This time it isn’t a classmate, I have probably already reported that I am the ONLIEST representative left of my Lone Star class in Houston that still drives for Stevens. This dust biting refers to yet another driver manager (referred to as fleet manager in other companies).
After delivering a load of chicken to a grocery warehouse just west of Phoenix, I pushed for another load. Not much going on around Phoenix I was told. Well that’s just stinkin’ swell. After a more fervent inquiry I was surprised with a load assignment that had me picking up another load of meat in Southern California and taking it on up to Buffalo, NY.
Happy days are here again!
It didn’t pick up until the next morning and it was only 8 a.m. on this particular morning so I trucked on back to the Loves in Chandler, just south of Phoenix. It was there that I hooked up with a cousin of mine from Minnesota. He did it right, stuck with the same company for more than 40 YEARS, and was comfortably retired not eight miles from this very Loves. He was kind enough to come pick me up, take me on a leisurely drive back to his home, and buy me a nice lunch at his golf club. We had seen each other only a couple of times over the past 30 years.
We had an absolutely delightful visit and the bonus was a treasure trove of archival photographs of our family – mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and one grandmother. We were such precious children. What happened to us?
I must say, this was the most delightful day I have yet spent on the road. It just edged out the evening I spent with my wife’s cousin and her husband in Portland way last August. Both were special, but the blood and the photographs put my visit with Rudy at the top.
Alas, I had to return to the truck stop, took a shower and packed it in for the afternoon / evening. Since I had not received a specific appointment time, and was assured by my driver manager that the load would be ready by the time I got there, I hit the rack early and set the alarm for 2:30 in the a of m. I was rolling shortly after 3:00. I got to the plant (which was not where my navigation took me) and rolled up to the security shack. Bad move. I was supposed to park alongside the road into the plant and walk up to the shack and get my instructions. I was told I could enter only long and far enough to turn around and go back and do it right this time.
When I finally got to the shack from outside the gate, I was told my appointment wasn’t until mid-morning the next day!!!! If I didn’t have steel reinforced veins, I would have popped an aneurism right then and there. Get up at pre-dark-thirty to make a five hour drive to some hellhole in the California desert only to be told that I would have to cool my jets for more than 24 hours … along the side of the desert road. There wasn’t a truck stop within 20 miles. Sensing my displeasure, the security dude told me I could drop my trailer around back and maybe get more information from the shipping dude by gate whatever.
So I stilled myself and drove around back. Before I unhooked in that hot, dusty hellhole, I put a call into my driver manager who of course didn’t answer. In my voicemail I INSISTED that he actually return my call at the earliest possible opportunity. When he called back, and I told him there WAS an appointment set and why didn’t he tell me about it, he said he never indicated there wasn’t a set appointment. With steam curling out of my ears (again) I mumbled through clenched teeth, “I’m afraid I can’t talk to you anymore then.” And hung up.
At that point I dashed off a supremely snotty note to the designated grief-taker at Stevens who had been assigned my file. I had started with a VP, the daughter of the owner, who obviously felt it was beneath her to deal with a freshman driver, but she steered the doodoo downhill to the head of the driver counselors. If they indeed counseled drivers it would have been a prized contact on the inside of the beast, but they were glorified clerks who didn’t have any power to do anything of import.
I concluded my missive with, “That was the last conversation I will be having with my [current driver manager].”
Well it was worth a conversation with shipping to see if they might be able to get me loaded early. Yes, I know. How naive of me. I walked around to door whatever. Nobody there. I hung out in what shade I could find. It wasn’t even 9 a.m. and it was almost 100 degrees. (But it was a dry heat.) The shipping clerk finally came tooling up on a golf cart and asked me to give him a minute while he walked through the plant to get to his station. Once there he told me, believe it or not, they had just finished loading my trailer.
As I walked back to my truck, a yard dog pulling my truck approached. I waved him down, told him that was my trailer and asked where he’d be parking it. With that information I walked back to my truck, unhooked, rehooked to my new trailer, and set the trailer tandems about where I thought they belonged. At the exit gate, which looked frightfully similar to the entrance, I was told they didn’t have the paperwork yet but I was free to pull out onto my favorite parking road and … park. They’d be out as soon as they had the paperwork to affix the seal to the back door and I would be free to hit the road.
Goody. More waiting.
About 30 minutes later I walked back to the shack, waited my turn – again – and asked about my paperwork. “Si, si, right here.”
Why hadn’t they just brought it out, I wondered. Silly gringo.
In the meantime, there were goings on going on at Stevens. Along the way I got a Qualcomm message introducing my new Driver Manager, Joe. Like I don’t have enough JOEs in my life already. At cousin Rudy’s I discovered, for the first time, I think, that even my paternal grandmother was named Joe – actually, Josefa.
Buh-bye to my fourth DM. Hello Joe. With only two months left in my hitch, I have pretty much given up and will, to a very large degree, just take what they dish out. I’ll still make requests and raise issues, but no more fighting. I’m hoping it will be easier.
At the first truck stop I came to I pulled in and weighed my rig. One of my axles was over 34,000 pouds no matter how I set the tandems on the trailer. I did not want to mess with the fifth wheel so I found someone at Stevens who said “roll” and I would make it as far as I could on half a tank of fuel or less. This meant more fuel stops, obviously, but it was a tradeoff I was willing to make.
I was repowered before I got to Buffalo but I got the bulk of miles out of the trip which made it worthwhile.