Murphy's Law-Hopefully Only One Part
The Traveling Hedge Hog Wants to Go Home!
Well, we started a new trucking job on Tuesday pulling containers. For those of you not in the trucking business, a container is a metal trailer that is permanently attached to a metal chassis and travels by rail first and then by a commercial tractor.
We have never pulled containers before but we have trucked for the past 8 years. We have hauled refrigerated loads, dry loads, and hazardous material loads. We didn't think it would be that much more different but we were wrong!
First off, with other companies, you have a communication center in your truck for sending and receiving load assignments and general concerns. Not so with this company. Everything is communicated via phone and texts. Unfortunately, the company closes at around 5pm and so there is no after hours communication unless you wake someone up at night.
Our first trip out we went to a yard and picked up an empty trailer and took it to be dropped at a yard. From there, we picked up a loaded trailer and went to another drop yard. The second problem with this was that there was no way to run the interstate and we had to drive back country roads through Alabama and Georgia. These are two lane, country, windy roads-they are truck routes but only by a very loose definition. It took me almost 10 hours to drive 500 miles. On the interstate, I can usually run 660 miles in 11 hours.
Then we bob-tailed(that is driving the tractor without a trailer) from Savannah, GA to Jacksonville, FL to pick up a loaded container. We had to drive into a railroad freight center. Once we got the right directions, it really wasn't that hard to find. But when you are not really clear with the directions and you are having to search at night, in the pouring rain, driving without a trailer, it is a little scary.
We hooked up and headed to Mocksville, NC for the first drop and then to Luray, VA for the second drop. The deal with that run was that we had to drive up the side of the mountain where there are hairpin turns all over the place. In fact, right before we exited, there was a log truck that had taken the turn too sharp and was blocking traffic. So we had a 2 hour delay!
We were scheduled to go to Stuart, VA after that delivery and the place closed at 2300(that's 11pm to you non-military folks). The place we were delivering to was 2 hours off the interstate and we were late. There was no one in the office to pick up our shipping papers. We were informed that the shipping officer had gone home for the night and wouldn't return until 0700 the next morning. So we settled in for the night. When we got up the next morning, the shipping officer informed us that the paperwork had been there all along and showed us where it was kept. so we lost about 6 hours of driving.
Our next trip was back to Jacksonville, back to the railroad yard. We were to drop that load and pick up another one headed to Memphis, TN. Only one problem-we had to go to the port of Jacksonville to get this load. Now, this is where it gets hairy! When you enter a port, you are required to have a TWIC card(transportation worker identification credential card) which says that you are not going to steal or rob or terrorize. Since we just started this job, we didn't have one. Actually we needed two. But I will get to that in a minute. Since we didn't have these cards, we had to have an escort. This involved paying $40.00 to have someone show us where the trailer was. My husband and I team drive-I know I am pretty but I can drive a big rig as well. The gate officer would not allow us in together so I had to exit the vehicle and wait for my husband to go get the trailer. This is after much heated arguments between us and them. When we got our load, there was a flat tire on the trailer. That needed to be repaired before we were able to leave.
So with the tire repaired, we were on our way home to rest for the weekend and get a fresh start on Monday. However, we were about 168 miles out when the rear tire blew on the trailer! We are now stuck at a convenience store, somewhere on Interstate 16, waiting for a tire company to come fix the tire.
Long story, short-it is time for a new job!