Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Last Wednesday after delivering a load in Phoenix, we got the load from hell. We were told to go to Kingman, Arizona, about three hours away, to meet another truck from a different company. Our dispatcher gave us a phone number for the broker who was handling the load. A call to the broker, and we learned that the other truck was broken down and the broker had arraigned with a local warehouse in Kingman to crossdock the load from that driver's trailer onto ours. OK, sounds easy enough so far. We called the little warehouse and got directions. The guy we spoke to at the warehouse wasn't sure how the other driver was supposed to get his trailer there if he was broke down, so we called the broker back. This is where things start getting squirly.

The broker calls the other driver to find out where his trailer is and to find out if he's going to have to arraigned for a third truck to move that trailer, or if we would have to go get it. He finds out that the trailer is in Needles, California, about 50 miles west of Kingman. So the broker starts making calls trying to set up a place for the transfer in Needles. Meanwhile, Mike and I are already on our way to Kingman.

Two hours later the broker calls us and tells us all this, and tells us that we will have to go to Needles for the transfer. So, we now have to call the new warehouse for directions, then we have to call dispatch to make sure they know about the change so we can get paid for the extra miles. Annoying, but so far not too bad.

Then we get to Needles and find the little, tiny, warehouse on a narrow back street where we've got to back in across a busy road to get into their dock. Then we have to wait for the other driver to back his truck in next to ours. Then, we find out that we will be carrying lettus. The dock we are at is not temperature controlled, it is open to the outside, and it's 112 degrees outside. Lettus is just about the most delicate type of produce one can carry, it's very temperature sensitive. It took them a little over an hour to transfer the lettus onto our truck, that whole time the lettus temperature is going up, and up, and up...

Try taking a head of lettus out of your refrigerator and putting it in your oven, set at 112 degrees, for one hour and see how that lettus looks. Now, stick it back in your fridge, and pull it out two days later. Not pretty. But dispatch told us to run the load anyway, so we did. Two days later we delivered in Nashville. Or, we tried to deliver. They didn't want it.

What's that? The other guy's truck? Yeah, he was still in Needles. It turns out his problem was that his Jake brake was stuck on, and he had to get his truck to Kingman to get it fixed, but he was never in Kingman... that was all just a big miscommunication.

OK, so we finally get our load assignment as we're leaving the place in Needles, and it's got our delivery time listed as 7:01 am. We've figured out that when they put an "01" on the time, that means there's no appointment set and they'll update it later. Now, we were looking at arriving in Nashville around 2 in the morning, so we called the receiver to see how early we could deliver. We were told that they don't start receiving until noon on Fridays, so we sent that info to dispatch. The next morning, Thursday, we got our updated load assignment with a delivery time of 7:00am, and I called dispatch to make sure that was right. We were told that they would receive our load at 7, so we pushed it on through, stopped for about 4 hours just outside Nashville to sleep, and got there at 6:30am Friday morning - only to be told that they wouldn't start receiving till noon. So we sat and waited.

They put us in a dock at noon-thirty, and we sat in the dock until 4:30 pm. Then the receiver came out and told us that they were rejecting the lettus. It took them 4 hours to decide they didn't want it. But wait! It gets better.

We called dispatch. They made out a report on the load and told us to call the broker to see what he wanted us to do with the load. We played phone tag for the next three hours. Eventually we were told to stay there at the receiver and wait for the USDA inspector to come and look at the lettus. The inspector wasn't expected until 1PM the next day. And no, we couldn't drop the trailer and bob-tail to a hotel. We had to stay with the load just to make sure the reefer didn't stop and ruin the load. Ha. (To be fair - SRT wasn't liable for the load because it was the broker's goof up, and they were afraid that a reefer unit breakdown would allow the broker to shift the liability. So, no hotel for us. Yet.)

So, we waited over night. The closest place to eat was about 1/2 a mile away, so I walked and got us dinner. If you ever have a chance to get Philly Cheese Steaks at Fat Mo's in Smyrna, TN go for it, I highly recommend them.

*deep breath*

OK, so we sat on that load until the inspector got there. I finished an entire three novel series with all that free time ( I love my Kindle app on my iPhone. And if you like sword and sorcery stuff, I recommend the Assassin's Apprentice series by Robin Hobb - good stuff.)

They rejected it - again.

We played phone tag - again.

Finally, around 6pm they told us we could take the load and go to a truck stop while they tried to figure out what to do with 32,000 lbs of slightly wilted lettus.

Then the truck broke down.

Whee!!

So, we were at the truck stop just long enough to get showers and eat dinner, and we had to get a tow to the Freightliner service center in Nashville. We got to the Freightliner at midnight Saturday night, followed by a trailer full of unwanted lettus.

Our truck needs a new thermostat, and there's a problem with the regen system. Now, the regen system is a new thing to make the trucks meet the new emissions standards. It's basically an exhaust particulate filter, and every once in a while it had to be heated to something like a bazillion degrees to burn off the particles. Ours wasn't getting up to the right temperature because of the thermostat. Hopefully, they can just replace the thermostat then run a regen cycle and it will all be OK, and we can get back on the road, but I don't have high hopes for it.

This is our third night in a hotel. It's Tuesday, and our truck still isn't fixed. They only just got the right part in this afternoon, and at 4pm, when we left the service center, they still hadn't pulled the truck into the service bay yet.

The lettus is still in the trailer.

To be continued....

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I'm a 34 year old wife, truck driver, writer, and photographer with a love of adventure and travel. I am a Libertarian, and a total sci-fi geek. I studied archaeology at Auburn University.

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