started. He said $100 was for the afterhours call out and $80 to do the job. I peeled out $180 cash. He was there about 45 minutes then he left without a word.
I got in, made my mark on the Tac card and went back to where the blow out occurred. What a mess! I parked on the shoulder and picked up all the shrapnel from the road and then left for Calgary. I drove about 5 miles when I had a born again moment! There on the road was a rubber alligator. I jammed on the brakes and pulled over and parked. The manager said to pick up all of the rubber and this was rubber, so I dragged it to the trailer and threw it on top of the shrapnel of ours. I spent all night stopping to pick up chunks of blown tires, all shapes and sizes, as long as they were rubber.
By the time I got to Calgary there was a pile of rubber about 3 feet high. For some reason I was tired but happy. When I got to the yard he was already there. The look on his face, when he saw the rubber, was worth the whole trip. He blew a gasket! I said I was sorry if I did not understand what he meant and reminded him he told me to bring back all the rubber because he was going to get warranty. I wanted to be sure to get enough and the right rubber. I then gave him the receipt from the tire shop and I thought that he was going to need a Nitro tablet under his tongue. He said that he wasn’t going to pay it. I reminded him that the tire guy was the closest, like he said, and I paid him cash. So all you need to do is add it onto my next pay statement and I’ll trade you for this receipt. I also reminded him that he did say this company was a union shop!