Things were just about to really crank up when another late season snow storm threatened the Northeast. All the drivers were about to come back to work, when the weatherman’s predictions had orders being cancelled.
The same thing happened last year, before we had the luxury of a covered shipping dock. I was delivering snow covered plants to Long Island.
This week, most of the drivers are back and we are rolling once again.
For me driving the new (brown) Volvo tractor trailer, there has been lots of one stop deliveries with big potted plants and trees. Our big customers can’t wait any longer and are taking their initial orders of the season. That includes lots of trees, which makes for some heavy lifting and dragging to the end of the 48 foot trailer. It’s like coming out of hibernation for my arms, legs and back. It’s a rude awakening for the body to get back in shape for another crazy spring.
This is the start of my second season and I haven’t seen most of these customers in 4 or 5 months. They are all good natured hard working folks, like us, who have enjoyed their slow winter, but we all know what is about to happen to our lives in the coming weeks.
The week started with a full trailer (mostly trees) going to Kings Park, Long Island for a 9:30AM delivery time, which is like banking hours for us. Reason being the big flat-bed rigs full of really big trees, are rolling into the northeast from down south and they set our normal early times back a few hours.
This also presents a major difference for us, in that now we are not getting ahead of the commuter traffic, but we are stuck in this dreaded bumper to bumper scene of texters. Our only option is to depart 2 hours earlier and then wait.
Many customers have the same problems we have regarding when to bring back their full complement of workers. That was the case on this rainy cold morning in Kings Park where the yard manager had to help us unload, but he did have his trusty fork-lift driver on hand.
I was fortunate to be training a new driver for tractor trailers, Mike, with me on this trip so we got the job done in good time.
Next day I was alone and off to a customer in Pembroke, Ma. I had never been to this location even though I had passed it many times on the way to another big customer that is almost across the street. We have so many different customers of all sizes, that possibly only one driver, Jim, (Bubba) has been to them all, and that’s because he has been with Prides for over 25 years.
Wednesday, I was off with another full trailer, mostly trees, to Adams in Poughkeepsie NY, where I knew they had a crack crew and fork lift driver. But it was not to be this day. There was another one of those flat-beds full of trees, waiting to be unloaded when I arrived. Randy the manager, had a limited crew and had not taken delivery of his rental forklift for the season. My back and shoulders began to ache immediately upon hearing this news.
He and I got to know more than we probably needed to know about each other’s families and kid problems in the course of dragging and lifting trees onto palates. The two of us got it done, just about the time the other help showed up after unloading the flat-bed. (See photos)
Thursday I was up in Weston Nursery in Hopkinton for another load of trees. Mostly managers were on duty to get this load off the trailer, and they emptied all of the carts in the process. Patrick, a manager in the commercial division was in the back of the trailer with me, dragging trees to the back, when I saw one of the owner’s, asking him about how his wife was doing in the hospital. What I was able to gather from the questions, was that Patrick’s wife had some kind of cancer and was not totally “out of the woods” yet regards being totally cured. It was good to see his boss making a point to come down to the trailer and express his concern. So you never know what somebody your working side by side with is going thru in their life.
We were all joking about the latest weather forecast which was calling for snow and freezing rain in the Boston area, for Friday. It was just going to be a real pain in the ass to put the plows back on the yard equipment and spend the day clearing snow.
On my way back to the farm, I saw my load for Friday was going to Weston in Chelmsford, Ma which would be getting the brunt of the storm during my delivery time.
I got back to the farm by 10:30am and much to my surprise, my trailer for Chelmsford was already loaded. I thought if I can get this delivered today, I can avoid the snow and traffic tomorrow morning.
I checked with the salesman, Paul Sellew, who got the OK from both customers, (one in Stoughton) and I was back on the road. I had no time to waste, had to be there by 2pm, and they were ready for me. Lots of pallets for the number of trees, and the owner’s wife got up in the trailer and almost put me to shame in how she was dragging and lifting trees as we talked about the upcoming season and how many more time I or someone from Prides would be there in weeks ahead.
I then made it by Boston traffic in time to make the second stop, just 2 carts and 5 trees, by their 4pm deadline.
That is one long day, emptying two trailers in 3 different stops, but a good tune up for what is to come.
Stay tuned for the total insanity that we all love so much……
Bill Humphreys, (aka, bike-guy, truck-guy)