How to load a trailer

Suppose you work in a warehouse and your job is to move inventory your factory produces into trailers to be taken out into the Big Wide World. Your boss gives you the task to combine two smaller orders into one in the same trailer, with about half going to one stop in one state and the other going to a different stop (and company) in a different state, with different product going to each.

The smart way to put the load on would be to take the cargo going to the last stop up at the front of the trailer, and behind that put the cargo going to the first stop. Thus, the warehouse people at the first stop would get their stuff off and stop once they saw that the remaining cargo wasn’t theirs. They would then count up the number of pallets and boxes and such and conclude that they had received everything and all would be well.

The way my trailer was loaded in Dallas was to put a bit of the first load up in the front of the trailer, followed by the entire second stop, then filled up with the rest of the first stop. The warehouse people at my first stop had a cow thinking they were shorted until they decided to pull off the rest of the cargo at which point they found their last two pallets right up in the nose of the trailer. I got dirty looks, the parentage of the shipping warehouse workers was questioned, dogs slept with cats and the like.

Finally all that was straightened out and I headed to Nicholasville, Kentucky for the last drop. This is a po-dunk town just south of Lexington, Kentucky with no freaking parking, beyond some short term street parking near my consignee. Which was great, except my 14 hours ended on their dock and I had no place to park for my 10-hour break.

At least our dispatch had told me my next load would be in Louisville, Kentucky so I headed that way, checking every off ramp and truck stop for parking. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. I had almost made it to Louisville and there was one more place to check: the Pilot in Simpsonville. Now, the odds that a Pilot will have an open parking spot way past midnight in Kentucky on a weekday? Better chance of me knocking boots with (insert favorite sex icon here; preferably female).

Wouldn’t you know it, there was not only one parking spot available but it was an easy one to get into, as someone had departed just as I arrived. There is hope left after all.

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Running bored

Yes, I made it to OKC (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) on the fuel in my tanks and took on some more to get me to Sherman, Texas. I should have filled up, and would have knowing that every single scale from Nebraska to Texas that I crossed was closed. Ah well.

My Trucker’s fuel stop pocket guide called the little woebegone truck stop in town the “Sheman” truck center but it did serve as a good place to sleep.

In the morning, a new dispatch down to Dallas to pick up a load of candy heading first to Chattanooga, Tennessee then on to someplace called Nicholasville, Kentucky. I made it as far as Shreveport, Louisiana before shutting down, mostly because the load doesn’t deliver until Wednesday.

Easy day out to York

I like the kind of day where I can just decide to drive some, rest some, get something to eat, maybe grab a load and go on a bit further. You know, like today.

The Powers That Be decided I should deadhead about 310 miles back into Nebraska to Lexington to pick up a load from Tyson going to a different Tyson plant in Sherman, Texas. It was ready to go and I can deliver any time before 0830 Monday morning. Sweet.

I took my time getting to the pickup. Got some food made, took a nap, stopped a few times to stretch and scratch and even took the initiative to fill up my fridge and pantry at that very nice truck-friendly Walmart in Lexington.

The load was a bit of a bummer, being so nose heavy that even with less than half a tank of fuel I was at 33,900 on my drives and only 32,000 or so on the tandems, with the tandems all the way forward. No way to change it around since I was legal, so I headed off to the east, stopping in York, Nebraska for the night.

My tanks are down to 1/4 and I’m planning on putting on about 100 gallons at OKC… hope I have enough to make it.

Another broken load

By the time I had picked up the load heading to Shelby, Iowa there was already a note sent to me to expect to swap it for a different load in Des Moines. Odd, since Shelby is about a hundred miles past and I had the time to deliver it and cruise back to Des Moines, but I’m paid to drive not dispatch.

As the day wore on the details emerged: head in to Fedex in Des Moines to drop my full trailer and in the morning pick up a load heading to Denver. Now, that isn’t a bad load at 650 miles and Fedex tends to be in the 20,000-35,000 lb range so I wasn’t upset.

Yesterday morning I began the long journey out to Colorado with about 36,000 in the box. What really killed my MPG was a stiff wind hitting my truck almost squarely head-on, though I still managed 7.0 by the trip computer. A couple short stops to take care of business and a longish one in Big Springs to get a shower and a steak made me near the 2000 drop deadline for the load, but it was there on schedule. I spent last night on a nearby street with three other HB trucks and an envious Swift driver who didn’t have an APU, and the smaller cab 670 model Volvo as well.

No pickup number and no load

The brain trust at HQ let me know the following morning that whatever load they were looking at didn’t exist, or something like that. This was followed by a question about me taking a load from Fayetteville down to Houston that turned out to be rhetorical since that load ceased to exist as well.

Finally it was decided I would head south to Russellville, Arkansas to pick up a preloaded trailer from the previous day and head to Rochelle, Illinois. This was news to ConAgra, since the preloaded trailer from the previous day was just being loaded in a door when I arrived some four hours after being dispatched.

It was sealed up and ready to go about 30 minutes later and I picked up the paperwork and the trailer. 44,424 pounds of goodness. Ninth hole on the tandems put me at 12,000, 33,500 and 33,900 so I was good to go in one shot.

I didn’t get much further yesterday, just to West Memphis, Arkansas. There is a truck parking area just north of the I-55 split off of I-40 that normally has room and there was plenty around 2030 when I arrived.

This morning it was up early and out on the road as soon as my log would allow. A quick stop in Hayti, Missouri for fuel (average diesel price is over $3.00 per gallon again, praise jeebus!) and to top off the reefer was complicated by long lines at the men’s bathroom. What kind of unfair world is this when that kind of thing doesn’t only happen to women?

Another stop in Mt Vernon, Illinois for some food (Chili’s Express all-you-can eat soup and salad lunch is the bomb! Includes chips and salsa!) and a few supplies from Walmart and I departed to finish the last 300 miles up to Rochelle.

Somehow the One True weather god has decided that Chicago is going back to winter, as it was 42 degrees and windy as heck when I arrived. Dummy me, I left my coat at the house since I didn’t figure I would be needing it until the fall.

Tomorrow’s load is lined up: in towards Chicago to pick up some stuff going to Menards in Shelby, Iowa.

We have a load and no pickup number

So I speak to the dispatcher today. Seems they have a load picking up in Carthage at AmeriCold heading to Moberly, Missouri for WalMart. Just got the details via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange I think; a system to link various legacy systems together into kind of a retarded internet) and I’m the man on the spot.

This load is so super secret when I arrive in Carthage even the AmeriCold people can’t find it in their system. This is a bummer since I can’t get an electronic gate pass to park on their property without the pickup number, so I have to turn around and retreat to a small truckstop nearby.

The funny thing is, I know how many pieces are in the load, how much they weigh, when and where and to whom it delivers but not that magic pickup number.

Ah, trucking.

East, West, South, North, Home

I’ve been a bad blogger of late, missing my regular posting. Since my last update I went from Omaha east to Geneva, Illinois then picked up a load in Chicago heading back to Omaha. From there, south to Russellville, Arkansas, then to Pittsburg, Kansas and back to Omaha. Finally, I got a load heading to Georgia that I t-called at our yard in Kansas City before heading home.

I’ll be away until Tuesday so I hope everyone has a great weekend and fun times with eggs and such.