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It's a Team's Life

When Trucking isn’t fun

By Linda Caffee
Posted Mar 25th 2021 12:46PM

Always amazing when you get out of a truck that was running perfectly, then when you go to leave there is a problem.  The stress starts with, now what do you do?  Here is the scenario of the beginning of a day when trucking isn’t fun. 

We make our delivery at a customer in a smaller town, turn the key to start the truck and it will not start.  Batteries are fine but still truck will not start.  First things first, we talk to the customer to let them know that we have a problem, they tell us we are not in the way. That is one good thing.

Next, we call a local mechanic to come look at the truck because it acts as if it has lost prime in the fuel system. Luckily, we have Freightliner Virtual Technician that tells us to finish our current load then head for a shop.  We are 150 miles from the closest Freightliner dealer. The local mechanic gets the truck started and we head out on our way to Freightliner in Sacramento.  As we are leaving the customer and still in the parking lot the truck dies again.  Now we have no choice but to call a tow truck. 

The stress really begins as my mind immediately turns to our pets.  I know that they can ride in the truck safely while being towed so that is not a problem.  Once we get to the Freightliner dealership it becomes a problem.  Some dealerships do not allow pets inside and I have had to sit outside in the cold or heat with them.  Bob calls the Freightliner in Sacramento to let them know we are coming in on a hook and the size of the truck.  The reply is no problem bring the truck. 

We broke down in a small town and cannot find any local tow trucks.  The nearest tow truck is near the Freightliner dealership, they have a truck available to pick us up and will dispatch a tow truck immediately.  Now is where the communication gets a little wonky.  Bob tells them a 40' straight truck and they hear/think 26’ day cab straight truck.  We wait several hours for the tow truck knowing that we will be towed over a twisty turny mountain road.  Finally, we see the tow truck from College Oak Towing coming into the driveway.

The driver gets out of the tow truck smoking a cigarette, I am thinking, oh no this is not going to be fun. I get out of our truck to find out from the driver, Will, that they do not allow more than one passenger.  Great…. Not exactly what was said, so, I look to see if there is a local car rental location, which there is but they will not pick anyone up, they do have a car available.  Now I start looking for a ride, no one answers the phone and they do not have voicemail. I then look for an Uber, no such thing in the area.  Try the taxis again, finally get one to answer the phone, and yep they will send a car right over.  Call car rental again to book the car and they ask where we are going to return it.  Well 150 miles away in Sacramento, then we find out that this location does not allow one-way rentals, we have to bring the car back.  We have struck out again.  The cab arrives and we explain we do not need them and offer to pay but the taxi driver says nope that is not necessary. 

Will was concerned about the tow and not damaging our truck.  We are very aerodynamic from the front bumper to our liftgate.  Being aerodynamic does not make for a vehicle to be towed easily.  Will needed to get us high enough in the front to not drag and yet not so high that the liftgate would drag on the ground.  He hit the right balance as the truck rode perfectly.  He cracked me up when I asked what he thought when he first saw the truck.  He said I thought “Oh, ****” this is going to be interesting.

Did I mention that during this time it is drizzling and raining, the tow truck driver is working at getting the drive shaft lowered and getting the truck all hooked up in this mess. We let Will know about the rental, he says we will have to do what we have to do.  What a relief that we both can ride in the truck, now I am wondering what does the inside of this truck looks like?  Every working truck we have been in that has a small sleeper that is usually not used for sleeping, is a storage area and it is usually dirty. 

What a shock when I opened up the door and the truck was spotless!  We all climbed in and off we went.  Within five miles both Bob and I knew we were in good hands.  Will was a very conscientious driver, we had no worries going over the mountain.  The 150 miles was a long trip, we knew the whole time we were being billed by the hour but we also knew our truck was going to arrive at the dealership in great shape.  Will was an interesting guy, he had some great stories of rescues, but what impressed us both was how well he talked of the owner of the company and the pride he took in a job well done.  Every business needs employees like Will working for them.

Once we got to the shop it started going downhill as the service writer decided he didn’t have room for us.  The comment was you must have not told us what you were driving.  Bob said no I told the service writer when I called that we have a forty-foot straight truck.  Finally, they decided they could move a vehicle to get us in but we could not stay with the truck.  Luckily since it was now getting late at night the animals could stay in the truck and we were able to find a hotel with a vacancy.

We arrived early the next morning at the shop to walk Texas, and then wait, and wait, and wait. They do have a nice driver’s waiting room.  Finally, late afternoon Freightliner says it is a sensor and to hold tight they will replace and test it by 5:00 in the evening.  The next call is bad news as the sensor did not solve the problem. Now they are suggesting we get a hotel for a couple of days as they continue the process to find the problem.

It is late enough that we cannot find a rental car so the pets spend another lonely night in the truck as we Uber to a Red Roof Inn that will allow pets. 

The saga will be continued…

Bob & Linda Caffee

TeamCaffee

Saint Louis MO

Expediters since January 2005

[email protected]

 

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