One Step Forward and Two Steps Back
(the truckers Waltz)

Chapter 3

THE START OF A LOT OF DECISIONS

The morning, two days later, when Steve and Bill met for coffee, they formulated a plan. The first thing they would do was to check with some of the dealer ships and get some prices.

The first dealer ship they went to, the salesman was a young man, probably a little younger than Steve. Bill was a little leery about this one; he was a little too cocky for Bill’s liking.

“I’ve got just what you need out here, It’s a beauty, really just what you need. Good Cat power and light enough for the Highway,” The salesman said as he led them out side and pointed to the truck.

“It looks good, what sizes are the Diff’s in it and what’s the price?” Bill asked.

“It’s got 46,000 Lbs Rockwell differentials, with 4 wheel lockers and it runs around $150,000, like I said just what you need.”

Bill and Steve looked the truck over, it was a nice setup, but like Bill said, “They are all nice when they are new and shiny.”

“The Diff’s might be a little heavy and just what end of 150,000 are we looking at? I’ll tell you what, let’s go back in to your office and you give us a firm price on a truck, just like that with 40’s and extended warranty and what the down payment and payments will be.” Bill Said.

They went into the office and after about a half an hour the salesman came back and gave them the information. Steve looked at it and than handed it to Bill. He looked at Steve and whistled. “Looks like the National Debt.”

“Well,” said the salesman, “you have to remember that with that extended warranty, you have five years free running.”

“Oh I see, you’re telling me that for five years you’re not going to have to pay for the tires it uses and the fuel, the oil and oil filters, what about license and the insurance. How about the down time while it’s having warranty work done on it, is it going to pay for that?”

“Well no, but you know what I mean.”

“No I don’t Son, but tell me how many trucks have you driven?”

“Well none, I was working in the parts department before I started selling, but I did take a sales engineering course when I started in sales.”

“OK son, thank you, we will talk to you later,” and as they walked away he said softly to Steve, “Not in this life time.”

They went to another dealer ship and talked to an older salesman that knew Bill and after some pleasantries and kidding about Bill retiring and then shopping for a new truck, the salesman gave them the information they were looking for.

They were sitting in Steve’s pick-up truck, looking over the figures they had gotten from the two salesmen when Bill said, “You know kid, I think we are barking up the wrong tree here. If you were to buy a new out fit, the taxes, finance charges and the extended warranty would just about eat up your down payment; that means you would be financing almost the whole price.”

“I think that if you bought a good used truck, say two or three year old, you might be better off. If you look them over very carefully and get some history on them, you can cut a lot better deal and maybe have some money in your jeans, just in case.” Then he paused and looked out the side window of the pick-up and said, “You know kid, there is nothing worse than having nothing in your ass pocket and run into an emergence. I’ve known guys whose wives have had to take a second job just to help out keeping a truck running.”

Steve sat silently for a few minutes and then said, “I guess you are right Bill,” then paused, “It’s just that I was starting to think that it would be nice to have a new one.” He sighed, “I guess your right, I was just thinking champagne on a beer budget.”

“You bet I am kid, the last new truck I bought was in 1986 and I didn’t have any less trouble with it than I did with all the used ones I bought. You have never owned a truck, so the next one you buy will be a new one to you. You’re working to-morrow so I’ll do some checking around and then the day after to-morrow we’ll get busy.”

The next morning, Bill was up at 5:00 and was already to go when Jeanne came out of the bedroom in her house coat, “And just where do you think your going at this time of the morning?”

“I’m going out to see if I can find a good used truck for Steve.”

“At 6:00 o’clock in the morning, for heaven sakes Billy,” Bill knew he was going to get a lecture when she called him Billy, “Those places don’t open up until at least 7:30, what are you going to do, climb over the fence. I swear William Ivors; you are starting to lose it. I’m getting a little concerned about you.”

Bill took off his boots and coat, poured himself another cup of coffee, sat down at the kitchen table and brooded, like a scolded child.

The first place he went to was the Kenworth dealer and looked around, he didn’t see anything he liked on the lot, they were all ex-loggers or super train tractors and had been worked hard, so he thought he would go in and have a coffee with the manager, an old friend of his, Jack Thomas.

“What got you out at this time of the morning Bill, I thought you had retired.”

“I did, but I’m looking for a good used tractor for a friend of mine, I didn’t see anything but loggers and super train tractors on your lot.”

“Bill, old friend come with me, I have some thing I want to show you out in the shop,” Jack said as he got up from his desk and headed for the shop. When they got out in the shop, Jack pointed to a yellow tractor sitting in one of the bays. “Now feast your eyes on that, isn’t it a thing of beauty?”

