After freshening up at the Swift terminal, I requested an empty trailer from the front desk. I saw that my first load to pick up was smack dab in Chicago. I pulled up the satellite image of the location on my phone and saw that it was going to be challenging, so I accepted the load. I hooked up to my empty and got rolling to my first pickup, munching on a banana and some of my Dad's tasty cookies as I went.
After driving for about an hour, my qualcomm told me that it was time to leave the safety of the interstate and venture onto the narrow, crowded city streets. That's where I turned into a bobble-head, looking back and forth and back again, lest some impatient motorist tried sneaking around my big rig and getting in my way. Sure enough, there were several of them.
As I approached my destination, I encountered a few bridges telling me that they were only 13 feet, 6 inches high. In driving school, that number is drilled into your head as the height of your truck. I knew that my truck was actually a couple inches shorter, but I still slowed and held my breath as I took my huge truck and trailer under those scary things.
I arrived at my pickup; a factory churning out driveway sealant by the bucket-full. I had to park and block a lane of traffic in order to give a worker my pickup number. He informed me that I would have to drive into a crowded parking lot, turn my 63-foot rig around, head back up the street driving against traffic in the left hand lane, pull into the street diagonally blocking all 4 busy lanes, and back up through a gate into a dock! Another Swift driver was at the scene looking skeptical... he was an older guy and had the next appointment after me. He said, "I'm not gonna risk it! When it's my turn, I'm getting myself a police escort to block traffic for me!" The factory worker said, "It's really pretty easy to do," ...obviously someone who had never hopped in an 18-wheeler and tried the maneuver himself. I decided to go for it, but to be exceptionally careful.
I spun my truck around, avoiding the many cars in the lot, and headed back up the street, going very slowly while flashing my hazards. The constant stream of traffic didn't feel like stopping, so I slowly nosed out until I owned the road. Several disgruntled motorists honked their puny little horns but when I blasted my truck's air horn, they quieted and waited a tad more patiently. The other Swift driver now stepped in to guide me through the gate and into the dock. It took a nice chunk of time to get the truck and trailer perfectly straight in the dock without bumping into anything else, but finally I was satisfied and thanked the other driver for his help. Mission accomplished! It was definitely one of my most challenging backs. As my trailer was being loaded, I stepped out to help block traffic for the other Swift driver. He got in without a hitch as well.
Still waiting on my load, I munched on a couple of leftover baked sweet potatoes. They were cold but still delicious.
Soon my trailer was loaded and I set off to find a truck scale... a trailer full of driveway sealant is heavy and I was not about to get an overweight citation. As soon as my truck showed a legal weight, I headed off to deliver my load. The delivery was just a few hours away, but there was so much road work in progress that traffic jams and lower speed limits made the trip take nearly twice as long as it should've. At least the delivery was one of my easiest, making up for the troublesome pickup.
After losing so much time with my last load, I decided not to bed down for the night until reaching my next pickup. As I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to see a Woodman's just a couple of miles away! I had some extra time, so I pulled in and did some late night shopping... quite a treat!
At this point it was about 12:30 (or 00:30 as I read it) and I was tired and hungry! I headed over to my next pickup, parked, and popped some of my sister's tasty meatballs into my cooking box. Time for dinner and bed!