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It's a Team's Life

I was so mad…

By Linda Caffee
Posted Mar 11th 2019 8:21AM

We had a delivery in the vicinity and headed over to what used to be one of our favorite truck stops. For as long as I can remember the 49’er has been a pay lot and that was way WAY before Pilot bought them.  Yes, it is a pay lot but there are a few perks we like, one is that we can plug the truck in and this has always been free, more on this later, the second perk is that there are a lot of walking trails just over the bridge, and the third perk is the Black Bear Diner and their Cheeseburger Salad with Homemade Blue Cheese dressing. 

Recently we noticed a huge change and that was the loss of the workers in the little building where we would pay to get out.  These ladies were always very nice, and often if you had a pet, they would ask if they could give them a small treat.  The building had a lot of blooming plants on the steps and the staff was cheery.  While we were handing over our hard-earned money, we always left with a smile.  Now there is an inanimate grouchy touchy machine.

The machine from Mars is giving most people a lot of grief as they try to figure out how to pay and how to get a receipt. Lines and lines of disgruntled truck drivers wait as one driver after another tries to figure out how to use the machine and others ignore the device and sit in front of the window.  I do not know about you, but we often have to use a device for parking our car or for getting out of a hotel parking lot, really, they are not that hard.  If you are at the 49’er, I suggest you plan an extra half hour into your day if you are trying to leave with the crowd.

Our visit this time was no different once we parked, plugged the truck in, we took off for a long walk over to the river for lunch.  This is about a three-mile round trip if you go to the Virgin Sturgeon, but there are other dining choices a little further down the road. The walking/biking trails are really nice, and even if we have to use an umbrella, we go for a long walk.  As we approached the 49’er on our way back the line of trucks was backed up to the on-ramp on the west side of the interstate and the drivers going east getting off were having to cut into this line. The honking, arm waving, and other motions was a little frightening to go through. Drivers were trying to get fuel and other drivers just wanting to park.  This is where looking at the ELD counting down weighs on the nerves.  The problem was that only three fuel pumps were working and three pumps that had been damaged.  It was a mess as drivers waiting in line and others figured out how to drive over the sidewalk and curbs to get to the gate into the parking area.

My next frustration was the upkeep of the area that had always been very nice with little gates that stood up to keep everyone from parking where we could plug in.  In the years past, we would first take a ten-dollar bill and then a twenty-dollar bill to be used as a deposit to get the key to open the gate.  Once we were ready to leave, we would take the key back and get our deposit.  Now the gates lay on the ground, and drivers park here and idle away.  The area has really deteriorated. 

On this instance, as we were leaving a little early to go pick up as we did not want to pay for another day, we got in the line from hell.  People were trying to cut in from all angles, and it was a case of if I don’t look at you I do not see you.  About every other truck was fighting with the machine until someone came out to take the credit/debit card from the driver and use the device for them.  This helped alleviate some of the wait, but it was still slow going.  By the time we pulled away, I had decided to make a phone call and voice my displeasure at what used to one of our favorite places.

I used the number on the receipt and asked to talk to the manager of the parking lot, and I got a very nice stressed man.  There was no doubt from this man’s voice. He was stressed to the breaking point.  I first asked what happened to the people who used to staff the booth and also stated how they often made our day.  He said they had been offered different jobs and some took them and others moved on.  I then went on to talk about the problems of the evil machine, the fuel pumps, and the little gate for plug-in parking. 

He then poured out his frustrations of what he was dealing with and wow am I glad we drive a truck and do not have his job.  First, I believe the figure he mentioned was $200,000 for the evil parking machine and that it really was simple to use.  We know that as we have used it but he went on to say driver after drive cannot figure out how to insert the ticket and their card of choice.  That leads to the backup.  Next, he mentioned the damaged fuel pumps and that all three of them were destroyed in one day.  One was bad enough that they have contamination and insurance claims now.  They are doing their best to get them fixed ASAP.  Then he went on to talk about the little gates and that they are trying to get that situation fixed as well.  He said I know you are a driver, but there are a LOT of drivers that should not be driving.  He went on to say we build it they run over it and then run over it a few more times.  I was happy I talked to him, and I could sure feel his frustration, and I really think he felt better after talking to me.  Is anything solved?  Maybe not but I have hope that someday the little gates will be back up and people will quit idling their trucks in this area.

This is a side note and to prove the manager's point.  We noticed a truck and trailer going into the shop and the van was leaning at a precarious angle.  Then the driver moved forward, and we realized he was missing the tires on one side of his trailer, and he was driving on the rims.  The worst part of this we learned is that this driver was stopped by another driver as he tried to enter the on-ramp for the interstate and the other driver had to argue with him that he was going to roll that trailer.  The driver who should not be a driver argued with him saying it would be ok.  Can you image the pre-trip this driver performed?

When calling in to complain about a situation stay calm, state the problem, and give them a chance to speak.  While the problem might not get solved, you have at least heard their side of the story and if they have plans to try and fix it.

Bob & Linda Caffee


Saint Louis MO

Expediters since January 2005

[email protected]


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