Careful What You Wish For

For the past two days, I’ve been running late. The load was ready late, the shipper’s people were late letting me know once it was ready, I waited three hours before I could roll. See I’m on my first month of ‘grad fleet,’ and as a G1 I must speak with an actual person back in the pestilential city and have each and every trip plan gone over and approved. And then, once rolling, I haven’t been able to roll far each day because I’ve been putting in too many hours lately, and so am bumping up against the 70-hour rule. Which ought to mean that I could have a little time to myself while I wait for my hours to build back up.

Ha.

Running late gets on my nerves, even when it’s not my fault, so I’ve been hoping to get repowered: to switch loads with someone who has more time available. The message came in at noon today. At two I met another truck at Effingham, Illinois, and swapped trailers. Effingham, it struck me, was dangerous because of where it sits just down the interstate from Champaign. Sure enough, that was where I had to drop my new load. But not to the infamous and dreaded Kraft plant, known throughout the Company as one of the very worst places to maneuver in, a place the thought of which makes senior drivers turn pale. Instead, I was to drop off a load of yogurt at a grocery distributor.

Before I could run the 77 miles up there, though, I had to get my trip plan approved. Three hours I waited at the urine-scented Pilot in Effingham before I could take off, scotching my plan to stop for a few hours at a nice, quiet rest area, with trees maybe, on the way up. So straight up to Champaign, where the receiver’s yard turned out to be so spacious that you could take 747’s in there and do one of those numbers like the Shriners do with their minicars in parades, and where I was not allowed onto the property to park until my appointment time.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. See, my delivery is for 11PM. My day started at 6AM, so I cannot drive after 8 (this is the gist of the 14-hour rule). Since they wouldn’t let me on their yard until one hour before my appointment, that meant I could not make the delivery. Go back to exit 181, the purple-haired girl paused her GameCube long enough to tell me, and park at the WalMart, and call your people to reschedule the delivery.

Nobody, of course, was picking up phones back at the pestilential etcetera, so I called the contact number for the receiver. No answer there, either. I have now spent an hour listening to phones ring. So back behind the wheel for another chat with the purple-haired girl. Who is not surprised that nobody at her own company answered, because I’ve been given the wrong number. She sure would like to know who keeps giving that particular number out. She sees it all the time. Are you sure, I ask, that there’s nothing you can do for me here? This is, after all, product that somebody here wants to see delivered. Seeing she will have to do some actual work, she puts her down her videogame controller long enough to call in to the office. My appointment is now set for 6:30 in the morning. I drive back out to the WalMart.

Just to make things interesting, these two trips back and forth to park and spin my wheels will put me outrageously over variance on a 77-mile trip, so that is one more thing I will have to straighten up once the dust has settled. In the meantime I’ve sent in a message documenting that the delivery has been changed. Had I not done so, trust me, I would get nastygrams on the qualcomm later tonight, and maybe even phone calls. I will not be surprised if I get them anyway.

How much time and aggravation have I spent on this run so far? Add to that a minimum of another three hours in the morning. For 77 miles, which works out to twenty dollars and two cents at 26 cents a mile.

And tomorrow, after I am finally unloaded and I send in my ‘empty at final,’ I’ll bet you a million dollars I get sent over to pick up a load at Kraft.

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