Headless Chickens

This week has been a strange and incomprehensible mess. It started off alright, hauling a load from Texas out to Georgia for Walmart. But upon delivery, they didn’t have another load for me, so I had to wait until the next day to pick up another load, heading from Georgia to Louisiana. That’s when the mayhem began…

My pick-up appointment was for 8AM on the 3rd. It was supposed to be a drop-and-hook, so I’d drop off my empty trailer and hook up to a pre-loaded trailer and roll out. It was also a firm appointment, meaning that we’d get penalized if I was late for pick-up. So I arrived at 7:30, only to discover that the shipper had not even begun to load the trailer that I was supposed to be picking up. I had to wait nearly four hours before the trailer was ready to go. Once it was ready, I hit the road.

But my problems had just begun. By the time they’d loaded me, it was already too late for me to arrive on-time the following day. The only way I would possibly be able to pull it off would be to take a split break, taking 8 hours, then driving the rest of the way, then taking another 2 hours after that. The only problem was that by the time I had to take my 8 hours, it was still too early in the day to get to sleep right away, so I wound up lying awake, tossing and turning, only getting about 4 hours of sleep before I had to drive again. It was enough to keep me alert the rest of the drive, and I made my delivery on time, but by the time I reached my delivery location I was exhausted. I slept in the truck while they unloaded me.

Once they’d finished unloading me, I went in to get my paperwork, and the people there informed me that they’d rejected part of the load. An entire pallet worth of boxes (75 units in total) had been damaged by the forklift drivers when they loaded me up in Georgia, and a number of other boxes were rejected because the shipper had sent the wrong items or items which would expire too soon. Because of the shipper’s carelessness, I was stuck with 82 boxes of rejected food in my trailer, and I couldn’t get another load until the issue was sorted out.

Since it was a holiday, I couldn’t get in touch with my safety officers (who would arrange for me to get rid of the unwanted cargo), which meant that I had to sit around the whole day at a truck stop waiting for the next day, when everyone would be back in the office and I could finally sort things out.

The following day, they directed me to go to a UPS location, where I was to drop the remaining boxes off and have them shipped back to the manufacturer. I had to build a skid (palletize a bunch of loose boxes) and label everything so it could be shipped properly. Once all this was done, I returned to the truck stop to await a new preplan. After a few hours, I received a new preplan, but it was scheduled for pick up the next day. Which meant that Monday and Tuesday were both practically wasted days with no miles.

Wednesday I went to the shipper location to pick up the load I’d been scheduled to obtain, but when I arrived, it turned out the load was a hazmat (hazardous materials) load. Now, while I’ve got the hazmat endorsement on my license which allows me to haul these kinds of materials, my company is not authorized to haul hazmat, so when I discovered that the shipper was shipping hazmat, my company instructed me to turn down the load and await a new preplan. Things were not looking good.

My next preplan arrived at 5pm. The preplan said my pick-up time was 2pm. I was already three hours late for my pick-up, because they’d given me the preplan three hours after it was supposed to be loaded. Needless to say, I drove to the shipper post haste. However, upon my arrival, I was informed that the shipper had no record of the shipment I was supposed to pick up. By the time my company finally called them to sort things out, the shippers had all gone home for the day. So, Wednesday was a wash as well.

Thursday morning, I woke up, contacted my fleet manager, and asked if they’d sorted out the issues with the load. They assured me that everything had been figured out and the load was ready for pick-up. So I drove to the shipper to get loaded… And they still had no record of my shipment. I waited a couple hours for them to figure out what was up, and they finally directed me to go to another warehouse; apparently, the shipment was at a different address. I drove to that address, just around the corner, and told them I was there to pick up a load. Guess what they said? That’s right: “We don’t have any record of that shipment.” So I wait another hour for them to figure things out, and finally everything gets sorted and they figure out what’s what, and I’m ready to get loaded.

By the time they finish loading me, it’s nearly noon, and I’m supposed to drive all the way to North Carolina and deliver by 7am Friday. Not possible. Not even if I drove non-stop without any breaks for gas or anything. This load could not possibly be delivered on-time. I sent a message to my fleet manager explaining this fact, then hit the road.

When I finally stopped for the night, I sent an updated ETA to let them know I wouldn’t be able to arrive before noon on Friday, only to learn that my fleet manager hadn’t told customer service about my delay earlier in the day. Nobody had adjusted the appointment time or told the customer I’d be late.

This week has been a ceaseless comedy of errors. Except, I’m not really laughing, because these wasted days have put a big dent in my paycheck.

Let’s hope next week is better.

2 thoughts on “Headless Chickens

  1. I have had a number of weeks like that when I drove for Schneider… it takes a while to get over them but if it isn’t a pattern of incompetence by your company you just have to role with the punches… (just like you did, good job).


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