The wisdom of calling ahead

| March 09, 2012

I learned (relearned) today the wisdom of calling ahead. Learned when not doing so cost us an extra stop and when doing so saved us a hassle at our upcoming delivery.

Diane and I woke up this morning at a small truck stop in upstate New York. We drove from there to our pick up. This freight goes cross-country and delivers Monday morning.

Before signing on with Landstar Express America last June, Diane and I ran with FedEx Custom Critical for nearly eight years. The dispatch systems differ between the two companies and old habits die hard.

At FedEx, everything went through dispatch. Typically, we would receive a pick up address and head to it. If it turned out to be wrong, we would call dispatch and deal with that then. At Landstar, we receive more contact information and the company does not mind if you directly contact the shippers and consignees.

Had we done so on Friday when we got dispatched on this load, we would have known that the pick up address we had was wrong. Instead, being creatures of habit, we did it our old familiar way and went in blind. That put us at the right address but the wrong place.

Actually, we had learned to call ahead before, but coming off an extended vacation, we reverted to old habits that were created over eight years. As I said, old habits die hard. I still catch myself putting our old truck number into the fuel pump key pad even though it has been eight months since we changed carriers. We still call the Qualcomm unit “Clink” (C-Link is the name FedEx uses for it). We still have the urge to send in certain Qualcomm messages that FedEx wanted all the time and Landstar does not. Little by little the old habits fade but their persistence is surprising.

Irritated by the error we made, we wasted no time calling the consignee once the freight was on our truck. It was a good thing we did. We learned that there is no truck parking there. We have more time than miles on this cross-country run and will pace ourselves accordingly.

• This is our second load after coming off an extended vacation. It feels good to be back in the truck and on the road, despite the weather.

We saw today something we have not seen in a while: snow. The landscape up north is lifeless; quite the change from the bright flowers and green grass and trees we have been viewing in Florida for the last two months.

Today’s snow was lake-effect snow (known in this truck as lake-defect snow). I changed from sunglasses to clear glasses and back six times today as we drove through the squalls. For a while it was a nice, sunny day. Then we found ourselves driving in near white-out conditions. Then it was sunny again. So it went until it was Diane’s turn to drive. The weather cleared about the time my shift ended.

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