Returning To Trucking After Vacation: Part Two

by Rhonda

I arrive to my shipper by taking the on ramp to the interstate to enter the customer's lot. So I enter the ramp and take an immediate right turn again into the yard. I check in and find out all are on lunch so I will need to wait. But its not long and now someone comes to me and tells me the procedure on how to get this done. My insides are in knots now as this backing thing is still an issue with me.

Out the "out" drive I go and I turn left onto this four lane road and stop in the inside lane. When my helpers have stopped all traffic, I move forward at an angle into the next lane and then I back up towards the docks. They want the trailer next to the west wall. I warned them they will get the trailer in what ever dock that back end goes to, but I will really try to get the specific one they asked for.

The docks are empty so this will help me back up a wee bit faster and not hit parked trucks! OK, vehicles are stopped everywhere waiting and waiting on me and many are not happy. I can see most of their faces and even read lips too! Some are watching in amazement on how a truck backs up with all the moving that the tractor does while we guide the trailer into its place. I really tried to get the specified dock but we end up in the middle one and that is where I stayed. The tractor is parked in the outside lane and taking up the entire width of that lane. The customer has cones I can use to block traffic from that lane and protect the truck. I get that done and wait in the truck fully expecting some idiot to run into me saying "I didn't see you."

Soon I am loaded and have my papers and leave for the truck stop to weigh the load. Steers are 12,300, Drivers are 33,400 and the Tandems are 34,580 for a total weight of 80,280. I am over the legal 80,000 pound limit and on the rears which the limit is 34,000. I have a half tank of fuel. I slide my tandems 2 holes to take off 500 pounds and transfer it to the front. But this will not solve my over gross weight. I've heard too many stories about the fines and it all depends on the officer's mood and your mood at the time too. I do know that I have no scales unless there is a surprise scale setup to catch us so I will burn off enough fuel by the first official scale that I will not worry about it. Due to this weight I can not purchase more than 30 gallons of fuel for my trip back to be legal.

I make it to Chicago/Gary for the night at the company terminal. Fuel gauge is reading between 1/4 and E.I put in 27 gallons of fuel at 8 pounds a gallon. I am tired and hungry and need a shower.

11-06-02 I set the alarm for 3am for the shower but when it went off I was still tired and decided to sleep as I have a couple of other choices to do that later today. Right now sleep is more important. I got another hour and then I had to get up and get ready. I leave at 4:30 am and stop at the DeKalb plaza to get my first cup of coffee of the day about 6. I don't take any on my walk back to the truck as I am wanting to enjoy the first sip of the day when back on the interstate and heading westbound. I'm still on the ramp shifting gears when the gear shift bumps into the dash where the cups sit as this gear shift is not TIGHT like on my truck--it wobbles.But sometimes it is "normal". So there goes all of my coffee all over the place - even on me! I am not at all happy about this. I now have to wait for the next truck stop to get my first cup of coffee for the day. I got that accomplished and for the rest of the week, I won the battle of "lets knock over the drinks" by being extra careful of that gearshift that sometimes wobbled and sometimes not. I made it to my shipper/receiver with the fuel gauge reading just about E. I had also called the person assigned to me and explained about the weight problems but I should have enough to make it to the next fuel stop. I got my new trailer and left and prayed and coasted and did everything possible to get to that next fuel stop.I did get there and put in 145 gallons out of 200. I'm going to the White Bear Lake MN. Still no time for a shower as I wanted to get thru the Twin Cities before evening traffic. I did get that done and no delays with unloading so now I'm heading to Austin MN. I stop at the customer just to see if I could maybe get the load now and not tomorrow. Well the product is "hot off the press" and so hot that it can not be put on a trailer due to the moisture problems. I leave them my trailer and go to the truck stop for the night. They will load the trailer about 2 am and I can have it at 6:30. I did 643 miles today.

11-07-02 Got my trailer and drove 3 hours to Cedar Rapids IA to drop this load and get the next one to Rockford IL. I have a 3pm appointment. I know its going to be close. By the time I leave the paper mill in Cedar Rapids I have exactly 3 hours to go thru all the towns and the speed limit is 55 in IL too. I also call my terminal and say that 3 pm is not possible and phone calls are made. I am told I have up to 30 minutes past appointment time to get there. I leave and drive faster that I normally do and actually do 65 in IL knowing I am taking a chance with the police. I also did not want to deliver this load in the morning. I did make Rockford on time and drove up and over the curb and onto the sidewalk at this customer, missing all employee cars in the lot while you back to the ramp, missing the drop off and the pole. All went well here and back to the mill I go. I get my next load and head west on I80 for Des Moines. But I am spending the night about halfway there as my time will be up.

11-08-02 4:30 am. I hear a garbage truck go by and he makes a lot of noise with the dumpster so I just get up. It was then I discover an overturned trailer on the main drive of this shopping center/truck stop. (see other story I posted on Trailer Rollover) Soon I am on the road and heading to my terminal and home. When I arrive I need to unhook this trailer and put the truck in the lineup and take my things out of it. I look for "my" truck and its not here. OK, it was to be here yesterday. I go looking for it in the shop. Not there either. Office assures me it will be here for me when I leave Monday. I go home and enjoy my weekend. ("my" truck was here and waiting for me on Monday and all was OK with it.)


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.


A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Operating While Intoxicated

by Brett Aquila

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