November 2002  

Back ] Next ]

May/June 2000 ] July 2000 ] August 2000 ] September 2000 ] October 2000 ] November 2000 ] December 2000 ] January 2001 ] February 2001 ] March 2001 ] April 2001 ] May 2001 ] Summer 2001 Pg 1 ] Summer 2001 Pg 2 ] September 2001 ] October 2001 ] November 2001 ] December 2001 ] January 2002 ] February 2002 Pg 1 ] February 2002 Pg 2 ] March 2002 ] April 2002 ] May 2002 ] June 2002 ] July 2002 ] August 2002 ] September 2002 ] October 2002 ] [ November 2002 ] December 2002 ] January 2003 ] February 2003 ] March 2003 ] April 2003 ] May 2003 ] June 2003 ] July 2003 Pg 1 ] July 2003 Pg 2 ] August 2003 Pg 1 ] August 2003 Pg 2 ] September 2003 ] October 2003 ] November 2003 ] December 2003 Pg 1 ] December 2003 Pg 2 ] January 2004 ] February 2004 Pg 1 ] February 2004 Pg 2 ] March 2004 ] April 2004 ] Prologue ]

 

A few things came to a head at the end of November. For months I have been running more like a long distance shag driver than a national driver and even though I am on salary and understand that it will be like that at times, a person can take only so much. Running 5 - 7 trips when you are only out 6 to 7 days is tough. Dropping and hooking one to two times per day is exhausting. The mountain of paperwork created by all of this is overwhelming. I had a particularly bad week November 20 - 27. These were my loads:

 

11-20-02, approximately 10:00 AM: Grab load in Des Moines, IA and run it 125 miles east to a truckstop, to swap it with another driver.  Take empty trailer that I had gotten from the other driver to Marshalltown, IA to drop and hook and deliver in Pleasant Prairie, WI the next day at noon.

 

11-21-02, 12:00 PM: Deliver load. Since I had been hauling meat combos, a trailer washout was needed. I was to drop and hook in Burlington, WI next, but had to go aways out of route to find a place to get the trailer washout.

 

11-21-02: Time? Late. Burlington, WI. I missed the turn into the truck driveway at the shipper. It was an easy thing to do, considering the poor way the place is set up. As you approach the plant from the south, the plant is on the left side. The truck drive is completely blocked by bushes. The guard shack is immediately after the truck drive and then there are two more driveways; one for cars going in, the other for cars going out. The speed limit is something like 35 mph here, but even at 25 mph there's no possible way to spot the truck drive in time to turn into it. Chances are that you won't see the drive at all. There is a sign after the car drives, but the letters are so small that you cannot read it and this goes double when it is dark outside, which it was. I thought maybe the truck drive was on the far side of the plant, so I kept going, slowly, searching, but then I was past the place and knew I had better turn around. Upon the return, I almost missed it again because heading south, the bushes don't block the drive, but the guard shack does. I could see there was no way trucks were supposed to go in through the car drive, though. It probably sounds like I am half blind, but really, I have perfect vision. In fact, I was told I have better than perfect vision, 20/15 I think they said. Anyway, I did finally spot the drive and pulled in.

 

The guard shack was empty so I tried to call the plant itself on the cell but no one answered. Batting a thousand now.

 

The truck drive is narrow, only wide enough for one truck at a time and leads back to the trailer drop area. Once you are in the drive, it is extremely difficult to get out. If you wanted to back out, you would have to back out blind onto the state highway. At the end of the drive, which is approximately 1/8 of a mile or less, there is an electronic gate and an intercom/speaker phone. The instructions on the intercom say to pick up the phone, dial a zero and wait. A note posted on the intercom box says that if no one answers, the guard may be out on rounds and you should try back every five minutes.

 

It was bitterly cold this night and I wasn't long on patience, standing in the freezing cold wind, waiting for someone, anyone, to answer the speakerphone. I returned to the truck, half tempted to go to sleep. Heck I was blocking the driveway, eventually someone would have to deal with me. I tried the intercom every five minutes a couple more times, but to no avail.

