Thursday, June 30, 2011

Learn From Experience: Plastic Pipe, Time Wasted and Gifts

New truck drivers and some intermediate drivers and even many old-timers simply never learn. Impatience gets you NOWHERE in this particular line of work.

I got back to the shop at 2:00 pm. I wanted to go home. Why? Because it is 1/2 hour past my "normal" time off and that's the only reason. No, not really, I was tired and wanted to go home. I stayed up too late last night with church plus my "normal" awakening in the middle of the night which netted maybe in 5 hours of sleep. I have gotten used to it, but some days it's hard to deal with.

It doesn't happen every day like that, thank God, but it happens often enough.

Now, my information was to pick up a load of C-900, PVC water pipe at the manufacturer's yard in west Phoenix. I got there, talked to the people at will call - they know me by name and we struck it off long ago, never had a problem with them - got my paperwork. Another truck driver wanted to talk. Well, as long as it isn't holding me up, I'm game. I can see out the window of that will call whether the truck is being loaded or not and at that place, I do not have to be out there for them to load it, they get to business as soon as will call calls them - forklift operators - on the walkie talkie.

I talked for a while with this guy, I have no problems striking up a conversation with other truck drivers, I have only been doing it 26 years and experiences in trucking that new drivers or anyone that started past the age of commercial licenses will even believe. No, they usually don't believe me with my stories of the past. But, this guy I was talking to is much older than me and has a few stories of his own.

Regardless, the forklift showed up and it was time to get outside, or in the terminology of some ancient past: book it.

Got the load on, strapped it down tightly, drove the 40 miles back to my branch.

When I arrived, my manager started looking at the paperwork. I had not seen the order that this pipe was on because it had come online after I had left early in the morning, so I had no clue that.......this is not the right pipe. It was DR18 PVC C900 pipe, what I was supposed to get was DR14 PVC C900 pipe. The difference is in the thickness of the walls of the pipe and subsequently, the amount of pressure it can withstand.

The paperwork I had received from the manufacturer showed shipping DR18 pipe, not DR14. I had the right pipe according to their paperwork. Here we go. The contractor where this pipe is going wants this pipe delivered early, along with a bunch of other stuff and that's that.

Yup, I had to leave at after 2:00 pm and go all the way back there, get the wrong pipe unloaded and get the right pipe loaded up.

I wasn't unhappy, I really don't care that much if I don't have something going on after work, but at the same time, I was tired. That's my only sticking point. I get it into my head that I am going home and then find out I have hours worth of driving more to do, well, I have to force myself into another mind-frame and that can take some doing.

That didn't take much. I got out of there quickly and got on the freeway, off that freeway and onto another one, off of that and onto I-10. Is there anyone that has never heard of I-10? It only runs the entire width of the United State of America, from California to Florida. And there is a LOT of truck and bus traffic going through Phoenix on that highway.

So, I am driving along in the fast lane. Yes, I was in the fast lane in a semi because the traffic in the other lanes was going 10 MPH slower than the speed limit and I was easily keeping up with traffic. So along comes this tour bus in the HOV lane, which, of course, is right next to the "fast lane". The driver slowed down right next to me. I'm always checking my mirrors and my load, but that got me going: I immediately checked my load from 3 angles to see if there was something wrong.

What was going on in that bus, I will never know. I didn't even think, at first, to look at the windows of the bus, I don't really care that much. There are people in there, they are in their own world, whatever. The thing that caught my attention was the fact that no matter what speed I was going, that bus sped up or slowed down next to me.

I then felt it. Eyes. I know that feeling, someone is not just watching me, they are staring at me. The height of the passenger level of that bus was in fact, looking down at me. So, they could see everything I was doing in my truck. Which isn't much on a freeway, messing with a few things, usually not changing gears, umm, just driving. I looked over at the windows, they weren't that much higher, just slightly elevated. People staring into the cab of my truck. Fingers, pointing, laughing, all kinds of stuff. I promise, I wasn't doing nasty things in my truck. I was just driving and listening to music.

MUSIC!!! That's it!! Maybe that's it, anyway. I tend to get animated if a good song comes on. You don't have to be on your feet to dance, folks. This just crossed my mind now, that might have been it. Or not, who knows. Whatever the case, it went on for about 15 miles and I ended up getting off the freeway. I will never know.

I got back to the pipe yard and hadn't even got my paperwork done - I am a truck driver, you fill in your time and mileage before you do anything else after stopping - and look up to see a forklift sitting there, waiting to unload the truck. Thank you. No time wasted, I jumped out, un-did the strap, got them off the pipe and he went into a flurry of getting all of that off of the trailer. I start rolling the straps back up. I have to throw them over pipe when it's that high, I can't just take the straps, un-rolled and try to get them over it.

One of the will-call guys comes out on a cart. He's totally cool, but both of them in that will call are always cool. He's got a big smile on his face: Sorry, Ben, for the problem. I smiled back and greeted him and then told him I knew it wasn't his fault. Obviously, the sales rep input the information wrong. No biggies. I threw out: But, I want a steak dinner gift card at, ohhh, maybe Black Angus or Claim Jumpers. He smiled real big again and took off.

Meanwhile, I'm rolling up straps and the forklift dude is done unloading pipe and starts loading the "real" pipe on. The will-call guy is out again. But not for me, another truck. He drives by: "We want recompense, dinner will work!", I shouted, but in jest, we both know that isn't going to happen. Again, I say something similar, he's laughing now. He knows I am messing with him, but in a light-hearted way, this isn't anything serious at all.

