Truck News


Hands On Trucking – Part 4

The Story So Far...

The Story So Far…

Before making a delivery of hardwood flooring to a big warehouse, Mark jumps from his cab and injures his knee. Working through the pain, Mark is told by the shipper that all the warehouse workers are gone, so if Mark wants his truck unloaded he’ll have to do it himself. Mark wants another load so he unloads himself. His knee aches.

Mark’s knee is sorer than ever, but he keeps working. He gets another load to the same warehouse and there are still no workers to unload his truck. Unhappy, Mark unloads his trailer wondering how he could be so unlucky to make two deliveries when no one was around.

Mark’s knee is worse than ever. A doctor explains how so much damage can be caused by a small jump. He also suggests Mark maintains three points of contact with his truck at all times when climbing in an out. Later, at a nearby Tim’s, Mark learns that there are no workers at the warehouse and the shipper there depends on truckers to do all the heavy work themselves…

Mark limped back to Mother Load and took his time climbing into the cab, making sure that he had three points of contact between himself and the truck at all times.

When he was inside, he sat behind the wheel for several minutes, thinking about his last couple of loads…

How could it have happened that he had been duped by a shipper to unload not one, but two loads of heavy goods by himself? Each delivery had taken him roughly an hour to unload, easily saving the shipper over a hundred dollars in wages and benefits that should have been paid to a worker for that time.


Mark thought about the word.

Time was money, and like plenty of other drivers he knew, he’d rather unload a trailer himself than waste time waiting for someone else to come by to unload it for him. And for what? Just so he could squeeze in another load, make another delivery, or put a few more miles under his wheels.

At what cost?

It only took a second longer to climb down from his truck than it took to jump down, but he’d jumped plenty of times, all in the name of getting things done faster. He’d been in a hurry with that first load and as a result, he’d been slowed down to a crawl by an injury that could have easily been avoided. And he’d probably aggravated his injured knee getting the load off his truck just so he could hurry back to the depot to get another one.

Well, no more.

From now on he’d climb down from his truck, walk to the end of his trailer, and take the stairs one at a time. And if there wasn’t a worker around to unload his trailer, then he’d wait until there was one available. After all, there was no point risking getting hurt doing someone else’s job, especially if he wasn’t covered by insurance while he was doing it.

Safety first. It was an old saying, but right now it had a whole new meaning for Mark. Another old saying with a new meaning was, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Only in Mark’s case there was a third line to the saying that went, “Fool me three times, I don’t think so.”

But while he wasn’t in any shape to make another delivery -especially one he’d have to unload himself -Mark did want to take one last load to the flooring warehouse.

So Mark called up Bud, this time not giving his dispatcher a chance for any fun and games. “Bud this is Mark Dalton,” he said. “I want another load to that flooring warehouse.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be hurt?” Bud asked. “I thought the doctor said you had to take it easy for a while.”

“He gave me a prescription. I’ll be alright.”

“I don’t like my drivers being on the road while they’re on medication.”

“It’s non-drowsy stuff,” said Mark. “I made sure.”

Bud still wasn’t convinced. “You know at that warehouse you’re probably going to have to unload your truck yourself.”

“I know. I’m sort of counting on it.”

“Ahhh,” Bud said, understanding. “Mark Dalton has a plan. Well, who am I to stand in your way?” A pause. “What do you need?”

“Another load,” Mark said. “A real heavy one.”

Mark knew just where to find the trailer he needed to carry the load, but it took most of the day to convince its owners to let him use it to make the delivery. But once they’d agreed on a fee, Mark had the trailer hooked up to Mother Load by three that afternoon. And an hour after that he had the load all strapped down and ready to roll.

If he played his cards right, he’d arrive at the warehouse just before five. That would give the shipper an iron-clad excuse as to why no one was there to unload it, and that was just what Mark wanted.

He was unloading this shipment himself, and he was going to enjoy every minute of it -bad knee and all.

Mark backed up to the loading dock at quarter to five and left Mother Load idling at the door. He knew he was wasting a bit of fuel letting the engine idle, but he needed the noise it made as cover.

He climbed down from Mother Load -making sure he had three points of contact every step of the way — then climbed the few steps to the shipping entrance and opened the door.

“Hello?” he said. No answer.

Perfect, he thought.

He made his way to the office, noting that there wasn’t a worker anywhere to be seen. That was fine with Mark since he didn’t want anyone showing up to interfere with his plan.

“Hello?” he said again as he neared the office.

“Oh, hi there,” the shipper said. Then, recognizing Mark, “You again?”

“Yeah, I got a
nother load.”

The shipper looked at his watch. “Ah, geez. I wasn’t expecting anyone and it’s so close to five, I let my guys go early.”

“Not a problem,” Mark said. “I can unload it for you.”

“Oh, thanks. That would be great.”

“In fact, I thought I might be a bit late so I brought some help with me. Hope you don’t mind.”

“No, not at all.”

Mark nodded. “If you could sign for the load now, it’ll save me a trip back here when I’m done.”

“Sure, sure,” the shipper said, signing for the load. “There’s an empty aisle…” he began to say, but Mark cut him off.

“I saw a great place for the load on my way in.”

“Okay, sure. You did a good job with the other loads.”

Mark left without another word, and with a big grin on his face.

Outside the warehouse, Mark considered driving away with the load since it had already been signed for, but decided it would be more satisfying all around if he carried on with his plan. And so he started up the auxiliary power unit on the trailer and put his hands on the set of controls that operated the dedicated crane on the end of it.

He’d borrowed the trailer from a local brick company and couldn’t wait to put the thing into action. The crane on the trailer had two large forks on a C-shaped rig that allowed the forks to slide under a skid and pick it up from above. When it was used to deliver bricks, the crane allowed the operator to gently lower a heavy skid onto the ground next to the truck, and that’s exactly what Mark wanted to do now.

The load was 10 skids of 16″ x16″ porcelain floor tiles made in Spain. Each skid weight more than a tonne and each individual box weighed at least 80 pounds.

And all of it was going to be unloaded onto the pavement in front of the loading dock.

As the first skid touched down beside Mother Load, Mark laughed under his breath.

“Take that, ‘I let my guys go early.’ You have to have employees in order to let them go home early.”

If the shipper used a forklift, he’d first have to get it onto the pavement, then use it to lift each skid onto the loading dock. Then he’d have to use a pump truck to get the skid out of the way, then go back down to the forklift to put another skid on the dock. And he’d have to do that 10 times.

Mark continued to pull and shift the levers of the crane, setting down the skids in two neat rows of five.

His knee never felt better.

And if the shipper couldn’t get a forklift to do the job, the man would have to move the boxes one at a time.

The thought had Mark laughing out loud.

“Fool me once, shame on you,” he said. “Fool me twice, shame on me.”

He locked up the crane and headed back toward Mother Load, being careful to walk around the load of skids next to his truck. When he climbed up into the cab, he had three points of contact all the way in. “Fool me three times,” he said, putting Mother Load into gear. “I don’t think so.”

-Mark Dalton returns next month with another exciting adventure.

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