A Lesson In Patience And Rewards…

Topic 10123 | Page 1

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The Persian Conversion's Comment
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I’d like to share a little story of what happened to me this week, because I think it perfectly shows how unflinching patience, even in the face of a frustrating situation, can really pay off. It also shows that there really are ups and downs in this industry, and you should never pay too much attention to the bad times because, if you wait it out, there are bound to be good times just around the corner.

So my week started last Monday morning with a load of lumber going from our yard in Missoula to a Menard’s DC in Plano, IL. It was a trip of about 1500+ miles, so my initial plan was to knock out about 500 miles a day for 3 days and deliver first thing Thursday morning.

En route (on Tuesday) I called up the DC and found out that they accept deliveries until midnight. I was also making much better time than I had initially planned for, having done 600+ miles the first day, so Tuesday morning when I checked in with dispatch, I updated my PTA to Wednesday afternoon instead of Thursday morning.

My plan now was to drive at least 650 miles that day and leave less than 300 for Wednesday, allowing me to get there before noon, unload, and (hopefully) be ready to reload that same day instead of waiting for Thursday. Why waste a day, right?

Well, everything went according to plan (on my end at least). I got to the DC around 11AM, beat out another driver to the receiving office because he went to the wrong building, and was immediately directed to a covered bay where I untarped, unstrapped, and waited for a forklift operator to come unload me.

The forklift operator took a lot longer than I had initially hoped for. I had already put away all my straps, tarps and bungees before he even started unloading, and then he had to take every single bundle somewhere deep inside the cavernous warehouse, so a good 5 minutes went by between each time I saw him.

Anyway, despite all that, I was fully unloaded by about 1PM. I called dispatch and informed them of the successful (and early) completion of my load and asked if there was a reload ready for me. They said no, asking if I was able to stay where I was for a while. I had noticed a WalMart about 5 miles away on the other side of town on my way in, so I asked if I could wait there, and they said that would be fine.

I drove over to the Walmart hoping to be able to run in and buy a couple of necessities really quick before being sent on to my next load. It was already mid-afternoon so I knew if I wanted to get reloaded that day I would have to be quick about it.

When I called back in after I was done shopping, they said they were still looking for something for me, and to call back in an hour. That’s kind of the informal system they have when you’re waiting for a load: if you don’t hear from them first, call in once an hour to check. So for the next could of hours, I kept calling in and kept hearing the dreaded words: “we’re still looking.”

It’s important to note here that I never, EVER sound disappointed or upset when I hear this. My standard response is to say, “OK, no problem,” in as upbeat and pleasant a tone as I can muster, then say, “I’ll just check back in an hour.” I also ALWAYS say “thanks” before I hang up. Very important.

So to my disappointment, 5PM rolled around and I still had not received a new dispatch. I knew at that point there was pretty much no way I was getting reloaded that day. So I spent the night at Walmart.

The next day, I called in first thing to gently remind them that I was still waiting for a reload. It took until 2PM for me to finally get dispatched to something, and by this point I couldn’t care less what the load was. I just wanted to GET MOVING.

It turned out that my reload was in Calumet Park, IL, about 90 minutes away. A light load of some concrete formwork and scaffolding headed to a construction site about 350 miles away in Lockbourne, OH. It also turned out that their shipping hours ended at 4PM, and by the time I was able to hit the road it was already past 2:15PM. That didn’t give me much leeway, and all I could do was desperately hope that they wouldn’t turn me away when I got there.

I have to admit, at this point I was seriously questioning whether I had done something to offend dispatch, since they had kept me waiting for 24 hours the day before, then sent me on this short run with such a tight loading window. But I couldn’t think of a single thing I might have done, and I certainly didn’t make my concerns known to them! I reasoned that this was simply a downward swing, and things would have to look up soon.

I made it to the shipper with hardly any time to spare, was loaded up and ready to roll within about 30 minutes, and I left. I knew I was going to be arriving in Lockbourne very late that night, so I called up the receiver and found out that I could park in the driveway of the job site, right in front of the gate. That eliminated the need to try and find parking at a full truck stop near a big city late at night. It also meant I was going to be unloaded bright and early.

Being 2 hours ahead of dispatch, I anticipated that I would be unloaded well before anyone came into the office the next day, so I called them up and asked if I could get a jump on my next load’s info. They again said they didn’t have anything set yet, but they would most likely be sending me to Walton, KY so I should just head that way when I was done.

(Continued below...)

