Now we came across another problem. How many bundles per pallet? The Bobcat could lift no more than 15 bundles at a time. I needed to return home with Z bundles. The trailer could hold X pallets. I’d already loaded 15 bundles in the truck bed.
Remember those word problems you hated when you were in school. We suck it up buttercup because that shit’s for real! I figured out a basic equation in seconds. Each pallet should have (Z-15)/X. Also X<= 15. This was trivial… except standing in the heat with two guys staring at me I couldn’t do the math in my head. They both whipped out iPhones and plugged in numbers.
One guy got an answer. He called it out. The other guy looked up from his iDevice and agreed. I wrinkled my nose and thought hard.
His number times X plus 15 equaled something totally unlike Z… except I wasn’t sure what it was. I could simply tell that he’d missed by an amount we technically term “a shitload”. Presumably he’d dropped a decimal place… or failed algebra.
“You’re wrong.” I said. He blinked. The forklift guy blinked.
I sighed… what do they teach in schools? Is this not their job? They stood there with jaws open and iPhones poised but no thoughts behind what, if anything, they should key into their electronic security blanket. It took me a bit for me to work the numbers in my head. (Note to self; next time bring a pad and paper.) The kid eventually gave up and checked Facebook. The older guy was digging in his pocket for Skoal.
Finally I derived the answer. They both immediately agreed. Awesome!
Then I realized they would both agree to any number of any sort that might mention. I tested the idea… “What if we loaded,” and here I spit out a random number, “per pallet?” They both agreed instantly.
When I make observations like this I know why America’s national debt is so large.
On the other hand I was happy to be doing actual math. Having escaped “carpentry-math” my world was once again filled with sunshine. Meanwhile the two guys were throwing bundles like gerbils on a wheel.
“You think the trailer can handle it?” I asked. They froze. I understood, belatedly, that the delivery truck is such a big flatbed that the shingles for a single house can’t exceed it’s payload. These guys had probably never pondered the concept of “mass”. I was on my own. For all I knew they might even own a Prius and enjoy yoga. I shudder to ponder it.
(In retrospect they also seemed a bit confused about why I wanted the pallets balanced in certain locations near the axle rather than fore and aft willy nilly. The last American to stand on the moon took his trip in 1972. Since then we’ve created Facebook, microwaves, and several generations of idiots who can’t balance a payload. I’d trade a herd of iPhone wielding morons for a hearty fellow from 1950 with a sliderule and a taste for Tang.)
I looked at the shingles. On the wrapper it said a “square” weighed a certain amount. OK so X bundles per pallet, Y pallets, 3 bundles per “square”, Z pounds per “square”. So that’s ((X*Y) / 3)*Z.
I was saying this aloud. The two guys were watching me like it was performance art.
I ignored them. Figure 1,000 pounds for the trailer. Oh and 15 bundles on the truck. That’s ((X*Y)/3 * Z) + 1,000 + (15 / 3)* Z for the whole shebang.
A fourth guy had showed up and was listening. I ignored the group of four and glanced at the hitch. “And that’s a 2″ ball so that’s a 6,000 pound limit. And the truck’s GVWR is about…” For some reason I remember my truck’s GVWR even though I can’t remember my wife’s cell phone number. (But I sure as hell remember our anniversary… for some things there are consequences!)
The four guys were in awe. They waited. I came to a conclusion.
“It’s a go.” The trailer was laden close to the hitches limit but not over it. (Good thing I’d put the first 15 bundles on the truck itself. ) Also the trailer would implode long before I overloaded the truck’s overall capacity. I was pleased to KNOW I was within specs rather than the last trip when we’d merely HOPED it was so.
They all breathed a sigh of relief and pocketed the Skoal and iPhones that had appeared in their hands again.
Twenty minutes later the truck was loaded, the trailer was loaded, and I was driving out of the yard. The guy at the yard gate had to count the bundles three times before he was confident I had the right amount. I never left the cab. I couldn’t stop smiling.
I was smiling because I was a man towing a hefty payload with a good truck; as God intended. Also, I got to use some of my truck’s more awesome (and expensive) gadgets. I slipped the transmission into tow/haul. (Have you ever tried to find a used truck with a manual… it’s impossible!) My truck’s auto is so good that it’s slowly converting me to the dark side. Then I turned the jake brake on. I had a pretty hefty load and that’s precisely why I have a jake. Finally I glued an eye to my exhaust gas temp gauge because the truck was about to do some serious work.
Pistons fired, EGT gauges climbed, and huge torque numbers came into play. Heralded by trumpets (at least in my head) I rolled forward. I was at the helm of one of the peak developments of the industrial revolution. Have I mentioned that I love my truck?
The whole world was roses. I climbed a hill… slow and steady and accelerating. I dropped a gear. The EGT cooled instantly. I cruised past a crappy little econobox laboring up the hill while the driver chattered on a cell phone. He was probably hypermiling on the way to the organic food co-op. I was passed by a bobblehead in a SUV with a phone glued to her mountainous blond hair. What could she possibly have to say? Was she talking to the guy in the econobox?
Who cares? My truck was running great and that’s all that mattered. By the way. Truck… I love it. Just in case you missed it.
In a fit of overconfidence, I rolled the whole thing into a Burger King drive through. I slipped up to the window (trailer and all), got my Whopper, and was back on the road in ten minutes.
Back on the road I had no troubles. The trip was too short. The joy of towing gave way to the drudgery of moving bundles by the ton.
A few hours later the trailer was unloaded by a very overworked Bobcat and I was sitting on my porch drinking beer. The sun set over a mountain of stacked shingles on my lawn. A job well done.
Home improvement, it’s not for wimps.