It would be interesting to organize a luncheon event for DOT officers and school teachers. Imagine sitting back and listening to all of the stories/excuses that both of these groups of people have heard in their public service careers. Dog's eating homework, wheel seals that apparently just started leaking, or “it's on my desk at home” are probably stories that teachers and DOT officers would share. Of course, most of the stories start with, “you're never going to believe this!” The last words of the previous sentence are most likely 98.5% correct after enduring the countless tales these two groups of people have processed through their minds.
This leads me into sharing a story that just happened to me at a scale house. Here I am cruising up the interstate highway on a nice peaceful day when a scale house came into view. The two items I look forward to as a scale house comes into my field of vision are to see six letters on the scale house sign or to see the green light illuminating on my mounted, windshield Pre-Pass transponder. The six letters spell “closed” which allows you to keep rolling without any delays and the Pre-Pass flashing green light affords you the same luxury.
For a driver, it's never really fun to go to the scale house because, if nothing else, it delays your trip which is typically re-numerated to the driver on a per-mile basis. If the wheels are not turning most likely revenue has also stopped which makes getting the signal to go into a scale house a negative event. If the scale house has a bypass lane it's always a sigh of relief to receive the indicator light that guides you around the platform scale. Just because you got the bypass arrow does not have you in the clear as there is another light that can instruct the driver to pull around to the inspection area of the scale house.
Getting pulled around back for an inspection is the most dreaded of the possible events a driver can participate in at the scale house. There is not as much of a worry of getting a DOT inspection if you maintain your equipment properly and have all of your paperwork in proper order. Still, at the very least, there is going to be a delay of forward progress if you have been instructed to maneuver the truck into the inspection area.
While you wait for the inspector to show up you begin to get all of your paperwork prepared should the officer ask for it. During the wait to find out why you were pulled around back there is often time to fret over how long the delay will be or what level of inspection is to be performed by the officer.
None of this was the case for me on this fateful day when I was stopped on the scale and a voice came over the pole-mounted speaker along with a light indicating for me to pull around back. Before I even maneuvered into a parking spot there was a keen sense of why this visit with a DOT officer was about to commence.
All of the trucks pulled around to the inspection area had green IFTA stickers from the year 2020. The 2021 stickers were red in color. My IFTA stickers/permits had been originally ordered back in October of 2020 and the state sent them to an old address. After ordering and not receiving the IFTA stickers they were reordered at the beginning of January 2021. Keep in mind that due to COVID-19 the state offices were closed so you could not go and pick the stickers up in person.
So, getting back to the story, here I am parked behind the scale house along with several other trucks sporting the same green IFTA sticker waiting to find out how this saga was going to end. While waiting, I organized all of my paperwork and assembled all of the documents that clearly indicated that the only part of the IFTA process which had not been completed was the sticker.
Well as you could imagine none of this helped with the DOT officer as I am sure they had heard every story in the book. I showed the DOT officer the entire documented story and slipped by saying it was the issuing state’s fault for my lack of the proper sticker adorning the cab of my truck. This is when the officer informed me that while it “might” have been the issuing state’s “fault” it was I that was getting the court summons for the offense.
In the end, I assumed that having all of the documents clearly indicating that all of the proper procedures had been followed and showing that there was no intention of operating as a scofflaw would be enough. After all of the dust settled and when we were finally able to get a live person on the phone, the “reasons” for my not receiving the IFTA stickers became crystal clear. First, IFTA personnel were working from their homes due to COVID-19. Then, someone at the agency used an old address that somehow stayed in some distant corner of their data bank, and my IFTA stickers not finding their way into the actual Albert Transport post office box. And finally, the perfect storm of events that all led to the DOT officer not finding my IFTA stickers on my cab.
My reason (or excuse), for not having my IFTA stickers stylishly displayed on the side of my cab, fell on deaf ears and I received a summons to appear in court or call to find out what my monetary penalty was going to be for not having my “homework” done. The dog was nowhere to be found and could not appear in court to defend itself.