Sometimes it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.
Freight is slow. Slow freight means revenue is down. Unfortunately that doesn't mean that the bills don't have to be paid. So.......the pressure do DO something mounts.
Then I get assigned a load. It's a wonderful load. Pays really, really, well. With the revenue from it the wolves should be beaten off for a while.
But then things start to go wrong. Little things at first....delays. It didn't help that this was a holiday weekend approaching. No oversize travel on holidays. We should be ok though...this is only Wednesday. We should be able to make delivery by Friday. The trip length is less than five hundred miles. We should be ok...right?
Me and the other driver.... (...there are two identical loads)..are at the shipper first thing in the morning. He's to load first.
The other driver had what is called a 3 + 2 RGN. It's a pretty big trailer capable of hauling well over a hundred thousand pounds. It has about a thirty foot cargo well ...the piece to be loaded is 50 foot long... but that's OK. This morning while still at the yard we'd loaded quiet a few Oak 8x8's on the trailer. The plan was to block up the load with part of it riding across the rear...the rest being supported by "dunnage". Not a big deal....it's standard procedure. We talk to the shipping manager and he tells us where we're to be loaded. The other driver backs into the loading bay and we proceed to re-arrange the dunnage. We get it all set up and then we wait.
And wait. And wait. For reasons not made clear nothing much happens for a couple of hours.....three. Four.
Finally........ the piece is picked up by the overhead crane and eased on over to the loading bay. It's set down on the trailer and the loading crew goes to work on it. They work on it for several hours....the rest of the day in fact. The piece is delicate it appears. Things must be "just right" No unsupported weight....no overhang.
Ooooops. The trailer....it turns out.....is too short. Two foot too short. There would be two foot of unsupported overhang on the piece. Not good. The decision is made that this trailer won't work. So....that being the case everything is packed up and the other driver goes back to the yard for a different trailer. It's too late to load my trailer so I find a place to drop it and then go to a truckstop. We had escorts scheduled to be on site for tomorrow morning....they're notified of the delay....told not to show up till called.
I should be Ok....my trailer is bigger....it's of a different design. There won't be a problem with overhang. Tomorrow is only Thursday....surely I can get loaded, drive less than five hundred miles and unload by Friday?
The next morning the other driver is in the loading bay before daylight. After a while the loading crew shows up. After a while he gets loaded. There's a problem though. His trailer is riding waaaay too low...I mean really, really low....no ground clearance to speak of at all. He pulls out anyway and I put my trailer in the bay.
After a while they start to load me....after a while.
Noon comes and goes....it doesn't look good for getting out of town before four pm curefew. ...unloading Friday is pretty much impossible. The other driver still has trailer issues.
After a while I get loaded....and I'm able to begin tieing down the load. ..it's after five pm. The escorts are here and we're supposed to leave at six. The other driver managed (I don't know how) to fix his trailer problem....I've got to tie down QUICK.....(the two of us are supposed to run together.)....and flag....and put signs on.
The load weighs 115 thousand lbs. By federal DOT guidelines that means it needs at least half of that weight in load restraint strength. What that means is supposing I have chains that are rated at, say, 9 thousand pounds working load limit... then I need seven chains. (we won't get into the complexities of direct vs indirect tie down's)
I put seven half-inch chains on...per side. Fourteen total. Evenly spaced front to rear on both sides. Twice what's required....should be enough.
It's now six o'clock. I'm just now pulling out of the loading bay. If I hurry I can flag and rag and get the hell out'a dodge between curfew and sundown.
But I have a problem. My air gauges are telling me bad things. They're telling me that the weight on my drives are way too high. Way...way...way too high.
So what to do? Run with it...? The other driver pulls out.
I call the boss. The boss tells me that several identical loads to that which I'm carrying have been hauled on this trailer.....same type of truck as mine....no problems..
What to do? Clock's ticking....
I talk it over with the boss. We decide that I won't leave till tomorrow morning after curfew. I'm going to drop the trailer then go to the yard and get a jeep. That should solve any weight issues. I tell the escorts to mark this as a "no go" ...then I head to the yard for the Jeep.
The next day (Friday) at sunup I'm at the trailer with the Jeep. Hooking up the jeep is hard. So hard that I require assistance. I have to move the trailer back into the loading bay and then they use the overhead crane to do what is necessary to hook up the jeep. This is very embarassing.
So...finally we're ready to go.
It turns out we need a police escort to get out of town. They show up. We (me, the two cops...the two escorts) have a pow-wow. We discuss procedures.
At about 9:30 we take out. The first challenge is making a corner and going over a rail road track.
That's when bad things happened. I screwed up. I didn't hear my escort warn me. I couldn't see that side in my mirrors. I didn't make the corner wide enough....and one wheel of the trailer drops off and snags a track. I didn't stop soon enough.
So I'm stuck.
After that it got ugly. I spent the whole day getting un-stuck. There were cops, (both local and highway patrol), there were interviews with cops (in the patrol car), there were cranes, there were discussions about payment for use of the cranes...and there were forklifts, there were tire trucks.....and.there were many, many, telephone calls. I HOPE there weren't any newspaper or television reporters...but I wouldn't bet on it. Dozens of people....hundreds.
When it was all over and done....I was standing next to the load talking to the escorts....and we were about ready to call the local cops in order to head out twixt curfew and sundown.. try again. .I get a call from the Boss....he says the load's been delayed.
While I'm talking on the phone the customer's load supervisor walks up. He confirms that the load's been delayed.
The short of it is that they want to re-inspect the load......can't do that until tuesday.