Sleeping with da fishes

After spending a restful night ghetto parked in an odd spot in Rochelle I took my load in to one of the three Sara Lee places we deliver at in town. You know, the one on the bills.

Naturally, they weren’t having any of that and sent me and another HB driver down the street to location #2. There, the guard says we can’t drop those trailers on his lot without the people at location #1 signing off on our paperwork first. We both pull a u-turn in their lot and head back up the street to the first place.

Nope, minimum-wage security guard is wrong and we can damn well drop the trailer over there comes the answer from the helpful clerk at location #1. They have someone phone over to the guard and straighten him out and by the time we have returned to location #2 and wait through a long line of trucks we’re given clearance to drop in their yard.

There aren’t any empties so I cruise over to location #3 and snag the only one there (sorry, fellow HB driver!) then wait a few hours for my next assignment.

I’m told to take my empty reefer down to the PetSmart DC in Ottawa, Illinois and swap it for a trailer full of live fish heading to distributors in Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas. The schedule is tight and I have to arrive in Memphis in time to take my 10-hour break, unload at 0500 then be in Little Rock by 0900. I really wanted to take a shower along the way but I didn’t have enough time and though there are not one but two Pilot truck stops within a mile of my first stop I dare not stop there (the ones in Memphis are a very bad place to park).

Right at 0500 the first receiver is ready to go and by 0530 I’m rolling to Little Rock. By 0930 the last of the fishies are off and that load is in the books.

There are many things I like about the way Hill Bros operates. I like the number of pre-plans that show up, for instance. I like the accuracy with which they send me home when I ask: I tell my dispatcher a week or two in advance when I want to be home and almost without fail I’m there that day or the day after.

One thing I do not like about the operation here is how they get owner-ops home. Here, they do not pay mileage from the last drop you make to the house so where you are stranded dispatched last makes a big difference. Much of last year my last load would leave me in Carthage, Missouri, roughly 50 miles from the house and I felt this was reasonable.

The last three times I’ve come home I have had to deadhead (on my own dime) 175 – 210 miles. Since it costs me about 75 cents per mile to operate my truck this translates into more than $400 out of my pocket to come home three times. I was told last year in orientation that they would strive to get owners to within 100 miles of the house before sending them home. My repeated complaints by phone and satellite unit to my dispatcher haven’t resulted in a resolution to this issue and I suppose I will have to take it up with Ross, head of operations when I get back to Omaha next.

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