Monday, August 8, 2011

You don’t have to be Driver of the Month ...

... to get your own reserved parking spot. I had one for a while and it wasn’t for being Driver of the Month.

I drove a company truck for 13 years for a small private carrier here in Lafayette, IN. The company manufactured steel joist and trusses. A truck dealership halfway across town had a contract to service, maintain and garage the trucks for a couple of years as opposed to parking them at the plant. This meant every time we came in off a trip we had to drop our trailers at the plant, bobtail across town to shop, get our personal vehicles and we were done.

It was such an aggravation. And the fact that I didn’t get along with shop manager didn’t help. He accused me off tampering with the fuel pump, and I wouldn’t have known what one was if it fell on my foot.

This dealership was new and the parking lot not yet paved. When the guys in the shop serviced the trucks, they ran them out on the lot and parked them in no particular place. So when we came to get them, we would leave our pickups wherever we found our big truck. It wasn’t the best arrangement. We took our CBs out every night or they would be gone by morning.

One afternoon I came in off a run, and I couldn’t find my pickup. At first I thought it was stolen. Then I went inside, and there it sat in a truck bay. I went to the manager and asked what was going on. He said, “I’m going to teach you drivers how to park around here. There’s a $5 tow charge against your pickup.” Two mechanics had his back.

I called the state police, city police and sheriff’s office. None would send a car out. They said it was private property and a civil matter. I called my boss and the Teamsters. They both said, “You’re off duty, not our problem.”

Out of options, I walked about a mile to Water Hole No. 3. Much later that evening I walked back to the shop. By now the night shift was on. I slipped into the building, got in my pickup, and cranked it with my extra key.

A mechanic came over, and I said to him: “Get that door up.”

He said, “I can’t do that.”

I said, “Then stand back.”

I never had backed through a 14-foot overhead door and wanted to be sure I made it, so I laid a patch in reverse and out I went. The squalling tires, glass packs and crashing through the door woke up the guy sleeping under a truck.

So with some scrap aluminum and a half a row of windows in the bed of my pickup, I headed for the local trucker hangout cafe.

Here come the county mounties right behind me and said, “What the hell do you think you’re  doing, Bob?” 

I told them to check their phone log.

“You wouldn’t come out, said it was a civil matter,” I said. “I got my pickup. Go tell the boss it’s a civil matter.”

I figured I was pretty much in the bag, but they let that slide and told me to go home.

I got a summons the next day. It took some time, but what went down is this: I got a lawyer, agreed to a plea bargain, accepted 30 days suspended for malicious trespass, paid a $50 fine and no restitution.

I didn’t pay for the garage door, and the shop boss didn’t get his five bucks.

They wanted to bar me from the property but couldn’t because of my company’s contract with them. The Teamsters wouldn’t let the company fire me. So what they did was at the very entrance to their property they took a chalk line (like on a baseball field) and marked off a spot for my big truck and my pickup with a reserved sign. I wasn’t allowed anywhere else on the property.

The moral to this story is probably: Don’t mess with my dog or my pickup. But the take-away is that you don’t have to be Driver of the Month to get your own parking space.