“Richard, I have a sample I want you to pick up and duplicate for us,” Darryl said, “when can you be here?”
“I’ll stop by tomorrow morning,” Richard said writing the appointment on his calendar.
Richard parked in front of Darryl’s office.
“Hi Richard,” Sally said waving him in. “Darryl said you’d be stopping by, he should be here any minute.”
“I see you still have the Pocket Trout flashlight I gave you, does it still work?”
Laughing, Sally squeezed it sides and flashed him. “I may never forgive you for the first time we met, but it still works.”*
Darryl walked in the door. “Hey dick head, perfect timing. I’ve got the sample sitting at the loading dock in back, why don’t you bring your truck around and I’ll meet you back there.”
Richard pulled up to the loading dock. Darryl arrived just as Richard got out of the truck.
“So, where’s this sample?” Richard asked looking around.
“Your standing next to it.”
Richard looked down. A 350-pound piece of equipment lay on the floor. Richard whistled.
“I guess I was expecting something much smaller.”
“Nope, that’s it. I’ll help you load it onto your truck,” Darryl said picking up one end.
“Wow, this is heavy,” Richard said lifting his end.
As they lowered it into the truck bed, the suspension groaned.
“I just need you to match the dimensions so we can drop the replacement onto the existing footprint,” Darryl said wiping the sweat from his forehead.
“I’ll let you know what we can do.”
Richard returned to the office and called the factory. “I have a 350-pound piece of equipment I need to send back to you.”
The factory said, “It’s really easy, just crate it, palletize it and freight forward it to us. We do it all the time.”
“Great, I’ll get it going.”
Richard called Federal Express.
The FedEx representative said, “Go to our website, follow the instructions for LTL shipping.”
“What does LTL stand for?”
“Less than Truck Load. It’s easy, just follow the instructions on our website.”
I entered the office as Richard hung up the phone.
“Fannie, this should be simple, we just need to get the items listed on FedEx’s website.”
“Can I help?”
“Sure, do you mind calling to find out who in the area carries these supplies?” Richard said handing me the page he printed.
I scanned the list. We needed a pallet, wooden braces, box, metal straps, and shrink wrap. Letting my fingers do the walking, we found the box, metal straps and shrink wrap at Staples, the wooden braces at Home Depot.
Finding a pallet paralleled going on a snipe hunt. Every shipping supply company we called said, “We sell them by lots or lease them. Why don’t you try some of the big box stores. I’m sure they’ll give them away.”
All Stores said, “We lease our pallets and do not give them away. Try (insert name here).”
Two weeks of searching proved fruitless.
“Richard, this is so frustrating, how difficult can it be to get a single pallet?”
“Let’s go get a cup of coffee. Maybe we can clear our heads and a solution will present itself.”
While sitting in line at the Starbucks drive thru, Pro Build Contracting Supplies sat across the street from us.
“Richard, what do you think, should we give them a try?”
Pro Build said, “We don’t sell pallets. But when we are through with them we throw them over the back fence and they are free to take. The homeless community collects them and sells them for $2 to $3 each.
I have a stack we will be throwing over the fence this evening. You’re welcome to drive to the back of the yard and help yourself to a pallet. It will save me the hassle of hucking it over the fence. My name is Brian, if anyone stops you tell them I said it was okay.”
An employee stopped us. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yes, we’ve been searching for a single pallet for two weeks now. Brian said we could help ourselves to one of the pallets so he doesn’t have to throw it over the fence tonight,” I said.
“I’m Steve, follow me,” the employee said.
We parked at the back fence. Richard joined Steve at the pile of pallets.
“How heavy is the load you’re shipping?” Steve asked.
“I’m guessing it’ll be over 400 pounds once we crate it.”
“Then you want this pallet here, it’ll handle the weight,” he said handing Richard a new pallet.
Richard loaded it into the back of the truck. “Thanks Steve, we really appreciate this,” he said shaking his hand.
Richard backed the truck up to the garage. He placed the pallet next to the piece of equipment.
“Fannie, you’re going to have to help me move this onto the pallet. We’ll take it real slow. On the count of three. Are you ready?”
“One, two, three.”
Richard’s end rose one foot from the floor. My end reached five inches, enough to swing it onto the pallet. My arms shook. Beads of sweat rolled down my forehead and back.
Richard screwed on the braces. Taking a sheet of plywood, he cut it into four pieces.
“Okay Fannie, I need you to hold the plywood in place while I attach it to the pallet. Don’t move.”
Pulling his angle from the work bench, he aligned the two corners.
“Richard, it doesn’t have to be perfect.”
“Bite your tongue. Now lean against this piece while I set the screws,” he said.
He stood back admiring the first two walls of the crate. “I may just have to hire you,” he said winking.
Richard attached the last two pieces of plywood. The top of the box came up to my waist.
“I’m going to need your help climbing out of here, I don’t want to break the box.”
“Trust me, you won’t break the box.”
“I’ll still need help, I can’t get my legs that high.”
“Oh sorry,” he said lifting me out of the box.
Richard placed the cardboard box over the top securing it with shrink wrap. Handing me one of the metals band we secured the box to the pallet.
“So what do you think?” I asked.
“We should shrink wrap it one more time just to be sure.”
I called Fed Ex to schedule the pick-up.
Fed Ex said, “We do not pick up LTL’s at residences. You’ll need to deliver it to the Fife location for us to ship it for you.”
The pallet weighed 402 pounds. We needed to rent a pallet jack and a lift truck for FedEx to take it. Where is the easy in this?
A local motor freight company advertised in our phone book.
“We’d be happy to help. We can deliver it to your factory for you if you want and save you the extra steps.”
“That would be great.” I said.
“How does Monday sound? We can send a driver with a lift truck and pallet jack.”
Monday morning the house rumbled as the semi stopped in front of our driveway. We opened the garage door before the driver could climb out of the cab. Up our driveway walked the Mini Me version of Vin Diesel, only one-half his size.
I battled the urge to pinch his cheeks. The temptation loomed large.
Mini Vin, polite and professional, said, “If you would please fill out this paperwork and sign here, I’ll be able to take this for you.”
In one fell swoop he whisked the pallet onto the jack and headed for the truck.
“Okay, Richard, now that was easy.”
The equipment arrived at the factory two days later.
*Note: If you are unfamiliar with Richard’s adventure with the pocket trout click here. Thanks to Google and Pocket Trout Flashlight Fans, someone reads the story every week.