I’m sitting in the driver’s lounge of a truck shop right now. Last night, in 25 degree weather, our alternator belt broke. It not only powers the batteries, but since everything in our modern truck is electrical, it also powers nearly everything else, including the heater. So what does this have to do with forced dispatched? Hang on. I’m taking the construction detour to get around to it.[box]Listen to the audio version above and subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
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Forced dispatch simply means that you can’t reject a load that your company gives you. Since Owner/Operators can pick and choose their loads, this is usually only an issue for company drivers. The term “forced” is the thing most folks get caught up with. I don’t like to be forced to anything. Most people don’t. Perhaps the term should be changed to the phrase, “Strongly suggested if you want any good loads in the future” dispatch. Or how about, “The planner is too lazy to look for anything else” dispatch. Those are both pretty fitting.
The thing with forced dispatch is that it’s really not… at least it isn’t if you’ve got a good reason to refuse the load. And now we come to the part where I’m sitting in a shop’s driver lounge with a broken truck. Now undoubtedly, my alternator belt would have broken at some point, but if I had utilized the exception rule on forced dispatch, I’d be close to home instead of freezing my nipples off in Longmont, Colorado.
I had just delivered a load near Dallas, TX when I received my next load information. This was Tuesday night and the load was going to the Denver area to be delivered Wednesday night. Since we were due home in Missouri on Thursday night, I almost refused it. Instead I got greedy. I saw that we could deliver on Wednesday night and still be home by Thursday night. Just one more load! The problem is that I accepted the load without thinking it through. On hindsight, I should have refused it and sat in Texas until they found something better.
I was well on my way to Denver when one of my Twitter friends (@unclefuzz) shot me a tweet that told me that he was heading to Austin TX and he hoped I enjoyed the Denver blizzard. The what? As they say on the iPhone commercials, “There’s an app for that.” The Weather Channel app confirmed it, up to 12 inches of snow. Had I known that in advance, I would have had grounds to refuse that forced dispatch, stating that I might get stuck in the storm, which could cause me to get home late. I had the company look for another driver who might want to switch loads, but I knew it was useless. What kind of idiot would want to drive right back into the blizzard that he had just escaped? My dispatcher asked if I wanted to put off my home time until the next week, but that really wasn’t an option. Under normal circumstances, that might work. But not this particular weekend.
We had been planning a decked-out Halloween weekend for our nephews and we really needed to be home by Thursday night to prepare for it. Our costumes had been bought way back in August. On top of that, The Evil Overlord had scheduled a few appointments on Friday and I had a doctors appointment on Monday. Doctors appointments are yet another reason to refuse forced dispatches. So basically, I blew it worse than a kid with a kazoo.
And all this because I thought I could fit in one more load. You know, it’s true what the Bible says about greed. It sucks. Well, it doesn’t say it in those exact words, but you get the drift… just as I do. All snowy 12″ of them. Dang it.
Photo by Glutnix via Flickr