In My Sights.

I've had Corporate America in my sights. In conversations, emails and obliquely here on the blog, I've railed against their inertial policy filled, creativity killing, joy sucking, frustrating ways. I proclaimed I was free of them. I really am, but Corporate America recently got the chance to poke me in the eye.

In the mid 80's, I did a professional internship through Michigan State and worked for an automotive packaging company. It was a great little company, which may not be so little any more. We were working on the first designs of a revolutionary idea; returnable packaging. The automotive industry, starting with Buick City in Flint, were going with a concept where packaging was made to last for several trips. The racks and dunnage would collapse or nest and go back to the vendor who would use it again to ship parts. It has become the norm in many areas of manufacturing. I designed several systems as a part of my internship.

So, Wednesday afternoon, I am looking for an empty trailer. I hauled a damaged trailer from a customer to our yard in Irving, TX. Typically, I either get unloaded while I wait at a consignee or I drop a trailer and pick up an empty. Occasionally, finding an empty is a problem.

At a yard, drivers congregate for different reasons like repairs or inspections etc. Empties are a valuable commodity because there are so many drivers; a supply-and-demand thing. I was having trouble finding one. So I thought I was getting inside info from a guy who checks trailer lights on the yard. I went around the corner to a drop yard that was full of trailers! I found an empty right away. After doing the computer "trailer change," dispatch informs me I can't have that one it is reserved for an automotive load. OK, no problem. I found another. Same deal; can't have it.

Irving, TX is right between Dallas and Ft. Worth. Wednesday, it was in the mid to high 90's. I began to check the other trailers in the yard. This time before I bothered to hook up to them. :o) There must have been 50 trailers in the yard. I didn't look at all of them, but it was close! I was wandering around the yard; doing a cursory inspection. I opened the rear doors on at least 30 trailers. Frustrated; dying of thirst; getting pissed. EVERY SINGLE TRAILER was unavailable. I didn't have to contact dispatch for these. It seems that because the Automotive Industry has slowed a bit, there is a glut of the returnable racks and dunnage. The "Float" between vendor and customer to keep the shipments flowing was now backing up. All of these trailers were at least partially full of Automotive Returnable Dunnage. I'd open one, two thirds full, and move to the next. The next might be only a quarter full of racks that looked exactly like the first racks. It is like those debit card commercials where drinks and sandwiches are flying around, everyone is happy, the music is pumping along. And then someone wants to write a check. . .

So, TOUCHE! Corporate America. You got me.

Of course, I'd never been to the Irving yard before. They all work slightly differently. A yard dog driver came over and asked what I was looking for. "AN EMPTY!" I said. Oh, sorry. He tells me I should talk to Mike over at the office. He doles out the empties. "There's three or four of 'em over there," he says. So, in fifteen minutes, after three hours, I was ready to roll. Of course, my then it was about 6:00 pm. So I slept at the terminal and ran off in the morning to get my load of bottled water in Ft. Worth. Now, I know.

Alex Dorsey is in the South Pacific on a 28' Westsail. He ends his posts with "Peace, Love and Coconuts." I can't wait to say that my self.

So for now,

Peace, Love and Diesel Fumes,


PS - I've been on Diesel Fumes for two months now. I don't have any trouble with worms or long term relationships. I highly reccommend it. :o) [stolen and paraphrased from a Texas Singer/Songwriter]

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