Saturday, December 27, 2014

Another Saturday Night

Updated below

Waiting to get new batteries at the TA truck stop in Albuquerque. The International has been slow to turn over the last coule days. I checked the batteries this afternoon with one of those little specific gravity testers. It has three batteries and they ranged from just barely to not even. They're the same ones that were in it when I bought it used two years ago so I suppose so.

TA's shop is backed up three to four hours but I have to go out tomorrow night and this is about my only option. When I get work done at TA I usually treat myself to a steak in the restaurant. My waitress kept calling me "honey." A lot of truck stop waitresses do that. Honey. Sweetie. Babe. I've never asked why and I'm sure they wouldn't say it's to prevent men from hitting on them. It makes the language of flirtation go limp.

A couple times I've said things like, "Why are you calling me sweetie? I don't even know you." That puts an end to it. I should be more understanding but they assume.  Pre judge.

This one tonight though started every sentence with "Honey" and it was just too annoying so I asked her to stop it. She pretended not to hear but she stopped. It required an effort, too. She had to keep catching herself. She wasn't resentful. In fact she was the same the entire time. Polite, smiling, prompt, professional, with neon apricot hair and a pony tail. She got a good tip. One of many I suppose. I think truck drivers tip well. Maybe they like being honey sweety babied. Maybe they never got a honey sweety baby letter in the mail.

Update: 1:36 p.m. Sunday

I'm just basking in the afterglow of another TA marathon, as my 3-4 hours turned into 16.

 It went like this. As I was waiting to get the batteries I was napping in my truck, when the woman at the shop service desk called and said she was down to one "tech." Tech is what they call a mechanic. I've asked them to call me Leo of Los Volcanes. She said her one tech had just left on a service call and would I want to wait until morning.

"I can make you an appointment," she said.

I paused.

"At your convenience."

I was just waking up and it took a few moments to realize she was trying to put me off. This has happened to me before there at night. At some point during the night, when they are backed up, the night crew decides they've had enough and take the rest of the night off. This is how it appears to me, anyway.

I told her I'd wait in line. I needed to get it done. She said OK. As soon as the tech got back he'd do my batteries.

But it wasn't to be. Over the next few hours I slept off and on. Once when I was awake saw the service truck drive in, but instead of parking, he pulled into the garage. Not good. He was there maybe twenty minutes, then loaded some boxes into the back, probably parts, and left again.

I woke about 7:00 and went inside to see what going on. The girl tried two stories. First said she thought I was going to wait until morning. Then she claimed she'd tried to call me three or four times.

"I wrote them down," she said, motioning to some numbers written in pencil at the top of the work sheet where they list the jobs they're doing and have waiting.

"Sometimes the cell phone service isn't too good here in the parking lot," she added.

I pretty much just shrugged it off. This is just how it is doing business, here and maybe anywhere else, for all I know but it's the way it is here. Of course, somewhere deep inside me the highly volatile easily exploadable when tired and taught Frank was doing a little rain dance, but I just stood there and waited to see what she'd propose, which was to tell me to pull up to door one and they'd start on it in five minutes.

Day shift was coming on and a mechanical techie got on it right away. First he said he wanted to test the batteries to make sure that was my problem, which he did with electronic technology and proved that my little specific gravity test had been correct. At that point I went and had a nice TA truck stop breakfast of sausage patties and eggs over easy.

I was in the brake room with other truckers watching people talk endlessly about professional football but never actually playing professional football when my mechanitech called and said that after installing the batteries he did a system check and discovered that my alternator was putting out the right amount of volts but only 12 amps.

Here let me pause to tell you that the TA truck stop in Albuquerque won't guarantee your batteries unless you pay for a $49.99 "system check." I wonder if the battery manufacturers know about this little fleece job and approve of someone charging $50 for their guarantee.

As for the amp question, I know nothing of amps, only volts. While 12 amps sounded sufficient -- I've been getting by on that many -- he said it should be more like 70 or 80.

"We don't like to see them under 50," the technocrat said, at that point sounding more like a tech than a mechanic.

Let pause again. I don't know this guy and I mean no slander to him but at the TA in Albuquerque you've got to be careful. Some of their mechanics have been known to sell you expensive parts you don't need, as if they're getting a commission on them or something. It's like Jiffy Lube and serpentine belts. At this TA I've been screwed out of $800, soon after I'd bought this truck, then once again for over a grand. It was older Anglo mechanics. This guy today was a younger Anglo.

I would have stopped going to this TA long ago, of course, but I have no other good options. I've tried other mechanics and garages, but so far I've found no one who's competent and reliable and honest. One or more is always lacking. This includes guys who mechanic out of the back of pickup trucks, independent shops, and name brand truck dealers and engine shops. From my experience so far, it seems to me that if you were a competent, honest, reliable mechanic, the field here would be wide open for you and you'd soon be rich. As it stands though, I'm kind of dependent on TA for some things.

I've refused to get some work done at TA, but went ahead and got the alternator because I didn't know how old mine was and it was most likely the original from 2006. An alternator is something you want to know is good and it's nice to know how old yours is. I say this having driven old cars and pickups my whole life.

What the mechnitech said would be an hour stretched into a couple hours, and more of people talking about professional football and a couple turns of the TA parking lot on a sunny winter's day in beautiful Albuquerque.


  1. Life's little hurdles, but not something one would die thinking about.

  2. I appreciate it.

    Actually, I know a guy who has gone over some big ones, major ones, and at times I've thought of him as an example. Of what I aspire to. He blogs and plays badmitten, I think it is, or maybe it's golf.