Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Fun, important, cool stuff! (At least for me!)
So this last week Steve, Serene, and I went to Orlando for about six days. Wow! I swear I wasn't dry the whole time, and only once did we get caught in the rain. I can't believe I truly forgot how you constantly feel like you're in a bath in humid climates, but somehow I had. Ah well! The feel and the vegetation made me think of Japan, though, so that was fun remembering!
And why were we in Orlando? For Sea World, of course! Well, not really . . . really it was for the IFCA Truck Driving Championships (for truck drivers of the food distribution industry), but Sea World was a must since a) we were only a mile away, b) we were staying an extra day for touristy things, and c) it was one of the few attractions that did NOT rely mostly on rides to be fun (Serene was just a little under the height requirements). And while we had fun at Sea World Orlando and its shows, I must say I wish I could have seen Valerie's show instead (PLEASE say you don't have acrobatic bird people taking up most of a show! Not that they weren't good, but we came to see dolphins and whales! But that's a different story!) . . . but the plane just didn't want to stop in San Antonio! Go figure!
So the truck driving championships consisted of a written test on safety, procedures, first aid, hazmat stuff, etc., a pre-trip inspection of a truck to find things wrong, and an actual driving portion where the driver has to work his way through and around and by obstacles. Some of the obstacles involved getting as close as possible to a barrel on a right turn without hitting it, stopping as close to 15 feet from a railroad crossing, backing up to a simulated dock without hitting it, driving within a narrow lane, and a curbside stop that should be straight and with the rear of the trailer at a certain spot. Okay, so that was all of the course except the "funky monkey," and sorry, there's no way I'm going to try and explain that move, lol!
Steve said he thought he did okay on the written test and pre-trip, but nothing extraordinary; and he was really kicking himself for blowing the back-up on the driving course because he went half a second too far and bumped the "dock." Okay, so he nailed the right hand turn and the curbside stop and he did well on the remainder of the course, too; but Steve just knew after that botched back-up that he had put himself out of the running for any sort of prize. Ah well. It was a long day watching the competition (Steve was about 12 from the end out of about 120 or so people), but it was fun and Serene was great . . . eating, looking at people, and sleeping nicely on our table in the food tent. =) Hey, we gave her a pillow! Okay, so it was a folded up portable changing pad, but she seemed just fine with it and my arms got a break, lol. Serene was such a hit both at the competition and everywhere else we went. Honestly, everyone seemed 1) to have never seen a baby before, and 2) to feel that taking a newborn in public was some strange and mystical endeavor on my part. O-K.
The next evening was the awards banquet and ceremony. Children weren't supposed to be there, but we snuck Serene in and disguised her under my napkin. =) Okay, so I'd asked about here before, but one of the people in charge told me, "I'm going to pretend you didn't ask that. For insurance reasons, blah blah blah, no children are allowed. But we'll just do a don't ask don't tell policy here. And sit in the back." Yes, she really said blah, blah, blah. Well, almost. Anyway, so we went and Serene slept through the yummy meal (she'd get it later anyway, lol) as well as all the clapping later for sponsors and such. They recognized people who'd improved over past years on the written test, as well as people who got the highest scores in things like the pre-trip inspection. Then they gave out the awards for overall driving, starting with third places first (there were three divisions - straight truck (like a big moving van), three-axle truck (like a small semi and trailer), and 5-axle truck (regular semi with the tandem wheels). Steve's company sent out a driver for each category, with Steve being in the 5-axle (a.k.a. hardest) division.
So third place came and we were still hoping that maybe Steve still had won something. Uh, nope. They'd introduce the drivers who won by first saying how many years they had driving for their company and then how many years accident-free. When they said things like 27 years with a company, we knew it wasn't any of our guys! Then came the second place round, and we still had a little hope . . . but no, again it was like 21 years or something with the present company. Bummer. Oh well, we still got an all- expenses paid trip to Florida (except for our extra day and Sea World later of course!).
Then the first place awards were almost done. Along came the 5-axle award. They said the driver who won first in the 5-axle competition not only had the highest 5-axle score, but the highest overall score of anyone in the entire competition. (And this is a national thing, not to mention people from around Canada.) "This driver has been with his company for 10 years." Hey, what do you know? He's got the same number as Steve! "He's had 9 years accident- free." Wait a minute -- Steve has 9 accident-free years. "And he has a three-month, pardon me, a three-week-old baby who is here with us tonight!" EXCUSE ME??????? There aren't any other babies here!!
I still can't really describe that feeling when Steve won first place! I knew he could do it, but he was so sure he'd blown his chances that I hadn't been counting on it at all! I felt like someone had punched me in the gut, but I didn't mind at all! I was so happy for him! He has a cool trophy and medalion which he gets to keep forever . . . and a check for $1000 which I'm sure he's going to exchange for something else as soon as he pays tithing, lol! (He's been thinking about a welder for a while, but who knows?) That's my man! Instant celebrity and not just among our company's guys. Fun, fun!! And not just for Steve. I guess in years past the most anyone from our company got was like 14th place, and this year all three of our guys placed in the top ten . . . not to mention that first place! Not a bad showing for our Utah group. I don't think it's really settled in with Steve even still, but that's okay. He'll still have fun getting whatever guy toy he wants. And to think this all started with his winning his company rodeo back in June. Yay!
And just for an explanation (Sea World pics are self explanatory), here's Steve doing his pre-trip inspection (no, we weren't allowed anywhere near the drivers during the competition). He's the one in beige and black by the three-axle Sysco truck.
And here's the wives of our drivers and judge and company head that came (plus baby in bundle).