Yesterday I arrived at the first of my three stops in the greater Denver area. Even with the help of satellite imagery from Google it was a challenge to get my truck to the store, get it going the correct direction then actually backing into the dock area. By way of example, I had to pull forward into the parking lot of an adjacent fitness center, blocking in a dozen or more cars temporarily, just to get lined up for the dock. Better yet, there was no way I could turn tight enough to go back out the way I had come in and there were various obstacles (handicapped sign posts, a light stanchion, curbs, etc.) in the way even with the parking lot deserted this morning.
Still, with a bit of luck, the parking was doable and I did it. At 0300 this morning the first PetSmart store took all of its six pallets off of my truck and I split, heading up to Longmont, Colorado.
Finding the right big box store in the midst of a dozen or more similar darkened stores at 0430 in the morning is challenging. I had to wind my way through several parking lots that were never designed for big rigs before I spied the PetSmart store and made my way around behind it. At which point I found this:
Now, I was traveling down the street from the left of where this picture was taken, so I had to make a very tight u-turn into the parking lot. I had to miss the cinderblock wall in front of me, then the large dumpster on my right as I continued and of course that lovely parked trailer there to the left.
As you can see, the turn itself was greater than 180 degrees and it left me with the problem of which of three separate (and completely unmarked) docks belong to my customer. I knew there was a bookstore to the left so I assumed they had the dock furthest to the left. On the other side was a retailer like Target or someplace like that, so I assumed the right docks belonged to them. Which left the middle dock:
Do you see the shadow of the trailer just out of view to the right of this picture? See how it is angled one way and my truck isn’t parallel. In short, I had to back through a minefield of garbage and recycling dumpsters, cinderblock walls and steel poles — did you see the one next to my driver’s door in this picture? All in the dark, which didn’t much matter because it was a blind-side back anyway.
For these reasons, and many more, I boldly make the claim that Building Architects are Going To Hell. You will be made to back into these terrible excuses for docks for all eternity, blind, in freezing rain, ice, snow or some combination of all three. You rotten bastards.
By 0900 I had made all three of my stops, and I even swept out the trailer at the end since (a) I figured my next load would probably be Budweiser and they are sticklers and (b) the last stop had one of its pallets tip over sending torrents of pet bedding, cat litter and such on to the floor.
Since I was getting low on fuel, I puttered over to the Pilot on the north side of Denver and filled up. The pumps were backed up as usual, and the line to the Blue Beacon truck was was at least a dozen deep. Since that location only has one bay, I couldn’t see waiting 3-4 hours to get my poor, dirty truck washed so it suffers still.
Speaking of suffering, I managed to twist my back just the wrong way and it is giving me grief again. I used to have terrible back pain in my teens and 20’s until a friend suggested I give waterbeds a try, which not only worked but were incredibly comfortable as well. Alas, I’m not going to have such a thing in my truck any time soon.
Worse, my dispatcher does one of Jim’s No-No’s by waiting six hours to throw me on to a Budweiser load (see, I knew it) heading out of Fort Collins, Colorado. Apparently, we are judged as a carrier by the promptness of removing filled trailers from this plant so my request to pick it up in the morning was denied. I thought longingly of just turning down the load, as is my right, but in the end I gave in because this past week I’ve been running so well.
Unfortunately, taking this load has some bad consequences. First, I can’t make the original scheduled delivery time in Grand Island, Nebraska tomorrow so it is pushed back a day. This will screw up tomorrow (short run) then the following day as well (late start). This tends to cascade for a few more days ruining my rhythm and making everything ever so much harder to accomplish.
Anyway, I ran up to Fort Collins, swapped my dirty trailer for one that was even dirtier then managed to sprain my ankle on the way out. It doesn’t feel too bad and isn’t swelling much, but I won’t know until tomorrow how hobbled I’ll be.
Today ended in Cheyenne, Wyoming with ominous electronic signs proclaiming 60+ mile per hour winds to the north. I’m glad I’ll be heading east tomorrow morning but according to a state trooper I chatted with they are expecting high winds all week.
P.S. The hijacking fun continues. Apparently, not only did the bad guys take a trailer full of Pepsi syrup, they nabbed one full of Corn Flakes. Are we looking at a resurgence of the Apple Dumpling gang I wonder?