Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tales from the Workplace, Trucking Edition, Part XXII

I am posting stories from my job, because I think they're funny.  I've done my best to disguise my company name, even the industry, and to keep the people I write about and even some details of the situation anonymous.  If you know me, and know where I work, please don't include details in your comments.  I'll have to delete your comment and reconsider posting these stories.

We had a load scheduled to go to northern California, normally just a one day trip.  However, when the driver still hadn't shown up by noon, we were getting a bit concerned about it getting delivered on time.  Finally, the driver showed up, but just in a truck without a trailer attached.  We pre-load the trailers here on our site so technically that isn't a problem--the driver could just hook up to the loaded trailer and go.  HOWEVER, that leaves us without an empty trailer to pre-load for the next customer, and so on and so on.  So the owner of the company didn't want to let this load go until we had a trailer.  If not ON the lot, at least on its way for sure, and not just an empty promise.  So he told the driver as much, and the driver got on the phone with his company.

An hour or so later, the driver comes back in to the office.  He finally got a trailer lined up for us, and the trucking company asked him to go pick it up.  "It's in Portland, which is what, 300 miles?  So you guys will still be here when I get back, right?"

Okay, let's do the math on that.  We'll be here until 5:00, which is four hours from now.  Do you plan to drive 75 miles an hour AVERAGE between here and Portland, including slowing down for towns, stopping at stoplights, and you know, the whole MOUNTAIN PASS thing?  Not to mention having to actually stop for a few minutes to attach the trailer...  Granted, one way will be with just a tractor and no trailer, and the other way will be with an empty trailer, but the maximum speed limit between here and Portland, except for MAYBE a few minutes on I-84, is 55.  Good luck averaging 75.

I patiently explained to the driver that even the near side of Portland is a 2 1/2 hour drive in a car, so add on however far through Portland he'd have to drive, going slower on the uphill parts of the pass, and likely the downhill parts, too, and he would most definitely not make it back before we left for the day.  So I gave him his paperwork so he'd have it once he did get back to pick up the loaded trailer, and asked if he'd be able to make it to the destination on his allotted hours (I doubted it, but figured I'd ask).  He said sure, no problem, though of course I had my doubts, based on his estimation of what a round trip to Portland should take (which, by the way, he had just come from and also happens to be where he lives, so it's not like he didn't know how far it was in TIME, not just distance).

Sure enough, we got a notification from the trucking company that our load was being delayed.  They said the new ETA was 11:00 p.m.  Hmmm, I'm pretty sure exactly NONE of our customers would appreciate a delivery at that time, even if they live at the site where it's being delivered, but this customer is a retail location and I'm sure they weren't open that late.  Heh.  So of course we had them reschedule it further until the morning.

So, morning comes, and we're going to check with the customer to make sure the load did, indeed deliver, and before we had a chance to call them, they called us.  I was the one who picked up the phone, and said we'd been just about to call them to make sure the load delivered.

"DID it deliver?'

"Well, yes, it's here."

"Hmmm...that didn't sound good.  Is there a problem?"

"Uh, yeah.  There was a little accident.  The driver drove into a light pole and we don't have power."  (Retail location remember, so this is a bit more than a minor inconvenience.  They're probably unable to serve THEIR customers during this time.)

Turns out, the driver had arrived during the night (as the dispatch had anticipated) and parked his rig in their lot.  Fine and dandy.  However, where he was parked wasn't the best place for him to be for unloading, so they knocked on his cab, woke him up, and asked him to move it to a better location.  They gave him instructions to go around the block, approach it again from a different angle, and showed him where to park.  However, he figured he knew better than they did, and attempted to execute a U-turn.  In a SEMI.  WITH a trailer.  And took out the electrical box on the corner.  I don't know whether it affected other properties' power or just the one, but it caused a major inconvenience for them and the THREE fire trucks and FOUR police cars that apparently responded (must've been a boring day in that neighborhood prior to this incident).

I'm sure the trucking company will eventually take care of the customer, monetarily, but it doesn't help them in the short term when they've got a business to run and no power.  I guess the driver did feel quite chastised, and I hope he learns a lesson from this.

* * * * *

To top it off, a full two weeks after the delivery described above (if you can call it that, though I guess the product arrived, so it WAS a delivery, however inconvenient), we received notification from the freight company that the driver was on site for seven hours, so we would be charged for five hours of detention (I think I've mentioned it before, but they allot two hours for loading or unloading on either end, and if you go over, they charge you in increments of 10 or 15 minutes, and it's NOT cheap).  Normally, they notify us of potential detention charges while the driver is on site, not two weeks later, so I have a couple guesses about why it took two weeks:  giving them the benefit of the doubt, they knew it was their fault at the time, and overrode the computer who said we should be charged, but must not have noted why they weren't charging us.  Now, two weeks later, some do-gooder is going through logs looking for anomalies and sees that the driver was there seven hours but we weren't charged detention, so they created the charges, not knowing that there's a reason we weren't charged.  If I want to take a more negative view, though, maybe they let it sit for two weeks hoping WE'D forget the story and just go ahead and pay it even though the driver being there for seven hours has nothing to do with unloading the product.  In fact, part of the reason he was there so long is that the customer was genuinely concerned about him being on the road and called the company dispatch to report not just the incident, but the potential safety issue.

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