Perspective

My worst week ever.

It may not have been my worst week since I started trucking, but it was certainly the worst week since I have been operating my own truck.

I delivered the load from Georgia to a consignee on the west side of Chicago, and it took four hours for them to get around to unloading my trailer. In the meantime I was given a preplan for a load heading to Omaha, Nebraska but due to the delay it made that delivery an hour late, even though I made use of the split sleeper rule which I avoid using more than once or twice a year.

The rest of that day was spent with the truck in the shop but they couldn’t do the overhead or put on my new front shocks since apparently Volvo doesn’t make that design any more (my truck is an ’07 for crying out loud) and Monroe hasn’t started making them either.

My next load picked up any time that same evening heading to Texas. All I had to do was travel west an hour or so to Schuyler, Nebraska and pick up a load of meat, then put a couple hours of driving in to get me into range for delivery.

Everything was going fine after I arrived, I dropped off my empty and went to grab the loaded trailer. It was set at 26 degrees and I thought nothing about it as I hooked up and inspected it. Pull it out to the gate and the guards find out the load should be at zero degrees instead. No problem, I turn down the freezer to zero and ask for my paperwork.

“Sorry, can’t let you out of the yard until you are within five degrees of load temperature.”

Now, it is almost 100 degrees in their parking lot, and very humid. Since the load had been sitting for hours at 26 degrees the twenty tons of meat didn’t want drop 21 degrees in a hurry and I waited for, I kid you not, three hours before it hit five degrees inside.

Back to the gate and the guards hand me a different set of paperwork. “Oh, turns out the load needs to be set at 26 degrees.”

I look at one guard dumbly (it is 0230 at this point) as his buddy walks outside and adjusts the temperature on my reefer. No problem, I’m definitely cooler than what they need so hand me the paperwork and I’m off…

“Sorry, can’t let you out of the yard until you are within five degrees of load temperature.”

At this point I went off and told them to blow a goat, I’m turning down the freaking load and putting it back out in their drop lot and they can work out their damned temperature problems with their management in the morning. Jump into the truck and am grabbing gears as I do a tight 180 around their guard shack and back into the lot, even though I know I’m contending with very narrow spacing between trailers. I’m halfway backed in when one of the guards is dispatched to my location and explains they screwed up again, the paperwork in question with the different temperature was for a different load.

Mother of freaking pearl, sometimes.

I grab the real paperwork and blitz out of their lot before they could screw it up again and scale out across the street at which point I stay the night since it is half gone already.

The delivery in the Dallas area goes off fairly smoothly two morning’s later but the next plan has me waiting around almost an entire day for an 0400 pickup heading to the Denver area. This equates to yet another blown day followed by one full day of frantic driving to get as close to Denver as possible then a few more hours on the following morning to finish the load.

All of that transpires, and the load is there on time. Eventually, I’m dispatched to Fort Collins to pick up a heavy load of beer heading to Omaha. I clean up one of our trailers and drop it off there and grab the reefer trailer that is waiting for me with the load already aboard. I notice that there is at least 12 feet of empty space at the back of the trailer and since this is a reefer it almost certainly means that whoever loaded it didn’t bother noting the huge fridge up front or the heavy diesel tank below and the load would be too nose heavy to take and be legal. My instincts are spot on as the on-site scale reveals 35,150 pounds on my drives with the trailer tandems all the way up.

This unnamed beer company decides it isn’t going to rework that load, hoping another truck in our fleet will drop by and by some miracle make it out of the lot legally. If they were thinking that then the load is still there since there ain’t any truck in our fleet that can make that happen.

By the time our incredulous weekend dispatchers and planners are on the case it is too late for my driving hours since I had to be up incredibly early to finish off the last part of the Dallas-to-Denver run. Thoughts of getting 3-4 hours down the road and a nice steak and shower at the Boss at exit 107 in Nebraska go bye bye, replaced by a new bobtail parking area a football field jog away from the restroom and the stink of hops or barley or whatever crap they are putting into their suds nowadays.

Another day down the drain.

Next morning I get a load assignment to Independence, Kansas and Pittsburg, Kansas, of all places but I need to get the repairs finished at our shop so I see if they can’t find me something other than the heavyweight load going to Omaha. Finally, such a load is found and I scale out legally.

I manage to work out the timing so I could still grab a shower and steak at the Big Springs Boss, leaving just enough time to make it to Omaha for the night. Along the way traffic began to slow down and back up and I rolled past this:

Less than a minute before I arrived this tractor trailer was on the opposite side of the freeway. An automobile cut into the driver’s lane forcing a quick stomp on the brakes and an evasive maneuver, which resulted in the driver losing control, crossing the entire median and ending up on its side where you see it here.

If you look at the larger version of the photo you can see the lady driver sitting on the edge of the grass between the trooper’s car and the trailer.

In a few seconds her day (and week, and month, probably) went from some sense of normalcy and routine into chaos, terror and probably a new set of underwear.

My week was tough but I’d still rather have it than her week.

Naturally, my mouth-breathing cat would rather have her week out of any of the above:

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