Dockworkers and my first high priority load

I learned a lot about dockworkers with my first high priority load when I started work for a Grand Rapids Michigan based expeditor showed me a valuable lesson for dock workers who have their schedule.

I was called by dispatch about picking up a load of automotive parts just west of Detroit for delivery to an automotive assembly plant on the south side of Chicago. At the time I was driving a tandem axle straight truck with a 26′ box. I left my house, drove the leasing company’s yard where the truck was parked (in Kalamazoo MI) and headed east on I-94. I was about an hour from the pickup point when dispatch called me on the cellphone and asked my schedule. The broker had called in and said if we could not pick up and deliver by 6pm to abort the load. After talking with the dispatcher it was determined that I should be able to make it, so I continued on.

I arrived at the shipper and checked in. It was then that I found out the load was not near as important to these people as it was to the people in Chicago. (This attitude, by the way, raised it’s head numerous times in my short driving career.) I finally was loaded with about 12 crates of either starters or alternators (I forget which) and headed back west toward Chicago.

I drove steadily, made only one short rest room stop, and made it to the consignee with about 45 minutes to spare. Would have been a hour sooner but again the people loading the truck was less concerned about my schedule then I was.

When I arrived, I learned more of the story about the shipment. This particular component was in such short supply that if I had not delivered it – they would have to idle the assembly line and send 1 boat load of workers home. After checking in with the gate, they directed me to the docks that I would unload at. Once there, I asked the forklift operator which dock spot he wanted me and then I spotted the truck as requested. I then waited patiently while he scratched off several Illinois lottery tickets before he finally pulled the pallet off my truck and moved it directly to the assembly line (it was some distance in the plant but I could see he placed the pallet right next to workers on the line.)

He then came back and unloaded the rest of my load and took them a different direction to where I assume was the warehouse storage.

About one and half hours after I checked in, I was finally able to check out. I guess the moral or the story is that the load is only hot before and after you pick it up and before you arrive at the consignee. Once you are there, the receiver is less concerned about it because they now know where it is – even if it is still on your truck.

I have always wondered if this dockworker would have ever unloaded me if he had hit the lottery.


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