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

The Persian Conversion's Comment
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See, our company has a guy in Walton who does nothing but pick up and tarp loads of stainless steel rebar, so occasionally we get sent there to swap out an empty trailer and take a pre-loaded trailer to its destination. That’s what they were planning on doing with me the next day.

Anyway, I got to Lockbourne sometime after midnight and immediately shut down for the night. The next morning, I unloaded bright and early and headed to Walton. When I called in that morning, I again got the phrase of the week: “we’re not ready yet.” So I sat there at the Flying J for a few hours and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

While I waited, I planned ahead. I knew this load of rebar was going to a regular customer of ours in Cape Charles, VA, a 675 mile run. It was Friday, so I called them up and asked if I would be able to deliver sometime on Saturday. They said no, but the lady who handles that stuff said she lived about 10 minutes away and would be willing to come in, let me into the gate so I could swap trailers (we leave an extra trailer there so they can unload at their leisure), sign my paperwork and lock the gate behind me. She was super nice and generous to do that.

I was feeling pretty proud that I had been able to arrange for a Saturday delivery for this load, so I called dispatch again and told them what I had done, and asked if there was there any way I could get reloaded over the weekend. But they said no, they already had a reload planned for me and it wouldn’t be ready until Monday.

By this point I really felt like I had done everything I could, all week long, to stay ahead of deliveries and make myself available to run, but it was like I kept getting blocked at very turn. Still, I decided I would make the best of the situation. I had been to Cape Charles a couple of times before but I had never had a chance to actually explore the area, so I figured I would just take a restart right there and do a little sightseeing.

Anyway, back to Walton: finally around 4PM the guy who was supposed to be loading and tarping my trailer called and said he had just loaded it, and was about to start securing and tarping it. I wasn’t about to sit around and wait several more hours for him to finish, so I drove to where he was (about a mile way) and helped him. By the time I finally got fuel and hit the road it was almost 6PM. I drove for a few hours and shut down, then finished up the trip yesterday.

I arrived in Cape Charles at 5PM, untarped and unstrapped, swapped trailers and left their yard at 6PM. I parked off to the side in front of their gate, about a half a mile south of Cape Charles on the other side of a marina. Then I walked into town and had a nice seafood dinner and spent today buying gifts, walking along the pier and generally just enjoying myself.

Now, after all this, you might be asking yourself where the reward comes into play. Was it the downtime in Cape Charles? Well yes, that was a definite plus, but the reward I received was much more tangible and directly related to driving.

You see, on Saturday when I had called in, I got the info for my reload because I was going to be empty before Monday morning and still 2 hours ahead of dispatch. When I got the email, I actually laughed out loud with excitement and anticipation.

My next load is going to be my longest run yet, and my first true “coast to coast” run: Picking up some cable reels in Virginia Beach, VA and delivering them to 3 locations in Oregon, the final one right on the Pacific coast near Newport. In other words, I’ll literally be picking up on the Atlantic and delivering on the Pacific. 3,088 miles total, which will keep me moving all week long. That was the reward I received for all my patience.

So the moral of this story is basically what all the moderators and veterans on this site always say: don’t complain, keep a positive attitude no matter what, and people will notice and reward you for it. I have no doubt in my mind that this next week of non-stop driving is my reward for being so patient and understanding last week.

I know dispatch works hard to keep us all moving, and I know they must feel bad when they have to give us bad news. In fact I can often hear it in their voice. It’s like they have been conditioned to anticipate a verbal backlash when they say they don’t have a load for someone, and when I am cheerful and nice in response, it’s like they are taken aback and surprised at my lack of anger.

Anyway, thanks for reading my novel, and I hope this can help reinforce the idea that we should all be nice to our dispatchers even if we feel frustrated.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

Awesome story.

You left out the most important part. You did your legwork, planned well, kept your cool and delivered two loads ahead of time. Companies notice things like that and it goes toward building that ever important reputation. That reputation is going to follow you wherever you might go in the future so well done. I'm also glad to see you're doing well and were able to jump right back in the saddle.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Justin N.'s Comment
member avatar

Have fun driving next week. Still amazes me why someone would order lumber 1.500 miles away, or cable reels 3,000 miles away.

Matt W.'s Comment
member avatar

Great Attitude TPC, I'm not surprised at all at how well you carried yourself. It's my guess that it is your interactions like this that kept you in good standing after your accident. Great attitude great work ethic equaling a great run for next week. Very well deserved indeed. As good Karma would have it you also got to have a nice dinner and a relaxing Sunday as well. "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it." A favorite quote of mine.

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