Just like most hotshotters, I try to make every run a perfect run.
I never tell a customer that I can do more than I truly can do, and I always try to deliver more than what I promise to deliver. Our reputations, future work, and hence, the level of available funds in our bank accounts depend on being on time every time, no excuses.
Just like in every other aspect of life, every once in a while Murphy’s Law kicks in and spoils even the best laid plans. And it happens to everyone. The real test is how we handle the little SNAFUs that come our way. We can either hit the problems head-on and cure them, or we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend they never happened.
I’m a big proponent of just fessing up right away and finding the best available cure, then taking my medicine like a big girl, even if that medicine is bitter and hurts like Hell.
My theory on screwing things up is this… everyone screws something up once in a while. Yes, although I hate to admit it, even me. What I try never, never, to do is to make the same screw-up twice. That’s my rule, if I have to mess up something I’ll do it in a completely new and spectacular way, but I’ll never repeat the same idiotic move twice if I can help it.
Why, you may ask, am I on this particular bent today? Well, because I pulled a stupid bonehead move this week that cost me time and money, and could have ruined my reputation with my best customer of all time.
As a reminder to myself, and a warning to others, it’s probably a good idea to just get it out there in the open… And because I suppose I feel the need to confess and repent of my dumb-headed-ness.
So this is what happened…
I was happily going along making the second delivery of the day, evening, actually, having successfully arrived at my first delivery point an hour and a half early due to a completely lucky lack of bad traffic. Once that part of my load was off the truck I headed to the second delivery point. When I got there, it was a ghost-town, nobody was home.
No problem, my third delivery point was to a separate dock belonging to the same company in the same town, and, sure enough, when I got over there, they took delivery of the part of the load meant for the second drop. Kind of, anyway, but I’ll get to that later…
I got everything unstrapped and cleared the truck bed for the forklift. While the forklift guy unloaded my truck I ran in to make quick use of their ladies room, then came back out and got all of the applicable paperwork out on the hood of my truck (my portable office desk) and the gentleman signed off on everything.
Then I was given some tools that were supposed to go back pronto to my customer. I put them in the cab.
Now, I was supposed to hurry back for another load that would be coming back to this same dock the next evening, and mentioned that to the man, who informed me that no, there wouldn’t be an evening shift there to receive the load the next day. It had to be delivered the next day before 3 pm, or no-go, due to the Christmas holiday.
Since I knew there was no way for me to get back for that load and legally bring it back to that dock, I had to figure out something… but there was nothing else to do (particularly late in the evening as it was by that time) but to call up to the shipper (my favorite and best customer) and give them a heads-up that the load they were holding for me wasn’t going to get delivered on their schedule if they waited for me to get back for it. I still had to head north and burn the balance of my 11 hours drive-time, then find a place to sit for my 10 hours off before I could even think about picking up that load, which the customer knew in advance.
With all of that on my mind, I made the biggest bone-head move of my career to this point… I completely failed to check the back of my truck before leaving the dock.
This was my “epic fail” as one of my nieces would put it, but I wouldn’t even realize it for another thirteen hours.
Now, my normal procedure before leaving is to do a walk-around each and every time I leave a dock, either outbound or inbound. I check straps and lights and tires, and such, or check to make sure every piece is off the truck and that I haven’t left a strap ratchet hanging, bungees on the bed, or whatever.
At any rate, I let the above circumstances distract me and completely did not remember to do my walk-around.
I got on the phone with my customer and gave them the situation on the next-day delivery and headed north post-haste to make sure I would at least be close enough to pick the load if something happened to make it possible. After three hours of hard driving, I got a budget-rate motel room, backed the truck into the parking spot on the outer edge of the parking lot, and hauled my tired self in to get some sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I got my paperwork in order, printed out my log sheet from the day before and got that in my book, then loaded up my stuff and went to fetch a cup of coffee.
It was when I came back out with coffee cup in hand that I made a horrible and shocking discovery…
A crate from the shipment that I delivered the night before that was sitting just behind my auxiliary fuel tank was sitting there, pretty as you please, having obviously not been forked off of the back of my truck the night before.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or burst into tears. Honestly!
That one tiny detail completely burst my bubble and I felt like the most stupid human that ever walked the face of the earth.
I didn’t burst into tears because tears make driving dangerous… instead I got on the phone to my customer and (even though I really, really didn’t want to do it) told them what a stupid thing I had done. I also had that set of tools on the truck that the customer was waiting for back at their facility, so I was stuck between returning the three-odd hours to get the unseen crate delivered (really delivered this time) or hauling butt up with the tools.
That had to be the customer’s call, and I had to fess up and give them the info so they could make it.
As it turned out, they needed the crate delivered worse than they needed to get the tools, so back I ran to the third point of delivery, actually got the thing delivered (thank God!) and then turned around and drove back to the customer as fast as the law and traffic allowed. And it wasn’t fast enough for me as I got stuck in the parking lot they call Ft. Worth in “the Friday before Christmas” traffic that was leaving town just as I was trying to get through.
But it all turned out fine, (even though I’m so embarrassed by my own dumbness) and I got the tools delivered, and even got the return load which had been re-scheduled to be delivered not that evening, but the next day.
Which I suppose just goes to show you that it’s probably better (although a lot more painful) to just fess up immediately when one does something stupid, and get the wheels in motion to solve the problem than to drag your feet and hope it just goes away.
But you can bet your boots when I made the return delivery the next day and they forked it off the truck, I didn’t just do a quick walk-around, I looked hard at that truck bed and actually put my hands on the darned thing just to make sure there wasn’t a speck left on it before I pulled out of the dock and headed home!