Phase 2, Day 14: Communications Breakdown

We arrived at our destination at 6am, only to discover that the company is closed until tomorrow. Our dispatch said “arrive before Monday,” but if we couldn’t deliver until Monday, what was the point? So I called Dispatch and asked them what we were expected to do, and they said “we’ll look into it and call you back.” To top it off, once we told them we’d arrived at the customer today, dispatch sent us a new load preplan that was supposed to be picked up yesterday to be delivered tomorrow! (If I’m going to have to time-travel for this job, I’m going to need a significant raise.) We could probably get the new load to the destination tomorrow no problem, but not if we couldn’t drop our current load today.

At 9, I discovered what our previous dispatch never told us: we don’t need to do any paperwork, just drop the one trailer and grab the next and roll on. The previous dispatcher told us he wasn’t sure about that, and the preplan made it seem like the drop lot was the customer, not a drop lot. So there was clearly a failure of communication leading to hours of wasted time. But we finally figured it out and made our way back on the road.

It seems most of our problem has been ignorance and communication failure thus far. But we are learning more about the job; I just hope we are going to get better at communication.

I headed out on I-10 towards Laredo, enjoying some incredible vistas during the long and mostly uneventful drive. There were high winds, but nothing high enough to make me feel I had to pull over. As I drove, I thought about my time in college, reading and writing tons of short fiction, and came up with a couple new ideas for stories that I might like to write. That’s one nice thing about driving these long distances: I have plenty of time to think and brainstorm. I used to do the same thing in Virginia. I’d get on my bike and ride for miles and miles, listening to music and thinking about stories. Best part about brainstorming on the long drives in the truck is that I’m getting paid while I do it.

So I’d say, all in all, today’s been a good day for me. I can’t say the same for my teammate though. Yesterday he ate something at a truck stop that’s been giving him bad stomach pain. We’ve had to stop a few times along the way so he could use the restroom, and even after over 12 hours he’s still feeling ill. I’m hoping it’s not food poisoning. I’m not sure how we’d be able to handle that out here in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve still got about seven hours of driving ahead of me before we swap drivers, which will take us nearly the rest of the way to Laredo. If he’s still feeling ill at that point, we might have to take him to a hospital. Fortunately, there’s likely to be a hospital nearby, whereas there’s no convenient medical care out here on the road.

On the road to Laredo, we saw numerous Border Patrol vehicles searching for illegal immigrants. And in the middle of a long, empty stretch of highway, lot and behold, we witnessed about 15 nervous-looking Mexicans trying to pack into a single minivan. A mile down the road, an officer had pulled over a truck, oblivious to the sardine-packed van behind him. After a few hours more, we crossed an immigration inspection station, where an officer asked myself and my team driver, “are you United States citizens?” To which we said “yes,” and he replied “have a good night” and sent us on our way. It all seemed somewhat comical in a way.

We also crossed the Pecos river, which was incredible, though I wasn’t able to get a picture since I was driving. Perhaps next time.

We arrived in Laredo at 10:30pm, ready to turn in for the night so we could wake again at 7 to deliver our load. My teammate’s illness seemed to have subsided, so we decided not to seek medical care. Most likely, he said, it was just a case of too much bad coffee.

I hope our work tomorrow morning is straightforward, and I also hope we can leave Texas. We’ve roamed all over this great state, but I feel it’s time for a change. Only tomorrow can tell, though, so until then, adieu!

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