Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We are home now for a 4 day break from the road, but all is not well…

For a while now Matt and I have goofed off a bit on line in front of all you readers for our own enjoyment as well as yours (hopefully). But now a shadow has been cast by Matt’s employer, whose name shall not be uttered out loud.

Seems that because fuel prices have skyrocketed, most trucking companies have been searching for creative ways to cut down on costs. Some have been purchasing new trucks with APU units which heat/cool the interior of the cab without running the engine. Matt and I think this is a great idea. Or we did until we found out that having a pet in the truck with dander and sheddings causes the expensive filters to clog, causing other problems….

We don’t have an APU unit in ours, which means Matt idles the truck engine while he’s sleeping in the vehicle so we don’t freeze in the winter or die of heat stroke in the summer.

So, to make a long story short…. Matt’s employer has instituted a new pet policy which translates into a NO PET POLICY. By March 31st, 2009 I will be forced to vacate the truck (owned by the company) and leave Matt to drive down the road alone once again.

I have asked Matt if he would consider quitting his fairly high paying job that he’s had for 5+ years and work for another company which would allow him to drive locally (and be home every night). Or perhaps drive for another long-haul outfit that still allows pets.

He informed me that another large company similar to ours is already laying off drivers, and that local driving companies don’t pay as well and are also affected by the “slowdown.” Plus, many other companies who have allowed pets are now or soon to be instituting the same NO PET POLICY. Matt said what he would need is a career change. But that would still mean starting at the lowest rung of the ladder with crappy pay.

What Matt has done is inform his employer that he is willing to pay an annual, nonrefundable fee or perhaps take a cut in pay just to keep me on board. He is willing to do this because if I leave the truck Matt must find me a new home, meaning he and I will be separated forever, and he isn’t too keen on doing that. So far his employer will not budge. They are determined to run me out of the truck.


Paul said...

Buster, I have not had a close animal friend for many years, but I bear an abiding love for both partners in such a relationship. I'm praying that Matt will find a solution to this problem that will keep you and him together and maintain his current income (or close to it.)

I'm sure he's considered an owner/leaseback/operator arrangement (which would leave him on the hook for the fuel costs, IIRC). and checking with Covenant Trucking (whose trucks prominently feature "It's not a choice, it's a child", but whose values may not extend to pets.) (Sorry....animal friends).

Meanwhile, I remain convinced that this ridiculously escalating rise in fuel prices is primarily based on speculation, and that the bubble will burst sooner or later. (That's like when you get a gas attack, Buster, and you inadvertently stink up the cab for a short while. Or maybe when Matt does.)

Anyway, I'm praying that things come out okay for both you guys.

Buster Kitty said...

It is a very bad time for owner-operators right now. Many are parking their rigs.

We will see what happens in the coming year...

Omnibus Driver said...

Oh, Buster! You must be so worried. I'll say lots of prayers for you and Matt, okay?

Anonymous said...

Any chance that 'kitty-onboard' is something you can negotiate into your next driving contract? Don't know how attached you've become to PA but a move to a different market might be an option...?

Buster Kitty said...

It isn't the market that's the problem. I suppose we could live just about anywhere other than PA, but many companies which currently allow pets are changing their policy. APU's are becoming very popular for truck idle reduction both for fuel cost savings AND that phony global warming crap. And until they make APU's that don't have a problem with pet hair and dander, this will be an issue.

One other reason cited by my company: hotel costs for drivers whose trucks have broke down on the road. Because many motel/hotels have also started banning pets due to the rise in bedbugs brought by illegal aliens from the Third World, drivers with pets are harder to board when broke down. Hotels more expensive are sometimes required. I find this to be a load of litter box waste, as Matt would certainly pick up the difference in the costs.

In short, the momentum throughout the trucking industry is to ban pets from the trucks. Time will tell in the next 11 months if my employer softens their stand and they allow Matt a cut in pay to keep me on board. Matt says I do wonders for depression.