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Breaking Policy

, , , , , | Working | November 9, 2017

(I am a contract truck driver. I am moving a 3.5-tonne van from a repair yard to the store it does deliveries from, a short 50-mile trip. At 30 miles, the dashboard flashes with multiple faults, the major one being “Critical Gearbox Failure.” The van comes out of gear, due to its automatic gearbox, and I coast it to a safe place. I ring my company to get help, and after a while of conferring with the contract company, they tell me to turn the engine off, leave it a minute, and turn it back on. That gets me back on the road for a mile before the whole thing repeats. The second time, they get me to disconnect the battery because, “these vans can have a touchy computer system and a proper reboot fixes things.” Five miles later, there is a loud bang, and the back of the van vaults into the air before dropping hard and much lower. I work out that it is freely slewing at the back and correct for it while dragging to a halt across two lanes of the road. Once I get my breath back and stop shaking, I get out and take a look. The gearbox has pretty much fallen apart. The drive shaft has fallen off, and because this is a rear-wheel drive van it has hit the ground, dug in, and ripped the rear axle off. I ring the office.)

Me: “You know your reboot to disable the alarms?”

Office: “Yes.”

Me: “The alarms were for a d***ed good reason, and I’m lucky to have survived. We need a recovery truck to the middle of the A27 just outside Chichester.”

Office: “Can you get the van to—”

Me: “No, the back wheels need recovering from 100 metres back”.

Office: “Can you push it off—”

Me: “It was a 3.5 tonne truck before it lost big chunks of drive and some wheels; what do you think? I’m calling the police to report it.”

(Policy has now been rewritten so stupid reboots aren’t attempted on the road for some reason, and I’ve never spoken to that dispatcher again. The police had to close the road for two hours to clear debris.)

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