 

Finally I noticed that the lights in the guard shack had come on and there was someone inside. I backed down the drive and went inside. "Oh sorry, that intercom hasn't worked in months." the guard said. As much as I tried, "whatever" wasn't the word that came to mind.

 

Finally I pulled the load out of there and headed to Indianapolis, IN, where I'd drop it and hand it off to another driver to deliver somewhere in Virginia. Again, I wished I could have kept it and run it myself, but I had become some sort of long-distance shag driver so that wasn't to be. I ran all night and pulled into Indy in the wee hours of the morning on 11/22.

 

Later that day I was given a load that would be brought in by another driver in the late afternoon. It would deliver in Cedar Rapids, IA on 11/23 at 4:00 AM. Considering the time it would come into the yard, the load would be a straight through deal. I slept a good part of the day, knowing I had yet another all-nighter on my hands.

 

11/23 2:30 AM I pulled into Cedar Rapids and the consignee was deserted. I wandered around the warehouse for awhile, and eventually found the one sole person working at this insane time of day and got rid of that load.

 

An hour or so later and I was headed to Marshalltown, IA to pick up a load with multiple drops on it. Knowing the Swift plant at Marshalltown, IA as I do, I knew it would be awhile before it would be loaded. They could possibly be the slowest loading meat plant in the United States, but they have much competition in that area, as all meat plants basically suck. I pulled into a little truckstop in Tama, IA not long before the sun came up and crashed.

 

After waking I called the plant and was informed that no, the load was not ready. No surprise there. I decided to stop in to the casino outside of Tama to blow a few rolls of nickels (yep, big spender, that's me) and get my stomach full. That ate up a few hours and finally I had nothing better to do than to go into Marshalltown. After checking the trailer in and getting it washed out, the load still wasn't ready. I refused to sit and wait in the area allotted for drivers and drove to the truckstop. The waiting area at the plant has a bathroom with a flush toilet and that's it. The phone provided is out of order and there's no vending. This is actually an improvement over how this place was years ago. They've made some changes, which are better, but are still a long shot from decent. My first drop was Quincy, IL for 5:00 PM the next day. I decided to get a decent night's sleep and surely the load would be ready in the morning.

 

11/24 The load was ready so I went after it and went to Quincy, IL, arriving an hour or so early. I was glad for that because the place was slow to unload and very difficult to get into. They had indoor docks, it was raining and already dark I was the second truck in line. I had called the receiver for directions and was glad I did because if I had followed the directions sent through the Qualcomm, I would have come into the place backwards and would've had to either back blindside into a tight indoor dock or go around a block that was extremely skinny and steep going up one side and steep going down the other. I was able to grab a nap of an hour or so before they came knocking on the door to say I was done. The next drop was in Chicago, IL at 3:00 AM. I called the receiver to see if I could come in earlier than that and if there was secure parking. I was told yes on both.

 

11/25 1:30 AM I drove straight through to arrive at Drop #2 early. Another all nighter was in the works. After an hour's nap or so, they banged on the door and had me back into a dock. After another nap of an hour or so, they banged on the door again to say I was done. All the naps in the world aren't worth a full night's sleep and by this time I was feeling pretty worn out. All I wanted to do was crash, but I knew that it would be wise to get the heck outta Chicago before rush hour got into full swing. My next and last drop was in Muskegon, MI at 10:00 AM. I made it over to the T/A at Porter, IN and tried to get the fog out of my head. Again, I had hours, though not many, but I was exhausted and not thinking straight.

 

Whoever had set up the appointments on this load had done a poor job. In hindsight, it was obvious that the only way to legally run this load was to have picked it up as soon as it was loaded, which had been around 2:00 AM the previous morning, and run down to Quincy, IL and get an eight hour break in. Then I could have run the five or so hours to Chicago and then run the three or so hours to Muskegon, IL. By leaving Marshalltown, IA at 9:00 AM instead of 2:00 AM, I could not get an eight hour break in and found myself under a load that I could not legally do. This was all swirling around my head in Porter, IN. Just whose fault was this, anyway? Was it mine because I hadn't thought all of this out? Was it theirs for scheduling the drops so close?