“That’s Ed Dewalts tractor isn’t it, he hasn’t traded it in, has he?”

“You can bet on that, he took delivery on his new one last night and you are the first one to look at it,” Jack said as Bill started to walk around the truck, checking this and that.

“Eddy has to be one of the better truckers on the highway and working for a couriour out fit, it never pulled a heavy load.”

“Bill, from what I can see from Eddies records, I can tell you just what the air pressure was in his tires, every week, since he bought it new from me four years ago. We just put in a new factory rebuilt engine, the old one was getting up there on miles and a little tired, so we thought, considering the shape the rest of it’s in, we might just as well do it so we could sell it with warranty.”

“Good idea Jack, we will be back first thing in the morning, so don’t sell it from under it us.”

“OK Bill, I’ll put a hold on it. We still have a little work to do on it before it goes on the lot, but know you how word travel out there, so be quick, it won’t last long.”

Bill rushed home as excited as a schoolboy and as soon as he got in the door, he phoned Steve’s place. When Rose answered the phone he said, “Rose, as soon as Steve walks through the door, have he phone me. I’ve found him a truck and it’s probably the best truck he is ever going to find.”

As Bill hung up the phone and sat down at the kitchen table, Jeanne said, “Do you want a cup of tea before dinner, Bill?”

“Sure, that would be great dear.” After Bill got his tea he sat there thinking about when he had bought his first truck.

He had gone to an auction with his brother and bought a little Kenworth, in Edmonton, it was a pretty little cab-over, a 1981. The truck had a 1674-250 hp Caterpillar engine that sounded and ran like a Rolls Royce. The truck had a few faults, but it was cheap and Bill had been greener than grass, so he was quiet happy when he drove it home.

The things that he discovered on the way home; seemed petty, in his excitement. He remembered the pride he had as he drove down the highway waving at all the truck drivers he met and when he stopped for coffee, how he walked around it checking this and that. Yes, Bill could remember that day very well.

Then he was brought back to the present by the sound of Jeanne’s voice, “Billy, are you sleeping or are you having an out of body experience? I asked you to go get cleaned up for dinner and you just sat there with a stupid look on your face?”

“I’m just reminiscing, about the past, dear.”

As he got up and went to the bathroom to wash up, he could hear Jeanne say to her self as he left. “Oh my goodness, he’s starting to live in the past, that’s all I need.”

After dinner Bill and Jeanne were sitting in the living room watching the 6-O’clock news when the phone rang.

“I’ll get it, I think it’s for me,” said Bill as he got up and went to the phone.

“Good evening,” he answered, “What can I do for you?”

“Bill, Rose was telling me you phoned and said you had some thing for me. What did you find?” Steve asked.

“I think we just lucked out, Steve. You know Ed Dewalt, don’t you? He pulls Courier trailers and he just traded his four-year-old tractor in on a new one and that old one of his is a beauty. He has full documentation of everything that has been done to it since it was brand new, including a weekly tire pressure check. I think I have explained to you how important a history on a used truck is when you’re buying it? Well this one has history up its ying yang”

“Yes Bill, you have told me about history just about every 15 minuets.”

“Well here is the kicker; they are just putting a fresh Cummins, N14, 500hp, factory rebuilt in it. The old one was getting a little tired and they figure, considering the shape of the rest of the truck, it would be worthwhile. The engine has a full factory warrantee on it that can be extended.”

“Wow Bill, How many miles has it got on it and what do they want for it, do you think I can afford it?”

“You bet it’s less than half of the price of a new one and with the care that Ed gave it and the loads it pulled, mileage has very little to do with it.”

“OK Bill, I will meet you down at the dealership at 8 to-morrow morning.”

“You bet Steve, I think you can get excited about this one, see you in the morning,” and hung up.

“For heavens sake Billy, you’re worse than a teenager on his first date, you would think your buying the truck. Just what are you getting out of this?”

“What am I getting out of this?” Bill thought for a couple of minutes and then said, “Well dear, I’ll tell you what I’m getting out of this, I’m getting a purpose in life, if I can help a young man out, getting started in this stupid business, then I’m doing some thing besides vegetating.”

“Well maybe your right, you seem to have come to life instead of mopping around here like you have been doing since you sold your truck, but I don’t want you to start thinking your going to buy another truck and get back on the road, your 71 years old, remember.”

“Yes dear, you tell me just about every 15 minuets and you’re right dear, but it’s hard to stop doing some thing that you have enjoyed doing most of your adult life, to just stop and do nothing.”

“Come on now, turn off the TV, it’s time for bed, one thing about this little project of yours, it seems to make you happy.”

Go to Chapter 4