The length I go to just to bring you a story. . . I can only hope you appreciate the danger I’m putting myself into. Someone probably has my forehead in the cross-hairs of a high-powered sniper rifle right now.
Okay, perhaps that’s just a taaaad bit of an exaggeration. While the company I drive for does forbid me to talk about high-value loads, as far as I know that’s only when I’m actually under such a load at the time. Also, no one outside my immediate friends and family knows what trucking company I drive for, so no one can track me that way. It also helps that no one reads this blog except for immediate friends and family. So I’ve got that going for me. And that frees me up to tell you this. . .[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
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I have just delivered the highest-value load I’ve ever transported. That is, if you consider a load of cell phones worth 5 million smackeroos high-value. No, I have no idea what brand. I’d like to thing they were my beloved iPhones, but I really have no clue. It was also the only load that has ever required an escort service to tail me the entire way. Oooo. Now we’re talking CIA-type stuff. McCann. . . Todd McCann. Gee, that doesn’t have any kind of ring to it at all, does it? It’s a good thing that I’m better looking than James. Anywho. . .
The Evil Overlord started out the trip in the drivers seat while I settled down for a bumpy night’s sleep. On high-value loads, most trucking companies require the driver to travel a minimum of 200-300 miles before we make our first stop. Having the bladder the size of a BB, The Evil Overlord took it easy on the liquids so she could fulfill the requirement.
With our fuel gauge on full, we were set to make the entire trip without refueling. Unfortunately, the escort car didn’t have 250 gallon tanks. A mere 200 miles out, she was forced to stop so the escorts could fuel. Since the BB was about to burst, The Evil Overlord actually welcomed this early stop.
Via our in-truck satellite, The Evil Overlord notified our company that we were stopping, while the escort called in the stop to the shipper. Some trucking companies require the driver to contact them every time they stop the truck while under a high-value load. Other companies only have that requirement under certain high-value loads. Still others don’t need to be notified of any stops.
Nearly all trucking companies have some sort of policy for high-value loads. Part of this policy might include padlocking the trailer or backing the trailer doors against an immovable object when you stop. They might require the driver to stay with the truck and trailer or they might set a maximum time that you can leave it unoccupied. If you are a team driver, they might say that the vehicle must be attended by one driver at all times. They might tell you to avoid stopping for breaks near certain notorious cities or high-crime areas. The rules are all over the map when it comes to security. And now you know. And as G.I. Joe says (in a deep, macho voice), “And knowing’s half the battle.” Where the heck did that come from? I digress.
The next stop she made was another 300 miles down the road. By this time, it was time for us to switch positions. The escorts decided to do the same. The Evil Overlord whipped up some vittles for herself while I ran into the truck stop and nabbed some Subway. The nice lady at Pilot informed me (in a high-pitched squeaky voice), “Did you know that for 30 cents less, you could get the 44 ounce iced tea instead of the 32 ouncer.” Naturally, I went with the bargain. I hate it when they upsell. Within 45 minutes we were rolling again.
Now normally, I store my whiz about as efficiently as a camel stores water, but c’mon, it was 44 ounces!! Therefore, even I, Super Bladder Man, had to stop at a rest area before I could complete the rest of the 300 miles to the receiver. Oddly enough, the escort driver refused the need to use the facilities himself. I might have thought that he too had a gargantuan bladder, but I had witnessed him carry a 12-pack of water out of the Pilot. I didn’t ask any questions.
To make a long story short (too late), the rest of the trip went fine until I missed the turn into the receiver. It was on a blind curve and they had a little, bitty, teensy, weensy sign. A few blocks down the road I found a place to turn around. When I got back to the receiver and told the elderly gentleman at the guard shack that they needed a bigger (or earlier) sign, he said, “Really? You’re the only one who’s ever missed that turn.” I caught the sarcasm in his voice and the twinkle in his eye, so at least I was justified in my ineptitude.
I have to admit something about my first escorted high-value trip. I expected it to be a lot worse. In fact, I expected it to be maddeningly annoying. I expected to be pissed about it for the rest of the weekend. You see, I figured that the escort drivers would constantly be wanting to stop for gas, food, and bathroom breaks, and that we would constantly be stopping, starting, and talking on the phone with them. I was wrong on all counts. Just don’t go telling The Evil Overlord that I admitted that. I’ve got her convinced that I’m perfect. Pssshhht.