Croc's Thoughts

All of us should know but we don't.  All of us should be aware but we are not.  Some of us are creating unnecessary problems and unfortunately others of us are allowing the dumb to get away with it.

What am I talking about?  I ask myself that question more often than I should; the trouble is that I am not sure of the answer.

Our dedicated run comes out of Laredo and drops in Pocahontas, Illinois or at least the first part of it does, that's not the whole run.  It wouldn't be a great dedicated run if it did, right?

In Pocahontas we are supposed to pick up an empty trailer and run it down to Salem, Illinois for loading at the XPO LTL yard; for those who are not aware that was Con-way Freight.  This wasn't always the way it worked, there was a time when we went right to Salem, not bothering with Pocahontas at all.  The trouble there was that more often than was acceptable someone would come into Salem without an empty, pick up the loaded trailer and Con-way (as it was then known) wouldn't have a needed empty.  We actually suggested that we drop our 'relay' load in Pocahontas because it was causing problems for our first concern, our customer. 

Let's take a look at that part of the previous paragraph, "our first concern, our customer."  Isn't that our Job?  Isn't it a fact that we receive load information, pickup time, etc. and best serve our customer; yes OUR customer, by placing it in the first position?  The first priority?  Our most important concern?  CFI books a load and turns the responsibility of the promises they have made to us, the Drivers, and we do our level best to meet our customer's expectations.

If you, as a Driver, don't agree with the previous statement perhaps you should choose a different line of work.

I drove into Pocahontas with trepidation. For the uninformed; that's a feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen.  What might happen?  It's Pocahontas so it hardly likely we will be attacked? Hardly likely there will be a landslide.  A meteor perhaps?  Maybe an earthquake and a massive trench opens sucking down trucks and trailers into an evil depth where the devil lurks.  I am always filled with a feeling that there will not be an empty trailer at the yard.

So what?  No empty?  What's the big deal?  It's nothing to worry about is it.  We are on a dedicated run and not having an empty at the Pocahontas yard means we are most likely going to be sent for one.  That means I will run out of hours during the extra miles and Ellen will have to take over driving, starting her book earlier than normal so she will run out of hours before making our normal change over point.  Our run is choreographed so a change of plan because an empty isn't available in Pocahontas causes problems.  Sure it's still not a big deal but it is a problem and neither of us likes a problem during our run.

In Pocahontas there were two empties but both had trucks hooked to them.  The procedure is to call Operations, advise them of the situation and get instructions.

There is a rule about our yards, including our drop yards.  Don't hook to anything unless you are told to.  The presumption is that these trucks were hooked to the trailers because they were told to do so.  Apparently not as I learned during my conversation with Operations.  At least one of them had hooked up despite the rules. 

At our terminals we do not have to have an empty to board.  In Pocahontas we do not have to have an empty to board!  If you think we do then you are misinformed.  When we drop a load in Pocahontas and send in the normal Qualcomm macro with zero's in the New Trailer position the computer will return an error.  We actually have to call in and get on the board to avoid the error.  If Operations notices they will take care of the error themselves and put the driver on the board.  So, you do not need an empty to board in Pocahontas and you have no business hooking to a trailer unless you have been told to do so.

Having learned that the truck should not have hooked up I expected to be told to knock on the driver's door so I could get to work.  What I was told really ticked me off!  "Don't wake the Driver!"  Really?  Seriously?  I have a job to do but someone else who has done the wrong thing by ignoring the rule is preventing me from doing it.

I argued with the Dispatcher who told me that he would inform the Planner and let them make the decision.  The decision from the Planner was, DON'T WAKE THE DRIVER!!!  Again I was ticked and let them know how ticked I was.

Rather than wake the Driver I was told to drive 60 miles in the wrong direction to get a trailer.  I am getting paid for the bobtail miles which isn't the problem.  By the time we arrived in Salem with our empty trailer we had added 130 miles to the run.  That's 130 miles in an area that was expecting snow, 130 miles of wear and tear, 130 miles during which my logbook ran out which broke our choreography and 130 miles of fuel wasted all so that a Driver who had done the wrong thing wasn't woken from his slumber.

The Dispatcher asked how I would feel being woken in the middle of the night.  NOT AT ALL!!!  If I have messed up and am preventing someone from doing their job I would EXPECT to be woken.

Nope! I sincerely believe I am not wrong here.  I should not have been bobtailed to get a trailer and should have woken the Driver.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been as upset as I was with the Dispatcher on the phone because Operations ganged up on me and I ended up "talking" to my Fleet Manager the next morning.  My FM didn't actually disagree but this is something they see so often that I think they have given up trying to do something about it.  In otherwords the Lunatics are running the Asylum?

This occurred two days ago and I am still ticked off with it.  Hey, it's easy folks.  If somebody didn't tell you to hook up to a trailer, then don't!!!

Just a Though.

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Anyone who spends time on the road behind the wheel has time to think. Thinking can be dangerous. Well it is for me and it gets me into trouble more than I would wish.

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