Things I’ve learned about open-deck hauling

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“The day I stop learning things is the day I hang up the keys.”

This is a statement I’ve heard multiple times, from multiple drivers, throughout the years. Trucking is an intricate job. There are a lot more variations in what you have to know than people think. Each different thing George has done has come with a whole new set of oddities and learning opportunities for me, and I’m just riding along.

For instance, I learned when he was doing dry van that a grocery warehouse delivery is equivalent to a nice lap around fresh hell six times, with a lumper waiting at the end of it to take your money after they’ve taken your time and most of your sanity.

I also learned that Golden, Colo., has the heaviest and cheapest paying loads out there, because they’re all beer and liquor and the beer companies should be ashamed of some of the prices they’re offering to haul it.

I learned a bunch of other stuff about dry van, but those two always stick out in my mind. (Kudos to the folks who do grocery and reefer. I have no idea why anyone does it, and I’m so thankful you do.)

Flatbed is different, because people are usually happy when you show up. They act like they ordered the goods you’re delivering. Most of the time, the equipment is there to offload it, and as soon as the tarps, straps and scary black bungee cords are removed, it moves pretty quick.

Danger lurks in the tensile strength.Danger lurks in the tensile strength.

Heavy equipment is even better. They’re not only happy to see you — the machines can be driven off the deck and it’s magically quick, once all the chains, straps, binders, wheel thingies, and scary black bungee cords are taken off.

I’ve learned that black bungee cords are scary. Did you notice?

My whole life I never looked at a bungee cord with dread until George started doing open deck. I find them to be as terrifying as balloons, which I have never enjoyed, because they make explosion noises when they pop and I tend to pee myself a little when that happens. I also frown upon taut, rubber cords with hooks on both ends, just waiting to leap off the side of the deck and into my face.

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In addition, I’ve learned that hauling equipment usually means a port-a-potty bathroom at the receiver, which usually means no bathroom at all to me. My enthusiasm for touching things ends immediately at construction-site johns. I go from, “Can I touch that?” to “I wouldn’t touch that with Lucifer’s hand,” pretty quick-like. I have limits.

The most rewarding thing about open deck and specialty loads is being able to see huge pieces of machinery we bring actually installed, the next time we bring something else back. It’s crazy to carry big giant doors somewhere, and see them hung the next time you go back. I get a real sense of satisfaction in that, and I know it gives George a lot of pride.

Even if he has to fight the scary bungee cords to do it.

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