Friday, June 02, 2006

Laredo I

Laredo, Texas, has to be one of the most fucked up places I was ever sent as a truck driver. And I was there a lot.

My initial trip to Laredo was with my first trainer, Tony. We dropped a load going to Mexico, and then sat at our terminal there for about 3 days. I was to discover that this was not an unusual occurrence. It seems, even with NAFTA, that there is more freight going into Mexico than there is coming out.

We never delivered across the border. We would drop international loads at our drop yard and Mexican drivers picked up and delivered them. They also brought freight out of Mexico, dropped them at our yard and we took them north.

Occasionally, we would get deliveries to brokers in Laredo. The load would be delivered to their warehouse in town and they would handle breaking it down and shipping it across the border.

On one such load, I was given a street address in Laredo, along with instructions to be there at 8 am. I spent the night before the drop at our Laredo yard and headed out at 7 o’clock for the 15 minute drive to their location.
At 7:45, I was still looking for their address and the name of the company. There were no street numbers and all the company names were in Spanish. I eventually found a local who was bilingual and located the right warehouse. Of course the damn gate was still locked.

I messaged my dispatcher with the news that it was 8:30, my delivery was scheduled for 8, and there was no one home. His reply was simply, “Remember where you are.” It reminded me of a line from an old Tom Waites song – “No one speaks English and everything’s broken.”

At about 9:15 two men arrived, opened the gate, told me where to drop my trailer and pointed me toward the office. Of course, it was empty.

Around 9:45, a woman parked in the yard and entered the office. I followed her in with my paperwork. “Oh, no – not me,” she said. Pointing at another office she said in broken English, “Down there. They be in about 10.”

So, by 10:30 I had my paperwork signed and was on my way to our drop yard, hoping to get a load going north.

More on Laredo soon. It’s a treasure-trove of stories.



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