After a leisurely drive from Clayton, North Carolina (Raleigh area) to Opelika, Alabama, delivering a load of Smithfield meat products to a Walmart distribution center I was offered a repower. I was directed to a Super Walmart on the south side of Troy, Alabama, 105 miles away, where a driver was broke down and had a load for a Walmart distribution center in Brundidge, just eight miles farther south.
As an aside and further evidence that Stevens has its corporate head up its corporate arse, they picked me to repower the load even though I would not have the hours to complete the run. I would get to Troy at around 8 p.m. with only two hours left on my 14 hour clock and the load was to be delivered at 4:30 the next morning. I could not make it happen, at least not according to DOT rules.
I brought this to the attention to one of Stevens’ night dispatchers. I recognized right off that she was an idiot but said she would come up with a solution and get back to me. Oh, she also told me to sit tight. Alrighty then. By the way, the phone rang for 46 minutes before anyone answered the phone. If it had not been a Sunday afternoon I never would have hung on that long but since the minutes were free, I had to see how it would turn out. Stevens loves its drivers so much that they always have enough staff to handle inquiries.
When I didn’t hear back from her in 20 minutes I called back with my own solution and dialed her extension. That only took a few minutes but they were minutes wasted just the same. I suggested that when I get to Troy, that we swap trailers but that the driver of the other truck drive my truck to make the delivery. All we’d have to do is is log me off the QualComm and log him in as the driver.
She reacted as if I had called her baby ugly AND insulted her sainted mother. “We could NEVER do that-” and I really didn’t hear anymore because I bid her farewell and hung up. I decided I’d sort it out when I got there.
Well here’s the exciting part. I never got there. As I was approaching the south side of Troy I saw a veritable Christmas tree of colorful flashing lights and danged if they weren’t blocking every entrance into the Super Walmart. What the h – e – double hockey sticks!
I pulled into the turning lane at the last entrance and engaged the emergency crew that was protecting the roadway. Did you know they now have vests with flashing lights on them just for events such as this???
They might have said something helpful but I couldn’t hear it over the passing traffic and the noise of my own truck. But the message clearly was, “You ain’t comin’ in.”
So I drove maybe another third of a mile down 231 and took a right into what was labeled an industrial park. I should certainly be able to find a place to stop and make a couple of phone calls. There would also certainly be a place for me to turn around again, it being an INDUSTRIAL park.
Affirmative on the first assumption and negatory on the second.
Before I had even stopped at the dead end on my street I got a call from the driver I was supposed to swap with. He said he saw me trying to get in and that the place had been locked down for a couple of hours – bomb scare. I thought that was pretty exciting. The flashing vests were just the icing on the cake.
I shared my idea about him driving my truck to the delivery and he was cool with it. While I was still on the phone with him, Stevens dispatch called and wanted to talk about how to get the load delivered. Thankfully it was not Doris, the first “dispatcher” I had spoken to and hung up on. I suggested my idea to her and after conferring with the safety department she said they all thought having the other driver drive my truck was a great idea. Hunh. An osasis of sanity in an insane company.
I called the other driver back and said we were cool. He said one of the cops had told him they were making their last sweep of the store and the would open things up within a couple of hours. I told him to call me if it opened in the next 90 minutes or to call me an hour before the delivery and we could make the switch then, when the Walmart would certainly be open again.
He called 30 minutes later and I toodled back over to his place. I was able to make a quasi-legit U turn with the help of another trucker team that had pulled into the industrial park and made their own U turn first.
All the cops and flashing lights were gone. Cars were already entering the Walmart parking lot although they were entering for naught because they wouldn’t be opening the store itself for another hour. The other driver and I swapped trailers and went to sleep in our respective suites. He was to come on over at 3:45 and we could head down to the drop.
It all worked out just fine with a couple of minor hitches. Hitch one was he didn’t have the key for his meat lock. NOr sure if I’ve mentioned this before but we all have our meat locks which are super heavy duty steel clasps that lock around the poles that have the locking levers on them. A simple pair of bolt cutters ain’t gonna breach these babies. They cost us $90!
Walmart would not let him leave and come back without hitting him / us with a late fee. So he backed the trailer up to the door and said Walmart had somebody who would come and cut it off. That’s ninety bucks about to be flushed.
After we were backed in I suggested (from my sleeper bunk where I was resting) that maybe they’d let him bobtail back to his truck to get the key. It would only take 20 minutes, and they never start unloading you that quick. He got permission to make the bobtail run and we thought we were golden.
I finally fell asleep before he got everything handled and got backed up to our door with the trailer doors open. I didn’t wake up until almost 8:30. We still weren’t ready to roll. The paperwork was taking an inordinately long time, nut he finally got it and as we were leaving he told me that while we were driving back to get his meat lock key, the maintenance staff went ahead and but his meat lock off the truck.
Those were the two hitches:
- Lost meat lock.
- A FOUR STINKIN’ HOUR unload at a Walmart where they strive to get everybody unloaded in two hours or less.
Lesson learned. Always have the key to your meat lock on your person. And be prepared for the arrogant Walmart organization to take advantage of you.
It’s Memorial Day as I write this. My thanks to all military veterans, living and dead. And because it’s a holiday I’ve been sitting all day waiting for a load. Just got one. Will be heading to the Florida Panhandle to repower a load with three drops in central and south Florida. Wish me luck.