Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've been trucking around the Eastern U.S. since 1998. Ten years. In that time, I've learned much, although I'm not fooling myself into thinking I know it all. By no means do I; there's always more to learn. My sense of humility keeps my ego under tight control all the time and the"big head" has never been one of my vices. I am not perfect -- far from it. I make mistakes. Not nearly as many as in my rookie years, to be sure, but I still err from time to time. And when I do, I usually pull out all the stops and screw things up royally. No sense in doing a half-assed screw-up. Hell, let it all hang out, I say!!!

And I surely did so this week -- just yesterday (Thursday), in fact. This was a certified ten-story, ten thousand pound blunder of massive proportions. It cost me half a day of time and likely had dispatch and customer service tearing out their hair by the roots and cursing me thoroughly. But they couldn't have ripped me any more than I ripped myself, because I pulled the stupidest and most embarrassing stunt that I've ever pulled, in my entire ten years.

It began when I got dispatched Wednesday evening, in Griffin, Georgia. I had just delivered a load to our top customer's local warehouse there and I was SHOT, to put it mildly. As in "very fatigued," or "worn-out," or "exhausted." I hadn't slept worth a hoot the night before and then I drove myself silly, getting the load there on time. Seems like I drove at least 3,500 miles on that one trip, although I'm sure it was a considerably shorter distance. That's what driving more than ten hours when you're already tired is like; NOT fun!! Eat your heart out, Parents Against Tired Truckers!!! Shi -- uh -- stuff happens.

BEEP! Went the Qualcomm. Load info. Looked at it. Picked up in Macon, Georgia, about 70 miles south of Hot'lanta. Requested and got directions to the shipper. Same exit and roads to a place I'd been to once before. When I saw those directions was the moment my brain expelled its flatulence. I somehow got it into my head that I was going to that same shipper again. I couldn't remember the name of the place, nor the street name it was on, but I knew a short-cut into it, because you have to weigh in and out at a public scale up the street from the place. I wrote everything up and plopped into my bunk, asleep almost before I hit the sheets. The address of the shipper just didn't register on my numbed mind at all.

Next morning, I ate a quick bite, the drove the rest of the way into Macon. Never bothered looking at the load info again. I exited I-75 in town, turned onto the main road that led into the area, then took my short-cut when I passed the moving company where the public scale was located. Went to the front office, signed in, and got my ID badge issued to me. Then gave my badge number to the guard and went around back to the dock area. Again, it never registered at all that the name of this place and the name of the shipper on the load information were different. Places change their names all the time. Ask any truck driver and they'll tell you. It's all too common to have the actual name of the place turn out to be different from the information that you have. Somebody at the trucking company neglects to update the change in names, so the old name stays on the load info for quite some time, in lots of cases.

Told the Guy In Charge there where I was supposed to go (Chattanooga) and he nodded and told me to go over to the scale and weigh in empty. I left to do that. He didn't question the destination I told him -- a major gaffe on his own part. Got back with my weigh ticket and backed right in after a short wait, while they loaded their own company truck. Spent about two hours being loaded with big bales of what looked like fiberglass scraps. Some kind of extruded plastic fiber, at any rate. The loader brought my bills out and I signed them, then began to write the weight and quantity on my "dummy bill" -- the little delivery ticket that I actually get paid off of. It was at that point that I noticed the destination was in South Carolina, not Tennessee. Well, duh!!! "What we got heah is a failyah to commun-icate!" to quote the evil deputy in Cool Hand Luke. Somebody got something very wrong. I took the bills and went back inside, to hunt the loader.

I found the guy and told him that -- uh -- that the destination on the bills was just slightly different from the one on my Qualcomm. A different state, in fact. Hmmmmmmm. "Come with me," he invited. "I gotta make a call!" And so he did and I waited about twenty minutes before the Guy In Charge whom I'd talked to at first reappeared. "Chattanooga??" He made two quick calls. Nope. Load went to South Carolina. A sense of dread was enveloping my brain then. I mentioned the name of the shipper on the load info. He grimaced. "They're down the street. You're at the wrong place and now we've already got you loaded!" My face hit the floor. Famous Last Words: "Oh, shit!!" I had really done it this time!! Gone to the wrong shipper altogether. Well, now -- that sure explained why the names were different, didn't it?? Yessiree -- it ALL made perfect sense now; and I was like the lady in that commercial, when she has something in her eye and winds up in the men's room -- "Wanna Get Away???" Yep, I certainly did, at that moment. How the hell am I ever gonna live this one down?? I had no clue.

So, that explains why I'm in South Carolina today, instead of in Chattanooga, two hours from home. After a dozen phone calls, and having to face dispatch with my self-made dilemma, it finally all got straightened out. The loads went through a logistics outfit and another carrier was really scheduled to pick it up that day. I did his job for him, it seemed, but that kind left the load I was supposed to get hanging in thin air. The logistics outfit worked out a switcheroo between my company and the other carrier. I would haul this load to South Carolina, and their driver would pick up and deliver the load I was supposed to get in the first place. The Guy In Charge took part of the blame for it himself, and told my dispatch as much. He should have caught on when I mentioned Chattanooga, and he somehow failed to realize that they only had ONE load for my company that day -- and that driver had gotten loaded and left before I even got there. So, I wasn't the only one asleep at the switch yesterday, and that softened the blow of my stupid stunt a little.

Now, if I could just buy a little time at home!! Second week in a row I've had one of my Fifteen-Minute (TM) weekends. Even less time this week than last week, as my load don't pick up until tomorrow, and I have to be in Wisconsin Monday morning at dawn. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to do more than look at Velvet, in my garage, and wish I had the time to ride her!! Getting tired of "wish-riding."




im here, larry.

Nancy said...

I have been a long time follower of your blog and love the stories of your adventures. I was glad I was able to find you over here at Blogger!


tsalagiman1 said...

Hi Larry,
I'm following here now, thanks for the link. My wife laughed at the title of your entry. When she was a nursing assistant, she told a neurologist that she needed a "gastroneurologist"! LOL

I'm glad that things worked out the way they did. I would have felt like crawling under a rock myself!

By the way, if you came down I-75 to Griffin, you came right by us!


Heli gunner Tom said...

Hello Dawg,
Just wondering if you ever did time in the armed forces. I am growing forgetful these days after a very full lifetime of hard work and adventure. I sold my '04 Gold Wing bike because my arthritis got too bad- but I been biking for the past 35 years to and from work in WI.
|Maybe you can email me more about your hobbies and pursuits.

Tom Schuckman
My blog: