There was just one time when I was convicted of being late because of the heat, and I still think I have been royally fucked to this day. You’re deciding.
I had been parking for about 24 hours at a truck stop outside Baltimore, Maryland, before I actually got my load data at about 5:30 p.m. By 3:45 p.m., about 90 miles away, I was expected to pick up a load the next day.
Anyone who has ever driven a truck now knows that there are restricted truck parking spaces, particularly in the northeastern part of the country. This prompted me to contact the shipper to see if they had a spot for overnight parking for me. They said they did, but they didn’t have any food there, and even during working hours, the bathrooms were off limits to truck drivers. How considerate of them.
Because of the “34-hour reset” clause, another excuse I decided to stay at the truck stop was. Without going overly complicated, this law specifies that you can reset the full 70 working hours available for the week if you don’t drive or do some other kind of job for a minimum of 34 hours straight.
But if I had to stay put, I might resume my 34-hour schedule. I would have broken the continuous 34-hour shutdown needed to restart if I took off and drove to the shipper. Let’s see now: break my 34-hour shutdown to drive to a spot with no bathrooms, restaurant, or shower, or stay put so that I can have all that stuff and get back my full 70 hours? It looked to me like a no-brainer.
I woke up to snow the next morning. I was told by the CB that the roads were reasonably open, so I left at 11:15 a.m., which allowed me to go 90 miles in light snow for three and a half hours.
Although the roads were reasonably open, I ended up stuck in traffic because of an accident for over an hour. When the wreck eventually cleared, I drove five miles and was momentarily stopped in another collision. Within five miles, dumb four-wheelers caused two collisions… on good highways.
I was still going to make it to the shipper on schedule, after the two mistakes… barely. That is, before I noticed the instructions to the shipper that my business had given me were false.
To get the right instructions, I called the shipper and they told me that if I could get there by 4:30 p.m. They will load me anyway. Sadly, by that point, the evening rush hour had begun, and on my way back, I got caught in traffic. I arrived at 5:00 p.m. at last. To find that they had all gone off.
I called my company and they still sent me a service loss after I explained the 34-hour law (which they knew), how early I had left, the snow, the two injuries, the wrong directions (which was their fault), and the rush-hour traffic. Now one write-up on the record is not a big deal, but I was still hacked by the principle of it.
I submitted a written appeal following corporate policies, optimistic that the arbitration group, which consisted of drivers, would appreciate the circumstances of why I did not want to abandon a highly desirable parking spot in Maryland to go to a place without food and toilets. Not to mention the maxim of 34 hours.
I’ve been mistaken. Truckers have never been accused of being really clever by anyone, but I was always surprised and dumbfounded. My appeal was rejected, with the driver’s panel saying that the night before, right after I got my load results, I should have quit.
I always believe that they would have done the same same thing as me if they were in my case. At least I have learnt something from this ordeal; to be on a driver panel, you need to be a company butt kisser. The guess rules me out. My heart is shattered.
And what are you thinking? To me it comes down to this: I would still have picked up the load on time even after the wreck delays and the icy roads, had it not been for the company-supplied instructions that took me off to Neverland. Peter and the boys say, by the way, ‘Hi.’
In this galaxy, is there any common sense left? I’m starting to think. Heck, I’m pretty sure my youngest nephew can work out this one because all he can do is blabber and buckets of slobber.
I need to clarify that this was a rare case that existed only once. In any career sector, there are injustices and trucking is no exception. If you think this was terrible, as we talk about preventable and nonpreventable injuries later on, I’ve got another doozy.