 

I called the consignee in Muskegon and was told they did not have an appointment for me but that they would accept the load if I could get there by noon. Oh brother, what now? I qualcommed Dispatch to pass this along. Whatever. I laid down for a couple hours, leaving only a few minutes of spare time to make Muskegon. Somehow I made it. After getting empty, I drove a couple of miles down the road to a convenience store with a large lot and climbed into the bunk for another nap.

 

The next load was coming out of Logansport, IN. The load information on the Qualcomm said it was a live load and my appointment was at 1:00 AM. Dispatch assured me that I had to be at the plant at that time in order to load. I would have preferred to get a full night's sleep and go into the shipper in the morning, but again, it wasn't to be. I got the trailer washed out and headed to Logansport, IN.

 

11/26 12:30 AM I pulled into the shipper and went inside to check in. The shipping clerk said the load I'd come to pick up wasn't scheduled to load until morning and that it would likely take all day because it was an export load. Whatever. I dropped the trailer there and drove 15 miles to the nearest truckstop. It was somewhere around 3:00 AM and it was one of the earliest to-bed nights I'd had all week. I slept like a baby. After waking I had a huge breakfast and a shower and started to feel like I might be human. The load was ready by the time I got back to the plant and I headed towards home.

 

I stopped to weigh the trailer out at the nearest truckstop. It weighed out okay and I was debating on whether to take yet another nap when I saw one of my former students walk by. She and her husband were headed to Chicago to deliver the next day. She and I had a nice long talk about this, that and the other thing. I've seen a couple of my former students on the road, but not many. I've always wondered what happened to them, how they've done and if they've even stayed in the industry. She said she was doing well and that trucking has been good for them... I was happy to hear it.

 

11/26... Late?...I pulled into the yard in Des Moines vastly relieved the week was done and that I'd made it home for Thanksgiving. I've missed more Thanksgivings than I've made home, so they are particularly special to me.

 

I spoke with my Fleet Manager at the end of this week and complained about running so many short all-nighters. I asked if she would please see about getting me some longer runs, as the short ones are so tiring. As a salaried driver, I know I can't run exactly what I want to, but there has to be room for improvement. My miles have really stunk over the past few months but my partner's have been good. I keep track of these things. I pointed out to her that it didn't seem quite right that my partner pulled fewer trips that were longer in miles, while I pulled short trips but a lot more of them.

 

A flipped over truck in Omaha/Council Bluffs area on I-80.

Ahhh... A beautiful Iowa sunset.

 

 

Back ] Next ]

 

 

  You are logged in as: <% Response.Write(Session("FIRST_NAME")) %>

Log Out

User Control Panel

 

May/June 2000 ] July 2000 ] August 2000 ] September 2000 ] October 2000 ] November 2000 ] December 2000 ] January 2001 ] February 2001 ] March 2001 ] April 2001 ] May 2001 ] Summer 2001 Pg 1 ] Summer 2001 Pg 2 ] September 2001 ] October 2001 ] November 2001 ] December 2001 ] January 2002 ] February 2002 Pg 1 ] February 2002 Pg 2 ] March 2002 ] April 2002 ] May 2002 ] June 2002 ] July 2002 ] August 2002 ] September 2002 ] October 2002 ] [ November 2002 ] December 2002 ] January 2003 ] February 2003 ] March 2003 ] April 2003 ] May 2003 ] June 2003 ] July 2003 Pg 1 ] July 2003 Pg 2 ] August 2003 Pg 1 ] August 2003 Pg 2 ] September 2003 ] October 2003 ] November 2003 ] December 2003 Pg 1 ] December 2003 Pg 2 ] January 2004 ] February 2004 Pg 1 ] February 2004 Pg 2 ] March 2004 ] April 2004 ] Prologue ]

 

[ Journal Home ] [ Newbiedriver Home ]

 

V

2000-2008 Creative Curriculum FTTI, All Rights Reserved

NO REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION, PHOTOS COPYRIGHTED

Report Technical/Site Problems, Broken Links, Abuse

 

My Tribute to 911

My tribute to 9-11-02