Return trip to Omaha

My dispatcher called me up this afternoon to let me know they have a trip ready for me tomorrow morning. I’ll be heading to nearby Frontenac, Kansas to pick up a load of Ol’ Roy dog chow (or some such) and bringing it up to Omaha. Its about 400 miles and I’ll take care of it in one fell swoop tomorrow, weather willing.

Home at last

After I delivered the load to Lincoln, Nebraska I was given a load heading to Atlanta, Georgia with some extra days to deliver it so I could get through the house and take some time off. Alas, just as I was reaching Kansas City that all changed.

My dispatcher called and asked if I could drop my trailer in KC, pick up an empty, get it loaded nearby, then drop that trailer back at the yard. Oh, and grab another empty trailer and take that home instead of the Atlanta one. Another driver needs it to get home, don’t you know.

For some reason I agreed to all of this. The net effect on my day was the loss of three hours of my time doing the various trailer shenanigans, about thirty miles of driving in city traffic, and the loss of my trip down to Atlanta. In exchange, I got an empty trailer and 25 miles of pay. As I’ve pointed out before on more than one occasion, lots of things in the trucking industry work the way they do only because your time as a driver has absolutely no value to anyone but yourself.

Grouching aside, I made it home and I’m off until Tuesday morning, so neener neener neener.

Ever need to backup some files online?

I occasionally back up important files (eg logbook files from Drivers Daily Log, pictures, documents, etc.) to a flash drive or my Drobo just in case one of my computers dies. Now, I also use DropBox which lets me store up to two gigabytes online for free (and more if you care to pay for it).

Better, it lets you synchronize your files with other computers so if you need to keep copies of important documents on a laptop and desktop, for instance, it handles it seamlessly.

Give it a try here.

Indoor dock at a food bank in Nebraska

This was a bit of a nerve-wracking back since you couldn’t see the trailer at all once it was inside the building and the street in front was too narrow to do anything other than a curved back. You can see the dirt tracks my tires left on the street during one of my many pull ups.

It happened again

I delivered the load in Manchester, Pennsylvania last night and for the second time in as many weeks a driver from another company walked up to me and started asking questions about the company. We chatted for ten or fifteen minutes and I gave him some contact information (super-secret ninja stuff, you understand) and then my trailer was unloaded and I left.

Today was a long day. I started in Manchester and made my way about 320 miles west to Akron, Ohio. The truck entrance to the shipper’s property was torn up and being rebuilt, so I went a bit further down the street and turned into the employee parking lot — after first making sure there was enough room for me to turn around. I went inside and used a phone and company directory to call the shipping people to let them know I had arrived and ask for directions. Basically, keep going around the building from the opposite side then find the docks around back.

I do all this and find the docks, only to find out the specific product I need is at a different warehouse a few blocks away. Grr. I get directions, locate the place on my GPS and in a few minutes I’m at a pretty ratty looking place with a dirt path (I kid you not) around back and big signs directing trucks that way. O-kayyyyy.

The docks were set back against the building in an usual way which made it impossible for trucks not parked on the ends to leave before someone vacated a spot next to them. Luckily, I had a spot at the end, though the backing up was challenging.

41,000 pounds of apple juice, orange juice, pear juice and lord-knows-what else later, I’m loaded, trailer locked and sealed and I’m on my way.

I pushed to make South Bend, Indiana while there was still parking left, but as of 1630 the place was packed so I had to fuel and leave. One of the worst feelings you can have as a truck driver is being a block or two away from a packed truck stop that you would really have preferred to stay at and notice a spot open up that you could have had if you hadn’t left. Trust me, I know.

Fifteen miles down the freeway is one of the toll road parking places and it had tons of truck parking. Tomorrow I have to make my way to our HQ in Omaha to fuel up, then on Thursday morning I deliver in nearby Lincoln, Nebraska. Then, hopefully, a short load home for a much-deserved three day weekend.

The Kens

The Texas load delivered on time and I was dispatched to Haltom City, Texas to pick up a load of Sara Lee products heading to the Walmart DC in Clarksville, Arkansas. The timing was a bit odd, with me delivering my previous load in the morning and picking up the Clarksville one at 2000, but it worked out in the end. I woke up in Colbert, Oklahoma at the Loves, and I shut down last night at the rest area heading north, also in Colbert, Oklahoma.

Today should have been a hop, skip and jump to Clarksville to exchange trailers. This plan went to shit when I attempted to leave with an empty trailer. When I went to swing the right door shut, the chain holding it open didn’t want to budge off of the hook that it was hooked to. I spent a good 30 minutes with a hammer, vice grips, Extra-Strength Tylenol, screwdriver, and anything else I could think of until finally I just took the damn hook off the side of the trailer and beat the crap out of the link until it gave up. Sometimes, you just gotta hit something.

The rest of the day went better. I got the new empty washed out in Russellville and exchanged it for a heavily-laden trailer bound for the same Manchester, Pennsylvania stop that I had last week. 1,150 miles and I don’t deliver until Monday at 2000, which gives me plenty of time to fiddle and fart around on the way northeast.

A driver chatted me up when I went to fuel up the reefer yesterday in Arlington, Texas. He leases a truck from England and simply isn’t getting the miles to pay for much more than the lease itself. We compared settlements and he saw that my plan for $1,500 net per week was utterly reasonable, and was amazed how little I drove to get it.

Now the weird thing. After we were chatting for a while I introduced myself and so did he… it turns out his name is Ken as well! The other two drivers I’ve referred to Hill Bros were also named Ken. Odd, very odd.

Anyway, if you’re out there Ken, I hope you get in touch with the recruiters at Hill Bros and everything turns up roses for you.

Off to Texas, but not home

Our folks in the rear with the gear decided I needed to backtrack to that same PetSmart DC and exchange my empty van trailer for an empty reefer trailer. The next load had me heading north about 80 miles along state highways to Woodstock, Illinois to pick up 8 tons of pharmaceutical-grade saline solution for a company down in Texas that needs to be kept near room temperature. Since our reefers heat as well as cool, it will handle the nitty-gritty details while I putter on down the road.

Finding the place and getting loaded were no problem and after a slight detour on to the toll road then immediately back off on a marked detour I continued at my stately 55 MPH Illinois pace until stopping for the night at Troy, Illinois near St Louis.

This morning I was up very early and headed out around 0300 so the big city traffic was a piece of cake. After stopping here and there along the way to sleep, buy supplies and eat I managed to arrive in Colbert, Oklahoma this afternoon about an hour’s drive away from the consignee.

I didn’t question this load plan when I got it, figuring my dispatcher had a short hop from Texas up to Missouri lined up for the home time I had requested for this weekend. This was too much faith on my part and after some haggling we agreed that I would definitely be home next weekend and I’d keep running. Paycheck 1, time off 0.