Pulling Another Trucking All-Nighter

by Rhonda

I was all settled in for the evening and looking forward to watching Donny on Dancing With The Stars. Phone rings. It's the boss. They need me to deliver 2 loads to the canning plant. The calls are coming in for loads. Trailers are being loaded now. I am assigned a truck too. I told them I can work and I'll get there as soon as I can.

I gather my things while changing into trucking clothes. I am thankful for the work and I am not at all tired like I normally am at this time of night. I know that will change later. I look at the clock and already know I will be up all night. By the time I can leave home, get to the truck and get the papers for the load and hook up the trailer, it will be 9:00 pm. Two trips will take six hours and will I might need to get fuel. Will the trailer be ready when I arrive to work? There are so many "If's" that can change how long this may take.

Waiting On The Load To Be Ready

I arrive at 8:15 and see the docks full of trailers--mostly ours. One or two forklifts are busy loading the trailers. The trailers move around when the forklift enters and leaves. The rear of the trailer lowers at the ramp as the forklift enters and then it raises as the forklift moves to the nose of the trailer. The airbags hiss as air escapes from them on the rear of the trailer, and the truck's airbags will hiss too if a truck is hooked up to it. When you are in the drivers seat, you watch the mirrors and see the front corners of the trailer raise up as forklift enters and then go down as forklift moves toward the nose of trailer. Back and forth till the trailer is loaded. Less up and down movement means its just about loaded.

I find shipping busy with all the paperwork that is needed. I get mine for my trailer which has been parked out in the lot. The night driver tells me that the truck I am taking was filled last night so I don't have to stop for fuel. That is great news. I hate going to the Pilot and if I have to fuel, I want enough to get to exit 24. I get my things out of my car and put them in the truck. Now I go to the trailer and get hooked up and since the Qualcomm (truck computer) does not work, I call dispatch to sign in and get a trip number and I'll need a load number too since none have been assigned at this end due to the loads being called in after hours. At 8:40, I pull out of the lot.

Heading To The Plant

I make good time on the way to the plant and I really want to stop and buy something to drink, but I don't. I can wait till I get the first load delivered. I pull into the plant at 9:50 and the guard checks me in. He looks like a member of my church and I thought he was the first time I saw him. He questions the paperwork because its handwritten and is not the same as what I normally bring to the Van Buren plant. I tell him that these loads were called in after hours and all the paperwork I will be bringing may look like this. I get the papers back and proceed to the next building to give the papers to plant staff and get my copy signed. They are glad to see me and the loading docks are called to let them know that I have arrived with the first load. I'm asked "you are coming back 2 more times??" They're glad to hear this. They need the cans and I will do three trips instead of just two. I am asked to hurry and park this load and get the empty and leave to get the next load. The shuttle driver tells me to park this load by the docks so I do, and then I go over to our lot and get an empty trailer. I finally was able to stop at exit 24 to get a drink.

Soon I am back at the shipper for load 2 and leave at 11:45. Starting to get a little tired now and the hum of 18 tires on the pavement is not helping me stay awake. I crank up the tunes and lower the window to have the cool air on me. When I arrive at the plant, there is a new guard and nothing is said about the papers. I proceed to next building and get my papers signed and park trailer by dock again. I am able to drop and get empty trailer and leave in 15 minutes!!! 12:55am to 1:10am. The last 30 miles back to Springdale is tough because now I'm tired. Like all drivers of any vehicle I do whatever I can to stay awake. I change the seat position and open windows. I move around in the seat as much as possible.

Trying To Stay Awake During A Long Night

When I enter the city lights it helps me wake up a bit. Then after dropping my trailer at the plant in the chilly air I am wide awake. I leave for my 3rd load at 3am. No problems getting to Van Buren plant and after checking in I am asked to take a trailer to our lot. When I get my empty and go over by the guard on this side of the plant, I take a few minutes to talk to him. He used to drive semi's too. Our trailers are by the docks where the canned veggies are shipped out. The guards here also do trailer checks and write down what we bring in and take out. From the time I enter and leave its 30 minutes. Saw plenty of deer on my 3 trips and thankfully none of them decided to get acquainted with me and the truck. I make it back to Springdale and park the trailer in the lot and then park the truck. Its now 6am. 378 miles.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
by Brett Aquila

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