Vitality in strange cargo — operating tables, diners, sea turtles and more. . .
If you haven’t seen it out on the truckstop racks, check out the digital edition of the October Truckers News for a fun feature profiling several haulers who move some of the more unique truckloads out there, including honeybees, Lance Armstrong’s prize-winning bicycles and two of my contributions to the package, loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings in a Gulf of Mexico rescue operation during this year’s big oil spill and, well, classic Northeast diners. Read the “Unique Cargo” profiles in full.
The latter is the specialty of M&M Rigging of Lancaster, Pa., owned and operated by Mel Brandt. I came into contact with Brandt via the businessmen and -women behind the currently Birmingham-located (though it’s not open just yet, awaiting completion of the restoration) Cheyenne Diner, which Brandt and company moved in two sections from its old location at 9th Avenue and West 33rd St. in New York City last year.
The former, meanwhile, is nobody’s specialty if not the folks at FedEx Custom Critical, who were able to dedicate two units to the arduous sea turtle rescue operation, a tractor-trailer team-owned and operated by Ron and Margaret-Mary Shellito and the Freightliner 2500CRD sprinter van of Bob Reddick, whose several months’ involvement in the operation this past summer he calls “an adventure” and more.
All in a day’s work for the company’s operators, for whom strange cargo is something of the norm. Custom Critical owner-operator Phil Madsen made this abundantly clear to me while I researched possibilities for my story, telling the story, among many others, of picking up an operating table at a hospital, live-loading it, and delivering the table then to directly to an operating room in a different hospital across town. “We thought about the patient” who would be “on the table in the morning,” Madsen, who hauls with his wife, Diane, said. “It is a safe bet the patient and hospital staff gave no thought to how that table got there for them to use,” yet another example of trucking’s critical importance in the background of American life.