Saturday
Jul052008

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Sometimes I am called upon to drive one of the big refrigerated trucks (usually I drive a pickup). I usually hate doing that because such trucks are slow and I don't like the oversized nature of those vehicles, and the ramps. Everything is higher and harder to climb into. When I get assigned a big truck, it's sort of unusual, and probably a big order that needs to go out just when I happen to be the one to clock in. Like today, where the story to follow takes place at a restaurant that usually orders about a pallet and a half of stuff at a time. A lot of times, I get to do their load in the pickup truck, but today it was too big, and the dispatcher needed a few other things to go too. So I got the infamous #10 truck, a 20' refrigerator on wheels.

In my line of work, geometry and physics can be my worst enemies. Oftentimes, they are like gods to which I could petition and rarely ever earn their grace. Today they did not shine their grace down on me as I was offloading a stack of watermelons-in-milk crates. As I was trying to get four crates of this watermelon stuff down the truck ramp, these mysterious gods of science abandoned me and the melons and a ten lb flat of sliced mushrooms (open top, as they all are). It must have been funny-like for the cyclist and his wife who were witnessing the whole spectacle of me trying to finesse the stack over the threshold where the refrigerator box ends and the ramp begins. At the end of the box is a groove of about an inch or more which snagged the wheels on my handtruck a bit, but the very edge of the ramp was ever so slightly higher than the fridge floor, and only about four inches from the groove. The stack I had was about five feet tall and with the loose mushrooms on top, I was trying to keep them from spilling by not tilting the whole pile back. That didn't work out; some spilled at the top. But to get the rest of the stack going down the ramp, I had to sort of kick the bottom out toward the ramp. Then it was pretty comical, if you were the viewer. For me, it was a bobby walk down the ramp as the ramp groaned under the maybe 400 lbs of me and my cargo. Then at the very end of the ramp where there is an almost inexplicable (steeper for about a foot) taper that clearly does not favor the person on the ramp, the cart stood still and all the load went splat on the concrete. All the hard molded plastic milk crates just toppled over and the mushrooms dumped face down onto the alley. I looked up and began uttering every foul word I know, and more so as I noticed the cyclist and his wife were looking at the whole spectacle.

the back of the big reefer truck 10 with potato bags that broke open. one form of hell.One way to hate life is to have to move several bags of small potatoes when the bags rip openIt might have been less bad if it were not for the freaking humidity we've had of late. I had a wet towel with me to wipe off after deliveries. And I was using it a lot, even in the few minutes since my first delivery (this was my second for the day). But it was more of a bugger since today I was trying on the new cybernetic attachment with California says I have to use if I want to use a mobile communication device on the road. So the ear bud was there, and I was hating it. Hating it for being in the way of my delightfully refreshing wet towel; hating it for making it hard to hear; hating it for not even having received a call on it and not knowing what to expect when I did. I hated it. So I was already cursing the heat and Bluetooth when this whole watermelon catastrophe went—ahem—down.

Chalk it up to five watermelons that went splat and had to be tossed on the scene. And ten lbs of mushrooms too. I had to sweep up the carnage and throw it out too. That was just more work in the heat and mucky air. Then, as if it was not fucked up enough, this place orders about 500 lbs of potatoes at a time, and I was working on the last bag of taters when I pulled it from the pallet, and with Murphy's law still in full effect, the bag ripped, maybe on a nail in the pallet surface. This too was a bad thing. It opened up and about a third of the bag poured out in the truck. At least in there it was cooler and shaded, so I only let out a bunch of cursing instead of a fuckload of cursing.

That was the beginning of my day. The rest of my day was mild in comparison but was spent driving a lot in Pacific Beach traffic on the holiday weekend. Lots of cops, lots of people (some uglier than others, some finer than most), and a shit load of cars that slowed me down at every turn. Toss in a couple instances of cops rerouting traffic and some old timer drivers and other garden variety frustrations and it was a day that could not end too soon. Souring even more was the ripping of a button on my shirt, which reminded me that a few pairs of shorts and shirts lately have been taking a beating.

Yesterday and today were pretty bummer because of all the things that slow me down. But the last few weeks I made personal records of deliveries. In the last two weeks, I had 123 and 126 invoices to my credit, giving me fifth and fourth place, respectively in the ranking of drivers. These weeks put me in ranking just below "the three gods" as I call them—the guys who work six days, drive routes more or less close to the shop, and have a lot of stops. They also work close to 60 hours each week. I am a mere mortal who works 43 hours or so over five days, drives a pickup or PT Cruiser (yep!), and actually is a relative newcomer. But those last two weeks I was energized by the fact the boss gave me a dollar raise because I was showing good numbers when I had 100 invoices to my name. This week, with holiday slowness giving me days of 14-15 (this weekend so far), and most likely no more than 22 on any one day, will look a bit pale compared to last week, but it still works out well. A week ago I did a day with 37 invoices! I started my day with 24 in one pickup truck load, and knocked all that out in less than three hours. (It was all pretty mild sized orders in downtown.) In three hours, I got more invoices than most days end with! And certainly a lot more than some guys can muster.

But sooner or later, the party is stalled when geometry and physics intervene. Oh well. At least it wasn't the ten cases of 15 dozen eggs that was on this morning's load.

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