Coming back on duty this morning, I zapped a message in to my dispatcher asking where I should pick up an empty trailer. I had dropped the one I brought down from Council Bluffs the day before at the AmeriCold facility in Carthage and eventually it was decided I would go there to find a new empty.
Now, I've been to this place a number of times and know the layout. Up top on the surface is a guard building with some parking and a large trailer lot called the Tower Lot because it is next to a water tower. Down below is a smaller trailer parking lot just outside the tunnel complex, then the tunnels themselves but you can't get to either of these places without first going to the guard building to get an electronic keycard.
The dispatcher tells me trailer so-and-so is empty and ready to go, so I head in to the Tower Lot and drive around for about five minutes. Not only is that trailer not present, there are no Hill Bros trailers there of any kind. Messages fly back and forth and apparently they called someone at AmeriCold who swore that trailer so-and-so was unloaded and up in the Tower Lot. This, of course, was bunk as I had just been there and went around the lot twice and there was no such trailer.
I chatted up a yard jockey going about his business and learn our empty trailers are down below in the smaller lot next to the tunnels. Apparently, it costs some extra shekels to have them brought up top and whoever has the purse strings doesn't care to make this happen. So I had to go to the guards, get a gate pass, go back up top to the gate, go down to the lower lot, hook up, drag the trailer back top through the gate, return the gate pass to the guards, then head out. Mystery solved.
The trailer only had a half tank of fuel and needed a washout so I brought it over to Joplin to take care of this. The line at the washout place was lonnnnnng and I wasted 90 minutes there.
The trip down to Van Buren, Arkansas was uneventful and economic in the fuel department, and the shipper wasn't hard to find. There was this strange odor in the air all around the facility, like frying Doritos. It isn't uncommon to have strange smells wafting about but this one was pungent and not unpleasant. It turns out they process chicken into fried chicken strips and the like, so I was smelling frying on an industrial scale. Twenty tons of product loaded on and I was poultry in motion. So to speak.
It was late in the afternoon when I began my journey down to Arlington, Texas and I arrived before midnight, greeted by a long line of trucks awaiting entry into the facility. My appointment wasn't until 0630 this morning so I found a safe place to park and called it a night.
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