One last time, he comes out to count the pipe. But, now I can tell he is embarrassed about this situation. I have been going there for 5-1/2 years and have never had a problem with the wrong pipe being loaded. If the wrong amount of pipe is loaded, either I or they catch it, but it's caught before I leave. The only problem I have ever had is burnt pipe - many contractors will reject it. Arizona sun has that effect on plastic pipe if it's out there too long.

Well, he disappears and I get to getting with strapping, it's getting late and I want to get back to the yard and go home. I get done with strapping and go into the will-call center. You see, he had come out and had me sign the paperwork, but didn't give me a copy of it, which he automatically does. He has NEVER come OUTSIDE to give me paperwork, I always go in there to get it and I might add that doesn't bother me at all. We all have our little realms that we work in, I respect that. He did not, however, give me a copy of the paperwork. You cannot receive into your inventory anything unless you have the paperwork to go along with it.

So, he isn't there. The other guy is, we get into a conversation, albeit short. He calls his partner on the phone, where are you, what's up? He'll back back in a minute, he had gone into the main office. I wait. He shows up, hands me the copies of the paperwork and slips a card into my hand. This was totally unexpected. I didn't even THINK that anything would become of my playing around with him about the dinner, stuff. I looked at the card: a $50 gift card to Sam's Club.

I look up at him, he has this big grin on his face. I'm like, wow! Thank you! I am not accustomed to receiving freebies at work when it comes to our contractors or our vendors, besides vendors showing up to our main branch with food. I am on the clock and getting paid for my time, that is sufficient for me. There are 2 contractors that come to mind,however, that I would like to meet up with in a dark alley or a bar somewhere and knock the teeth out of their heads - yes, not Christian speech at all, but I am at least being honest about it, and yes, if the opportunity came..............well I better not go there.

Ahhhhh, I'm done. It's late - for me, anyway - I am ready to go to sleep. I did offer half of it to my manager, who had to put up with as much earful about it as I did having to deal with the physical aspect of it, he simply said he didn't have a Costco membership. Neither do I, but if you think, for one moment, that that is going to stop me from going on there and using that gift card, think again. It will happen. I will get him his whatever canned nutrition drinks he likes and I will get - dunno. $25, my half, will buy a few things, not much, but it's free and that's that.



Thursday 6/30/2011


Yes, I went to church last night. It went on a bit long, too. I didn't leave, though, I stayed until it ended at 9:00pm and didn't waste any time getting out of there, getting home and getting to bed.

I got a bit of a surprise yesterday as I was about to leave work. No, the ops manager did not show up to hand me a pink slip. My manager handed me a white piece of paper and said here.

Okaaaaaay. I open it up and read a one-liner. I says I am receiving a $.55 per hour raise. Uhh, that's not bad, really. In fact, I was surprised I got any kind of raise after all the commotion was started when I was pulled over twice in December for vehicle inspections and given fully 4 warnings: 2 per inspection. Seriously, that information came down from the near the top and went through every level of management until it got to my manager.

Okay, warnings for commercial drivers carry more weight after the initiation of "CSA2010". Some people say they have the same weight as getting an actual ticket itself, I would seriously have to disagree with that assessment. I asked about this new "thing" they have come out with that regulate the trucking industry much more than ever and affects commercial drivers to the point that, well, some companies may have trouble keeping their doors open if DOT comes in and shuts down their fleet.

But, anyway, they are not, allegedly, revoking class A priviledges for warnings. But, warning have a rating system through points. I think I am understanding it correctly that the points stack up against the company and that at some point, if enough points in a specific time period are accrued, DOT can come in and start the beginning levels of "big brotherism".

In some cases, I would assess that yes, some companies need to be watched like a hawk. If drivers in that company are getting into accidents or if the company is having them drive around unsafe equipment, then yes, I agree.
June 30, 2011 6:03 AM
Anonymous said...
But to not get a warning when they pull you over the exception, not the rule. They find one little thing wrong and they write up a warning. The first guy that pulled me over was a 20-something and definitely had the "god" syndrome going. You will bow and worship him, he is the final authority and if you don't, he'll make your life even more miserable.

It usually isn't worth getting into arguments with them, but I did confront him on the "following too closely" statement. NO sir, you weren't even parked in such a position as to SEE what was going on. Back and forth, but I knew it wouldn't help anything, still, I had to make my case.

The second officer that month was an older gentlemen, nice enough, who adamently claimed that the reduced speed limit was clearly posted coming into the construction zone. A trip back through determined that there was NO signage showing a new speed limit. The DOT crews had put up a STAND for the sign, but they never actually got around to putting the sign up itself.

That's when I complained to AZDOT. "Your officers are handing out warnings and tickets for a construction zone with signage that does not exist." The DOT officer that wrote me back said I would have to go through my company to file a formal complaint, but that he was also going to forward that email I sent to him on to AZDOT.

Yes, the signage magically appeared after that. I would laugh, but there is nothing funny about it. No-one was doing their job in that case. The DOT officers weren't looking to see if the signage had been placed - before handing out their invitations and the state of Arizona obviously hadn't done it's job since the new speed limit, which was supposed to be posted, was not.

The thing that really got me in this case is that there were cars speeding by me going at least 10mph faster than I. The officer didn't care about THOSE people who were REALLY speeding.

These are the kinds of things that make DOT officers mostly unliked in the realm of commercial drivers. They give us a hard time and frequently are very disrespectful, even if the driver is respecting them. If it had been a ticket I had been issued, I would have won that one hands down, because when I saw that the signs were down, I would have immediately driven home, got my camera and taken both pictures and a video of it.

Well whatever, the end of month today, although there is usually a big push to get out whatever product we can to bring up our numbers, all of our stores are doing very well this month. Save some for next month, lol.



Well it's almost 3 pm and I haven't heard from the manager about a run for tomorrow, so I'm going to assume that it isn't go...