Working to remain positive in negative circumstances

Updated Apr 12, 2012

I learned today about Russell’s Truck and Travel Center in Glen Rio, N.M. Learned by stopping there for the first time.

Diane and I woke up this morning Moriarty, N.M. where we spent the night. We are deadheading east from Arizona to better position ourselves for freight.

It does not happen often but it has happened to us a few times in our expediting career that everyone we know is doing well while our production sucks. I have talked with fellow Landstar BCOs who have been at the company a long time, others who have been here about as long as us and others who are brand new. All of them are running well while Diane and I find ourselves with nothing.

This happens to every expediter every so often and it is hard to take when it does. Emotions kick in that are not pleasant. Thoughts come to mind that normally do not. Time passes slow.

To get un-stuck, Diane and I decided yesterday to deadhead east. We love the West but this time we are finding ourselves with too many days between loads. We could go to Los Angeles but that would likely keep us west. Oklahoma City is our destination now and if necessary we will continue to Saint Louis.

Driving did not eliminate the mental and emotional struggles I mentioned above. I am not liking it that we are driving on our own dime to chase freight. Given our current circumstances, it is the best option we have but that does not make it any easier. We have called agents, talked to friends, and talked to people in our carrier’s office to scope things out. The best choice is to chase freight so that’s what we’re doing.

Some good has come out of this. We called one agent that we otherwise would not have. That new contact produced nothing good today but may serve us well in the future.

Getting stuck in a black hole like this prompts one to look for new sources of light. I have looked before and looked again today into using outside load boards to get freight. When we are running well, there is no need to pay for access to these boards. But when we are in a fix like this, the expense seems worth it.

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Do we spend the money and gamble that freight might be found on outside load boards? I’m not sure. Maybe the thing to do is to try it for a while to see. But as soon as we write the checks, freight will likely pick up for us and the need for outside boards will fade.

So ran my thoughts as I drove today.

One nice discovery was Russell’s Truck and Travel Center on at I-40 Exit 369 in New Mexico. We have never stopped there before because they do not offer a fuel discount like the brand-name truck stops do. Not being in a hurry today, we stopped for a stretch break.

Even from a distance this place was inviting. Its curb appeal was great compared to the truck stops we usually stop at. Diane went in while I stayed in the truck. When she came back she said the store offered an interesting mix of 50’s, Route 66 and New Mexico merchandise, in addition to the usual truck stop mix. The store also features a small car museum and was very clean. Sadly, the cell phone signal was very weak. We cannot afford to be cut off from the outside world so staying there for more than a few minutes is not an option.

We continued on to Oklahoma City and stopped for fuel at the TA there. People we knew from our former carrier came to greet us at the fuel pumps. We decided to spend the night there and join them for coffee and a visit in the restaurant. The visit was nice but when we returned to the truck Diane said to me, “I don’t miss complaining about dispatch.”

I mentioned above the different thoughts that come to mind when we are stuck with no freight. Among them is wondering, would we be better off if we were back at our former carrier? Mentally I knew the answer is no. Emotionally, while in a freight black hole like this, that “no” does not seem as clear. That is until we talked with friends who are still there. After that visit, it was crystal clear that we are with the right carrier, even when finding ourselves in a black hole like this.

The black hole is not a permanent condition. We will have freight back on the truck soon enough. But until that happens, it remains important to fend off the negative thoughts and irrational feelings that bubble up. It you don’t, they can fuel the formation of inaccurate opinions and bad decisions.

Part of the fun of trucking is the ability to drive and drive and drive (providing of course that you like to drive). But if negative thoughts and feelings are bubbling up, those hours and hours and hours of time behind the wheel provide fertile ground in which the negatives can take root.

It is easy to maintain a positive mental attitude when things are going well. But it’s a different story when you are doing the best you can and things are less than well.

I’ve said it before. You get more of what you think about, so think about what you think about. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel today thinking about that.

It took a fair amount of effort to think about the money we seek to make instead of thinking about the money we are not making. Thinking about the former keeps my eye on the possibilities. Thinking about the latter creates a downward spiral of negative thoughts that feed on themselves and put you in an unproductive state of mind.

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