A Week On The Road - Guest Blog With Kendall Staton
Kendall Staton has been a fleet manager with TMC for nearly two years and has worked in the transportation industry for ten years. Below is Kendall’s account of his week on the road with TMC driver Brad Beasley. Fleet manager ride-a-longs are a valuable cross-training tool and we encourage all of our fleet managers to experience a ride-a-long. Drivers are also invited into the office to cross-train with their fleet manager.
I recently went on a ride along with Brad Beasley. Brad was my very first new release as a fleet manager. Brad and I have been through quite a lot in the past 16 months, so I was confident that we would get along well on the road. Hopefully, I could learn from him and he could learn from me.
Brad arrived in Joplin on Saturday night and spent the night at my house. We were both a little reluctant to leave Sunday, but by 1530 we were on the road. Our plan was to go all the way to the consignee Sunday night and take our break upon arriving. About 2300 at a rest area near Avoca, Iowa, I was questioning our decision. I could have gone to sleep easily, but we pushed through and arrived at the consignee about 0200 Monday morning. I definitely learned first hand the benefits of leaving early on Sundays.
We awoke the following morning to the beat of a base drum. The receiver was beating on our door to wake us up so they could off-load. We woke up got dressed for the 25 degree weather and went through the gate, removed the tarp, rolled it up, crammed the frozen thing into the headache rack. The consignee got right on it and unloaded us. I wound the straps up and we were ready to leave.
Our next load was in Norfolk, Neb., going to Maryville, Mo. We drove to LeMars, Iowa and stopped for our two-hour break, and had a good lunch. After the break we hustled to get to the shipper. When we arrived at 1800 there were about six trucks ahead of us, so we got in line. Our load was a no tarp load of 34-foot long octagon bars. Brad built a bulkhead, I laid our timbers out, and waited for our turn. Once inside it was a quick process to load. We secured the load with straps, and were on our way. We drove to Council Bluffs that night and parked at the Pilot. I was beat. I called my wife and spoke to the kids…I was missing them already.
We woke in the morning to a hot shower, and fuel. We arrived at the consignee about 1300. We were planned to reload right out of there with a load of greasy bars to Alvin, Texas. Brad insisted that the shipper give us an extra 4x4 for the bulkhead for safety. It didn’t take us long to tarp and be back on the road. We stopped Tuesday night in Oklahoma City at the Flying J. It was a madhouse. Trucks were parked any place they could find a spot. Brad and I got lucky and found a spot on the second row surrounded by trucks.
The next morning we drove through Dallas about noon and as we crested a small hill and came around a corner, we had a hard brake critical event in a construction zone near the airport. We were following at a safe distance, but traffic just stopped all of a sudden. All my stuff fell off the top bunk when the brakes were applied. We stopped in Ennis for a load check. The greasy bars slid up against the bulkhead and stopped. After a quick snack we were back on the road and headed for the Pilot in Huntsville. I called the wife and was reminded about the weather that is coming into the Joplin area. The consignee didn’t have parking so we found a place close, and went to sleep it was 80 degrees and foggy.
We woke up early and arrived at the consignee by 730. Untarped and unstrapped and was unloaded by 900 in a sweaty mess. Our next load was out of Navasota, Texas going to Buffalo, Mo. The weather forecast was dismal, with freezing rain and snow. We drove straight to the shipper without lunch, and got it loaded and secured by 1300. We felt like we had a chance to get through Dallas before it got slick. We made it to McKinney before it got dark, and before it started to sleet in earnest. We stopped at the Oklahoma rest area, and checked our situation. The roads were covered, but slushy. We kept pushing to Atoka, and shut it down for the night.
We woke to an inch of ice, and a forecast of more. We decided to keep pushing toward the consignee although we knew we weren’t going to be able to deliver before their cut-off due to the weather. The snow started about McAlester. Big wet flakes that were accumulating quickly. We kept going, and by Muskogee it appeared to be letting up, so we kept pushing. Each town as we came north the weather improved, and by the time we made Big Cabin, the weather was fine.
We arrived in Joplin about 1500 Friday afternoon. I had made it back home, but due to the weather Brad was unable to deliver the load, and get his reload that would have taken him to the house. Brad and I washed the truck upon arriving in Joplin to clear the truck and trailer of road salt and ice. Brad spent the night at my house Friday, and drove my little red pick-up to his house on Saturday morning so he could see his wife that is expecting their first baby any day. My thanks go out to Brad for giving up his home time and for taking me out on the road.