Worst Load Yet

I’ve been driving now for almost 18 months and yesterday’s (and today’s) load was the worst one I can recall.

It all started innocently enough. While I was taking my 34 hour reset in Omaha, Nebraska, my dispatcher pre-planned me on a load picking up there at the yard and delivering the next day in Chicago, Illinois with a stop about halfway between in Altoona, Iowa. It wasn’t quite as many miles as I would like to run in one day, and it terminated in Chicago which usually hints at problems, but I took it.

My basic plan was to get loaded in Altoona as early as possible (“Is 0800 too early for you to get there?” my dispatcher asked) so I could get into the Chicago area in the early afternoon to avoid the worst of the Friday traffic. Just before 0500 I rolled out of Omaha and I arrived at Altoona around 0730. I took a wrong turn on the very last street to the shipper but I got turned around quickly enough and checked in.

Only the shipper didn’t have any information from Tyson (who’s load of meat products it was; the shipper in this case was just a cold storage warehouse) on what was supposed to be loaded on to my trailer. I informed our people, our people talked with their people, blah blah blah. Oh, and I parked my truck out of the way as dozens of other trucks came and left.

By noon it was apparent there was a serious snafu somewhere and calls were flying right and left. By about 1400 I was assigned a dock but they didn’t really start loading until 1530 or so. Finally at 1630 the product was on board, the doors were sealed and I had the paperwork. Nine hours waiting.

The next problem presented itself. The consignee in Chicago doesn’t receive over the weekend so I had to arrive before midnight in order to get unloaded before Monday. My handy GPS showed that I would arrive with a few hours to spare so I got underway.

By the time I arrived in Chicago it was dark and the traffic on the highways wasn’t too bad, but the local city street traffic was fairly well packed, even at 10 PM. The markings for the consignee were nearly nonexistent and I passed the warehouse once each way going down a street that I couldn’t turn around in. I had to go miles each time to find a parking lot big enough to go back the other way safely.

Finally, I made a guess where to turn in and found the entryway which was an extremely narrow pothole-ridden gravel path lined with tractors and trailers with very little clearance on each side. Potholes so big I didn’t dare get out of first gear as I plodded along.

The docks were a mess with little area to turn around in, except for the two along the end. Fortunately the workers realized this and had the big rigs use those docks and their yard dog put trailers into the other ones.

Then, the second long wait began. There were four trucks ahead of me when I arrived at 2230. It was four hours later before I was summoned to back into one of the docks to get offloaded.

Better yet, this consignee doesn’t allow overnight parking so as soon as I was unloaded my butt was kicked to the curb out front, which of course is no parking as well. I was already pre-planned for my next load out to Denver for Monday so I slogged about fifty miles to the small town of Minooka, Illinois where I would swap my empty trailer for a full one in the morning. Morning being relative, of course, since I arrived at 0400 and fell asleep around the time I normally rise.