I don't know if it warmed up at home or not, but it sure hasn't done so where I am. I'm stuck in Iowa, having delivered a rare Sunday load, instead of going to the house. And all because I told my dispatcher the other day that I needed the miles and the money. I got them, all right! Never said that I didn't want to go home this weekend, but I guess he took me at my word. Two long runs to this state, back-to-back and about back where I started out last week.
Actually, when I told him I needed the miles, I was referring to one specific load; the one I pulled from here down to Valdosta, Georgia last week. There was a question in my mind about whether that load would require me to assist in unloading it. That customer has a driver unload policy, which is another way of saying that they're too cheap to hire enough help to do it themselves. The good ol' American way. I don't do driver unload or driver assist. Got a bad shoulder. Got a doctor's note. So I can't run those loads. I inquired about it to dispatch. He said he didn't know. Then I pulled up the directions and the place appeared to be in an industrial park. That company doesn't build their stores in industrial parks, so it looked to be an RDC (Regional Distribution Center), where they would unload me, or I would drop the trailer, most likely. I told dispatch what I thought and that I was going to risk it, as I needed the money. And that's where this whole thing began.
I drove those 1100 + miles, dropping and hooking to an empty box, just as I thought I would. I was hoping to come on home, but when they sent me the info on my new load, I knew that he had taken my comment about needing miles and money very seriously, because my next load picked up in Macon on Friday and would take me right back to Iowa, right in the same area where the Georgia load had come from. And it delivered -- Sunday?? Had to ask and make sure they hadn't gotten the date wrong, as few loads ever deliver on weekends. But it did, he said, and it almost didn't as well. But, as Paul Harvey would say, that's the rest of the story!
Enroute back to the Hawkeye State, I was hearing reports of nasty-ass weather up that way. A glance at a local forecast for that area on my phone confirmed that things were going to be far from pleasant where I was headed. Snow, freezing rain, sleet, ice -- you name it. Any crap that could fall out of the sky and freeze was predicted up there. Those of you who are regular readers know well that I'm far from fond of that sort of stuff. Winter sucks. That's my motto and I'm a big fan of global warming in those months. Bring it on!!! The more, the merrier!
It hit Saturday, just as they'd predicted and it was national news. A pre-winter winter storm; a little "tune-up" for Mom Nature. Did'ya ever notice that when weather forecasters screw up that it's always on good weather forecasts?? Predict sunny and it rains. Predict warm temperatures and a cold front hits out of nowhere. But when they predict nasty, miserable, completely sucky weather, they're never wrong!! That's when they're always 110 percent accurate, right on the money every time. You can set your watch by it. And so they were this past weekend, as the mostly ice storm moved through the midwest. And a lot of it was hitting right where I was headed.
Forecast looked like the storm would pass through before I got there, so maybe the roads would be clear anyway. But would the customer I was headed to be open? Would the storm keep them from getting to work, or knock their power out? I called. No answer. Phone was evidently in some office somewhere and they were out for the weekend. I tried again Sunday morning, as I made my way up I-35, toward my destination, but still no answer. Nobody in dispatch till noon on Sunday, either. What to do? Risk it, or put it off till Monday?? But I'd look pretty silly and probably get yelled at if I chose to wait, then found out that they were there, expecting me. I decided to go up there and check it out. If they weren't there, then my butt was covered; I had tried, at least, to deliver.
The road into the place was a country two-laner, icy in spots, but passable. It was the county roads into the places that I was worried about. Those are often neglected, especially on weekends. Spied the first group of buildings, where my first stop went and the road didn't look that bad. No sign on the building to indicate which plant it was and sure enough, it turned out to be the wrong one. One I wanted was a mile up the road. So, I skated back to my truck on the icy driveway and slid my way back out to the road. Got to the right place, backed into the dock and was told, of course, that it was the wrong dock. Go around back. Slid back there and skated my trailer into the dock door.
When I was unloaded, I made my way to the second place, which was further up the main road, on a town street. This road was a total mess. Solid ice. I somehow kept the truck going in a more or less straight line, then found that I couldn't get into the driveway at all. Another truck was occupying it, and somebody's damned 4-wheeled van was parked smack in the middle of the strip that's built so we'll have the space to turn our trailers around and get them aimed toward the dock doors. He couldn't get in for the van, the van couldn't get out because he was blocking the driveway, and I was sitting in the road out front, watching this Mexican standoff play out. I gingerly manuevered as far over on the shoulder as I dared, to give any other vehicles room to get by me.
It was almost 45 minutes before I got in there. First, the van moved over, so the truck could roll down and turn into the strip he was sitting on. Then, the van left. The other truck then got stuck on the ice and sat there spinning his wheels hopelessly. Employees arrived with bags of salt and he backed partway into the dock, then headed out the driveway, where he became stuck again. It turned out that he had gone to the wrong building, just as I'd done earlier, and was trying to get back out of there. More salt was applied and he finally made it back onto the road. I backed up, giving him the space he needed to get by me.
Finally, it was my turn, and I had no problem. The drive was well-salted by now, so it was smooth sailing all the way, going in or getting out. Except by then the sun had come out and was hitting the icy road and it was even more treacherous this time. But I made it to the main road and made it over here to this truckstop in Webster City, Iowa, where I pick up a load today that will take me to sunny Alabama on Wednesday. Or rainy. Or anything but icy!!