Tuesday, July 01, 2008

There Are Days Where It's Just Not Worth Gnawing....

through the straps on my straight jacket.

There were several of us going to Iowa Monday. We were hauling fiberglass fertilizer tanks - 30'x12'. Our dispatcher said our crane appointment was for Tuesday morning. We can't set tanks over 25' tall because of the geometry of our cranes, nor do we have the reach necessary to set them deep into existing containment walls.

So, I got some reservations at a motel close by for all of us. Then, we found out there was going to be no crane there at all, and the customer wanted us to off load the tanks. Since we had two crane trucks, no problem. We haul them on their sides, with lifting eyes on each end. So, a crane truck at each end can pull them from the trailer and set them on the ground, on their sides. If we were to stand them up, the wind would blow them over. Customarily, water is put in tanks for ballast to hold them in place, but the ground was uneven, and the tanks would crack on rough ground with liquid in them. Best to lay them on their sides.

So, I figured on going part of the way back before calling it a day. I decided to call the Super 8 at Percival IA/Nebraska City NE for a reservation before canceling our reservations at Stuart, IA. I've stayed there before (so they have all my info in their system, including my credit card), and the clerk said I was in. We got our tanks unloaded, and we pointed back to the house. It was a stretch for the 'ol logbook to go that far, but it's a decent place to stop with a Sapp Brother's truckstop right next door. The other guys running with me had sleepers and didn't want a room, but we all wanted to eat supper there at Sapp's.

So, I get to the motel and a sign on the door said "No Vacancy." Not a problem for the savvy trucker, namely me. I've got reservations.

Well, maybe not so much. She couldn't find my name. She asked me when I called, and I showed her on my phone the motel's number. I had called twice, because the call was dropped during the reservation process. She remembered me calling, and futzed around to "see what went wrong." I kept asking if there were any rooms at all. No, but hang on. She'd check some stuff. Well, it turned into her basically trying to CYA, and I wasn't gonna be checking in. Needless to say, I was pissed off.

I finally had enough, and asked point blank again if I was going to have the room reserved for me. No. I'd wasted enough time, and my friends were waiting at the restaurant for me. I stormed out, but remembered seeing some business cards on the desk. I went back in and asked her if she was the manager. Nope. I took a card. I called Super 8's customer service and lodged a complaint. Not having any confirmation number didn't do me much good. I pointed out that if they hadn't filled up, and I hadn't showed up, it wouldn't bother them a bit to charge my credit card without any confirmation number.

At the restaurant, I tried another motel next door. No rooms. This was about ten pm, so that was no surprise. I knew of a motel in Holton that had truck parking, so 411ing them got me a room. So, after eating, we all headed south. The other guys petered out at a casino with lots of truck parking, and I was still Holton bound.

I'd never been in there before, and couldn't remember if there was an access road or the drive was on the highway. I got there, and missed the drive for the access road. The next road looked like another entrance to the frontage road, but there was a car dealership on the corner, and the road led through a maze of cars and trucks. As dark as it was, I didn't need to be playing thread the needle through a bunch of new vehicles.

So, I found myself going through a residential area looking for a place to turn around. That is one of my least favorite things to do. I was pulling a single axle double drop trailer. That means the rear axle was at the very rear of the trailer. If you look at most 53' trailers, you'll see the rear axles are tucked under the trailer quite a ways forward. This makes the unit far more maneuverable.

This area was a prime example of narrow streets and tight corners. I found myself running into a couple T intersections. On one, I had to go right or take out a light pole. I finally found an intersection that wasn't a goat track headed back to the highway. I couldn't swing wide, because there were trees and bushes in my way. There was a stop sign at the edge of the curb.

There was no way I could clear it - I tried backing up and couldn't "gain" any room. There just wasn't any. So, I ran over the damn thing. Someone in a car had seen me, though. I got to the motel and backed my way into a tight parking area, set my brakes and jumped out to talk to the local policeman who had driven in. I was not surprised.

"I owe your town a stop sign" was my first comment. We spent some time looking over all my registration and insurance papers, plus measuring the length of the tractor and trailer, getting an estimate of what I thought the whole thing weighed, and so on. He was pretty nice about the whole thing, and wasn't really too concerned. It was just a stop sign, after all. I told him I just didn't know what to do or where I could turn around. It was pitch black, and taking a big rig where there aren't even street lights is a daunting task. He mentioned that he wished I had called it in, so I asked him when I was supposed to do that - before I ran over the sign and had the intersection and streets blocked, after I ran it over and had a street blocked or perhaps after I'd parked at the motel and didn't have my hands full - and hey, what do ya know, there he was.

So, I got to bed at 2am this morning, and I've been kinda grumpy all day. I rather doubt the Super 8 in Percival IA behind Sapp Brother's Truck Stop will get any of my company's business after this little incident as well - not when there is another motel next door with better truck parking. I like getting TripRewards, so if there is a choice, it leans towards getting points. I'm not gonna go where a reservation means squat.


Jerry in Texas said...

I don't know how the hell you guys manuever those big rigs the way you do. Way beyond my expertise level, I tell you.

Anonymous said...

Me too, I'm impressed. My Da bought me a Range Rover because he thought short little me (five foot two)needed a "high profile" car/truck. I could never drive it, let alone park it. I want my Audi back :( So now Mish drives me around in my Rover. Oh well.

ptg said...

Grumpy? I'd still be in jail.

Do you ever stop at the Sapps near Omaha? I eat there about once a week.

Jeffro said...

ptg - no, but I could some day. I generally prefer the Bosselman's at Grand Island if I'm headed that way. Generally when we come out of IA we go down I29 to Nebraska City, then to US75 and then on down to Topeka and I70. Keeps us out of the big cities. Us farm boys don't like that big city traffic.

ptg said...

That about as far East as I like to go towards downtown Omaha myself.