Monday, November 9, 2015

"No Truckin Way"

Ok, I've gotta start this one with a disclaimer. I own my truck and trailer. I'm what's called "an ownin operatiner" but I know people who drive trucks owned by companies. Those companies have fairly strict rules about certain things. Therefore, this story is not mine but is an approximation of a story I was told. I may have taken a little license in its telling but I'm telling it in first person anyway though because that's just how I write. If this were about me, here's how it would go:

So I show up in New Jersey to make a delivery the other day. Ok, so it was today but it feels like a week has passed already while I'm sitting here. I pull up to where the "yard" is supposed to be and it's packed like a city girl going camping. There's hardly walking room, much less truck room so I park out in the road and go looking for a shipping office. 
I would've worn numbers if I'd known I was entering some sadistic track and field event. 

I'm dodging trucks, hurtling people and pacing myself to set a new record in the 5k. The whole time thinking "I bet some cultures send people to New Jersey as a form of punishment. Why do I ever agree to come to these places?!"
After 2 hours of "rush hour" to get here (why do they even call it "rush hour"? It should be called "in no big hurry 3 hours") I'm already frazzled and ready to kick some small, furry creature should I find one. In Jersey? Ha! 

But I finally find a dock that appears to be for receiving. As I try asking about delivering, the guy starts waving his arms around like he's drowning and shit. I didn't know if I should keep talking or dial 911. He's all frantic "no unload here! No unload. You no come here unload." Now, I know you guys are picturing a little Chinese guy. Racists. He's Mexican. 
After a couple minutes of poly lingual charades I figure out he wants me to go a building over. Excellent, my truck is still out in the road. "Please, no one hurt my baby"

Fortunately, another driver offers to lead me through the yard to a big spot for me to turn around. For you non-truckers, backing in from the passenger side is called "blind siding". Wanna guess why? Backing in that way is like putting Stevie Wonder behind the wheel. 
So I sprint back out to my truck. Well, the best I can with everyone milling around. Is it just me or did it get 30 degrees warmer all of the sudden? I look up and the sun is 3 times bigger than it was a few minutes ago. 

In the midst of my heat stroke I climb up in the cab to follow this other truck. In a crowd of 50 trucks it's like playing "Where's Waldo" on a global scale. I'm looking for the white truck. Oh good, that narrows it down to 45 of them. 
I find the Good Samaritan and he's driving around like he's in a sports car, flinging himself from one block to another without turn signals. Seriously? "Follow" you? This guy's driving like he's trying to lose me. I can't tell if he has an actual destination in mind or if he's just using the Force to guide him.

Mission accomplished. I've now lost HIM and my sense of direction. But I finally manage to get to an intersection where I can turn around. An intersection with no protected green arrow and half the state of New Jersey blocking the intersection. I sit at this light, waiting so long for a break in traffic, that it's gone green to red three times. I'm losing all patience and ready to play bumper cars. Finally, frustrated to the point homicide is an attractive option, I make a desperate move. There's a big, shiny, beautiful Peterbilt headed towards the intersection on the yellow light. I figure "his truck is too nice, he won't hit me and mess up his truck" so I make a quick left and brace for impact as cars torpedo themselves at me all pissed that I'm on their road. How dare I deliver shit they need! 
Another "quick left" and I'm pointed back towards the yard. I'm thinking "I'm coming in hot, clear a spot!" as I pull a Tokyo Drift into the lot, this time facing the direction I need. 

Finally a receiving guy comes over to point where he wants me and my trailer. I laugh, "no, seriously, where do you want me?" He's adamant, "right there." So I respond, "which part of 'no, seriously' makes you think this thing will fit THERE??" 
Here I should mention that backing into a spot can be tough when a yard is dead. This place being an anthill of people makes it virtually impossible. As do the trucks and trailers lined up next to the building. It's a physics thing. 80 feet of vehicle needs 80 feet of room and there "might be" enough. But just barely. And I'm tinkering on insanity as it is. 

Here's the part where I hang my head in trucker shame. (Author's note here: I can't believe I'm even writing this part in first person it pains me so much but I'm committed now). I looked at this space, looked around, and felt my blood run cold as I considered my options. I needed this load delivered but I just knew that in my current state I'd make a mess of even trying. So I went to talk to the "yard dog" (trucker jargon for the worker who shuttles trailers about the yard in a vehicle less than half as long as our sleeper trucks) to weigh out options and throw myself at his mercy. I'd hoped, best case scenario, that I'd just drop my trailer where I was and he'd back it into the spot. 
Upon talking to him I found out he'd had over 30 years on the road and he understood my situation. But he couldn't just hook to my trailer. The solution? (Shudder) he climbed up in my truck and backed it in for me. With an ease that verified the decades of practice he'd claimed. 

Now, here I am, hiding in my truck and waiting for them to finish. Either I'm gonna have to drag a few trailers away from the dock when they're done or there may be an issue with getting back out. All the local guys were smart enough to flee so I'm kinda stuck here. I guess I'll have to adopt a New Jersey accent and prepare for this spot to be my new home. Well, at least Jersey has good pizza.