I picked up a load of recycled cardboard. Twenty-four big bales. I’m sure you’ve seen them, either being hauled on a flatbed or maybe at a grocery store, waiting to be picked up. Trucks take them back to the paper mill to be recycled into new cardboard. There are different classifications and grades of cardboard, each with their own set of rules for the minimum standard as to their condition.
I drove from Detroit, over to Chicago, and then up through Wisconsin, and finally just across the state line back into Michigan. I was supposed to deliver the load to a place in Memominee, Michigan, a 650-mile trip.
Everything went fine until I was backed into the dock expecting to get my trailer unloaded. I waited. Then, waited some more. Finally, a guy came up, knocking on the door of the truck. I knew there was a problem when I saw the white hardhat. A supervisor usually doesn’t step foot outside the safe confines of his office or the little area of which he is in charge.
But apparently, at this particular location, it required a supervisor to refuse a load. He escorted me inside to the loading dock to show me why. I was thinking there was something drastically wrong with the load, you know, like a dead body or something. But no, there was no body. In fact, I couldn’t see anything wrong at all. Not until the guy in the white hat pointed it out—a single piece of lettuce. That’s all. Just a about a one-inch square piece of lettuce. But that was enough. My load wasn’t up to their standard for cleanliness. He wrote “Contaminated” and “Refused” across my bill of lading. Evidently, lettuce is a highly toxic substance! Who knew?
I called my dispatcher and was told to take it back. So, I headed for Detroit. Another 650 miles.
The trip had covered two days. I’d driven 1300 hundred miles and the load was right back where it had started. I dropped the trailer and left. Then, the very next day, I was sent to pick up the same load again—minus the offending piece of lettuce. Another 650 miles. This time the load was accepted.
All in all, I’d covered 1950 miles in three days, for one measly load. Not that I minded a lot. I still got paid for all the miles plus, they paid me to pick it up and to unload. And then, to pick up and unload it again. And, then again. Something tells me that load wasn’t too profitable for someone.
The thing is, I could have just removed the lettuce myself. A quick flick of my wrist and Voilà, problem solved. I even offered. But no, that was simply not allowed, I was told. The supervisor in the white hat said we had to follow the “rules.” Yeah. Sometimes people don’t make a lot of sense.
Shadow Of The Drill